Objective vs Subjective Morality

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Maxcady10001
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Maxcady10001 » January 21st, 2018, 10:06 pm

I think subjects are very real, in fact more real than the physical world in the sense that they have intrinsic existence, and they can interact with the physical world, whose dynamics can be described mathematically in the orthodox von Neumann formalization. Subjects are necessarily unified and holistic, existing necessarily as irreducible intrinsic informational structures, and they are not causes of events, but rather they can act, resulting in outcomes in the world
What do you mean by irreducible informational structures? Considering a subject as an informational structure, this structure can be broken down further, e.g.,brain reduced to matter, reduced to energy. I guess a subject would have to be an informational structure, but this can be broken down further.
. I think subjects are very real, in fact more real than the physical world in the sense that they have intrinsic existence, and they can interact with the physical world
There is a separation here of what I believe you are referring to as the mind/subject and the body/physical. Is that right? If so, what is the medium between the subject and the physical world? How can this subject act in the physical world if it is separate from the physical world?

It also seems contradictory to say they are not causes yet they can act, as to act implies causation. To say they have ability is to say they are potential causes. Also, how can there be intentionality if there is no causation, as a subject must intend to be a cause.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 21st, 2018, 10:31 pm

Maxcady10001 wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 10:06 pm
What do you mean by irreducible informational structures? Considering a subject as an informational structure, this structure can be broken down further, e.g.,brain reduced to matter, reduced to energy. I guess a subject would have to be an informational structure, but this can be broken down further.


What I mean is that experience is necessarily irreducible, and this experienced information is therefore necessarily an irreducible structure. If you attempted to reduce it to its causal constituents, it would not contain the same information, which means it is not reducible. I mean to say that experiential states are neither causally nor ontologically reducible to more fundamental components.
Maxcady10001 wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 10:06 pm
There is a separation here of what I believe you are referring to as the mind/subject and the body/physical. Is that right? If so, what is the medium between the subject and the physical world? How can this subject act in the physical world if it is separate from the physical world?
Mind and body are different in the sense that there is a distinction between ontological modes of existence (subjective and objective) but no separate ontological realms, i.e., no substance dualism. How it can act in the world is explicitly and mathematically formulated in the orthodox von Neumann formalization of quantum theory.
Maxcady10001 wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 10:06 pm
It also seems contradictory to say they are not causes yet they can act, as to act implies causation. To say they have ability is to say they are potential causes. Also, how can there be intentionality if there is no causation, as a subject must intend to be a cause.
A subject cannot be a cause simpliciter since there must be some process or property which functions causally. There is an agent which acts, which causes events to occur. This again is described by the orthodox quantum formalism. Perhaps one may, from the third-person perspective, say that an agent caused an event, but from the first-person perspective, the agent acted.

Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am

This seems to explain the 'objective' bit, but not the 'morality' bit
I am happy to engage with the definitions people set for morality, I think the definition of morality depends upon your culture or ideas. Clearly morality is a standard placed on behaviour, clearly values are concepts we care about but what exactly constitutes as one depends a lot on your society. I define morality as simply being any of these standards which we place on our behaviours and the behaviours of others but objective morality may not be defined that way. The difference between morality, manners, values like duty, responsibility and so on, other standards for behaviour seems to me to be dependent upon the culture. Similarly with values, the differences between preferences and values seem to me, based quite a bit on culture. So I just think anything that you can value is a value.

I think well-being for example is very central to western philosophy/culture, we are a very liberal society and we don’t put the same level of pressure on others to act in certain ways as other cultures do. If you look at Islamic culture or Indian culture for example, morality there very clearly emphasises moral concerns outside of well-being. Views there on religion, sex, appearance, obedience, honour and duty are clearly moral issues in those regions. We can look at warrior cultures like 16th century Japan and see morality there was warped into a rather destructive bushido moral code that actually encouraged practices which clearly endangered or lowered your well-being.

Even in the west, the questions of freedom of speech, economic interests, the degrees of socialism, fairness, equality and so on, are evaluated against well-being. I think that people can argue for freedom of speech for intellectual reasons, although it may hurt people's feelings. Ultimately you can make arguments for bringing it back to well-being but I don't really think that's what people are doing all of these aforementioned things for. It's not just me that considers that to be moral issues either, it's the people who care or cared about these issues.

