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What could make morality objective?

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Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 25th, 2018, 9:10 am

I want to correct my previous mistake - and also summarise my argument against moral objectivism.

1 Theistic moral objectivism is a mistake, because, if a moral assertion is supposed to be factual, its source has no bearing on its truth or falsehood. So neither a god nor anyone else can be the source of supposedly objective moral values and judgements.

2 More generally, moral objectivism is a mistake, because a moral assertion expresses a value judgement, rather than a falsifiable factual assertion. There is no 'object' that can verify or falsify a moral assertion, because it has no truth value.

We can and do refer to facts about reality to justify our moral judgements - such as facts about personal and social survival and success. But reality can no more determine objective moral values and judgements than a god can. How ever rationally justified, moral judgements remain judgements, so they're subjective.

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Burning ghost
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Burning ghost » July 25th, 2018, 12:04 pm

Peter -

You’ve moved the goal posts. When we talk anout moral objectivism I don’t assume it to be theistic.
AKA badgerjelly

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 25th, 2018, 1:16 pm

Sorry. It's just that many theists rely on the argument from objective morality - so I wanted to scotch that in advance. (I touch on it in the OP.)

Point 2 is the main feature.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 25th, 2018, 1:35 pm

The only way morality could be objective is if a society mutually agrees a strict code of values upon which everyone in the society could agree.
Such is the case for ALL objective claims in all circumstances.

i.e. impossible.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 25th, 2018, 1:43 pm

CIN wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 6:24 pm
Okay, I'll take up the challenge.

1) Happiness is preferable to unhappiness. (This is the object you are asking for - an objective truth, arising simply from what happiness and unhappiness are like.)
Wrong.
1) Many people regard happiness as vacuous and trivial.
2) what one person regards as being happy; what another regards as activities and goals that make them happy; are not in agreement with other people since happiness is a set of emotional responses and therefore value laden.
3) any moral injunction to increase happiness would inevitably cause unhappiness in some.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 25th, 2018, 2:16 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 1:35 pm
The only way morality could be objective is if a society mutually agrees a strict code of values upon which everyone in the society could agree.
Such is the case for ALL objective claims in all circumstances.

i.e. impossible.
I disagree. Objectivity means considering facts without bias. So facts are a given - true factual assertions about features of reality - true given the way we use the words or other signs involved - true regardless of what anyone believes. The impossibility of moral objectivity - because moral assertions aren't factual - contrasts with the possibility of factual objectivity.

Belindi
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belindi » July 25th, 2018, 5:22 pm

What could make morality objective is if each individual human shared his central nervous system with every other human.

It's possible that a society like that of ants includes objective morality, if you would accept that 'morality' does not necessarily include moral concepts but behaviour alone.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 25th, 2018, 5:24 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 2:16 pm
ThomasHobbes wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 1:35 pm
The only way morality could be objective is if a society mutually agrees a strict code of values upon which everyone in the society could agree.
Such is the case for ALL objective claims in all circumstances.

i.e. impossible.
I disagree. Objectivity means considering facts without bias. So facts are a given - true factual assertions about features of reality - true given the way we use the words or other signs involved - true regardless of what anyone believes. The impossibility of moral objectivity - because moral assertions aren't factual - contrasts with the possibility of factual objectivity.
Give an example without judging or bias!
Belindi » less than a minute ago

What could make morality objective is if each individual human shared his central nervous system with every other human.

It's possible that a society like that of ants includes objective morality, if you would accept that 'morality' does not necessarily include moral concepts.
Sharing a CNS would make that an individual - not a society.
Morality to ants is meaningless.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 26th, 2018, 12:16 am

ThomasHobbes

Examples of facts?

1 The earth orbits the sun.

2 The way we use the words in the in the expression 'the earth orbits the sun'. (Indeterminacy is a red herring.)

That some of us value facts (linguistic expressions) doesn't mean that facts are values - any more than that some of us value cheese means that cheese is a value.

CIN
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by CIN » July 27th, 2018, 2:18 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 1:43 pm
CIN wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 6:24 pm
Okay, I'll take up the challenge.

