Objective Moral Conundrum

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GE Morton
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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by GE Morton » July 30th, 2020, 11:56 am

Gertie wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:37 pm

The argument requires thinking afresh about what morality is, and what it's for, rather than assuming anything which isn't objectively measurable and observable can't be axiomatic.
Yes. Axioms need not be empirical. They only need to be self-evident, i.e., not open to reasonable doubt.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Gertie » July 30th, 2020, 1:37 pm

woss
Yes I quite like that. The broad axiom can be derived from the nature of subjective experience.

I think you understand that I am not assuming that things which are not objectively measurable or observable cannot be the foundation for a moral theory. And clearly, things which are incapable of subjective experience are not obviously things which have interests which should morally concern us, and those which do have subjective experience do have such interests. I feel you may be saying something more here, and I am still grasping for it (my bad).
I'm not too fussed if we call it axiomatic or whatever, the jargon doesn't matter. (There's an issue with the connotations of subjective and objective and self evident which we could explore epistemologically, but that's another rabbit hole). I think it's something most people get, even if they don't sit down and think it through this way. It's part of how our social neurology works. If I see someone kicking a person or a dog, I don't like it. Most people don't, it feels wrong. If we see someone kicking a rock, it's funny. We might worry about their foot hurting, but we don't care about the rock. That's not a hard sell. Ask most people what morality is, including many theists, and they'll come up with something which is a good fit with showing regard for the wellbeing of humans, and some animals if asked.

I'm laying out why this intuition is justifiable. Not 'just' subjective, as in just one arbitrary opinion among many others, not 'just a result of our evolved neurobiology'. My additional point is that the fact this isn't based in some objective truth we can find with a telescope, or by divine revelation, doesn't make it any less of a basis for Oughts. That in fact Oughts are rooted in subjectivity, in the sense that conscious subjects are the source and need for morality. That's the paradigm shift required here I think, to really get to grips with what morality is and what it's for. Grounded in this special qualiative 'what it's like' nature of consciousness possessed by subjects.

So philosophy should move on from the anachronistic and irrelevant Objective v Subjective debate, which made sense when our local God was real and we didn't understand neurology and the challenge that brings to the very notion of morality. And offer people a new fit for purpose universal grounding for morality, at this time when we are in a moral limbo. Make an alternative available. How it becomes part of some academic canon, and marketing it generally so that it enters the zeitgeist and filters through to how decisions are made is a different practical issue. Giving it a more appealing name would be a start!

More later... you mentioned beer [goes off to hunt beer]

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Pattern-chaser » July 30th, 2020, 1:52 pm

GE Morton wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:51 am
Pattern-chaser wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:51 am

Wouldn't a freer (i.e. less formal) format encourage greater understanding of this non-objective topic? 🤔
You're begging the question.
No, I'm offering my opinion in the closest I can come to a diplomatic manner. 👍
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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Gertie » July 30th, 2020, 4:45 pm

woss [continued] ...
If we argue that X’s wellbeing is promoted this far at the theoretical cost to the wellbeing of Y of that much then there is some theoretical sum to be calculated. But that is not how people naturally think, and all I am suggesting is that I can still see arguments concerning whether the subjective experiences of X are equivalent to the subjective experiences of Y. The lack of objective measurement here gives scope for disagreement.
Yes, for me this is where it gets difficult. (We just did the foundational easy part :wink: ). I don't think there are easy tidy answers, just the nature of the Subject beast, I don't have them anyway. There are tools we can use, like instituting basic rights which should be immune to transient governmental tinkering. Rooted in thinking about what is basic to wellbeing and the ability to flourish for each individual. That's easier to agree on, if not precisely calcuable. Rights can also counter the harshest consequences which the utilitarian maximisation approach can lead to, the point implicit in the O.P. But yeah, disagreement comes with the territory, we're not going to create Utopia, but we're hopefully going to do better if we're focussing on what matters. Something for social contract theorists to get stuck into maybe. I like Rawls' approach, but don't know enough to put all my eggs in his basket. What are your thoughts?
Although we might wish to promote egalitarian principles I fear that, by nature, humans are more parochial and we will therefore ever be back to dealing with prejudices. You can relatively easily convince people that, by reason of its sentience, they should be concerned for the wellbeing of a cow. Sculptor, for example, would argue it should be well treated. He is still happy to eat a steak and he is not alone in that.
I became a vegetarian when I was 14, it was a reasoned moral decision, but it was conveniently in line with being a 14 year old who loved my dog more than nearly every person I knew. And visiting my town's cattle market, hearing the squeal of pigs having their ears clipped. I've since been in a battery egg farm giant shed, it was like enterring hell. Show people that especially around the age they're forming their world views, even minus the overwhelming decibels and stench, that's how you get people in the gut, fire up neurons. Now I believe I Ought to be a vegan, but I don't feel bad enough to make the extra effort to do it. And I mean... cheese! We're not all Peter Singers.

