A Moral Universe

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Angel Trismegistus
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A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am

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____________A Moral Universe____________

The Argument

1. All things by nature tend to their own good.

2. The good is that to which all things by nature tend.

3. The nature of things tends toward the good of things.

4. All action in accordance with the nature of things is right.

5. All action in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.

6. "Right" and "wrong" are values expressing accordance and discordance with the nature of things.

7. All actions are in this sense moral.

8. The collection of all actions is in this sense moral.

9. The universe is the collection of all actions.

0. The universe is in this sense moral.



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____________Immoral Man____________

11. Man alone is by nature able to question the good.

12. Man alone is by nature free to act against the nature of things.

13. The nature of man is by reason and by freedom set off from the nature of things.

14. The action of man in accordance with the nature of things is right.

15. The action of man in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.

16. "Right" and "wrong" are judgments of value by which the nature of man strives for accordance and discordance with the nature of things.

17. The actions of man are in this sense morally ambiguous.

18. Man is in this sense a morally ambiguous thing.

19. A morally ambiguous thing by nature tends away from the good of things.

20. A morally ambiguous thing by nature tends away from its own good.



The view and argument advanced here developed in the course of two recent dialogues with two fellow philclub members -- Wossname and Terrapin Station. -- to whom I am indebted for such clarity and cogency as my argument and view presently possess. I invite, indeed I welcome any and all good-faith challenge, criticism, comments and suggestions.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 8th, 2020, 10:29 pm

For one, it's not possible for anything to be contrary to the nature of things.

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Papus79
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Papus79 » September 8th, 2020, 10:50 pm

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
____________A Moral Universe____________

The Argument

1. All things by nature tend to their own good.
Or at least those who don't aren't part of a given species future.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
2. The good is that to which all things by nature tend.
'The good' here is underdefined.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
3. The nature of things tends toward the good of things.

4. All action in accordance with the nature of things is right.
I wouldn't say 'right', I'd say inevitable.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
5. All action in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.
What living organisms would we have painting outside the lines of nature and into what are they painting?
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
6. "Right" and "wrong" are values expressing accordance and discordance with the nature of things.
They're the expressions of people who don't want brute power to be the decider of all things. Fair enough - without having something like that in place the world is very dumb, simple, barbaric, and very little in the way of complexity can arise.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
7. All actions are in this sense moral.

8. The collection of all actions is in this sense moral.

9. The universe is the collection of all actions.

0. The universe is in this sense moral.
The collection of all actions just is. If you jig morality to not exist (or only apply to acts which are outside nature - which are impossible) then calling the universe moral would be relatively meaningless. Also meet some real/proper narcissists, sociopaths, or psychopaths and be in a position where you're forced to be under their thumb for long enough for it to ill-effect you unless you can deal with them on their own terms - you find out pretty quickly that equanimity only works from a distance.

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
____________Immoral Man____________

11. Man alone is by nature able to question the good.

12. Man alone is by nature free to act against the nature of things.
Same as above for 12: how?
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
13. The nature of man is by reason and by freedom set off from the nature of things.
Freedom from what?
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
14. The action of man in accordance with the nature of things is right.

15. The action of man in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.
Are you talking about the manufacture of unnatural isotopes, like the 7th valence transitional elements?
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
16. "Right" and "wrong" are judgments of value by which the nature of man strives for accordance and discordance with the nature of things.
You're suggesting then that human moral decisions are the highest authority? If it were not so this couldn't be the case.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
17. The actions of man are in this sense morally ambiguous.

18. Man is in this sense a morally ambiguous thing.

19. A morally ambiguous thing by nature tends away from the good of things.

20. A morally ambiguous thing by nature tends away from its own good.
I believe I might be able to help with this one.

The 'novel Corona virus' Covid 19 is tending away from it's own good in this sense, ie. it's in 'novel' status. It will be in alignment with the good when it can spread from human to human without killing its hosts - mainly because if it's killing its hosts its doing some combination of preventing its own spread and thriving and, in light of humans, causing us to be annoyed enough to forge vaccines against it which could cause its eradication.