The question for me though, is how can morality even be objective? I'll accept any definition of morality, I don't see how you can take make a distinction between behaviours that demonstrates objective superiority or correctness. The only way is to break the rules, for example saying “God is objective no matter what because someone said so thousands of years ago”. Demonstrating single-mindedness in humanity, does not create an argument of moral objectivity. It's like saying the Earth was flat when humans all thought it was flat. Or that it's objectively correct to get upset when someone you love dies, that's obviously not something you can prove without an axiom and you can't make an objectively correct axiom.

Obviously objectivity vs subjectivity is a big part of this debate and so I'll throw in my own opinions. Obviously all information which know to be true from observation is actually intersubjective. However the validity found in a concept can be objectively true and concepts themselves can argue for objective truth although it cannot be demonstrated. So an example of the former claim would be that something which is infinite cannot be reduced to nothing. This is an objectively true claim which does not require intersubjectivity, the premise it's based on is not observation but a concept which does not require validation. It could be entirely fictional but the logic would still be incontestable.

I think arguments such as objective morality or God fit into the later claim, where these are concepts which argue for existence on a basis outside of experience or observation. The concept itself entails objective truth. So I don't really accept intersubjectivity as a counterargument for objective morality, however I do think the problem of needing intersubjectivity for evidence means that objective morality will never be proven true.

Londoner
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Londoner » January 22nd, 2018, 5:56 am

Frost wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 5:58 pm
Let's bring this down to concrete examples, preferably something that is much more physiological. If I say that the function of the heart is to pump blood, that function is Intentionality-dependent. There is no ontologically objective fact of "function," and the existence of functions only exist in the ontologically subjective mode of existence, or in other words are Intentionality-dependent. If man did not value life and well-being, then he may refer to the heart as dysfunctional. The functional concept is relative to an axiology and a teleology in this way. As a result of this teleology, it is epistemically objective, because if you stop the heart then the organism dies. Whether or not you have the concept or idea in your head is irrelevant to this fact of the matter.
If we say 'the function of the heart is to pump blood' then we are not just discussing the heart; we are discussing the heart within the context of the body. The notion of 'function' is understood within that context. If we try to extend it further; 'What is the function of the body?' then we need to widen the context again, for example we might say 'to preserve life' and, if that isn't a tautology, we have introduced the idea that 'life' is something seperate from the body, our 'mind' or whatever. In other words, we are moving further and further away from what originally seemed like a simple empirical fact.

Whichever path we pick, we find the idea of 'purpose' becomes more and more diffused, and there is no reason to pick one path above another. On one path, the purpose of the heart and body might be to 'delay entropy', on another it might be 'to create meaning within absurdity'.

I think the same is true of morality.
So in the same way, the function of morality is to support the well-being of conscious organisms. Whether or not you have the concept or idea in no way changes the epistemically objective facts of the matter that certain behaviors are harmful to the well-being of the organisms. Murder is harmful to the well-being of organisms and that is a normative statement which has strong epistemic objectivity. Your opinion of the matter, concepts and ideas or lack thereof, are irrelevant to the strong epistemically objective fact of the matter.
I think this is just to substitute 'well-being' for 'moral'. Unless we restrict what counts as 'well-being' within a purely material framework, something countable like; Well-being = having viable offspring/= amount of money in the bank/ = not being dead etc., then its meaning becomes vague and - like function - can only be understood in some wider context. We are back to looking for some sort of ultimate purpose, with no reason to say why one idea is better than any other.

Using words like 'murder' surely beg the question. It already contains a moral judgement. If we instead used the neutral word 'killing' then it is no longer an 'objective fact' that it is harmful; there are many circumstances when it is essential to our well-being that we kill both humans and other life forms. So again, to argue what sorts of killing count as 'murder' we have to present the act in a larger context, at which point it is no longer an epistemically objective fact.

To put it another way, the pacifist and the soldier and the butcher and the vegan all agree what killing is, as a fact. They would all agree that it was harmful to the well-being of the organism that is killed. But they each view particular acts of killing within larger - and different - contexts. That is where their moral disagreement arises.
This does not lead to the claim that natural events—in the sense of Intentionality-independent or ontologically objective events—are immoral. There is no Intentional causation involved and therefore no morality. Morality is about human action and its impact with respect to well-being and is necessarily Intentionality-dependent.
That seems to be having it both ways.

Is the 'intentional causation' the thing that is good or bad? Or is it the 'impact with respect to well-being'? In other words, if we say something is 'bad' are we judging the state of mind of the actor, or the action in itself?