1) Happiness is preferable to unhappiness. (This is the object you are asking for - an objective truth, arising simply from what happiness and unhappiness are like.)
Wrong.
1) Many people regard happiness as vacuous and trivial.
2) what one person regards as being happy; what another regards as activities and goals that make them happy; are not in agreement with other people since happiness is a set of emotional responses and therefore value laden.
3) any moral injunction to increase happiness would inevitably cause unhappiness in some.
1) So what? Many people regard the earth as flat. You cannot decide a matter of objective fact by appealing to people's opinions. Those who regard happiness as vacuous and trivial are high-minded fools.
2) I have not claimed, and would not claim, that the same experiences make everyone happy. If skydiving makes you happier than watching TV, and the reverse is true for me, then for you skydiving is instrumentally better than watching TV for giving you happiness, whereas with me it's the reverse: it is not the skydiving or the watching TV that is objectively preferable, but the greater happiness that you get from skydiving that is objectively preferable to the lesser happiness that you get from watching TV, and the greater happiness that I get from watching TV that is objectively preferable to the lesser happiness that I get from skydiving.
3) Not inevitably, but quite often, yes. But it is still true that the happiness that is caused in some is objectively preferable to the unhappiness that is caused in others. It does not follow that we ought to act so as to make the first group happy at the expense of the second group. You seem to think that I am proposing some model for the distribution of happiness, but as yet I have proposed no such model. I am simply pointing out that happiness, as an experience, is preferable to unhappiness. How we should act in the light of that fact is yet to be determined.

Thoroughgoing subjectivism is wrong because it fails to notice that certain values are inbuilt into experience. It just is the case that a happy experience (whatever that may be for you) is preferable to an unhappy experience. Or, as I expressed it in another thread, happiness is to be commended, whereas unhappiness is to be discommended. These values come along with what happiness and unhappiness are like to experience. If happiness were not preferable to unhappiness, people would not seek happiness and try to escape from unhappiness, as they do. If pleasure were not an objective good, sex would never have got off the ground, because it is the pleasure of sex that keeps people interested in sex. And so on. These values are inherent in nature, a fact which is overlooked by subjectivists.

This is not to say that all values and value judgments are objective. If I claim that strawberry jam is better than raspberry jam, and you say the opposite, this is almost certainly a difference in purely subjective judgment. But what is an objective fact in this situation, assuming that we are both reporting our subjective preferences accurately, is that the pleasure that I get from eating strawberry jam is greater than the pleasure I get from eating raspberry jam, and the pleasure you get from eating raspberry jam is greater than the pleasure you get from eating strawberry jam, and the greater pleasure in each case is, other things being equal, to be preferred to the lesser pleasure.

'Other things being equal.' This is where the complications begin. This is where we have to decide on some way of weighing up the happiness and unhappiness of different people, the pleasure and pain given to different people, and decide what actions to take. People often make the mistake of thinking that because it may be impossible in practice to decide rationally on a way of distributing happiness and unhappiness (but perhaps it is not - we have not yet got onto that), that this somehow counts against the view that happiness is objectively preferable to unhappiness. But this is a non sequitur. It is also lazy philosophising, and giving up without trying.

Karpel Tunnel
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » July 27th, 2018, 4:07 am

Let's come at it from subjective...
subjective
adjective
existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought (opposed to objective).
pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual:

In some forms of idealism, there is only one mind. Thus the sense of the good permeates everything. Subjective being that which applies locally. If it applies everywhere it becomes a fact of the universe. Now an objection could be that it is merely universal. But once it saturates not just all human minds, say, but the fabric of everything, then it is also objective. Since in idealism there is nothing other than mind. What about disagreements, in the subparts of Vishnu or whatever one thinks of at The Mind? These would be confusions and denials of the underlying obvious Good.

Belindi
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belindi » July 27th, 2018, 7:40 am

Karpel Tunnel, I have sometimes wondered about this 'one mind' business. I choose to regard idealism as an ontology that includes the sum of all minds and states of minds as well as one eternal and monumental ordering mind. I think that the idea of Spinoza, that nature includes both natura naturans and natura naturata , sheds light on the question.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 27th, 2018, 8:08 am

CIN wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 2:18 am
ThomasHobbes wrote:
July 25th, 2018, 1:43 pm


Wrong.
1) Many people regard happiness as vacuous and trivial.
2) what one person regards as being happy; what another regards as activities and goals that make them happy; are not in agreement with other people since happiness is a set of emotional responses and therefore value laden.
3) any moral injunction to increase happiness would inevitably cause unhappiness in some.
1) So what? Many people regard the earth as flat. You cannot decide a matter of objective fact by appealing to people's opinions. Those who regard happiness as vacuous and trivial are high-minded fools.
You are making a category error. The shape of the earth, whatever you think it is, is not a value judgement. It is a fact about a physical object.
2) I have not claimed, and would not claim, that the same experiences make everyone happy. If skydiving makes you happier than watching TV, and the reverse is true for me, then for you skydiving is instrumentally better than watching TV for giving you happiness,
And yet the earth is the shape it is regardless of how you feel about it.
Try and think things through a bit!


whereas with...piness that I get from skydiving.

