The Necessity of Moral Realism (Moral Objectivism)

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Dachshund
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The Necessity of Moral Realism (Moral Objectivism)

Post by Dachshund » October 22nd, 2018, 4:13 am

I think that it is intrinsically wrong for human beings to intentionally inflict suffering on animals for the purposes of amusement, recreation or in the name of sport.

I am referring to such activities as: Spanish-style, ceremonial bullfighting; the tradition of fox hunting for sport among the British aristocracy, the brutal, blood sport of dog fighting where two rival dogs are placed in a pit and forced to tear each other to shreds in a fight to the death for the "amusement" and monetary gain of spectator-gamblers; the organisation of displays of bear-baiting for public entertainment; the sport of badger hunting with "blooded" dachshund dogs known as "Teckels", the commercial "factory farming" of birds such as pheasants, grouse and partridges for use in the sport of gamefowl shooting and so on.

According to my reading of the relevant moral philosophy, if any ethical claim of the form, "X is right", or, "Y is wrong" is true, then morality is objective and moral realism is a correct thesis.

I declare that the ethical claim below is true, i.e;...

"It is intrinsically wrong for human beings to intentionally inflict suffering on animals for the purposes of amusement, recreation or in the name of sport"

I declare that the truth of this statement is self-evident and is something that can be validated intuitively.

In short, it is always ( i.e. at any time or in any place) unconditionally and absolutely, morally wrong for a person to intentionally inflict suffering on any animal/s for the purposes of amusement, recreation or in the name of sport.

I believe the claim I have made above ( in bold-face text) is TRUE; that what I have stated in this claim states is a matter of objective fact. I believe there is no justification of any kind for such behaviour. I believe one OUGHT never act in such a manner; I believe that one is absolutely obliged (unconditionally "duty bound") never to act in such a way. This is a categorical moral imperative.

I would be interested to hear any objections that forum members might have to the defense I have presented for the ethical theory of "moral realism /(moral objectivism)" in this post.



Regards

Dachshund

Steve3007
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 4:22 am

If, for the sake of argument, it was nutritionally non-essential to eat meat, would you class the eating of another animal's flesh, purely because of its pleasant taste, as a form of recreation/amusement? What are your views on such things as the (non-essential) use of animal hides for making shoes? Is there an essential difference between these things and the act of hunting/killing an animal for pleasure? If so, is it the thing that causes the pleasure that makes the moral difference?

Steve3007
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 4:36 am

In short, it is always ( i.e. at any time or in any place) unconditionally and absolutely, morally wrong for a person to intentionally inflict suffering on any animal/s for the purposes of amusement, recreation or in the name of sport.
I suspect the hunter would claim that it is not the infliction of suffering, per se, that causes the amusement/pleasure of the hunter but the thrill of the chase. It would be possible to chase some kind of artificial non-sentient object. E.g. it's possible to shoot clay pigeons or for fox hunters' hounds to chase foxy-smelling rags or whatever it is they do these days. But presumably shooting/chasing the real thing is more fun. Likewise, shoes can be made from various man-made materials, but leather is, to some people, more "fun". It's possible to eat veggie burgers, but beef burgers are more fun.

Steve3007
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 5:00 am

"It is intrinsically wrong for human beings to intentionally inflict suffering on animals for the purposes of amusement, recreation or in the name of sport"
Observing the behaviour of (for example) cats, it's clear that they too enjoy hunting for sport. It seems reasonable to me to assume that humans and cats both enjoy hunting for sport for essentially the same reasons: we are both species who, at least historically, have made good use of meat as a source of nutrition. Therefore we've both evolved the desire to hunt and kill other animals. The cats and humans who didn't have this desire so much tended not to leave so many offspring.

But I suspect you would not consider it intrinsically wrong for cats to inflict suffering in this way on other animals (when they have plentiful catfood and therefore don't need to eat them) because I suspect you would not consider it appropriate to pass moral judgement on non-human animals. The problem then arises: where do we draw this hard dividing line between the creatures we regard as being moral agents (humans), to whom objectively existing moral rules apply, and the creatures we regard as "merely" following their natural instincts (every other species) to whom those rules are not deemed appropriate?

At this point in time, there is a relatively large species divide between ourselves and our closest extant relatives (chimpanzees) because other species who were more closely related to us (e.g. homo erectus) have recently (on evolutionary timescales) become extinct. But if they hadn't become extinct, would that make it harder to claim the objective existence of moral rules that apply only to homo sapiens sapiens? If homo erectus was still around, and lived alongside us, and if they enjoyed hunting, would we apply the moral rules to them too? If, in the limit, there was a quasi-continuum of species from us to chimpanzees to cats, where would we draw the supposedly objectively existing dividing line of moral accountability on that continuum?

Dachshund
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Dachshund » October 22nd, 2018, 5:03 am

I am, at the moment only interested in knowing whether or not you would agree that it is TRUE that the infliction of suffering on animals for amusement, recreation or in the name of sport ( e.g. "blood sports" like fox hunting) is morally wrong.

Yes or No ?

If you say "Yes", I am pointing out that you are necessarily a moral realist ( moral objectivist). (NB: Many members of this form are staunch moral relativists or moral skeptics; IMO, however, these are false ethical theories).

