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 » August 28th, 2017, 1:16 am

GE Morton wrote: Among philosophers the two terms are essentially synonymous, although "ethics" is more often used in common speech to denote rules for special fields, e.g., "medical ethics," "legal ethics," "business ethics," etc.
Any individual or a group of individuals (philosophers) can define words in any which way they choose. Logic dictates that since there are two different words most likely, even if both denote the same concept, such words have different contextual meaning. Where you attribute Ethics to a specific group (field), which is true. However, typically when one thinks about Ethics in terms of "common speech" it refers to an act that violated an individual or number of many individuals. Morality on the other hand is an act of an individual that violated a "social or religious" norm. In such context "society" performs an unethical act violating the rights of the individual and Morality is an act of individual that had violated the "society", which may be an intimate difference for some philosophers.
The concept of morality stems from such religious convictions that all life, especially human life is sacred in holding a unique consciousness and “soul” or “spirit” that is able to tune in to the divine. Such morality presupposes the “Natural Rights” of every sentient being.
No. The concept does not and did not spring from that source; it arose from the practical need for rules governing interactions between moral agents in a civilized social setting (a non-kinship, non-tribal social setting). The various religions merely sought to justify their preferred sets of rules by appeal to divine authority.
Was religion already conceptualized in that "civilized social setting"? Your claim is: Morality is atheistic in nature? That sounds more like The Law rather than Morality. What was the source of the Law in the first place? "Moral agents"? What is than mean if humans are nothing but slightly more sophisticated animals?
The question becomes what would be the bases for the value of life within the new philosophy on morality in human interaction?
Values --- including the value of human life --- have no basis, in the sense of being derived from, or dependent upon, something else more fundamental. They are sui generis, inexplicable, and idiosyncratic. To say that something has value is merely to say that someone desires it and would give up something --- time, effort, money --- to acquire it or retain it. What one would give up to obtain a desired thing is the measure of its value to him. Value is not a property of things; it is a relation between a person, the valuer, and a thing --- the relation of being desired by that person. You need rules of interaction between moral agents in a social setting to assure that Alfie's pursuit of X does not interfere with Bruno's pursuit of Y. The rules of a sound public morality serve a purpose similar to traffic rules --- to allow all drivers to get where they're going in one piece, without crashes. They don't presume to dictate where anyone is going or what routes they must take.
That is such a dangerous materialistic view. Something has an inherent "value" not because "it can be acquired" like a slave. Someone has an inherent value to me because if I loose that person (death), I will be grieving that "loss". There is no buying back!
Every human should be able to become fulfilled in their quality of life and personal growth that in turn would make the society as a whole better.
That is impossible in principle.
Could you please elaborate on the principle.
I’m still working on this “utopian” system but the presumption is that every human action can be considered as “work” including typing thoughts into sentences or anything that brings joy to individual life . . .
It might be "work" in some sense, but unless it results in a product or service deemed valuable by others, who will give up something to obtain it, it will not be "work" in the economic sense.
You realize of course that this site has advertising? You are doing "work" in the economic sense.

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

Post by Gertie » August 28th, 2017, 9:00 am

Ranvier wrote:Gertie

Do you think that explanation answers the question?

I may care about the quality of my life, and because I'm selfish I care about the quality of lives of my family, friends, and those who are of benefit to me. Everyone else, who may infringe on my quality of life shouldn't mind if they are painlessly removed from my existence to parish without regrets.

Am I following the logic correctly?
Yes I think my explanation answers why life matters. Do you have a basis for disputing it?

No you are not following the logic of my position correctly. The basis for Oughts lies in acknowledging all conscious creatures have something that matters (a quality of life), not only you/those you care about. This is easy to understand, and I believe a foundational principle which societies could cohere around.

-- Updated August 28th, 2017, 2:55 pm to add the following --

GE
Gertie wrote:
IMO the advances in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology (still at a very early stage) require us to re-think our approach to Morality. Accept that it's a man-made concept rooted in our evolved predispositions, with no independent existence, which reason or religion can lead us to. Morality as we've historically constructed it, is a useful lie, which has now been found out.

A few questions and quibbles. I'm not sure how advances in neuroscience or evolutionary psychology, whether those in hand or those to come, bear on our approach to morality, which, as you suggest below, develops via a "rough and ready consensus process." I.e., through social experience. Perhaps you can give an example of some breakthrough in neuroscience which might prompt us to reconsider our views (whatever they may be ) on, say, affirmative action or capital punishment.
To clarify, the 'useful lie' I'm referring to is that there is something we call Morality with its own independent existence, perhaps accessible through divine revelation, reason or whatev. It's possible that's true, but scientists are now constructing an evidence-based evolutionary alternative account of the foundations of human 'moral intuitions' as they evolved in our specific social species. These evolved predispositions then become enmeshed in group culture, and culture itself then feeds back into how they play out in societies (through learning, social mores, laws, narratives such as archetypes, myths, religion, etc). Resulting in cultures with some differences, but all retaining certain features. (See Haidt et al Moral Foundations Theory for a seminal attempt to categorise human 'moral intuitions' and linked evolutionary origins).

IMO this should prompt us to reconsider the whole concept of morality, and my post was an attempt to do that, to see if there is still some justifiable basis for Oughts. Some guiding principle. And I am suggesting that 'the well-being of conscious creatures' matters because of the special qualiative nature of conscious experiential states, regardless of our previous belief that Morality/Oughts relied on an 'objective' foundation.

However, it doesn't necessarily give tidy answers to every question, for reasons I think we agree on.
I'd also quibble with your claim that morality, while a man-made concept to be sure, is "rooted in our evolved predispositions." Of course, if you mean what I call "vernacular morality," i.e., the moralities actually embraced, at least verbally, and inconsistently followed by the majority of people, your claim there is not too far off the mark. But when I think of moralities I have in mind the moral systems proffered by philosophers over the centuries, most of which at least make the effort to construct systems that are coherent, consistent, and grounded in observable features of the human situation.
I roughly divided this into two issues in my post. Firstly, can we still have a foundational basis for Oughts, in a Post-Objective Morality World. And I've suggested that the well-being of conscious creatures is a valid answer to that for the reasons I argued. Then, much more difficult imo, there is the question of how to achieve optimal outcomes, where ideas like deontology, virtue ethics, utilitiarianism could come into play. My foundation for Oughts is essentially consequentialist, but as mentioned before, creating a system based on subjective conscious experience (quality of life) is never going to be perfect, it can't be. Finding a methodology for getting as close as we can expect is a useful direction for modern philosophical thought imo. And might require a bit of lateral thinking, such as Rawls.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » August 28th, 2017, 11:10 am

Ranvier wrote:Logic dictates that since there are two different words most likely, even if both denote the same concept, such words have different contextual meaning. Where you attribute Ethics to a specific group (field), which is true. However, typically when one thinks about Ethics in terms of "common speech" it refers to an act that violated an individual or number of many individuals. Morality on the other hand is an act of an individual that violated a "social or religious" norm. In such context "society" performs an unethical act violating the rights of the individual and Morality is an act of individual that had violated the "society", which may be an intimate difference for some philosophers.

Aristotle's major ethical work is called "Nichomachean Ethics." Does he present a theory of ethics or morality, in your view? Spinoza's major work in that field is "Ethics." Same question. Henry Sidgwich wrote, "The Methods of Ethics." Same question. Kant wrote "The Metaphysics of Morals." Was he addressing a different subject than Aristotle, Spinoza, and Sidgwick?

"Morality on the other hand is an act of an individual that violated a 'social or religious' norm."

A doctor who, say, violates some precept of medical ethics is not violating a "social norm"?

But this is a quibble. I use the words interchangeably. You may use them as you like.
Was religion already conceptualized in that "civilized social setting"?
Yes. Pre-civilized tribal cultures carried their religions with them as they evolved into civilized societies. They did not bring any moral theories with them, however. They were not needed, and are not found, in tribal cultures.