[Likewise if you're in the UK I don't know if you saw the photo a few years back of a drowned toddler from an immigrant boat on a beach? For a week or two immigrants were humanised, relatable, 'us'. It hit us in the neurons. Videos of immigrant kids in American cages, video of George Floyd sparked an international BLM response. These images make us feel like we're there, they trigger our neurological mechanisms designed for up-close-and-personal social bonding, caring. We can use these mechanisms to widen our 'circle of care' as we come to understand them. ]

People now are growing up with the idea that veganism isn't just right, it's a reasonably doable option, we don't have to be hair shirt fans to live more ethically. Shops are selling vegan stuff, people are talking about it, it's entered the zeitgeist and our economically motivated suppliers are responding, in turn making making it more widespread and endorsing its normativity. Fur is now an issue, leather is becoming an issue. If I was 14 now, I'd probably be a vegan. Environmentally marketed products are growing similarly. Look on Amazon and you'll see questions about products referring to all sorts of zeitgeisty ethical issues - vegan, cruelty free, free range, sustainable, recyclable, etc. Look at labelling, there's even handy dandy ethically based filters on the likes of Tesco's online grocery now. Many people are finding their own paths towards morally satisfying lifestyles, and by doing so changing how society responds, changing the culture.

Get a universal sound moral grounding into 'the academy', filtering down into our educaton curriculum, our everyday normative thinking and vocabulary, and the above trends will escalate. Politics will respond to the zeitgeist as it always does. And on a personal level it asks us to confront our own biases and weaknesses, hopefully before they are too ingrained and we just get defensive or jump to rationalisations. It's necessarily a long term project isn't it?
You understand that equality requires equal consideration of interests, and prejudice arises when some interests are considered more important than others.
I'd say this foundation asks us to consider appropriate condideration of interests. Children, people with particular needs like certain disabilities, different species (that's top of my head exceptions) will have significantly different wellbeing interests. But generally speaking, yes.
If the interests of those of a different skin colour, gender, age group, religious belief, species or whatever are not considered equally then promoting their interests, or wellbeing, may only go so far. So what I am suggesting is that prejudice is still a main arena for battle, and the argument is very far from done. Humans want to look after their own. That is what really matters to them.
Sure.
The axiom has a universally appropriate grounding, but this creates tension with our natural impulses. Promoting the broad axiom is one thing, interpreting it another. And when it comes to working out the specific rules, the devil is, as per, all in the detail.

That’s not a reason to abandon the axiom.
Right.
Morality is, we agree, messy and the argument will never end. In one way, that is how it should be. In another, I fear people will be looking at philosophers as some weird cerebral nutcases while they burn the planet to the ground around our ears.
Philosophers can do the job of providing a universal moral foundation (tho I wouldn't give them the job of marketing it!). That's not sufficient for changing the world, but it looks pretty necessary right now. Or they can toast marshmallows in the flames, sagely noting this is 'only subjectively' bad.

- Sorry to be so long-winded, it's something I'm interested in and am finding the convo helpful in thinking things through, but don't feel you have to respond to it all!