In either case we have the same problem we had with well-being. If we say the morality is in the mind of the actor then we must have an idea of what the 'right' way to think is. We must be putting our individual choices up before a standard that judges between them. But then our choice of standard also needs to be justified, which requires a meta-standard, and so on.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 22nd, 2018, 12:50 pm

Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:56 am
If we say 'the function of the heart is to pump blood' then we are not just discussing the heart; we are discussing the heart within the context of the body. The notion of 'function' is understood within that context. If we try to extend it further; 'What is the function of the body?' then we need to widen the context again, for example we might say 'to preserve life' and, if that isn't a tautology, we have introduced the idea that 'life' is something seperate from the body, our 'mind' or whatever. In other words, we are moving further and further away from what originally seemed like a simple empirical fact.

Whichever path we pick, we find the idea of 'purpose' becomes more and more diffused, and there is no reason to pick one path above another. On one path, the purpose of the heart and body might be to 'delay entropy', on another it might be 'to create meaning within absurdity'.

I think the same is true of morality.
Moving from the heart to the body cannot establish function. Functions are teleological and there is no teleology in non-conscious aspects of biology or in physics. Teleology can only result from consciousness, which is why I say that functional concepts are Intentionality-dependent. You can only take an intentional stance, in Dennett’s terminology, when claiming a non-conscious biological feature has a purpose or function, but this is and can only be metaphorical.

There are four, and only four categories of well-being, which are material, psychological, social, and spiritual. There are two temporal aspects, which are short-term and long-term. You may claim that these are vague, but the field of positive psychology is continually working to improve what psychological and social well-being means, and there are certainly reasons why some conceptions are better than others. You are making an egregious error of rationality by attempting to claim that if there is not absolute epistemic objectivity in a definition that it must therefore be arbitrary.

Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:56 am

If we instead used the neutral word 'killing' then it is no longer an 'objective fact' that it is harmful; there are many circumstances when it is essential to our well-being that we kill both humans and other life forms.
Isn’t that why I used the word murder? Murdering has an explicit legal definition, and killing in self-defense, for the death penalty, or in war is not murder. In the definition of murder, particularly first-degree murder, there is the intentional killing of a person with no justifiable reason. Just rephrase “murder” in this way. I used the word because that’s what it means. That this is bad for people is a normative claim with strong epistemic objectivity. A person cannot rationally disagree with this normative statement.


Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:56 am

That seems to be having it both ways.

Is the 'intentional causation' the thing that is good or bad? Or is it the 'impact with respect to well-being'? In other words, if we say something is 'bad' are we judging the state of mind of the actor, or the action in itself?
When saying that something is morally bad, it is saying that an Intentional state of an agent brought about a state of affairs which was harmful for the well-being of himself or others. In other words, the Intentional state of the agent, whether a prior intention or an intention-in-action, caused the harmful effect. It is not an either/or, since both are necessary for it to be morally bad, although there is reason to consider harmful thoughts alone as morally bad considering their impact on the individual’s mind.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:56 am

In either case we have the same problem we had with well-being. If we say the morality is in the mind of the actor then we must have an idea of what the 'right' way to think is. We must be putting our individual choices up before a standard that judges between them. But then our choice of standard also needs to be justified, which requires a meta-standard, and so on.
I like to use concrete examples. I will continue to use the example of murder, in the explicit legal definition, as an example of a normative moral claim that has strong epistemic objectivity. Where is the supposed infinite regress to claim that murder is harmful for the well-being of people?

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 22nd, 2018, 12:56 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
[…] I think the definition of morality depends upon your culture or ideas.
Is this not the contents of morality, rather than what morality itself is?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
I think well-being for example is very central to western philosophy/culture, we are a very liberal society and we don’t put the same level of pressure on others to act in certain ways as other cultures do. If you look at Islamic culture or Indian culture for example, morality there very clearly emphasises moral concerns outside of well-being. Views there on religion, sex, appearance, obedience, honour and duty are clearly moral issues in those regions.
I think you are using a rather incomplete conception of “well-being.” There are four and only four categories of well-being: material, psychological, social, and spiritual. Indian culture, for example, focuses on these categories of well-being, and indeed it is a foundational element in their philosophy, known as the Puruṣārthas. Whether or not certain acts are indeed beneficial for the harmony of the categories of well-being is a different story, but the point is that Indians do consider the activities mentioned to be a matter of well-being.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
Ultimately you can make arguments for bringing it back to well-being but I don't really think that's what people are doing all of these aforementioned things for.
I would say that a person is necessarily acting for their well-being. This is because man acts to reduce felt uneasiness, which implies he is acting for his well-being. This is even supported in an instance of suicide, since the person is acting to reduce felt uneasiness, and are thereby acting for their well-being.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
Or that it's objectively correct to get upset when someone you love dies, that's obviously not something you can prove without an axiom and you can't make an objectively correct axiom.
Why do you need an axiom? The field of positive psychology is making a lot of progress on finding out what is good for well-being without any axiom. Would you be claiming their empirical evidence is entirely illegitimate? If so, why? If not, why not?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
Obviously objectivity vs subjectivity is a big part of this debate and so I'll throw in my own opinions. Obviously all information which know to be true from observation is actually intersubjective. However the validity found in a concept can be objectively true and concepts themselves can argue for objective truth although it cannot be demonstrated.
Are you telling me that the truth of a mathematical proposition cannot be demonstrated? Or are you claiming that d=1/2gt^2 cannot be demonstrated in physics?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 5:17 am
[…] however I do think the problem of needing intersubjectivity for evidence means that objective morality will never be proven true.
Intersubjectivity is not a category of epistemic status. Intersubjectivity is necessary for meaning and understanding, not claim to epistemic status. In concrete terms, that 1 + 1 = 2 must be perceived and its meaning understood in experience by individuals, and is, in this sense, intersubjectively verified, but it is not a claim to its epistemic objectivity. Epistemic subjectivity means that it is a matter of opinion, whim, taste, etc.