That requires some explanation. Ethics, or moral theories, are attempts to formulate codes of conduct in some deliberate, rational, systematic way. Tribal cultures had norms, of course, but they were not products of reflection or rational inquiry. They were part of the folkways of the tribe, handed down from generation to generation, absorbed and internalized without thought or question. Morality, as we think of it today, is a subject of philosophical (and popular) inquiry, and is controversial. Not until the advent of civilization did those questions and controversies begin to appear. Like codified systems of law, codified systems and theories of morals are products of civilization.
Your claim is: Morality is atheistic in nature? That sounds more like The Law rather than Morality. What was the source of the Law in the first place? "Moral agents"? What is than mean if humans are nothing but slightly more sophisticated animals?
The source of laws and moral norms in tribal cultures is social experience. Tribes adopted and propagated norms that seemed to work to prevent conflicts and foster tribal cohersion. If asked by an outsider whence arose those norms, they would likely answer with something like, "It is our way," or "It is the way of our ancestors," or "It is what our gods demand."

"Moral agent" is a term widely used by contemporary moral philosophers to denote a 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.

Why do you think humans must be something more than "slightly more sophisticated animals"? I wouldn't call those differences "slight," BTW.
That is such a dangerous materialistic view. Something has an inherent "value" not because "it can be acquired" like a slave. Someone has an inherent value to me because if I loose that person (death), I will be grieving that "loss". There is no buying back!
Nothing has "inherent value." Propositions asserting "X has inherent value V" are non-cognitive; they have no determinable truth values. Propositions attributing a value to a thing become cognitive only when a valuer is specified. You acknowledge this in your statement just quoted, when you say "Someone has inherent value to me because . . ." That "someone" has value TO YOU. A thing, including a person, does not have "inherent value," if you mean by that some value "in itself," independent of anyone's love for or desire for that thing. Most people, of course, place a value on their own lives, even if no one else does.
Every human should be able to become fulfilled in their quality of life and personal growth that in turn would make the society as a whole better.

That is impossible in principle

Could you please elaborate on the principle.
Not everyone in any large society can "become fulfilled in their quality of life," because not all have the talents or skills or drive or discipline or other resources to make that happen. And you can't take resources from Alfie to supplement Bruno's, because then Alfie's quality of life is not fulfilled. There is no means of accomplishing that goal that is "Pareto efficient."
You realize of course that this site has advertising? You are doing "work" in the economic sense.
I might be. But that is not the case with every human action, as you claimed.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » August 28th, 2017, 6:56 pm

Gertie

For context, I refer those who are reading this thread to the original post made by Gertie:
http://onlinephilosophyclub.com/forums/ ... 21#p293921
Gertie wrote:
Ranvier wrote:Gertie

Do you think that explanation answers the question?

I may care about the quality of my life, and because I'm selfish I care about the quality of lives of my family, friends, and those who are of benefit to me. Everyone else, who may infringe on my quality of life shouldn't mind if they are painlessly removed from my existence to parish without regrets.

Am I following the logic correctly?



Gertie Reply

1. Yes I think my explanation answers why life matters. Do you have a basis for disputing it?

2. No you are not following the logic of my position correctly. The basis for Oughts lies in acknowledging all conscious creatures have something that matters (a quality of life), not only you/those you care about. This is easy to understand, and I believe a foundational principle which societies could cohere around.
1. No, you don't explain why "life" matters. You assert that what matters is "the quality of life".

2. It's still not clear "why" the quality of someone's else life should "matter" to me but certainly your explanation doesn't offer any significance to life itself. Therefore, one can follow this logic to conclude that "eliminating" others (painlessly to be humanitarian) does not violate their quality of life because there is no longer life present to experience any "qualitative" state.

-- Updated August 28th, 2017, 8:20 pm to add the following --

GE Morton

First of all, we must differentiate between purely intellectual deliberations and those of practical reality of life experience. Most people, at any period of human history had never heard of Plato, Socrates, or Aristotle. Most people have even a vague understanding of “what” philosophy is or the usefulness of the study in the practical terms in each individual life or the community. For the most part, Philosophy was an intellectual subject area of the aristocratic elite of Ancient Greece, which prevailed to the modern days through scholastic interests on the theory of thought. To an average citizen, the study of philosophy has no real impact on the everyday life or the decision making process. This is true for early “tribal communities”, the “culture” of ancient Egypt, Mayan civilization, Aztecs, or cultures of the Far East. Therefore, such Philosophical concepts were pertinent or perhaps even “useful” to the European civilizations but evidently not necessary in the development of culture, which presumably has some aspects of Ethics and Morality at its core in “this is our way of life”.

Therefore, whatever we wish to use to define the “Ethics and Morality” must stem from the “objective” view on the human history, not European driven ideology. The actual principles or virtues affecting the human behavior are merely described by such concepts of “Ethics” and “Morality”. It would be a disservice to logic in arguing that such concepts are the cause for human conduct, rather than a mere description of “ought’s”.

But to address your question on: Aristotle's major ethical work is called "Nichomachean Ethics."

Aristotle
Sourced from Wiki:
"The first philosopher to write ethical treatises, Aristotle argues that the correct approach for studying such controversial subjects as Ethics or Politics, which involve discussing what is beautiful or just, is to start with what would be roughly agreed to be true by people of good up-bringing and experience in life, and to work from there to a higher understanding.

From this starting point, Aristotle goes into discussion of what ethics, a term Aristotle helped develop, means. Aristotelian Ethics is about what makes a virtuous character (ethikē aretē) possible, which is in turn necessary if happiness is to be possible.
Aristotle then turns to examples, reviewing some of the specific ways that people are thought worthy of blame or praise. As he proceeds, he describes how the highest types of praise, so the highest types of virtue, imply having all the virtues of character at once, and these in turn imply not just good character, but a kind of wisdom. The four virtues that he says require the possession of all the ethical virtues together are:
• Being of "great soul" (magnanimity), the virtue where someone would be truly deserving of the highest praise and have a correct attitude towards the honor this may involve. This is the first case mentioned, and it is mentioned within the initial discussion of practical examples of virtues and vices at 1123b Book IV.
• The type of justice or fairness of a good ruler in a good community is then given a similar description, during the special discussion of the virtue (or virtues) of justice at 1129b in Book V.
Phronesis or practical judgment as shown by good leaders is the next to be mentioned in this way at 1144b in Book VI.
• The virtue of being a truly good friend is the final example at 1157a in Book VIII."
GE Morton wrote: 1. Yes. Pre-civilized tribal cultures carried their religions with them as they evolved into civilized societies. They did not bring any moral theories with them, however. They were not needed, and are not found, in tribal cultures.

2. That requires some explanation. Ethics, or moral theories, are attempts to formulate codes of conduct in some deliberate, rational, systematic way. Tribal cultures had norms, of course, but they were not products of reflection or rational inquiry. They were part of the folkways of the tribe, handed down from generation to generation, absorbed and internalized without thought or question. Morality, as we think of it today, is a subject of philosophical (and popular) inquiry, and is controversial. Not until the advent of civilization did those questions and controversies begin to appear. Like codified systems of law, codified systems and theories of morals are products of civilization.
1. If that were to be true, why would certain cultures bury their dead, entomb, or burn their loved ones?

2. Right, religions of course aren’t rational part of the culture from which such “moral theories” are derived.
Morality is Controversial subject for sure.
You said it in the last sentence: Civilization… Religion, language, history, natural geography, science, art, politics, economy etc. are the causal circumstances for human behavior, we describe as morality.
GE Morton wrote:
"Moral agent" is a term widely used by contemporary moral philosophers to denote a 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.

a) This is pretty much a description of any creature in the animal kingdom
b) This can be said about any animal group with a “social hierarchy” system
c) The last one is obviously supposed to apply to humans, however, aren’t most animals actually more of the “moral agents” by not having the need to kill the members of their own species?
GE Morton wrote:
“Why do you think humans must be something more than "slightly more sophisticated animals"? I wouldn't call those differences "slight," BTW.”
That’s not what I think but it’s a fact, from the genetic point of view. We share 99% of the genetic material with Chimpanzee. Also, in the “modern view” humans are nothing more than biological machines, meaningless, inconsequential, purposeless, and worthless.