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » July 31st, 2020, 7:46 am

Gertie wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 4:45 pm
y Gertie » Yesterday, 9:45 pm

- Sorry to be so long-winded, it's something I'm interested in and am finding the convo helpful in thinking things through

Sorry to take a while getting back. Conversation is inevitably disjointed on this forum for numerous reasons. There’s the time zones and domestic needs for starters. Also there is apparently, a nasty virus out there, (who knew?) so as a precautionary measure I was with a few friends yesterday assiduously trying to drown any of the little buggers which may have invaded in a liquid called “Old Speckled Hen” which comes in handy portable containers. This can result in conversation of a sublimity so exquisite that the uninitiated observer might confuse it with drunken stupidity. Back to normal now, though since the treatment seems to be working there will be more merciless drowning tonight. Also the awfully wedded wife has no great love for philosophy and will sometimes scream lovingly in my shelll-like that while I am straning my brane trying to fink grate forts I am not offering her the undying devotion that she unquestionably (unquestionably) deserves. I may like the odd argument but I sometimes know when to keep my gob shut. Besides, she is right.

Domestic issues aside let me rewind and see where I think I am with the discussion so far and you can tell me what you disagree with. The convo helps me think things through too. My starting point has been to highlight what I perceive as the tension between a natural tendency to parochial values based on looking after our own and the notion of universal moral principles applicable to all. I agree with you that natural intuition helps us to understand the desirability of having concern for the wellbeing of others. The intuition exists as a matter of objective fact but the universal principle is a value judgement derived from the intuition all the same, (we are not pointing to something that exists as an objective fact and others may reject it). The is/ought divide has thereby had a bridge built across it that is broad and sensible and reason suggests many will be happy to cross it. On the other side we must work out how to interpret the principle in practice and that will be messy, but that’s OK because life is. We can argue for things like liberté, égalité, fraternité and these will resonate. Ultimately the way society is organised is for the people to decide, but if these principles are promoted in the political, educational, social and educational systems they will find a natural home in many people. BTW for clarity, I do recognize that treatment as an equal is not the same as equal treatment.

You description relating to the squeal of pigs and your visitation of a battery egg farm illustrates the importance of the affective component of attitudes. It’s often not enough to be told of a thing (cognitive component). If there is no empathic response it has limited impact. Rich media stars who can afford to travel the world suddenly encounter the crippling poverty they knew about all along and NOW they get it, and may want to get involved in changing things. I know you understand that prejudice is not rational. Someone who thinks all people in a group (ethnic, religious, insert as appropriate) are horrible may, when asked if they have ever met a member of said group, simply respond that no they haven’t and they don’t want to because they are all horrible. It was, ( and I know you understand this too), the ramming home of the emotional component, letting children feel what it is like to suffer discrimination, that was so effective in Jane Elliott’s blue eyes / brown eyes study.

This tension between the parochial and universal is not going away any time soon and it is why I like the idea of a mixed economy. It is also why I think a society that celebrates huge wealth disparity is off beam, and why government should unashamedly spend money on public services. It would be a public demonstration of values as well as very much needed support for people. (And this is a reason why it helps if people understand what money is and where it comes from, so they can be reassured such spending will not harm them. But that is a separate thread). The hope must be that as such principles gain acceptance it will be reflected by the electoral system in democracies, and those with political power will reflect and further promote similar views thereby encouraging a virtuous circle. Your point about the zeitgeist is well taken. It matters then, that people should try and promote these ideas, and embed them in society as firmly as possible. At an everyday level this just may be the way in which we conduct ourselves and talk about other people. It matters not least because if unscrupulous politicians can exploit the tension that I referred to earlier for their own political gain, and successfully encourage spurious fears that loved ones are threatened, then all bets are off.

Meanwhile on the other side of the bridge may be those who never accepted the principle, including the likes of Conan the Barbarian or Genghis Khan or members of Daesh. We must hope that the promotion of our principles encourages enough across the bridge to leave them as isolated voices squeaking in the wilderness. But I maintain that if they are an individual or a horde and seen as a genuine threat to our loved ones, and they cannot be persuaded to our philosophy, then, just as if they were the attacking aliens in the OP, we will know what to do.

