The January Philosophy Book of the Month 2019 is The Runaway Species. Discuss The Runaway Species now.

The February Philosophy Book of the Month is The Fourth Age by Byron Reese (Nominated by RJG.) Discuss The Fourth Age now.

Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
User avatar
bucky
Posts: 21
Joined: January 13th, 2019, 7:58 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by bucky » January 14th, 2019, 3:20 am

h_k_s wrote:
January 13th, 2019, 4:21 pm
By the way, Socrates is long dead. So he is no longer a man. He was a man, as best as we can tell, from reading Plato.
hehe, yes, that sounds right :)

User avatar
bucky
Posts: 21
Joined: January 13th, 2019, 7:58 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by bucky » January 14th, 2019, 10:14 am

EldritchSaffron wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 2:50 am
Ethics based on faulty reasoning, or no reasoning at all are objectively worse..
How would it be objectively worse unless there's an objective standard to compare to? If there is, then you're claiming there is objective moral truth.

If there's no objective standard to compare to, then it's only worse to you to base your ethics on faulty reasoning or no reasoning at all.

There may be other people who would disagree by using an argument something like: all human reasoning is faulty. Only the reasoning of God is infallible. Therefore we shouldn't use our reasoning for our ethics at all, we should trust in what has been revealed to us.

(I'm not saying the people described above exist. I think most theists would argue that human reasoning was given to us for exactly the purpose of being able to figure out right from wrong, it's just a hypothetical.)

User avatar
EldritchSaffron
New Trial Member
Posts: 9
Joined: January 11th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by EldritchSaffron » January 14th, 2019, 3:21 pm

How would it be objectively worse unless there's an objective standard to compare to?
My full quote:
I'm not asserting that ethics themselves can be objectively proven. In don't believe in objective ethics. I'm asserting that subjective ethics are optimum when based on sound logic and reasoning and truth. Ethics based on faulty reasoning, or no reasoning at all are objectively worse. This is because they would fail your an individuals own subjective analysis were they better informed.
I'm clearly not claiming that there is an objective moral truth.

Regarding the part you reference:
Ethics based on faulty reasoning, or no reasoning at all are objectively worse.
Ideally I would have said: that our own subjective ethics based on faulty reasoning and flasehoods are not as good our own subjective ethics based on truth and sound reasoning. Ie: you judge your morals to be better when you're better informed - virtually by definition. Therefore it's objective to say that: ideal subjective good requires truth. And therefore surely it is reasonable to say that "(subjective) ethics based on faulty reasoning, or no reasoning at all are objectively worse."

User avatar
bucky
Posts: 21
Joined: January 13th, 2019, 7:58 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by bucky » January 14th, 2019, 5:02 pm

EldritchSaffron wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 3:21 pm

Ideally I would have said: that our own subjective ethics based on faulty reasoning and flasehoods are not as good our own subjective ethics based on truth and sound reasoning. Ie: you judge your morals to be better when you're better informed - virtually by definition.
No, - you- judge your morals to be better when they're better informed :) That's just the kind of thing that can be denied. The mechanism by which you're making a judgment of better or worse is the mechanism under consideration.

User avatar
cavacava
Posts: 55
Joined: October 12th, 2018, 11:10 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by cavacava » January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm

#EldritchSaffron

Is your subjective ethics cognitive or non-cognitive? If it is cognitive then you will need to address the matter of moral judgement...how is it that anyone's moral judgement can be superior to any one else's judgement, assuming individual subjective moral decisions. I suppose you could just as easily say that moral statements are not truth apt, and therefore non-cognitive, perhaps Emotive ethics. You probably could not be a Utilitarian, since moral correctness is socially quantifiable, not a Virtue Ethic position because it relies on natural internal tendencies which are then formed by culture, but perhaps a Kantian, De-ontological position which each individual acts morally as if they were legislating for the entire community.

Or you could subscribe to a form of cultural subjective ethics, where what is or wrong is determined by the particular culture. The culture itself determines what is right and wrong which is a cultural reality, it is less problematic than an individual subjective position.