If someone decides to use your arguments above to say that morality is ecological balance and that we're immoral because we step outside of ecological balance - we're one of several species that have done so. There were algae in the ocean which overpopulated to a similar degree, based on missing ecological constraints, which almost brought life on earth to an end.

Best maybe to think of it this way - something new goes through a novelty, it damages its substrate until it suffers the consequences of doing so or finds a natural predator up to snuff to keep its numbers in check or banks hard enough from some natural disaster that's either a byproduct of its own activity or random chance of nature and as such that bottleneck changes things. For human beings I think of some of the conversations that James Lovelock and John Gray have had in the past decade or so about climate change and global warming - not only that it's inevitable but that humans won't go extinct but we will be vastly humbled, both in our population numbers and in our sense of place in the universe. 'The good' in that case is simply a set of relative constants where, like with physics, if we break those rules there's no negotiating with the consequences. The difficult piece is that those breaches can be hidden in an equilibrium system, they can't be hidden as well once that equilibrium system has been deprecated too much to shift accounts for its own survival.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Papus79
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Papus79 » September 8th, 2020, 10:58 pm

As for the tendency of a moral universe, the closest thing I can come up with as an analog to that is what often gets called 'process philosophy', or the idea that conscious structures are linking and connecting in ways to where we're going from something like raw animism to something like a future pantheism, and some would claim that this is the handiwork of a panentheistic system rendering a copy of itself into a different stratum.

None of these are necessarily crazy ideas if we're trying to think about what the ultimate realities might be, I'd consider myself sympathetic to process philosophy and panentheism, but I'd consider that these seem to have more pragmatic concerns than something as Greco-Roman or post-Enlightenment in flavor as morality. You see the pragmatism of those concerns in how nature works, ie. breaking eggs is just part of making an omelette.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 9th, 2020, 1:46 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 10:29 pm
For one, it's not possible for anything to be contrary to the nature of things.
What sort of impossibility are you asserting here -- logical? Empirical? Dialectical?
And what part of the OP argument (#1-20) does your demurrer address?
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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 9th, 2020, 2:41 am

Papus79 wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 10:50 pm
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
____________A Moral Universe____________

The Argument

1. All things by nature tend to their own good.
Or at least those who don't aren't part of a given species future.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
2. The good is that to which all things by nature tend.
'The good' here is underdefined.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
3. The nature of things tends toward the good of things.

4. All action in accordance with the nature of things is right.
I wouldn't say 'right', I'd say inevitable.

...
Yes, survival is at the bottom of the argument.

"Good" is taken as a primitive notion in the argument, roughly synonymous with "beneficialness" perhaps, but also associated (in the author's mind at any rate) with the idea of "flourishing" (in the Aristotelian sense).

What makes you say "inevitable"? Your earlier reference to those who "aren't part of a given species future" would appear to contradict inevitability.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 9th, 2020, 5:51 am

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 9th, 2020, 1:46 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 10:29 pm
For one, it's not possible for anything to be contrary to the nature of things.
What sort of impossibility are you asserting here -- logical? Empirical? Dialectical?
And what part of the OP argument (#1-20) does your demurrer address?
Logical and metaphysical/ontological.

Re #5--All action in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.

There can be no action in discordance with the nature of things.

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Steve3007
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Steve3007 » September 9th, 2020, 6:27 am

Angel Trismegistus wrote:The Argument

1. All things by nature tend to their own good.

2. The good is that to which all things by nature tend.

3. The nature of things tends toward the good of things.

4. All action in accordance with the nature of things is right.

5. All action in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.

6. "Right" and "wrong" are values expressing accordance and discordance with the nature of things.

7. All actions are in this sense moral.

8. The collection of all actions is in this sense moral.

9. The universe is the collection of all actions.

0. The universe is in this sense moral.
This part simply defines the terms "good", "natural tendencies", "action", "right/wrong", "moral" and "universe" in terms of each other. For example, the first three points simply say "X is Y and Y is X".