Londoner
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Londoner » January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm

Frost wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 12:50 pm

Moving from the heart to the body cannot establish function. Functions are teleological and there is no teleology in non-conscious aspects of biology or in physics. Teleology can only result from consciousness, which is why I say that functional concepts are Intentionality-dependent. You can only take an intentional stance, in Dennett’s terminology, when claiming a non-conscious biological feature has a purpose or function, but this is and can only be metaphorical.
Well, the function of the heart on its own would just to be what it is. A heart on a plate would also be a heart. It can only have a function if we bring in something apart from the heart. Certainly I agree it is intentional dependent in that it is the observer that decides what that extra something is, i.e. they could decide whether the heart's function is relative to the body, (in which case the heart is functional if it is in place and beating), or whether the function is as something to eat (in which case if it is nice and fresh).
There are four, and only four categories of well-being, which are material, psychological, social, and spiritual. There are two temporal aspects, which are short-term and long-term. You may claim that these are vague, but the field of positive psychology is continually working to improve what psychological and social well-being means, and there are certainly reasons why some conceptions are better than others. You are making an egregious error of rationality by attempting to claim that if there is not absolute epistemic objectivity in a definition that it must therefore be arbitrary.
If and when these psychologists complete their work and persuade everyone they are right, then you can say I am in error. But pending that I do not see how you can know that they will be successful.

The reason it is unlikely to be successful is that moral issues are precisely those in which humans have different opinions. If those disagreements could be reduced to something objective, some question of fact, I think they would have done so by now.

Meanwhile, I certainly would claim they are vague. Even if we could define what constituted something like 'spiritual well-being' we would then have to weight it against all the other types of 'well-being'. How much spiritual well-being is the equivalent of how much material well-being, etc.?
Isn’t that why I used the word murder? Murdering has an explicit legal definition, and killing in self-defense, for the death penalty, or in war is not murder. In the definition of murder, particularly first-degree murder, there is the intentional killing of a person with no justifiable reason. Just rephrase “murder” in this way. I used the word because that’s what it means. That this is bad for people is a normative claim with strong epistemic objectivity. A person cannot rationally disagree with this normative statement.
Surely this continues to beg the question. Certainly 'murder' has a legal definition, but that does not solve the question of its morality because we can disagree with that law. Likewise 'justifiable reason'; the pacifist and the soldier, those pro and anti capital punishment, the two sides of the abortion argument - they can all agree that you should not kill without a 'justifiable reason', but that is no help because they do not agree what counts as a 'justifiable reason'.
Me: Is the 'intentional causation' the thing that is good or bad? Or is it the 'impact with respect to well-being'? In other words, if we say something is 'bad' are we judging the state of mind of the actor, or the action in itself?

When saying that something is morally bad, it is saying that an Intentional state of an agent brought about a state of affairs which was harmful for the well-being of himself or others. In other words, the Intentional state of the agent, whether a prior intention or an intention-in-action, caused the harmful effect. It is not an either/or, since both are necessary for it to be morally bad, although there is reason to consider harmful thoughts alone as morally bad considering their impact on the individual’s mind.
This is still unclear. If we had the universal agreement on an objective standard of 'well-being' that you say is being worked on, then we would have a clear understanding of what counts as a 'harmful effect'. In that case, if I chose to produce a 'harmful effect' it could only be because I had chosen to act in an immoral way.