I think objectivity can mean reality as you state but I don't see how that relates to Ethics. It seems to me that ethics is only pertinent in social situations, a way for humanity to survive together in communities. The reality of the $50.00 in my pocket is no less or more real than my desk, but that $50.00 in physical reality as such is no more than paper with ink on it, we value it as $50.00.

User avatar
EldritchSaffron
New Trial Member
Posts: 9
Joined: January 11th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by EldritchSaffron » January 15th, 2019, 2:34 am

bucky wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 5:02 pm
No, - you- judge your morals to be better when they're better informed. That's just the kind of thing that can be denied.
You subjectively judge your morals to be subjectively better when you’re better informed. There is no objective morality (that we know of) so there is no way to judge your ethics outside of the subjective arena.
bucky wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 5:02 pm
The mechanism by which you're making a judgment of better or worse is the mechanism under consideration.
I'm not sure that it is. I’m saying that outside of morality, it is objective to say that your subjective ethics improve with the application of knowledge. The mechanism is logic I guess, but I’m not entirely sure what you mean when you ask for the mechanism?
cavacava wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm
Is your subjective ethics cognitive or non-cognitive? If it is cognitive then you will need to address the matter of moral judgement...how is it that anyone's moral judgement can be superior to any one else's judgement, assuming individual subjective moral decisions.
I suppose it could be split into two parts: the objective part is that truth improves an individual’s ability to make informed ethical choices. The subjective part is the ethical decision making itself.

The ethical decision making is cognitive.

I’m not sure I do have to address the matter of moral judgement because I'm not sure that it's relevant. There is no superior moral judgement. What matters is that your subjective moral judgement has improved by your own standards. Meaning that you’re acting more ethically (subjectively speaking) than you would otherwise.
cavacava wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm
I suppose you could just as easily say that moral statements are not truth apt, and therefore non-cognitive, perhaps Emotive ethics. You probably could not be a Utilitarian, since moral correctness is socially quantifiable, not a Virtue Ethic position because it relies on natural internal tendencies which are then formed by culture, but perhaps a Kantian, De-ontological position which each individual acts morally as if they were legislating for the entire community. Or you could subscribe to a form of cultural subjective ethics, where what is or wrong is determined by the particular culture. The culture itself determines what is right and wrong which is a cultural reality, it is less problematic than an individual subjective position.
Am I wrong for suggesting that my concept that I’m describing is actually applied before any ethical framework is imposed? Surely increased knowledge would allow someone to pick the subjectively best ethical framework that they feel aligns with what they think is right + reality? My concept is a prerequisite for ideal ethics, not an ethical concept in itself. Or perhaps it is, I don't know. I can't tell if this is meta-ethics I'm describing or something else entirely.
cavacava wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm
I think objectivity can mean reality as you state but I don't see how that relates to Ethics.
objectivity doesn't relate to ethics by itself - but it had a huge impact when we apply objectivity to ethical decision making.

We make ethical choices that effect the real world. If our ethics don’t intersect with the real world then what would be the point of ethics?
cavacava wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm
It seems to me that ethics is only pertinent in social situations, a way for humanity to survive together in communities.
I fully agree, but surely reality and objectivity must be useful in social situations. The concept I’m describing has very real implications to both reality and ethics. In order to be ethical by your own standards you need to act in the real world, and those actions need to have the outcome you expect. If you were to try to make the world a better place by changing a law, only to bring untold suffering to people because you did not understand true nature of what it was you were doing - then I think you'd be hard pressed to call yourself/or the act morally good.
cavacava wrote:
January 14th, 2019, 6:31 pm
The reality of the $50.00 in my pocket is no less or more real than my desk, but that $50.00 in physical reality as such is no more than paper with ink on it, we value it as $50.00.
Nothing has any inherent value – only the value we place on it. Ethics do not exist – what only exists are our subjective likes and dislikes.

The reality is that our ethics inform our actions. If we perceive the world to be one way, we will act accordingly. If we perceive the world to be how it actually is – our actions will be more informed and more in accord with what will actually eventuate. We will be able to do what we perceive to be right better – and we will understand what we think to be right clearer.

Surely this concept must relate to ethics.