Regards

Dachshund

Steve3007
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 5:08 am

If you say "Yes", I am pointing out that you are necessarily a moral realist ( moral objectivist).
Given that the above is the inference you will make as a result of the answer "yes", my answer is "no". Some of the reasons for that answer I have already explored above. I personally strongly dislike the idea of inflicting suffering for amusement, as do most other people including those who enjoy hunting, eating meat and wearing leather shoes. In my experience, as a percentage of the population, relatively few people are committed sadists. See my earlier comments for more detailed discussion.

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 5:27 am

For the record: My own personal behaviour towards other animals is roughly as follows:

I've never been hunting or personally killed another animal and don't particularly want to. But I don't have a strong, blanket objection to people who do. I would be happy to have a constructive debate with them on the subject. I occasionally eat meat, have been vegetarian in the past, and would consider being vegetarian again in the future. I try to only eat "free range" animal products and I have strong concerns about various intensive farming methods, both for animal welfare and human health reasons. But my lack of detailed knowledge of the subject often leaves me open to criticism by people on both sides of the argument who do claim such knowledge. (e.g. some committed meat eaters often pour scorn on the whole concept of "free range" and tell me I'm a sucker who is just needlessly paying more for the same product. Stuff like that.)

I wear leather shoes from time to time.

Steve3007
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 5:35 am

Footnote: The ad that pops up at the top of my page is now for a company that makes "handmade leather shoes", presumably because I mentioned them here. But I presume the algorithm that targets the ads is not yet sophisticated enough to work out whether I've actually declared an interest in buying that product. Give it time though.

Dachshund
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Dachshund » October 22nd, 2018, 5:48 am

It seems to me you are intimating that to some extent British fox hunters ( and other persons who participate in blood sports where suffering/death is inflicted on animals for recreation/amusement pleasure/"fun" ) can be viewed as simply imitating "the cruelties of nature" , and is thereby, to some extent, excusable and can not be judged absolutely and unconditionally immoral? If so , I would say that such a perspective is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of moral actions. Animals, like cats, are not moral agents and are not therefore responsible for their actions whereas human beings are both. Free will is absolutely basic to the notion of morality. Without choice, there is no morality; we do not blame someone for doing something that s/he could not help doing. We may not like the action, but we do not morally condemn. The so-called "cruelty of nature", however, is not based on choice. If the lion does not kill the antelope, the lion starves and dies: the lion has no real choice. On the other hand, foxes, deer, hares, mink and grouse are not threatening our survival. Our choices clearly fall within the realm of morality. THere is thus a fundamental distinction between the accidental or non-intentional harming of animals or humans ( for example, by Earth-quake) and the deliberate, intentional infliction of harm by moral agents. It is the deliberate infliction of suffering by moral agents who can and should know better which is central to the moral objection to blood sports like fox hunting.

Regards

Dachshund

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 5:51 am

See my earlier comments.

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 6:37 am

What is the confusion with subjective and objective? Remove personal feelings and opinions and then show me something objectively wrong (without resorting to magic). If you can do that then you win philosophy.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Steve3007 » October 22nd, 2018, 6:52 am

If you're interested, there was once a bloke called Meleagar (now long since gone) who was a strong advocate for the concept of "The Good" as objective and who (as I recall) set out a detailed defence of it over very many posts. Here's an example post:

viewtopic.php?p=62397#p62397

I had a long discussion with him, but I can't clearly remember the outcome. It was a long time ago!

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 8:00 am

I only skim read the link Steve but I think Meleagar is leaning heavily on mysticism? If Meleagar could prove his 'God' existed objectively and prove that his 'God' had objective moral rules then I would happily concede that that was an example of something objective.
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chewybrian
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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by chewybrian » October 22nd, 2018, 10:20 am

Dachshund wrote:
October 22nd, 2018, 5:03 am
I am, at the moment only interested in knowing whether or not you would agree that it is TRUE that the infliction of suffering on animals for amusement, recreation or in the name of sport ( e.g. "blood sports" like fox hunting) is morally wrong.

Yes or No ?

If you say "Yes", I am pointing out that you are necessarily a moral realist ( moral objectivist). (NB: Many members of this form are staunch moral relativists or moral skeptics; IMO, however, these are false ethical theories).

Regards

Dachshund
I would agree with you that INTENTIONAL infliction of harm for sport is wrong. But, the fact that I might agree with you on this point or any other does not mean that there are necessarily objective 'good' and 'bad' behaviors which can be classified as such. Lots of people agree that some pretty nasty stuff is morally correct for them and their like-minded friends. Your conclusion makes no sense.

There is obviously a spectrum in any area. You could ride a horse, do rodeo, make him a police horse or take him into combat. People are going to have different ideas of where you have crossed an imaginary line from treating the horse as a friend to abusing him. I think there are moral truths out there waiting for us to approach them. But, we don't know for certain when we have found them, and people who want to impose their truths on others are pretty scary in most cases. If I want my freedom, I have to allow others to have theirs, even if I disagree with them. (We do still have to draw a line way down at the far end, though...burglary, kidnapping and such...for practical reasons).

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Re: THE NECESSITY OF MORAL REALISM (MORAL OBJECTIVISM)

Post by Eduk » October 22nd, 2018, 10:26 am

I think there are moral truths out there waiting for us to approach them.
I almost entirely agree with your post Chewy, except the above quote.
What would a moral truth look like and how could you test for one? Can you give examples of anything closer to or further away from a moral truth, and how do you prove this?
Not trying to have an argument by the way, just interested in what you have to say.
Unknown means unknown.

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