This is revealed in:
GE Morton wrote:
Nothing has "inherent value." Propositions asserting "X has inherent value V" are non-cognitive; they have no determinable truth values. Propositions attributing a value to a thing become cognitive only when a valuer is specified. You acknowledge this in your statement just quoted, when you say "Someone has inherent value to me because . . ." That "someone" has value TO YOU. A thing, including a person, does not have "inherent value," if you mean by that some value "in itself," independent of anyone's love for or desire for that thing. Most people, of course, place a value on their own lives, even if no one else does.
Everything that exists, rock, water, gold, life… is an “object” that has an “inherent value” in the context of the Universe but that value is only a “subjective” perception of your “moral agent”.
GE Morton wrote:
Not everyone in any large society can "become fulfilled in their quality of life," because not all have the talents or skills or drive or discipline or other resources to make that happen. And you can't take resources from Alfie to supplement Bruno's, because then Alfie's quality of life is not fulfilled. There is no means of accomplishing that goal that is "Pareto efficient."
Just because there aren’t currently any means to accomplish this, there is nothing to indicate that in “principle” it’s not possible. It also depends on the definition of “fulfillment” or the “quality of life” for that matter. Is there such principle?
GE Morton wrote:
I might be. But that is not the case with every human action, as you claimed.
I made that claim in a logical assertion that any human action utilizes energy and as such can be measured in terms of “work” (in physics). This is of course a subject to contention what “work” means in the economic context of profit. Can one profit from say: watching every action humans make, as in the television show “Big Brother”. The answer is yes, although that is not what I was implying when I said “every human action can be considered as work”. Especially if one realizes that within the next 25 years, all human interaction will be possible through VR (virtual reality).

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » August 29th, 2017, 11:01 am

Ranvier wrote: To an average citizen, the study of philosophy has no real impact on the everyday life or the decision making process.
Oh, that is not so. As Bertrand Russel once wrote (paraphrasing, from memory), "Modern thought is permeated with philosophical speculations of the past." Americans may not know that Jefferson's thesis in the Declaration of Independence was largely borrowed from the philosopher John Locke, or that scientific method was conceived by the philosopher Francis Bacon, or that the separation of powers doctrine, which divides their government's powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches, was formulated by the philosophers Aristotle and Montsequieu. But they were.
This is true for early “tribal communities”, the “culture” of ancient Egypt, Mayan civilization, Aztecs, or cultures of the Far East. Therefore, such Philosophical concepts were pertinent or perhaps even “useful” to the European civilizations but evidently not necessary in the development of culture, which presumably has some aspects of Ethics and Morality at its core in “this is our way of life”.
I never claimed that philosophical ethics were necessary for the "development of culture." I don't know what you're arguing against. The subject of the discussion was whether there is a difference between "ethics" and "morality."
But to address your question on: Aristotle's major ethical work is called "Nichomachean Ethics." Aristotle . . . .Sourced from Wiki: . . .
You go on from there to a long quote from a Wiki article on Aristotle's ethics. The question was only, "Is this a work of "ethics" or "morality"? Which you don't answer.
1. If that were to be true, why would certain cultures bury their dead, entomb, or burn their loved ones?
You have to dispose of dead bodies somehow.
You said it in the last sentence: Civilization… Religion, language, history, natural geography, science, art, politics, economy etc. are the causal circumstances for human behavior, we describe as morality.
I didn't say anything of the kind, and I have no idea what YOU are trying to say there.
GE Morton wrote:
"Moral agent" is a term widely used by contemporary moral philosophers to denote a 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.
a) This is pretty much a description of any creature in the animal kingdom
b) This can be said about any animal group with a “social hierarchy” system
c) The last one is obviously supposed to apply to humans, however, aren’t most animals actually more of the “moral agents” by not having the need to kill the members of their own species?
Yes. Creatures satisfying a), but not b) or c), are "moral subjects" (e.g., most animals, infants). Creatures satisfying a) and b) but not c) are "moral imbeciles."
That’s not what I think but it’s a fact, from the genetic point of view. We share 99% of the genetic material with Chimpanzee. Also, in the “modern view” humans are nothing more than biological machines, meaningless, inconsequential, purposeless, and worthless.
We (and all living creatures) are biological machines, of course. But I know of no one who thinks they are "meaningless, "worthless," purposeless," etc. Everyone I know considers his life meaningful, worth something, and has purposes. I suspect you're complaining that not everyone shares your (apparent) belief that human life has some mystical, transcendental meaning, and they we're obliged to pursue some "higher" purpose. But you shouldn't equate rejection of mysticism and superstition with "meaninglessness." The meaning and purpose of each person's life is for that person to decide. No one is obligated to assent to anyone's proffered superstitions, or enlist in someone else's mystical crusade.
Everything that exists, rock, water, gold, life… is an “object” that has an “inherent value” in the context of the Universe but that value is only a “subjective” perception of your “moral agent”.
I think you're confusing a function, or role, with value. While we might fairly (if oddly) say that every rock, etc., has a function, or plays some role, in "the context of the universe," it makes no sense to say they have value in that context. The universe is not a moral agent and does not assign values to things.
GE Morton wrote:
Not everyone in any large society can "become fulfilled in their quality of life," because not all have the talents or skills or drive or discipline or other resources to make that happen. And you can't take resources from Alfie to supplement Bruno's, because then Alfie's quality of life is not fulfilled. There is no means of accomplishing that goal that is "Pareto efficient."
Just because there aren’t currently any means to accomplish this, there is nothing to indicate that in “principle” it’s not possible. It also depends on the definition of “fulfillment” or the “quality of life” for that matter. Is there such principle?
Well, yes, there is something to indicate that --- the impossibility is a matter of logic, and obvious. Any effort to supplement Bruno's resources by taking from Alfie contradicts the premise, i.e., to enable ereryone to be "fulfilled in their quality of life." Nor is there any need to tweak the definitions of "fulfillment" or "quality of life." The standard meanings are clear enough.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » August 30th, 2017, 4:03 am

GM Morton

Our debate so far is about:

I. Ethics vs Morality
II. Religion as the source of the moral perspective
III. Contention about the meaning of Value, namely “inherent value”
IV. Utopian view on “fulfillment” and “quality of life”


I was in the process of writing a nice long reply, when my PC initiated a restart due to windows update. A lesson to be learned here… I’m going for a much shorter version, a summary really.


I. Ethics vs Morality

Ranvier position:
Ethics and Morality aren’t the same concept.
Ethics – defines acts of an individual judged in the context of moral values (social morality)
Morality - is a social concept (in context of religion, from previous remarks in several posts)
Essentially the terms Ethics and Morality are both human concepts derived from the European Philosophy
Such concepts are true facts of “rules or customs” in human behavior observed in other cultures, apart from any definition for Ethics and Morality in “modern” Philosophy (presumably mostly European for most philosophers, since people rarely quote Confucius).
In Aristotle's major ethical work called "Nichomachean Ethics." It’s implicit in the title that Aristotle’s work was on his discussion of concept of Ethics (in context of social morality as subject to praise or blame)
Both Ethics and Morality are derived from the Culture of given Civilization, where Culture consists of influences from: Religion, language, history, natural geography, science, art, politics, economy etc. including Philosophy
Naturally, as part of the Culture, given Philosophy diffuses into the culture affecting the political system, law, and customs, although most people are ignorant of such a fact. The same way as some Philosophers do not consider the culture (including religion) to influence given philosophy.

GE Morton position:

1. Among philosophers the two terms are essentially synonymous, although "ethics" is more often used in common speech to denote rules for special fields, e.g., "medical ethics," "legal ethics," "business ethics," etc.

2. Yes. Pre-civilized tribal cultures carried their religions with them as they evolved into civilized societies. They did not bring any moral theories with them, however. They were not needed, and are not found, in tribal cultures.

3. That requires some explanation. Ethics, or moral theories, are attempts to formulate codes of conduct in some deliberate, rational, systematic way. Tribal cultures had norms, of course, but they were not products of reflection or rational inquiry. They were part of the folkways of the tribe, handed down from generation to generation, absorbed and internalized without thought or question. Morality, as we think of it today, is a subject of philosophical (and popular) inquiry, and is controversial. Not until the advent of civilization did those questions and controversies begin to appear. Like codified systems of law, codified systems and theories of morals are products of civilization.