User avatar
cavacava
Posts: 55
Joined: October 12th, 2018, 11:10 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by cavacava » January 15th, 2019, 6:58 pm

I’m not sure I do have to address the matter of moral judgement because I'm not sure that it's relevant. There is no superior moral judgement. What matters is that your subjective moral judgement has improved by your own standards. Meaning that you’re acting more ethically (subjectively speaking) than you would otherwise.
If I understand, you're saying that moral statements express individual beliefs, they express descriptions of and individual's subjective beliefs such as 'abortion is wrong', which means they disapprove of abortions. Another individual believes that 'abortion is right', and they are right in their belief. How do you account for actual moral disagreements, if each persons beliefs are both ethical and infallible in so far as they express their individual beliefs then how can anyone's actions be judged right or wrong? Assuming such statements are truth apt, subjectivism seems to equivocate.

User avatar
EldritchSaffron
New Trial Member
Posts: 9
Joined: January 11th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by EldritchSaffron » January 16th, 2019, 8:32 am

cavacava wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 6:58 pm
If I understand, you're saying that moral statements express individual beliefs, they express descriptions of and individual's subjective beliefs such as 'abortion is wrong', which means they disapprove of abortions.
Yes
cavacava wrote:
January 15th, 2019, 6:58 pm
Another individual believes that 'abortion is right', and they are right in their belief. How do you account for actual moral disagreements, if each persons beliefs are both ethical and infallible in so far as they express their individual beliefs then how can anyone's actions be judged right or wrong?
I don't believe this theory I'm discussing involves moral disagreements. All I'm stating is that it is objective truth that: to be maximally informed is to have ideal ethics subjectively speaking - surely that is accurate? I am making no claims about moral disagreements between people. If this has any value even is besides the point right now. That should be discussed desperately.

With that said I will answer your question as I find it interesting, but please keep in mind this is out of the scope of the main question that I'm interested in. My answer below also may help to shed greater understanding of where I'm coming from.

I'm assuming that you're talking about their ideal subjective ethic in the example you cite. In other words each individual possesses maximal knowledge about the truth of the situation and their logic is sound. In this case, each individuals beliefs are not "objectively ethical" only subjectively what they want. I do not believe either one to be right or wrong - instead their differences are only a matter of taste in how they want the world to be. It's an opinion. Neither one is right or wrong.

No matter their individual choices, they are making the best possible decision they could make - because they know the reality of the situation as well as the outcome their actions will take (a byproduct of having maximal knowledge is to have the ability to accurately predict outcomes).

When it comes to the abortion example, it doesn't matter who's objectively right - it only matters that they are both maximally informed. Because if they are both maximally informed, there is a greater chance that the worst possible outcomes (subjectively judged) will be omitted, and a optimum point of confluence will be reached, if at all possible.

If there was such a thing as an objective ethic, or a maximal collective ethic, then surely once again maximal knowledge is a prerequisite?

Judaka
Posts: 251
Joined: May 2nd, 2017, 10:10 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by Judaka » January 21st, 2019, 3:18 am

I think the basis for effective "subjective morality" is to deny the existence of "objective morality" but assert a purpose for morality. What is that purpose and what you're trying to achieve become anchors for your efforts.

If I decide it's important for me to want to help people, what actions I consider to be most ethical/moral depend on my understanding of what actually helps people. That's where the truth becomes relevant if I realise that my actions which I thought were helping people are actually not being as helpful as I thought then I must examine my beliefs.

If my desire to help people is based off a similarly incorrect premise, like helping people will make them feel loved and that's actually what's important to me - then I realise that the people I help aren't actually feeling loved. That might lead me to question the premise of whether helping people is actually virtuous and worthwhile or not.

The mistake people make is that they feel like subjective morality amounts to meaningless opinions anchored by nothing. Actually, subjective morality acts as a guide for acting appropriately in the world given the premises of your values and beliefs. There is a need to hold yourself accountable to that and whether you are representing your values and beliefs properly should actually matter to you. There are many opportunities for people to change their minds as they gain knowledge, understanding and experience all while being beholden to science, facts and truth.