But meanwhile, suppose I do something that you consider to have produced a 'harmful effect', but which I think is not a 'harmful effect'? Can I be said to have acted immorally when my intention was good? Pending agreement about objective standards, why should your judgement be better than mine?
Me: In either case we have the same problem we had with well-being. If we say the morality is in the mind of the actor then we must have an idea of what the 'right' way to think is. We must be putting our individual choices up before a standard that judges between them. But then our choice of standard also needs to be justified, which requires a meta-standard, and so on.

I like to use concrete examples. I will continue to use the example of murder, in the explicit legal definition, as an example of a normative moral claim that has strong epistemic objectivity. Where is the supposed infinite regress to claim that murder is harmful for the well-being of people?
Where is the epistemic objectivity? I can know that a killing falls under a legal definition of murder, but it does not follow it is immoral. Not unless we make the additional claim that the law also represents morality. That fact of it being the law cannot do this; we have to justify the law against some external standard...but then we have to justify our choice of external standard and we are into the regress again.

If we are using concrete examples, then consider abortion. The law on abortion is different in different countries and has changed over time. What was once a form of murder is sometimes now permitted. It would be hard to argue that the morality of abortion is something decided by geography or time, that it used to be immoral but has now become moral, or can become moral/immoral if you take a plane to a nation with different laws.

And if you are right in that psychologists are going to come up with an objective standard for well-being and hence morality, given the variation in laws around the world, in some cases the law must already be immoral.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 22nd, 2018, 6:09 pm

Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“Well, the function of the heart on its own would just to be what it is. A heart on a plate would also be a heart. It can only have a function if we bring in something apart from the heart. Certainly I agree it is intentional dependent in that it is the observer that decides what that extra something is, i.e. they could decide whether the heart's function is relative to the body, (in which case the heart is functional if it is in place and beating), or whether the function is as something to eat (in which case if it is nice and fresh).”
I agree. I suppose the point I was trying to make is that there is nothing that, simply by virtue of the physical properties, has a function. There is no ontologically objective fact of the matter of morality being functional, but we can discover the function of morality in the same sense that we can discover the function of the heart. That functions are Intentionality-dependent does not preclude epistemic objectivity.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“If and when these psychologists complete their work and persuade everyone they are right, then you can say I am in error. But pending that I do not see how you can know that they will be successful.”
I’m not sure what a “complete” science is supposed to be or why it would be a requirement, as physics, chemistry, etc. is not complete yet that obviously does not preclude the accumulation of knowledge. I can say that the field of positive psychology has been successful in that decades of research is accumulating evidence as to what constitutes well-being and how certain behaviors impact it, and the evidence has a weak epistemic objectivity. This provides rational grounds for moral judgments that have weak epistemic objectivity.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“The reason it is unlikely to be successful is that moral issues are precisely those in which humans have different opinions. If those disagreements could be reduced to something objective, some question of fact, I think they would have done so by now.”
Disagreement is, in and of itself, irrelevant and can in no way be used as an objection. This is because the fact that there is disagreement does not change that there may be a fact of the matter regarding a particular question. There is incredible disagreement in fundamental physics over how to interpret quantum theory, but I don’t think that anyone would argue that there is not a correct answer.

However, apropos my initial point regarding epistemic objectivity, there is an epistemic difference between physics and the kind of evidence found in psychology, or what we would see in a “science of morality.” The point is that there is valid room for disagreement in a very particular sense, which is whether or not something would, in fact, be harmful in a specific case. That cannot be known with certainty due to the nature of the evidence. In quantum physics, for example, one can make a statistical prediction regarding the outcome of an experiment, and this involves class probability. While uncertain, the statistical prediction is valid. When dealing with human action, such predictions are not valid as class probability, but rather can only be case probability. It requires judgment as to whether or not it seems likely that something will occur. This permits valid room for disagreement yet in no way changes the epistemic status of the original claim. That is why it is considered weak epistemic objectivity.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“Meanwhile, I certainly would claim they are vague. Even if we could define what constituted something like 'spiritual well-being' we would then have to weight it against all the other types of 'well-being'. How much spiritual well-being is the equivalent of how much material well-being, etc.?”
That is an empirical question. There is no a priori answer and it does not change the philosophical argument. Weak epistemic objectivity permits valid moral claims but also permits valid subjective valuation on part of the individual, so there cannot be any exact answer to anything. That’s the nature of weak epistemic objectivity, yet at the same time it provides valid, epistemically objective guidance for action and a basis for moral judgment.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“Surely this continues to beg the question. Certainly 'murder' has a legal definition, but that does not solve the question of its morality because we can disagree with that law.”
Since you are insisting on this, then please provide a valid argument with the statement that murder is not harmful to the well-being of persons. This is not referring to war, abortion, etc., but in the sense of first-degree murder. An actual argument in favor of how murder is not harmful to well-being would help to clarify this.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“This is still unclear. If we had the universal agreement on an objective standard of 'well-being' that you say is being worked on, then we would have a clear understanding of what counts as a 'harmful effect'. In that case, if I chose to produce a 'harmful effect' it could only be because I had chosen to act in an immoral way.