4. Oh, that is not so. As Bertrand Russel once wrote (paraphrasing, from memory), "Modern thought is permeated with philosophical speculations of the past." Americans may not know that Jefferson's thesis in the Declaration of Independence was largely borrowed from the philosopher John Locke, or that scientific method was conceived by the philosopher Francis Bacon, or that the separation of powers doctrine, which divides their government's powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches, was formulated by the philosophers Aristotle and Montsequieu. But they were.

5. I never claimed that philosophical ethics were necessary for the "development of culture." I don't know what you're arguing against. The subject of the discussion was whether there is a difference between "ethics" and "morality."

Ranvier’s Interpretation:
1. Ethics and Morality is essentially the same concept
2. Religions of tribal cultures had no influence on “morality” of future cultures (Roman Empire)
3. “Ethics and Morals” have nothing to do with religion, customs, or culture.
Ethics and Morals is strictly a philosophical attempt to formulate systemic codes in modern society. There were no such things in the past as “ethics and morals” in tribal cultures until Aristotle and Greek Philosophy that permeated all other cultures but is not really necessary… reflected in 4 and 5.
4. With the spread of the European philosophy (unclear if it’s necessary or not in culture, although such philosophy permeates culture) to other cultures through presumably colonization and superiority of culture. This permeation also includes America much later in the history and is global in modern days as modern philosophical principles of “Ethics and Morality”.
5. Philosophical “Ethics and Morals” have nothing to do with other cultures and such concept(s) is/are not necessary for the “development of culture”

Ranvier’s conclusion:
Confused not only about “Ethics and Morals” but opponent’s concept of culture, where in my perspective culture consists of: Religion, language, history, natural geography, science, art, politics, economy etc., including Philosophy of some kind, as in Eastern Philosophy.

What is this concept of "Ethics/Morality" really about? Is it purely an intellectual proposition from the philosophical deliberations or does it draw upon something else from the culture? Why would Aristotle mention the “soul”?

This leads us to the second point…

II. Religion as the source of the moral perspective
Ranvier
The concept of morality stems from such religious convictions that all life, especially human life is sacred in holding a unique consciousness and “soul” or “spirit” that is able to tune in to the divine. Such morality presupposes the “Natural Rights” of every sentient being.
GE Morton
No. The concept does not and did not spring from that source; it arose from the practical need for rules governing interactions between moral agents in a civilized social setting (a non-kinship, non-tribal social setting). The various religions merely sought to justify their preferred sets of rules by appeal to divine authority.
I think that we should start over from these points:

Are you stating that the “concept” of “morality” (the word) did not spring from the religious source or that actual morality (customs) have nothing to do with “moral values”? Are you claiming that the “moral conduct” is strictly driven by government rules, philosophical rules, or practical considerations but has nothing to do with religion and customs? Then I asked what the “moral agent” is. Basically what I understand so far, is that you describe the “moral agent” as a conscious organism (human) that is capable of deductive reasoning and can intellectually reason “morality” based on his interests in desire to pursue them in context of other “moral agents” that may have different interests. This “moral agent” is capable of formulating “moral principles” in the “moral field”. All this is deduced as principles in the modern society based on Philosophy that has nothing to do with religion.

My question became: How do we deduce such principles? What is the philosophical logic of good vs evil or right vs wrong act? How do we derive such values?

This brought us to the third point of value.

III. Contention about the meaning of Value, namely “inherent value”

Based on my post #39, I derive my position as everything has an “inherent value” because it exists. Every object or a person has such inherent value simply because it exists. “Star dust” (Nebula) has an inherent value because it cave rise to a solar system, which it turn has an inherent value because it gave rise to life, which in turn gave rise through evolution to human life that has an inherent value because human can continue to evolve to give rise to a new species. This is logically derived from personal “religion” rooted in science. But in modern secular society “value” is a subjective perception of the “inherent value” of objects and people in terms of usefulness and profit, giving example of slavery.

GE Morton position:

Values --- including the value of human life --- have no basis, in the sense of being derived from, or dependent upon, something else more fundamental. They are sui generis, inexplicable, and idiosyncratic. To say that something has value is merely to say that someone desires it and would give up something --- time, effort, money --- to acquire it or retain it. What one would give up to obtain a desired thing is the measure of its value to him. Value is not a property of things; it is a relation between a person, the valuer, and a thing --- the relation of being desired by that person. You need rules of interaction between moral agents in a social setting to assure that Alfie's pursuit of X does not interfere with Bruno's pursuit of Y. The rules of a sound public morality serve a purpose similar to traffic rules --- to allow all drivers to get where they're going in one piece, without crashes. They don't presume to dictate where anyone is going or what routes they must take.
My interpretation was that such belief or conviction is illogical and dangerous, without such “inherent fundamental value” to human life or anything else for that matter. This is evident in the modern philosophy as lack of concern for the environmental protection or the atrocities of Atheistic “movements” of the 20th century (WW I, WW II, and many others). You derived instead, quite clearly, that the “value” is ONLY based on the desire to obtain something to “possess” or “own” and retain that something by sacrificing time, effort, or money. In your perspective there is no “inherent value” to anything or anyone other than the subjective “in the eye of beholder” value of usefulness, that lead me to stipulate that humans are useless by birth unless they are useful. Following such logic, since there is no ultimate purpose or goal, everything is meaningless. The traffic rules analogy is a commonly used premise to depict the logic of “rules of sound public morality”, whatever that means. I’m being sarcastic because these are just laws that have nothing to do with morality. Such “traffic rules” are inadequate or even inappropriate in discussing moral issues such as abortion or assisted suicide.

Can you appreciate the logic for the “inherent value”, as well as the conceptual necessity for such “inherent value”? Otherwise what would be the rational for the procreation, other than those children may be useful someday. It’s illogical in such context to sacrifice resources (time, effort, and money) on a vague notion that children may offer some usefulness in the future. One can establish rules based on “value” but not any type of moral principle. One may find some personal “meaning” or “purpose” based on the desire for pleasure or fear of pain but ultimately it’s all meaningless. There is no logical point to anything other than to continue in self-delusion of meaningless purpose just to be able to continue enjoying inconsequential life in breeding like bacteria to ultimate individual death and ultimately extinction of human species or the planet. Why even struggle to come up with morality in the first place, what is the point? Killing a homeless person on the sidewalk is inconsequential. Why should we even care? Why should we care about anything?

This brings us to the last point

IV. Utopian view on “fulfillment” and “quality of life”

I begin to understand the perspective of other people with for mentioned philosophy based on “value”, where the individual “quality of life” is inconsequential of others, aside from the “moral rules” that prevent others from “driving over each other”. However as per conversation with Gertie, I fail to perceive logic that would rationalize the need for any such “moral rules” at all.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » August 30th, 2017, 11:15 am

Ranvier
1. No, you don't explain why "life" matters. You assert that what matters is "the quality of life".

2. It's still not clear "why" the quality of someone's else life should "matter" to me but certainly your explanation doesn't offer any significance to life itself. Therefore, one can follow this logic to conclude that "eliminating" others (painlessly to be humanitarian) does not violate their quality of life because there is no longer life present to experience any "qualitative" state.
Try it this way. Consciousness (qualiative experiential states) is fundamental to anything mattering, it is the stuff of mattering. Which manifests in beings such as ourselves. If a universe devoid of qualiative experiential states (conscious beings) ceased to exist, it wouldn't matter. When I die, what my body loses which matters, is the ability to have experiential states. That's what makes my body being alive matter, and yours, and everyone else's.