User avatar
EldritchSaffron
New Trial Member
Posts: 9
Joined: January 11th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by EldritchSaffron » January 26th, 2019, 5:28 pm

Judaka wrote:
January 21st, 2019, 3:18 am
If I decide it's important for me to want to help people, what actions I consider to be most ethical/moral depend on my understanding of what actually helps people. That's where the truth becomes relevant if I realise that my actions which I thought were helping people are actually not being as helpful as I thought then I must examine my beliefs.

If my desire to help people is based off a similarly incorrect premise, like helping people will make them feel loved and that's actually what's important to me - then I realise that the people I help aren't actually feeling loved. That might lead me to question the premise of whether helping people is actually virtuous and worthwhile or not.
Yes, this is a very similar to the concept I laid out at the start. I really like the way you explained it.

With a better understanding of the world, we can make a more informed decision about how to best act in the world. This doesn't solve the issue of "What is good". But it is more likely to provide better outcomes that the subject, and those around them, will perceive as better.

Judaka
Posts: 251
Joined: May 2nd, 2017, 10:10 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by Judaka » January 26th, 2019, 10:48 pm

To call things objectively wrong using a subjective morality framework is not really accurate though, rather, it's invalid and illogical based on the subjective morality's premises.

The big thing about truth in subjective morality is that there are usually many truths that we need to prioritise or use one at the expense of others. If we look at South Africa today, it's true that the native Africans have been wronged historically by the whites, the wealth is very imbalanced and their wealth is directly linked to the oppression of native Africans. Their need for justice is based on true premises. Another truth is that the current white South Africans are not responsible for the actions of their ancestors and yet another truth is that nobody is actually benefiting from the pillaging and murdering of white South Africans.

Many truths but very different conclusions based on the ones you choose to focus on, I think it's not enough to simply care about the truth. Blind pursuit of the truth might just mean, you're more susceptible to accepting the truth even though it's just one truth out of many and this one may not be particularly constructive or helpful to you or others.

We also interpret the same truths very differently... alas, I would argue against the idea that truth leads to an ideal subjective morality. Instead people need to recognise that because morality is subjective, because we are all lead to different conclusions and because morality is a necessary and inevitable component of our lives, we should be tolerant towards differences and concerned mainly with protecting liberty for all.

Likewise, for your own personal benefit, there are certain ends you should value besides the truth and consider carefully whether the "truth" really benefits you or not. I can agree if we're talking about implementation but past that things become more complicated.

Gertie
Posts: 685
Joined: January 7th, 2015, 7:09 am

Re: Truth and our ideal subjective morality

Post by Gertie » January 30th, 2019, 8:14 am

ES
With a better understanding of the world, we can make a more informed decision about how to best act in the world. This doesn't solve the issue of "What is good". But it is more likely to provide better outcomes that the subject, and those around them, will perceive as better.
The way I see it, once you agree that there is no independently existing Morality or Right and Wrong, that it is a concept people have created, you're faced with two issues.

Firstly, does it still matter how we act.

And secondly, if it does, then how do we best achieve acting well. And it seems obvious as regards this, that the better informed we are, the better chance we have of achieving our aims of acting well consistently. But that's just one issue, because life is complex and eg there can be conflicting 'goods' and it's difficult to weigh one against another, Judah's point.

Regarding the first point, I'd say it certainly does still matter how we act, so the question is why? What's the foundation for that claim? And the answer is that conscious beings such as ourselves have a Quality of Life. So what happens to us, matters to us. We can suffer, be joyful, and everything in between. We have needs and desires. All these things matter to us, and that Mattering is the basis for treating each other well. For Oughts and Moral Duties. And in societies for codes of behaviour, from social mores to laws.

But the Mattering of conscious creatures is inherently subjective - a condition of conscious subjects. So while we will have a lot in common, what matters to me might not always matter to you. However, we can still look to find ways of allowing people to pursue their own goals, while imposing limits when that harms others. And when we live together in societies for mutual benefit, we can create systems which look after the vulnerable, acknowledging their needs and desires too. But as I said, it soon becomes very messy and complex weighing these competing 'goods' against each other. Which is why we have politics, as way of coming to a rough n ready consensus.

Post Reply