But meanwhile, suppose I do something that you consider to have produced a 'harmful effect', but which I think is not a 'harmful effect'? Can I be said to have acted immorally when my intention was good? Pending agreement about objective standards, why should your judgement be better than mine?”
That is my point to weak epistemic objectivity. There is room for valid moral disagreement at the same time as valid moral judgment. Whose judgment is determined to be superior would depend on many factors, and requires plausible reasoning to determine, and certainly others could also validly disagree on whose judgment is superior. However, the beauty is that this does not change the epistemic status of the moral judgment and it is valid in that sense.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“Where is the epistemic objectivity? I can know that a killing falls under a legal definition of murder, but it does not follow it is immoral. Not unless we make the additional claim that the law also represents morality. That fact of it being the law cannot do this; we have to justify the law against some external standard...but then we have to justify our choice of external standard and we are into the regress again.”
It’s pretty straightforward. Murdering a person is harmful to their well-being. I’m really not understanding how you are objecting to this. Please provide an actual argument as to how murdering a person is not harmful to their well-being, since I am evidently not understanding how you could even make such an argument.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“If we are using concrete examples, then consider abortion. The law on abortion is different in different countries and has changed over time. What was once a form of murder is sometimes now permitted. It would be hard to argue that the morality of abortion is something decided by geography or time, that it used to be immoral but has now become moral, or can become moral/immoral if you take a plane to a nation with different laws.”
This is changing the subject. I never mentioned abortion, war, or the death penalty. I am referring to first-degree murder.
Londoner wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 3:09 pm
“And if you are right in that psychologists are going to come up with an objective standard for well-being and hence morality, given the variation in laws around the world, in some cases the law must already be immoral.”
Indeed.

Judaka
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm

Is this not the contents of morality, rather than what morality itself is?
If we share a definition of morality and not the contents then either morality is inherently relative or a lot of people are wrong about what are moral issues. Either way, discussions about this topic can't move forward without offering a lot of leeway when defining morality.
I think you are using a rather incomplete conception of “well-being.”
I think you are stretching. I am happy to incorporate all kinds of well-being into the discussion. When people murder others for "righteous" causes or revenge, it's just for their psychological well-being. When women are forced to obey the husband and it's okay for husbands to beat and rape their wives, it's because of the spiritual well-being of the household. When warrior cultures say loyalty to your lord and dying for him is your duty, it's so that as you're bleeding out on the battlefield, you have your psychological well-being. Holy wars in the past - people drunk on their righteousness - the real factor here in people's thinking is "I really need some psychological closure about this, that's why it's a moral imperative for me to assault others.

Morality no longer means anything either because under your definition, rape, theft, murder - all of these things impart benefits of well-being upon at least one party. The truth is you want to pick and choose when pursuit of well-being is just and when it isn't, you aren't actually demonstrating the reality we live in - where people think it's right to do all kinds of things for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with well-being. Well-being cannot be the whole story though even if it was, it wouldn't demonstrate objective morality.

What do you believe objective morality means? I don't see how you can agree with my definition and still make your argument.
Why do you need an axiom? The field of positive psychology is making a lot of progress on finding out what is good for well-being without any axiom. Would you be claiming their empirical evidence is entirely illegitimate? If so, why? If not, why not
Well-being is the axiom in your example. It may not be in your economic interests, character development interests, social interests, religious interests and so forth. Even if you make everything about well-being using inferences and assumptions, my interpretation of well-being doesn't need to coincide with yours in our conclusions about getting upset when someone you love dies.

How do you intend to demonstrate objective truth without any axiom? You must have a reason to care about the reality, morality can't exist without that.
Are you telling me that the truth of a mathematical proposition cannot be demonstrated? Or are you claiming that d=1/2gt^2 cannot be demonstrated in physics?
Can it be demonstrated to someone who's without any of their five senses? If we are relying on our senses then those senses, they could be feeding us unreliable information. Of course I don't always entertain the possibility of that but it would be dishonest to call it an absolute objective truth and ignore the intersubjectivity required for evidence. The truth of a mathematical proposition can be objectively valid though, in that if we accept the premises which are either conceptual or perceived then the argument is objectively valid. However demonstrating that the premises exist in reality will always require perception of reality.