And because all conscious critters have this stuff of mattering, which we commonly call a' quality of life', this entails Oughts towards each other. It matters if someone hurts or kills you, and vice versa.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » August 30th, 2017, 12:36 pm

Ranvier wrote:Ranvier’s Interpretation:
Ethics and Morality is essentially the same concept
Yes.
Religions of tribal cultures had no influence on “morality” of future cultures (Roman Empire)

“Ethics and Morals” have nothing to do with religion, customs, or culture.
Misinterpretation. I said that religion is not the source of moral rules and norms, not that it "had nothing to do" with them. In most cultures moral rules and norms are propagated and reinforced by the local priesthood and justified by appeal to divine authority. So they are intertwined. But they are not the source of those rules; the practical need for rules of interaction between autonomous agents with diverse and possibly incompatible interests in a social setting was the motivating force. The evidence for this is obvious --- every culture, whatever its dominant religion, forbids murder, unprovoked assault, and stealing, at least frowns on lying, indolence, and (usually) adultery, and praises honesty, diligence, and generosity. It would be amazing if the religions in all these cultures, given the diversity of their doctrines and assumptions, all came up with such similar sets of norms (which are also embraced by most atheists, BTW) --- unless there was an underlying source common to them all. Which there is: the need for peace and harmony in their societies.
4. Ethics and Morals is strictly a philosophical attempt to formulate systemic codes in modern society. There were no such things in the past as “ethics and morals” in tribal cultures until Aristotle and Greek Philosophy that permeated all other cultures but is not really necessary… reflected in 4 and 5.
Misinterpretation. Every human culture, primitive or modern, has some sort of moral norms, i.e., some set of generally accepted rules of conduct. In primitive cultures the origins of these are obscure, or are attributed to the commands of gods or ancestors, and they are seldom pondered, questioned, or challenged. They are taken for granted and followed by rote. Not until the rise of civilized societies did these norms begin to be questioned and challenged, and studied in a deliberate, systematic way. Ethics became a subject of interest to philosophers.
Ranvier’s conclusion:
Confused not only about “Ethics and Morals” but opponent’s concept of culture, where in my perspective culture consists of: Religion, language, history, natural geography, science, art, politics, economy etc., including Philosophy of some kind, as in Eastern Philosophy.
I'm not sure what you think "opponent's concept of culture" is. But it is not substantially different from the one you just articulated.
What is this concept of "Ethics/Morality" really about? Is it purely an intellectual proposition from the philosophical deliberations or does it draw upon something else from the culture? Why would Aristotle mention the “soul”?
I think I answered that. What it is about is finding rules which secure peace and harmony in a society and allow it to function optimally.
Are you stating that the “concept” of “morality” (the word) did not spring from the religious source or that actual morality (customs) have nothing to do with “moral values”? Are you claiming that the “moral conduct” is strictly driven by government rules, philosophical rules, or practical considerations but has nothing to do with religion and customs?
I think I answered that above. Was that answer clear?
Then I asked what the “moral agent” is. Basically what I understand so far, is that you describe the “moral agent” as a conscious organism (human) that is capable of deductive reasoning and can intellectually reason “morality” based on his interests in desire to pursue them in context of other “moral agents” that may have different interests. This “moral agent” is capable of formulating “moral principles” in the “moral field”. All this is deduced as principles in the modern society based on Philosophy that has nothing to do with religion.
Well, a sound moral theory is not "based on philosophy." It is based on observable features of human nature and human societies, and aims to maximize welfare for all agents. But you're right that it has nothing to do with religion --- which is not to say that "vernacular morality" (the morality actually embraced by many people) was not acquired by them via religion.
My question became: How do we deduce such principles? What is the philosophical logic of good vs evil or right vs wrong act? How do we derive such values?
We deduce them from uncontroversial facts about human nature and human societies, together with a stipulated goal. We test them by conducting thought experiments, and when possible, by putting them into practice and observing the results. I.e., the same way we test and validate theories in any other field. The theory will not specify what is good or evil, BTW. What is good or evil is agent-relative; the aim of the theory is only to permit each agent to maximize the good as he conceives it, as long as his pursuit of it violates no rights of any other agent. The theory does provide a means of distinguishing right from wrong, however --- a wrong act is one which violates any theorem of the theory.
Based on my post #39, I derive my position as everything has an “inherent value” because it exists. Every object or a person has such inherent value simply because it exists.
Well, claiming that "everything that exists" has value renders the term meaningless. Like most adjectives in the language, "value" is used to distinguish some things from others. If everything has value, then the proposition "X has value" is meaningless; it conveys no information. It is a tautology. Similarly, if everything is blue, then the statement "The sky is blue" conveys no information. In ordinary speech the term "value" is used to denote something deemed worthy of pursuit, something that justifies the expenditure of time and effort to acquire. Methinks you need to reconsider your thesis there.
“Star dust” (Nebula) has an inherent value because it cave rise to a solar system, which it turn has an inherent value because it gave rise to life, which in turn gave rise through evolution to human life that has an inherent value because human can continue to evolve to give rise to a new species . . .
And in what sense does the emergence of new species have value, except in the sense that some person (such as you) deems it desireable? The value you attribute to all those things is not "inherent" in them; it is imputed to them by you. The term "value" denotes no inherent property of a thing; without you or another agent to impute it, someone to whom it is valuable, the term denotes nothing; it's meaningless.
My interpretation was that such belief or conviction is illogical and dangerous, without such “inherent fundamental value” to human life or anything else for that matter. This is evident in the modern philosophy as lack of concern for the environmental protection or the atrocities of Atheistic “movements” of the 20th century (WW I, WW II, and many others). You derived instead, quite clearly, that the “value” is ONLY based on the desire to obtain something to “possess” or “own” and retain that something by sacrificing time, effort, or money. In your perspective there is no “inherent value” to anything or anyone other than the subjective “in the eye of beholder” value of usefulness, that lead me to stipulate that humans are useless by birth unless they are useful. Following such logic, since there is no ultimate purpose or goal, everything is meaningless.
Correct. There is no "ultimate" purpose or goal, and, sub specie aeternatatis, everything is meaningless. Whatever has meaning or value has it because some moral agent, some person, has assigned that meaning or imputed that value to it. I'm not sure why you find that disheartening. Humans are the sources of value. Without them (or perhaps some other sentient species) no value would exist in the universe. I should think you would find that inspiring, not depressing.

As with all other things, persons have no "inherent value." But each of them is a source of value, a creator of value. That makes them and their various goals and strivings worthy of consideration and respect by other moral agents.
Can you appreciate the logic for the “inherent value”, as well as the conceptual necessity for such “inherent value”?
I think I just answered that. There is no conceptual necessity for that concept (which is. as I've said, vacuous).
Otherwise what would be the rational for the procreation, other than those children may be useful someday.
There is no "rationale" for having children. People have them because they desire them; that is the only reason operative or needed. (That is true of all primary wants or "end goods," BTW. They are unchosen, inexplicable, and non-rational).
I begin to understand the perspective of other people with for mentioned philosophy based on “value”, where the individual “quality of life” is inconsequential of others, aside from the “moral rules” that prevent others from “driving over each other”. However as per conversation with Gertie, I fail to perceive logic that would rationalize the need for any such “moral rules” at all.
You don't think preventing people from driving over each other is a sufficient reason to establish rules?

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » August 30th, 2017, 6:15 pm

Gertie
Gertie wrote:Ranvier
1. No, you don't explain why "life" matters. You assert that what matters is "the quality of life".

2. It's still not clear "why" the quality of someone's else life should "matter" to me but certainly your explanation doesn't offer any significance to life itself. Therefore, one can follow this logic to conclude that "eliminating" others (painlessly to be humanitarian) does not violate their quality of life because there is no longer life present to experience any "qualitative" state.
Try it this way. Consciousness (qualiative experiential states) is fundamental to anything mattering, it is the stuff of mattering. Which manifests in beings such as ourselves. If a universe devoid of qualiative experiential states (conscious beings) ceased to exist, it wouldn't matter. When I die, what my body loses which matters, is the ability to have experiential states. That's what makes my body being alive matter, and yours, and everyone else's.