Anyway it is very hot where I am and I am thirsty. I may have an aspirin to combat a slight headache that I suspect is a consequence of brane strane and is most certainly not a hangover.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » July 31st, 2020, 7:50 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:51 am
Wossname wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:26 pm
Also we are agreed that any moral system is built on axioms (assumptions) that in themselves are not objective.
You talk of things not being objective, but then you describe a "moral system", whose construction sounds a lot like the construction of a mathematical/scientific hypothesis/theory. Built on axioms? Isn't such an approach rather too, er, objective for such a subjective topic? Wouldn't a freer (i.e. less formal) format encourage greater understanding of this non-objective topic? 🤔

I would argue that we should not abandon general principles in relation to moral issues or it is a free for all. I think that we can evaluate events objectively in the light of the principles. If not, what use are they? But principles are invented, and not objective things, a point you have already made and I do agree with that. And heaven forfend that morality should ever be decided by some mathematical formula. That is most certainly not my contention. Moral questions are by their nature often messy and uncertain at times.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » July 31st, 2020, 7:54 am

GE Morton wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 11:48 am
GE Morton » Yesterday, 4:48 pm

That does not seem obviously true given the axiom outlined above. The truth condition seems dependent on the axiom you accept.
It is obviously true simply by virtue of the meanings of the words and the observable facts. It's truth does not depend upon any axiom.

The notion of natural rights, as a matter of logic, seems to me to depend on and is not independent of moral axioms for reasons explained. You may reject an axiom in favour of your own, but since axioms are not objective facts and more by the nature of opinion, your rejection has no binding consequence. And we can come up with any number of alternative axioms none of which admit to natural rights existing as objective facts. You claim they exist as facts apart from the axiom, I say that is not so. You can say you disagree, (and you do), but that seems to me more dogma than fact. So I say away with your curious logic and sophistry. Alfie can keep his wretched spear, but your logic is spurious, the relationship you claim exists is a fiction, and you must show me these rights sir, and stop pointing at empty air, or I must ask you to vacate the pot.

I fear we may be at the “you say either, I say tomato, yes it is no it isn’t” point that is the graveyard of many philosophical discussions. I do not see a route forward and so will offer to respectfully agree to disagree on this issue.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by GE Morton » July 31st, 2020, 12:57 pm

Wossname wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 7:54 am

The notion of natural rights, as a matter of logic, seems to me to depend on and is not independent of moral axioms for reasons explained.
If it seems that way to you it can only because you're ignoring the definition given. While rights have moral import, they are not defined in moral terms, and the truth values of propositions asserting them --- e.g., "P has a right to X" --- do not depend upon any moral principles or judgments.

A "right" is a pseudo-property. Pseudo-properties, as distinguished from observable properties, are "tags" we attach to things to mark some external fact about them. The language is filled with such properties --- we say a man is "married," or "is a doctor," or "is an uncle," or "has a degree in philosophy." None of those pseudo-properties are verifiable by observing the person alleged to have them. To verify them we have to look beyond the subject and determine whether some external fact is true of him. A man is "married" if has exchanged vows of a certain type with another person, and has participated in a certain ritual definitive of that relationship in his culture. Whether he has or not is an historical fact, confirmable or disconfirmable via objective evidence. A man is an "uncle" if he has a sibling who has offspring --- another empirically verifiable fact. Etc.

The same is the case with "rights." "P has a right to X" means that P acquired X "righteously," i.e., without inflicting loss or injury on anyone else. That, like the facts in the above example, are empirically confirmable/disconfirmable. That fact, to be sure, has moral import, but that has no bearing on the truth of the proposition "P has a right to X." That proposition is true if P acquired X without inflicting loss or injury, no matter what moral significance one assigns to inflicting losses and injuries, and no matter how one judges such acts morally.

"Natural rights" are subclass of "rights" as just defined. They are pseudo-properties applied to a person if certain facts are true of them. The adjective "natural" merely denotes rights one has to one's "natural assets," i.e., things one brought with one into the world, as distinguished from "common rights" --- rights to things acquired after arriving in the world.

The moral axiom I gave earlier indeed entails that one ought to respect others' rights, and someone who rejected that axiom could deny that rights ought to be respected. But his alternative axiom has no bearing on the truth of "P has a right to X."

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by AveryLExperiment » July 31st, 2020, 1:20 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
July 21st, 2020, 8:11 am
Morality isn't objective. There's nothing objective about "it's better to promote wellbeing than to squelch wellbeing" or anything like that. And there aren't things that objectively count as wellbeing.
This completely covers it.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » July 31st, 2020, 2:27 pm

GE Morton wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 12:57 pm
GE Morton » Today, 5:57 pm

Wossname wrote: ↑Today, 12:54 pm

The notion of natural rights, as a matter of logic, seems to me to depend on and is not independent of moral axioms for reasons explained.