Intersubjectivity is necessary for demonstrating an objective fact, naturally a single person can see something and be convinced of its existence and properties without any aid. Epistemic objectivity is not evidence without intersubjectivity.

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Frost
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 22nd, 2018, 9:51 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm
"If we share a definition of morality and not the contents then either morality is inherently relative or a lot of people are wrong about what are moral issues. Either way, discussions about this topic can't move forward without offering a lot of leeway when defining morality."
What I mean is that there is a different between moral content and what morality is. As an analogy, it sounds to me like if someone asked "what is medicine?" and an answer was given along the lines of "it is generally administered orally or IV, it it can be by prescription or over the counter, etc." rather than it's functional definition of it being a remedy for pathological symptoms.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm
"I think you are stretching. I am happy to incorporate all kinds of well-being into the discussion. When people murder others for "righteous" causes or revenge, it's just for their psychological well-being. When women are forced to obey the husband and it's okay for husbands to beat and rape their wives, it's because of the spiritual well-being of the household. When warrior cultures say loyalty to your lord and dying for him is your duty, it's so that as you're bleeding out on the battlefield, you have your psychological well-being. Holy wars in the past - people drunk on their righteousness - the real factor here in people's thinking is "I really need some psychological closure about this, that's why it's a moral imperative for me to assault others."
That really isn't a refutation of the categories of well-being. It should be evident that if anyone believes those things then they are simply wrong. That's the point of my stance is that it would not be hard to demonstrate empirically that raping wives is harmful to what I would refer to as General Well-Being, which is a temporal harmony of the categories of well-being.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm
"Morality no longer means anything either because under your definition, rape, theft, murder - all of these things impart benefits of well-being upon at least one party. The truth is you want to pick and choose when pursuit of well-being is just and when it isn't, you aren't actually demonstrating the reality we live in - where people think it's right to do all kinds of things for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with well-being. Well-being cannot be the whole story though even if it was, it wouldn't demonstrate objective morality."
That someone can hold incorrect beliefs is in no way a refutation of morality as a functional concept for the well-being of conscious organisms. If some people believe the earth is flat does that in any way question our cosmological evidence? That a person thinks something is right even if it has overt adverse consequences to general well-being in no way refutes that morality is a functional concept with respect to well-being. Furthermore, if a person believes they gain from harming another, that does not in any way thereby eliminate the harm to the other person.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm
"How do you intend to demonstrate objective truth without any axiom? You must have a reason to care about the reality, morality can't exist without that."
What is the axiom of physics?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 8:38 pm
"Can it be demonstrated to someone who's without any of their five senses? If we are relying on our senses then those senses, they could be feeding us unreliable information. Of course I don't always entertain the possibility of that but it would be dishonest to call it an absolute objective truth and ignore the intersubjectivity required for evidence. The truth of a mathematical proposition can be objectively valid though, in that if we accept the premises which are either conceptual or perceived then the argument is objectively valid. However demonstrating that the premises exist in reality will always require perception of reality.

Intersubjectivity is necessary for demonstrating an objective fact, naturally a single person can see something and be convinced of its existence and properties without any aid. Epistemic objectivity is not evidence without intersubjectivity."
You are conflating absolute truth with absolute epistemic objectivity. That 1 + 1 = 2 is not an absolute truth, yet it has absolute epistemic objectivity. If someone has a hallucination then they would simply be mistaken, and someone without any senses will not be able to communicate, but that is irrelevant to the epistemic status of an assertion. You are still conflating the need for intersubjective verification with epistemic status. That any meaning must be understood in experience by a subject is irrelevant to the epistemic status of a claim. Subjective experience is necessary for semantics, but it is the semantic content which determines the epistemic status.