And because all conscious critters have this stuff of mattering, which we commonly call a' quality of life', this entails Oughts towards each other. It matters if someone hurts or kills you, and vice versa.
This becomes a circular argument with flawed logic because it doesn't make sense. I just have to Identify at which point the logic breaks down. Which is directly related to what GE Morton is explaining as "value", that something is only meaningful due to such consciousness and "stuff of mattering" he refers to as "moral agent". Following this logic:
- Life or anything else for that "matter" is meaningless because it's not conscious > Consciousness is what matters because > this is the state of "mattering" (in qualitative state) = Environment, other life forms (unconscious), anything really doesn't matter, unless the consciousness assigns "value" to such things, only then such things "matter".
I postulate that this is illogical and dangerous way of thinking (flawed philosophy). It asserts that only human "conscious life" matters because it's the "stuff of mattering". Therefore, one can destroy things at will because it's not the "stuff of mattering" > But most of all it becomes "fanatic" in logic that with death of one's consciousness everything else becomes meaningless in such perspective = offering a conclusion before ones death... the hell with the World that might as well seize to exist as it does from the point of view of one's death.

It still doesn't explain the second point:
Why does consciousness matter? Why does the "moral agent" capable of qualitative state matter? Just because you say so? What is the "value" of qualitative state if we'll all eventually die anyway? Is it because we were just born with such consciousness? But that would imply an "inherent value" in just being born with such consciousness > where GE Morton argues that there is no such thing.

Why would it matter to kill a homeless person without family or friends or anyone that could assign "value" to that conscious entity, since from the point of view of that homeless conscious entity, anything that matters would seize to exist (matter) in his death and will eventually anyway? The logic must be flawed somewhere...

-- Updated August 30th, 2017, 6:20 pm to add the following --

... Unless of course killing the homeless doesn't really matter in such view, then it is a sound logic.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Gertie » August 31st, 2017, 7:16 am

Ranvier
This becomes a circular argument with flawed logic because it doesn't make sense. I just have to Identify at which point the logic breaks down. Which is directly related to what GE Morton is explaining as “value”, that something is only meaningful due to such consciousness and “stuff of mattering” he refers to as “moral agent”. Following this logic:
- Life or anything else for that “matter” is meaningless because it's not conscious > Consciousness is what matters because > this is the state of “mattering” (in qualitative state) = Environment, other life forms (unconscious), anything really doesn't matter, unless the consciousness assigns “value” to such things, only then such things “matter”.
I postulate that this is illogical and dangerous way of thinking (flawed philosophy). It asserts that only human “conscious life” matters because it's the “stuff of mattering”. Therefore, one can destroy things at will because it's not the “stuff of mattering”


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.



Non-conscious stuff doesn't have interests, a stake in the state of affairs of the world. However, it can of course matter to conscious creatures. The environment overall obviously matters in innumerable ways to the well-being of conscious creatures, so we Ought to care for it, much better than we currently do.

What morality or Oughts would you say applies to a universe of rocks and carrots, and why?


But most of all it becomes “fanatic” in logic...
I think you put your finger on an important point here, that any foundational principle can potentially become dogma and used in ways antithetical to its purpose. I'm not convinced my approach is immune to that, but perhaps that's a price we have to pay for having any guiding principle, and still better than the alternative of having no guiding principle at all.


...that with death of one's consciousness everything else becomes meaningless in such perspective = offering a conclusion before ones death... the hell with the World that might as well seize to exist as it does from the point of view of one's death.


Well if the fact of the matter is that the world ends for an individual with their death, we have to deal with it. My formulation deals with living a good life, which we have some control over. It could be pared down to the following - 'Try to be Happy and Try to be Kind', not a bad way to spend the time you have, imo.


It still doesn't explain the second point:
Why does consciousness matter? Why does the “moral agent” capable of qualitative state matter?Just because you say so?What is the “value” of qualitative state if we'll all eventually die anyway? Is it because we were just born with such consciousness? But that would imply an “inherent value” in just being born with such consciousness > where GE Morton argues that there is no such thing.

Why would it matter to kill a homeless person without family or friends or anyone that could assign “value” to that conscious entity, since from the point of view of that homeless conscious entity, anything that matters would seize to exist (matter) in his death and will eventually anyway? The logic must be flawed somewhere...

... Unless of course killing the homeless doesn't really matter in such view, then it is a sound logic.


First, I'm not GE Morton, I have my own position and muddling the two isn't helpful.

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.

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.

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.



You 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.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » August 31st, 2017, 9:06 am

Ranvier wrote:
This becomes a circular argument with flawed logic because it doesn't make sense.
While an argument with flawed logic may not make sense, that an argument may not make sense to someone does not mean that its logic is flawed or that it is circular.
I just have to Identify at which point the logic breaks down. Which is directly related to what GE Morton is explaining as "value", that something is only meaningful due to such consciousness and "stuff of mattering" he refers to as "moral agent". Following this logic:
- Life or anything else for that "matter" is meaningless because it's not conscious . . .
Er, no. It is not meaningless as long as it is meaningful to someone (some conscious creature). By the same token, if there were no conscious creatures in the universe then everything in it would be meaningless.
You persist in thinking that "meaningful" and "value" are "inherent" properties of things. They are not; they are assigned properties (sometimes called pseudo-properties) imputed to them by persons (or perhaps by other sentient creatures).
Consciousness is what matters because > this is the state of "mattering" (in qualitative state) = Environment, other life forms (unconscious), anything really doesn't matter, unless the consciousness assigns "value" to such things, only then such things "matter".
Yes; that is correct. Unless those things matter to someone, saying that "they matter" is false.
I postulate that this is illogical and dangerous way of thinking (flawed philosophy). It asserts that only human "conscious life" matters because it's the "stuff of mattering". Therefore, one can destroy things at will because it's not the "stuff of mattering" . . .
That, sir, is the flawed logic. It asserts no such thing. Anything that matters to someone matters. Everything that is meaningful to someone is meaningful. Everything that has value to someone has value. Hence one may not "destroy things at will" as long as they are valued by someone.

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Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by Ranvier » August 31st, 2017, 4:38 pm

Gertie
Gertie wrote:
Ranvier
This becomes a circular argument with flawed logic because it doesn't make sense. I just have to Identify at which point the logic breaks down. Which is directly related to what GE Morton is explaining as “value”, that something is only meaningful due to such consciousness and “stuff of mattering” he refers to as “moral agent”. Following this logic:
- Life or anything else for that “matter” is meaningless because it's not conscious > Consciousness is what matters because > this is the state of “mattering” (in qualitative state) = Environment, other life forms (unconscious), anything really doesn't matter, unless the consciousness assigns “value” to such things, only then such things “matter”.
I postulate that this is illogical and dangerous way of thinking (flawed philosophy). It asserts that only human “conscious life” matters because it's the “stuff of mattering”. Therefore, one can destroy things at will because it's not the “stuff of mattering”
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? I often say that I continue to forget that most people, if not all, think differently than I do. I'm constantly reminded that I only project myself onto others in understanding that something is obvious, where a given concept often isn't obvious to others. Therefore one must explain "Why ought we care about the "quality of life" of others". One can't just assume that because one's life is important or meaningful to self, that this would be similar sentiment for others. Especially since one can't even explain why one's own life is important, other than "I can feel and my quality of life matters to me", which has nothing to do with actual "mattering" or "value". What is the "state of mattering"? Why? Objectively

Especially since the homeless live below the dignity level of human consciousness. Some may even suggest that under such "quality of life" and "Ought's" moral theory, it would be a Mercy to kill such homeless individuals... or prostitutes... or...
Gertie wrote: Non-conscious stuff doesn't have interests, a stake in the state of affairs of the world(this is to say that the human consciousness does... So WHAT? Why does it matter?). However, it can of course matter to conscious creatures. The environment overall obviously matters in innumerable ways to the well-being of conscious creatures, so we Ought to care for it, much better than we currently do.



We'll all die anyway, so who cares? What is the difference in dying now vs 50 years from now? Why does it matter? Especially from the point of view of another individual, who's "quality of life" is infringed upon by another individual. With such logic, including the logic of evolution, it would be "wise" to eliminate that person. What is it that is stopping us from doing so. Why is it wrong? Where do these "Ought's" come from?
Gertie wrote: What morality or Oughts would you say applies to a universe of rocks and carrots, and why?