If it seems that way to you it can only because you're ignoring the definition given.

... "P has a right to X" means that P acquired X "righteously," i.e., without inflicting loss or injury on anyone else. That, like the facts in the above example, are empirically confirmable/disconfirmable.

Well you see I don’t think I am ignoring the definition. I think you are ignoring my criticism.

If you legally acquire something it belongs to you. But this definition applied to natural rights presupposes, say, that your life does belong to you to do with as you will. But this is what is in question. You say it is something you have righteously acquired. A counter-claim that you have not and never can make such an acquisition can be made by different axioms, and adding the term “righteously” does not change anything. Your definition is what it is. But others may claim it does not relate to anything that exists in the real world and the pseudo-properties you describe do not relate to anything real as a matter of fact. Your argument presupposes what was never agreed or granted viz that you own your own life. It is an unattractive vision I agree, but that does not demolish the point.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » July 31st, 2020, 2:39 pm

Wossname wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 2:27 pm
Wossname » 8 minutes ago

Your argument presupposes what was never agreed or granted viz that you own your own life.


That was clumsy. I will rephrase as "viz the life you claim as yours is in fact yours".

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by GE Morton » July 31st, 2020, 8:04 pm

Wossname wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 2:27 pm

If you legally acquire something it belongs to you.
Ambiguous and misleading. If you legally acquire something the most you can say is that it legally belongs to you. But you may have no right to it. For example (based on a news story I just read today), the government seized $41,000 in cash from a traveler at a US airport. It may have acquired that money legally, but because that acquisition inflicted a loss on someone else, it has no right to it. (The government is being sued for return of that money).
But this definition applied to natural rights presupposes, say, that your life does belong to you to do with as you will.
Incorrect. The definition neither says nor presupposes any such thing. "P acquired X without inflicting loss or injuries on other moral agents" is a straightforward empirical claim; it presupposes nothing, any more than would, "P acquired X from his brother Q." It indeed implies that it "belongs to you to do with as you wish," IF you also accept the moral theorem that one ought not inflict losses or injuries on others. But on its own it makes no moral statement and assumes no moral premise. The implications of a proposition in the context of a moral theory are not presuppositions of that proposition.

Many other propositions with moral import (given some moral theory) are similarly factual. E.g., "Alfie stole Bruno's bicycle." If Alfie took Bruno's bicycle without Bruno's permission then he stole it, just by virtue of the definition of "steal." That stealing is deemed immoral per some moral theory has no bearing on the truth of, "Alfie stole Bruno's bicycle."
But this is what is in question. You say it is something you have righteously acquired.
Yes; something acquired without inflicting loss or injury is usually considered to be a "righteous" acquisition. But that just reflects the usual understanding of the word "righteous" and the choice of the word "right" to tag that factual relationship between P and X. It is irrelevant to the existence of that relationship. Any other term could do the job of marking that relationship.
A counter-claim that you have not and never can make such an acquisition can be made by different axioms . . .
Someone might claim that I can never acquire anything without inflicting loss or injury on someone else? Wouldn't such a counterclaim be easily refuted with any of thousands of examples? And as I said, no axioms are involved in "P acquired X without inflicting loss or injury," (or, by virtue of the definition of a "right," in "P has a right to X"). Alfie makes a spear from materials he finds wandering in the woods. What losses or injuries does he inflict by making it? Upon whom does he inflict them? What "axiom" might make such a claim false?
But others may claim it does not relate to anything that exists in the real world and the pseudo-properties you describe do not relate to anything real as a matter of fact.
Well, that mystifies me. That P acquired X without inflicting loss or injury is not a matter of fact? Not "real"? How about the contrary --- "P stole X from Bruno, thus inflicting a loss on him." Is that not factual, not "real," either?