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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Judaka » January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm

That really isn't a refutation of the categories of well-being. It should be evident that if anyone believes those things then they are simply wrong.
I wasn't trying to refute them, I was trying to refute the characterisation of all moral distinctions as being to do with well-being. If your argument is in fact that it is your belief that well-being should be the ideal we follow then I don't think that's a bad or strange moral compass to use but you can't simply state "it should be evident that anyone else is wrong" when all you've done is state a preference. Whether your argument is that all morality stems from a desire to preserve well-being or that all good morality comes from a desire to preserve well-being, I've presented both my arguments against either claim now.
That someone can hold incorrect beliefs is in no way a refutation of morality as a functional concept for the well-being of conscious organisms.
I'm not sure why this is your reply, what I said was that if that distinctions about the morality of behaviour are dictated solely by motivations to preserve well-being then you get behaviours which dilute the meaning of morality. Morality is a distinction on behaviour, it's not comparable to the Earth being flat. Earth is a sphere regardless of whether humans exist or not, distinctions on morality don't. Morality needs to be transcendent or governed by other than by humans.
Furthermore, if a person believes they gain from harming another, that does not in any way thereby eliminate the harm to the other person
So I can debate how you prioritise each party's well being? Or what kinds of well-being should be prioritised? And this in your view is all within the framework of an objective morality? Despite how relative it is to interpretation?
What is the axiom of physics?
I misstated, I meant demonstrable objective truth about distinctions on behaviour without any axiom.
You are conflating absolute truth with absolute epistemic objectivity.
I'm not conflating them, I simply don't see how epistemic objectivity is relevant to objective moral law, which is necessarily an absolute truth. Using epistemic objectivity you could determine how people think but not that what people think is objectively correct, that's insufficient for objective morality no?

I'm not saying it's impossible for a species to have a component of the mind regulating moral issues identically across all members, thus creating an objectively existing origin for morality. I'm saying that the distinctions made by that origin are the result of evolution, engineering and other likewise insufficient premises to demonstrate objective truth in the distinctions made about behaviours.
You are still conflating the need for intersubjective verification with epistemic status
I didn't conflate them either. I said that regardless of the truth of objective morality, it requires evidence and demonstrations to be intersubjectively validated in order to prove it. We can't demonstrate the absolute truth of objective morality with evidence, so it's impossible to prove by the normative definition.

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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Frost » January 22nd, 2018, 11:07 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm
I wasn't trying to refute them, I was trying to refute the characterisation of all moral distinctions as being to do with well-being.
Can you provide an example of a moral distinction that does not involve well-being?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm
I'm not sure why this is your reply, what I said was that if that distinctions about the morality of behaviour are dictated solely by motivations to preserve well-being then you get behaviours which dilute the meaning of morality.


Such as?
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm
Morality is a distinction on behaviour, it's not comparable to the Earth being flat. Earth is a sphere regardless of whether humans exist or not, distinctions on morality don't. Morality needs to be transcendent or governed by other than by humans.
I stated that there is an epistemic difference, but the point is that one can scientifically investigate how actions impact well-being. This provides a weakly epistemically objective basis for valid moral judgments.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm
So I can debate how you prioritise each party's well being? Or what kinds of well-being should be prioritised? And this in your view is all within the framework of an objective morality? Despite how relative it is to interpretation?
Yes, that's part of the science as well as its application. Plausible reasoning will always be necessary. That doesn't make the scientific evidence relative to interpretation in any strong sense. Interpretation always matters...listen to physicists talk on how they interpret the equations. That does not diminish the epistemic objectivity of the theory.
Judaka wrote:
January 22nd, 2018, 10:53 pm
I'm not conflating them, I simply don't see how epistemic objectivity is relevant to objective moral law, which is necessarily an absolute truth. Using epistemic objectivity you could determine how people think but not that what people think is objectively correct, that's insufficient for objective morality no?
I'm not really sure I understand what you're getting at here. If you think that epistemic objectivity is irrelevant to objective moral law, then you are either not understanding the difference between epistemic and ontological objectivity or are asking about an ontologically objective moral law, which seems incoherent. In what sense are you using the term "objective"?

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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Maxcady10001 » January 23rd, 2018, 12:59 am

Frost
How it can act in the world is explicitly and mathematically formulated in the orthodox von Neumann formalization of quantum theory.
How does memory come into play here, as there must be a guide to the probing action, because if it's not governed by any rules what reason is there to act? Why is there action? And would it be correct to say there is the probing action, and then nature's answer in process 2 and 3? So process 1 is the probe, 2 is nature, and 3 is the collapse of 1 and 2 and the probability of correct probing action?

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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Maxcady10001 » January 23rd, 2018, 1:12 am

Correct, meaning in accordance with nature. Could it be physical stimulus that guides probing action? I feel hungry so I reach for a sandwich. Or is this just the same as causality? I don't understand how anything can be unrestrained.

Maxcady10001
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Re: Objective vs Subjective Morality

Post by Maxcady10001 » January 23rd, 2018, 1:56 am

Also, what qualifies as a probing action?

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