In post #39 I believe, I offered a Natural Law Theory with 2 Absolute principles + a 3rd I will say now by quoting from another post:
Ranvier wrote: 1. To become "better"
- If we observe the nature, we can distinguish two patterns:
A. Life chooses simplicity of structure and uniformity within species but benefits in survival due to numbers: bacteria, insects, algae
B. Life chooses another route, that of complexity of organism's structure in body systems and diversity in genetic material: animal kingdom
Humans are interesting species embracing both: numbers and complexity, taking the dominant place as the apex species.
2. This leads to second principle: that of complexity, which according to first principle (1B) is better.
3. Third principle is that of the balance, which we can observe everywhere: super-symmetry, plain symmetry, particle and wave, expansion and contraction, or human body systems of say: Calcitonin/PTH (high PTH > osteoporosis), or Dopamine/Acetyl choline (low dopamine > Parkinson's) Too much of any one thing is not good...
From such absolute principles we can deduce the purpose and meaning of our Universe. We can choose to recognize it, since we have the skill of observation, logic, and the consciousness operating in the realm of wisdom of mind. We were endowed through evolution with our consciousness, the only sentient beings on this planet, to perhaps take notice that the Universe (presumably) was here before us and (presumably) will be here after we're gone. We could not have been "born" without the presence of the "stuff" that "exists". Therefore, there is an "inherent "value" or meaning"" in all that exists, simply because it exists. If there was "nothing", then there would be no meaning and nothing to talk about. In fact, nothing would exist that we could assign as subjective "value" or "meaning" to our existence. We wouldn't exist, at least not in a physical sense. Therefore, everything matters, including the rock and the carrot. Taking principle three, one can deduce that if one cuts the tree down - one should plant a new tree. One must create for that which was "destroyed".

Should this be applied to human beings... for that we have our consciousness to deduce the "meaning" of our actions. But I will offer a peak at 4th absolute principle... that of diversity. By killing a homeless, we violate the second principle (complexity) by reducing the diversity, since every consciousness is unique.
Ranvier
But most of all it becomes “fanatic” in logic...
Gertie
I think you put your finger on an important point here, that any foundational principle can potentially become dogma and used in ways antithetical to its purpose. I'm not convinced my approach is immune to that, but perhaps that's a price we have to pay for having any guiding principle, and still better than the alternative of having no guiding principle at all.
I had a feeling Gertie... and for that you have my respect, that you'll recognize that with an open mind. Salute emoji

Ranvier
...that with death of one's consciousness everything else becomes meaningless in such perspective = offering a conclusion before ones death... the hell with the World that might as well seize to exist as it does from the point of view of one's death.
Gertie wrote: Well if the fact of the matter is that the world ends for an individual with their death, we have to deal with it. My formulation deals with living a good life, which we have some control over. It could be pared down to the following - 'Try to be Happy and Try to be Kind', not a bad way to spend the time you have, imo.
You have my consensus.
Gertie wrote: First, I'm not GE Morton, I have my own position and muddling the two isn't helpful...

You 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.
Please accept my apology for that... it was my affront to "reduce" both of you to the same category violating (principle 4) :)
I agree with the last sentence.

P.S. to GE Morton
My apology, I'm not ignoring your thoughts. I will reply soon.

-- Updated August 31st, 2017, 5:27 pm to add the following --

I will add to this current line of thought...

The 4th principle is the "peak" and possible turning point in our evolution... possibly. Here is the 5th principle of "evil" vs "good". The one I'm stuck on for over five years without a solution.

We observe the beauty of the cosmos, distant nebula and supernova, billions of different galaxies... Yet, the greatest beauty in here on earth. With all the wisdom of pure "creation" of near perfect life... PLANTS. This is the only life form that actively opposes the entropy of the "chaos" in converting kinetic energy to potential energy.

If we draw a straight line from Plants --> Herbivores --> Carnivores --> Human, we'll observe the "evil" self-centered parasitic selfishness of the 1st principle. Is our consciousness the turning point? Or are we going to continue to evolve to become "better" to:

Plants --> Herbivores --> Carnivores --> Human --> Psychopath

Emotionless pure logic, calculated in superior ruthless efficiency of order? Perhaps AI is the next evolutionary step for humanity?

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

Post by GE Morton » September 1st, 2017, 10:34 am

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 glaring non sequitur

You 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 a philosophical argument for any moral "oughts."

PS: Ranvier is indulging in the same fallacy, but begins from a different premise (various natural facts about the universe).

-- Updated September 1st, 2017, 11:17 am to add the following --
Ranvier wrote:But one can't build a moral theory of "Ought's" based on a premise without justifying or rationalizing that premise.
Not so. A moral theory from which "oughts" can be derived, like all other theories, must begin from a premise(s) (a moral premise, in this case) --- a postulate or a set of them --- taken to be true without proof. Otherwise you're trapped in an infinite regress.
What are these "Ought's" and where do they come from? . . . Therefore one must explain "Why ought we care about the "quality of life" of others".
"Oughts" come from moral theories (hopefully, sound ones).

"Care about" is an ambiguous phrase. It can mean, "has empathy with," or "has affection for," or "has an interest in the welfare of." It also has a less emotionally-laden meaning: that for certain practical or theoretical or procedural reasons we must take the interests of others into account. A sound moral theory requires us to "care about" others in the second sense, but not in the first (which is, if the "caring" is to be for all other moral agents, impossible in large societies).
One can't just assume that because one's life is important or meaningful to self, that this would be similar sentiment for others.
Not sure what you're saying there. Are you saying that Alfie can't assume that Bruno regards Alfie's life as important or meaningful, or that Alfie can't assume that Bruno considers his own life to be important or meaningful? Actually, we need not assume either --- Alfie can determine the truth or falsity of both by observation of Bruno's behavior.
Especially since one can't even explain why one's own life is important, other than "I can feel and my quality of life matters to me", which has nothing to do with actual "mattering" or "value". What is the "state of mattering"? Why? Objectively . . .
Well, you're apparently rejecting, without refuting, my argument that "mattering" is not objective and is agent-dependent and agent-relative. There is no such thing as "actual mattering," or "actual value." Propositions of the form "X has (actual, inherent, intrinsic, objective) value" are non-cognitive --- they have no determinable truth values and are therefore meaningless. If you disagree with this, please describe a procedure we might follow to determine whether "X has actual value V" is true or false --- for any X you wish to consider.

You need to do this without indulging in the Naturalistic Fallacy --- i.e., trying to derive an "ought" from an "is." (See response to Gertie, above).

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

Post by Ranvier » September 1st, 2017, 4:26 pm

GE Morton

quoted Gertie:
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.
GE Morton
So far, so good.
No, there is a problem here because a "gold nugget" on the ground may "matter" more to someone than "qualitative nature of experimental states".
This is often a problem with theories, namely that they are great but do not correspond with the reality.
Gertie
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.
GE Morton
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.
I can only agree with that: "Ought's" - are the product of consciousness, in a subjective perception of the "moral agent".
GE Morton
Attempting to derive an "ought" from an "is" is also called the "Naturalistic Fallacy," and it is logically impossible.
It's a subjective fallacy, not a fallacy of logic. Some religions did quite well with such "fallacy".
GE Morton
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.

GEM quotes Gertie
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 glaring non sequitur
Of course that isn't a logical premise. I took an issue with this all along.
GEM quotes Gertie

Gertie
You 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.
GEM
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 a philosophical argument for any moral "oughts."

PS: Ranvier is indulging in the same fallacy, but begins from a different premise (various natural facts about the universe).
I agreed with Gertie on that sentence, since only human consciousness in capable of creating "Ought's" in each individual perception of the "moral agent".
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). There are no Universal "Ought's" to be deduced, only the fact in need for such "Ought's" through perspective of logic and emotion. This is why the Philosophy of religion was the dominant force in the development of morality within different cultures, which you reject as the source for a moral conduct. I don't want to go back to arguing the influence of religion on the culture or morality but one should realize "why" human mind felt the need to create religion independently in all different parts of the world.
GEM quotes Ranvier
Ranvier wrote:But one can't build a moral theory of "Ought's" based on a premise without justifying or rationalizing that premise.
Not so. A moral theory from which "oughts" can be derived, like all other theories, must begin from a premise(s) (a moral premise, in this case) --- a postulate or a set of them --- taken to be true without proof. Otherwise you're trapped in an infinite regress.
What is a moral premise? In your mind. Neither of you GEM and Gertie definitively answered my question about killing the homeless... or prostitutes... or...
The entire sentence is a pure speculation and misguided supposition. Any theory is first based on "observation" --> then educated guess as "hypothesis" --> then must be tested --> multiple tests that failed to disprove the hypothesis = become a theory.