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Wossname » August 1st, 2020, 7:09 am

GE Morton wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 8:04 pm
GE Morton » Today, 1:04 am

Still not convinced. But you are being very patient so I will try you further:

Let me start with something I think we agree on. If I am holding a plate then I may move or smash it regardless of how I came by it. You can empirically determine whether or not I am holding the plate. But if no moral consequences flow from this bare fact then what use is this knowledge for any moral theory? It is a statement of what can be observed and so the legal or moral consequences that flow from the fact that I am holding a plate require further context that allows these consequences to be determined. I think we are in agreement on this.

It seems to me that any legal or moral consequences in the normal way of things (I know) are linked to the matter of who owns, rather than who is holding, the plate. I am not sure if you agree with this or not but I think you do. You say what matters is how the thing was acquired (it should be a righteous acquisition) and clearly stealing or theft involves inflicting a loss on the rightful owner (not righteous). I think you wish to go further and say that if there is a plate that nobody owns (ownership is not therefore an issue), and if it would cause no harm, you are free to smash it if you wish. Do I have that right?

Now we may say that you are alive and have the ability to move or smash your body if you wish.

If your body is a vessel that holds your immortal soul, and these things belong to God and by extension His representative, then His representative has claim and demands that though you can factually move or smash he alone has the right to move or smash you and you should, morally, honour that claim. If so what does your right to life amount to?

You have a life but claiming rights amounts to theft (from God who owns and has rights over you thereby), by your own terms your claim is not righteous and I am afraid I must burn you as a blaspheming heretic.

So I still believe that absent an axiom, simple statements about what can be seen are morally vacuous, and the fact that Alfie is alive in itself confers no rights on Alfie whether or not he has harmed anyone. Whether it is wrong to smash Alfie is still up for debate, though of course we both favour axioms that presume in favour of not smashing him.

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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 1st, 2020, 10:41 am

Wossname wrote:
July 29th, 2020, 4:26 pm
Also we are agreed that any moral system is built on axioms (assumptions) that in themselves are not objective.
Pattern-chaser wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 10:51 am
You talk of things not being objective, but then you describe a "moral system", whose construction sounds a lot like the construction of a mathematical/scientific hypothesis/theory. Built on axioms? Isn't such an approach rather too, er, objective for such a subjective topic? Wouldn't a freer (i.e. less formal) format encourage greater understanding of this non-objective topic? 🤔
Wossname wrote:
July 31st, 2020, 7:50 am
I would argue that we should not abandon general principles in relation to moral issues or it is a free for all. I think that we can evaluate events objectively in the light of the principles. If not, what use are they? But principles are invented, and not objective things, a point you have already made and I do agree with that. And heaven forfend that morality should ever be decided by some mathematical formula. That is most certainly not my contention. Moral questions are by their nature often messy and uncertain at times.

What are the "general principles" you refer to? They sound like scientific principles. I don't think science, and its methodology, offer anything useful to this discussion. I think we have something that is not so much a "free for all", but only a vague question whose answer is not clear or obvious. You agree that "moral questions are by their nature often messy and uncertain at times", and yet you still pursue a non-messy and certain approach to them. 🤔
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Re: Objective Moral Conundrum

Post by GE Morton » August 1st, 2020, 11:53 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 10:41 am
You agree that "moral questions are by their nature often messy and uncertain at times", and yet you still pursue a non-messy and certain approach to them. 🤔
No questions are messy "by their nature." They're only messy because we haven't figured out to answer them or even the right questions to ask. Physics, cosmology, biology were pretty messy too, until fairly recently. The social sciences, with the exception of economics, are still pretty messy.

The first step in cleaning up the mess is to approach the subject as a rational endeavor, and not as an unanalyzable witches' brew of idiosyncratic intuitions, innate dispositions, emotional reactions, and conditioned responses, with perhaps a dose of supernatural magic.

A morality is a set of principles and rules for governing interactions between autonomous agents in a social setting. Devising those rules is similar to devising a design and set of traffic rules for a highway system. You first decide what the goal of those rules should be and realistically can be, given the known facts about those agents and their setting, adopt any rules which can be logically derived from that goal, then test any others proposed in thought experiments and "on the ground."

The goal of a set of traffic rules is to enable drivers to get where they're going, wherever that may be, as quickly and conveniently as possible, and get there in one piece. A rational goal of a moral system would be analogous.

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