3) Not inevitably, but quite often, yes.
And so objectivity is out the window.
But it is still true that the happiness that is caused in some is objectively preferable
non sequitur. No it cannot be objectively preferable since "Preference~" is about valuation.
Try and think things through here!

... to the unhappiness that is caused in others. It does not follow that we ought to act so as to make the first group happy at the expense of the second group.
Obviously the second group don't get the benefit of your objectivity. LOL
You seem to think that I am proposing some model for the distribution of happiness, but as yet I have proposed no such model. I am simply pointing out that happiness, as an experience, is preferable to unhappiness. How we should act in the light of that fact is yet to be determined.
No, I seem to think that you are fooling enough to want to pretend that they way YOU think is objectively true whereas "the second group" and others are just stupid subjective thinkers and not worthy of your consideration.


Thoroughgoing subjectivism is wrong because it fails to notice that certain values are inbuilt into experience.
[\quote]
Then you are completely wrong. But then I already knew that.
It just is the case that a happy experience (whatever that may be for you) is preferable to an unhappy experience. Or, as I expressed it in another thread, happiness is to be commended, whereas unhappiness is to be discommended. These values come along with what happiness and unhappiness are like to experience. If happiness were not preferable to unhappiness, people would not seek happiness and try to escape from unhappiness, as they do. If pleasure were not an objective good, sex would never have got off the ground, because it is the pleasure of sex that keeps people interested in sex. And so on. These values are inherent in nature, a fact which is overlooked by subjectivists.
LOL prove it!


This is not to say that all values and value judgments are objective. If I claim that strawberry jam is better than raspberry jam, and you say the opposite, this is almost certainly a difference in purely subjective judgment. But what is an objective fact in this situation, assuming that we are both reporting our subjective preferences accurately, is that the pleasure that I get from eating strawberry jam is greater than the pleasure I get from eating raspberry jam, and the pleasure you get from eating raspberry jam is greater than the pleasure you get from eating strawberry jam, and the greater pleasure in each case is, other things being equal, to be preferred to the lesser pleasure.
I thought you are confused. Now I am sure.

'Other things being equal.' This is where the complications begin. This is where we have to decide on some way of weighing up the happiness and unhappiness of different people, the pleasure and pain given to different people, and decide what actions to take. People often make the mistake of thinking that because it may be impossible in practice to decide rationally on a way of distributing happiness and unhappiness (but perhaps it is not - we have not yet got onto that), that this somehow counts against the view that happiness is objectively preferable to unhappiness. But this is a non sequitur. It is also lazy philosophising, and giving up without trying.
I think you gave up your thinking a long time ago.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » July 27th, 2018, 9:07 am

My question was: what could make morality objective?

In effect, this means: what has to be the case for a moral assertion to be factually true?

Reflecting on the many interesting suggestions here, I think there's a simple problem: they all beg the question. For example:

Q Why is slavery wrong? A Because it destroys personal freedom. Q Why is it wrong to destroy personal freedom? A Because ... and so on.

Any justification for a moral judgement boils down to: 'Because X is morally right / wrong' - so the premise is used to justify itself - begging the question. And that was the point of my OP.

CIN
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by CIN » July 27th, 2018, 9:17 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 8:08 am
CIN wrote:
July 27th, 2018, 2:18 am


1) So what? Many people regard the earth as flat. You cannot decide a matter of objective fact by appealing to people's opinions. Those who regard happiness as vacuous and trivial are high-minded fools.
You are making a category error. The shape of the earth, whatever you think it is, is not a value judgement. It is a fact about a physical object.
It's both. Try to stop begging the question. (If you don't know what 'begging the question' means, look it up.)
The rest of your response is ill-mannered and intellectually vacuous. You are obviously no good at philosophy. Perhaps you should take up tiddlywinks.

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