Fortunately for my argument, both the religious philosophy (various kinds) and the secular philosophy of the 20th century were tested in real life with the results clearly recorded by the history. I've said it before: "one can't produce a moral theory sitting on the park bench, debating whether to feed the pigeons".

Where GEM, you lead us to a flawed logic:
Ranvier
What are these "Ought's" and where do they come from? . . . Therefore one must explain "Why ought we care about the "quality of life" of others".
GEM
"Oughts" come from moral theories (hopefully, sound ones).
What are those sound moral theories? Please be kind and produce for us a "sound moral theory" that would solve: say, an issue of abortion.
Is there even an issue, since there can't be a proof of consciousness?
GEM
"Care about" is an ambiguous phrase. It can mean, "has empathy with," or "has affection for," or "has an interest in the welfare of." It also has a less emotionally-laden meaning: that for certain practical or theoretical or procedural reasons we must take the interests of others into account. A sound moral theory requires us to "care about" others in the second sense, but not in the first (which is, if the "caring" is to be for all other moral agents, impossible in large societies).
This paragraph is an excellent example of the "difficulty" and "diversity" in ascertaining the "Ought's" through any moral theory. Some people have empathy for homeless in that they wouldn't want to be in their place or Affection from the more sympathetic or "conscious" individuals. To those that only see the interest in logic of prevention of crime or drainage on the social system (welfare). The Universal moral theory is dead with that paragraph.

That brought me to this:
Ranvier wrote: The 4th principle is the "peak" and possible turning point in our evolution... possibly. Here is the 5th principle of "evil" vs "good". The one I'm stuck on for over five years without a solution.

We observe the beauty of the cosmos, distant nebula and supernova, billions of different galaxies... Yet, the greatest beauty in here on earth. With all the wisdom of pure "creation" of near perfect life... PLANTS. This is the only life form that actively opposes the entropy of the "chaos" in converting kinetic energy to potential energy.

If we draw a straight line from Plants --> Herbivores --> Carnivores --> Human, we'll observe the "evil" self-centered parasitic selfishness of the 1st principle. Is our consciousness the turning point? Or are we going to continue to evolve to become "better" to:

Plants --> Herbivores --> Carnivores --> Human --> Psychopath

Emotionless pure logic, calculated in superior ruthless efficiency of order? Perhaps AI is the next evolutionary step for humanity?
This is why I started to conceive the Pluracracy social system that could allow for "caring" for all moral agents, even in a large society.

GE Morton
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Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Does Natural Law Theory reach a dead end?

Post by GE Morton » September 2nd, 2017, 12:06 am

Ranvier wrote:No, there is a problem here because a "gold nugget" on the ground may "matter" more to someone than "qualitative nature of experimental states".
This is often a problem with theories, namely that they are great but do not correspond with the reality.
Gertie's word was "experiential states," not "experimental states." The "matterings" of the nugget to different people are themselves experiential states.
I can only agree with that: "Ought's" - are the product of consciousness, in a subjective perception of the "moral agent".
I'm not sure with what you think you're agreeing. What I said was not, and does not imply, that "oughts" are "subjective perceptions of moral agents." They are products of consciousness, of course. as is all thought, all beliefs and claims, and all arguments.
It's a subjective fallacy, not a fallacy of logic. Some religions did quite well with such "fallacy".
I have no idea what a "subjective fallacy" is. Fallacies are errors in logic. The Naturalistic Fallacy is such an error. But you're right that religions do quite well with fallacious arguments. I hope you're not offering that as an argument for fallacious reasoning.
(Quoting)"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 glaring non sequitur."

Of course that isn't a logical premise. I took an issue with this all along.
I'm not sure what you mean by a "logical premise." Arguments are logical or illogical; premises are either true or false (though if they're self-contradictory they may be said to be illogical). The premise above is true. But the conclusion does not follow from it.
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).
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.
There are no Universal "Ought's" to be deduced, only the fact in need for such "Ought's" through perspective of logic and emotion.
Well, if you think no universal "oughts" can be logically deduced you need to make an argument for that impossibility. As far as I can see it is an open question.
This is why the Philosophy of religion was the dominant force in the development of morality within different cultures, which you reject as the source for a moral conduct. I don't want to go back to arguing the influence of religion on the culture or morality but one should realize "why" human mind felt the need to create religion independently in all different parts of the world.
Humans create religions in order to provide answers to all manner of questions otherwise unanswerable. "Why is the sky blue?" . . . "God made it that way." "What causes thunder?" . . . "The gods are angry." "Why did little sister get sick and die?" . . . "It was God's will." "Why may I not take Bruno's chickens?" "The gods forbid it."

You avoided the point, Ranvier --- if the source of morality is religion, how did religions which differ radically in their world views, their doctrines and and dogmas, manage to arrive at similar sets of moral rules?
What is a moral premise?
A moral premise is a proposition with normative content expected to be accepted as "self-evidently true."
In your mind. Neither of you GEM and Gertie definitively answered my question about killing the homeless... or prostitutes... or...
Probably because the answer is obvious. And it has been answered implicitly, if not explicitly. You persist in thinking that "mattering," "value," and the like are properties of things. So when I say that value is a pseudo-property imputed to things by persons, and not an "inherent" property of things, you infer that I'm saying that the lives of homeless people (and many other things, I'm sure) "don't really matter." Well, yes they do "really matter" --- as long as they matter to someone, including the homeless person herself, then they "really matter." And that is the only sense in which anything "really matters."

What are those sound moral theories? Please be kind and produce for us a "sound moral theory" that would solve: say, an issue of abortion.[/quote]

Here are the premises of what I consider to be a sound moral theory:

---------------------------
A Theory of Public Morality

Definitions:

A Moral Agent is 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)

A Moral Field is 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).

An Interest is a good or an evil.

A Good is a thing, condition, or state of affairs which an agent seeks to acquire or retain.
a) A Means Good is a good sought because the agent believes the good is necessary or useful for obtaining an end good.
b) An End Good is a good sought by the agent “for itself,” i.e., because he believes it in se will afford him some benefit or satisfaction.

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

The Value of 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).

An Interaction is 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).

A Moral Duty is an obligation upon a moral agent to perform a specific act given specific circumstances, derived from and commanded by a sound moral theory.

A Moral Constraint is 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 no a 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 priori by 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).

--------------------------

Note that Postulate 5 and the Axiom are normative propositions. The remaining postulates are empirical. I'll leave it to you to decide how the abortion question would be answered per this theory.

Is there even an issue, since there can't be a proof of consciousness?


Huh? "Cogito ergo sum"?



GEM
"Care about" is an ambiguous phrase. It can mean, "has empathy with," or "has affection for," or "has an interest in the welfare of." It also has a less emotionally-laden meaning: that for certain practical or theoretical or procedural reasons we must take the interests of others into account. A sound moral theory requires us to "care about" others in the second sense, but not in the first (which is, if the "caring" is to be for all other moral agents, impossible in large societies)."

This paragraph is an excellent example of the "difficulty" and "diversity" in ascertaining the "Ought's" through any moral theory. Some people have empathy for homeless in that they wouldn't want to be in their place or Affection from the more sympathetic or "conscious" individuals. To those that only see the interest in logic of prevention of crime or drainage on the social system (welfare). The Universal moral theory is dead with that paragraph.


Well, if you so think then it it is up to you to produce an argument showing how the statements quoted render a universal moral theory impossible. (BTW, by a "universal moral theory" I mean one which is sound and applicable to all humans in all civilized societies; not one which is accepted or followed by all persons).

We observe the beauty of the cosmos, distant nebula and supernova, billions of different galaxies... Yet, the greatest beauty in here on earth. With all the wisdom of pure "creation" of near perfect life... PLANTS. This is the only life form that actively opposes the entropy of the "chaos" in converting kinetic energy to potential energy.


And you think that is relevant to moral reasoning or moral judgments . . . how?

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