Were you intending to make any empirical claims in this part or was the intention just the mutual definitions of terms?
15. The action of man in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.
Could you give an example of an action of man which you would regard as being "in discordance with the nature of things"?

There was a guy on here a while ago who went by the name of "Meleagar" who I think you'd be interested in. As I recall, he was interested in using the Aristotlean concept of "The Good" to make an argument that seems to have been fairly similar to the one I think you're seeking to make.

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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Steve3007 » September 9th, 2020, 7:00 am

I'd forgotten how long ago it was.
viewtopic.php?p=43983#p43983

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Papus79
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Papus79 » September 9th, 2020, 7:18 am

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 9th, 2020, 2:41 am
"Good" is taken as a primitive notion in the argument, roughly synonymous with "beneficialness" perhaps, but also associated (in the author's mind at any rate) with the idea of "flourishing" (in the Aristotelian sense).

What makes you say "inevitable"? Your earlier reference to those who "aren't part of a given species future" would appear to contradict inevitability.
Not sure it's a contradiction - ie. every generation is a winnowing, a removal of what doesn't or can't work in that given environment. There are a couple ways to extend into the future - one is the most common, ie. successfully make babies and raise them to adulthood, the second is participate in group or lineage selection in some important way such as being a teacher, a leader, or someone who contributes significantly to current and future human thought.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 9th, 2020, 1:09 pm

So it's not "inevitable." It requires certain actions in order to be realized.
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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Papus79 » September 9th, 2020, 1:56 pm

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 9th, 2020, 1:09 pm
So it's not "inevitable." It requires certain actions in order to be realized.
We might have different things in mind with the word 'inevitable'. To me it's something that's going to happen no matter what, sometimes that's the pruning of a species and sometimes that the extinction of a species.
People aren't fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, we're fundamentally trying to survive. It's the environment and culture which tells us what that's going to be.

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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Marvin_Edwards » September 9th, 2020, 3:09 pm

1. The Universe itself is an inanimate physical object with no purpose or reasoning.
2. Purpose only appears within living organisms, as a drive to survive, thrive, and reproduce.
3. Reasoning only appears within intelligent species, which are equipped to imagine many possible ways to achieve their purpose, evaluate the likely outcomes of different actions, and choose what they will do. This is where free will appears.

4. Morality is species specific. What is good for one species is sometimes bad for another species. That is the nature of each species.
5. The point of morality is to achieve the best good and the least harm for everyone (within one's own species). That is the nature of morality.

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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Count Lucanor » September 9th, 2020, 6:36 pm

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am

____________A Moral Universe____________

The Argument

1. All things by nature tend to their own good.

2. The good is that to which all things by nature tend.

3. The nature of things tends toward the good of things.
There are many things in nature, and just a tiny minority in it gets in the business of qualifying the rest of them as good as or bad. The vast majority of nature simply doesn't care, because it is not made to care. Most things don't "tend to their own good", they are what they are, regardless of moral qualifications from humans.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
4. All action in accordance with the nature of things is right.

5. All action in discordance with the nature of things is wrong.
Since humans are the only ones qualifying things as right or wrong, and humans are not driven by raw natural instincts, it is in fact possible that acting against what appears to be natural tendencies is qualified as right.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
6. "Right" and "wrong" are values expressing accordance and discordance with the nature of things.
Given human's neuroplasticity and the ever changing social environment, it is very unlikely that "right and wrong", and what is "natural", can be fixed.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
7. All actions are in this sense moral.
For humans only.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 8th, 2020, 6:28 am
8. The collection of all actions is in this sense moral.

9. The universe is the collection of all actions.

0. The universe is in this sense moral.
The rest of the universe just doesn't care about anything.

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Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Steve3007 » September 10th, 2020, 3:41 am

Count Lucanor wrote:Most things don't "tend to their own good"...
They do if Angel decides to define "good" as "that towards which things tend" (as he does). :D

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