A Moral Universe

Discuss morality and ethics in this message board.
Featured Article: Philosophical Analysis of Abortion, The Right to Life, and Murder
User avatar
Angel Trismegistus
Posts: 462
Joined: July 25th, 2020, 1:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Location: New York City

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 14th, 2020, 3:08 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 6:11 pm
Gertie wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 5:01 pm


That's not Hume's claim. Here's the passage we're discussing



Hume's point here is that you can't use reason to get to (in the sense of derive or deduce) Oughts from the Is state of affairs.

He's not disputing the state of affairs ('Is') of hunger feeling unpleasant (bad) and eating when you're hungry feeling pleasant (good).

Here's the wiki version which is easier to parse -



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80% ... 0what%20is.
Regarding:
"if a reasoner only has access to non-moral and non-evaluative factual premises, the reasoner cannot logically infer the truth of moral statements"
it still appears to me that Hume is incorrect.

What did Hume offer as an alternative for inferring the truth (or falseness) of moral statements ("ought" assertions)?
Emotional outbursts of approval or disapproval.
Image

User avatar
Angel Trismegistus
Posts: 462
Joined: July 25th, 2020, 1:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Location: New York City

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 14th, 2020, 3:11 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 3:58 pm
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 2:30 pm

We can agree that "there's an additional (moral) consideration or obligation involved in Oughts." Check.
We can agree that "Oughts are usually about actions rooted in a particular way of thinking about ourselves and the world." Check.

Based on our further agreement, we can ask ourselves whether moral prescriptions account for the whole of morality without remainder? That is to say, does this obligation language, even if it reflects a line of thought deeper than language, exhaust moral reflection and moral expression? In other words, is there more to moral discourse (and the thought behind moral discourse) than Oughts?

We might also ask ourselves whether this pre-linguistic moral thinking is natural to man -- that is to say, is this deeper-than-language moral thought sourced in human nature? Or is it conditioned by the very discourse we have supposed it is deeper than?
Pre-linguistic moral thinking is apparently common in other species. For example, see this YouTube on two Capuchin monkeys given unequal pay for the same work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg
Sourced in nature then, yes?
Image

User avatar
Angel Trismegistus
Posts: 462
Joined: July 25th, 2020, 1:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Location: New York City

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 14th, 2020, 3:43 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 4:00 pm
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 3:49 pm

You apparently did not understand this sentence: "Just show me you have a passing acquaintance with the account you call inadequate and I'll answer your question directly."
Okay, so in the other thread you're talking about moral principles, how they're rooted in biology, and specifically you say that they're rooted in a survival instinct. And let's assume for the moment that this survival instinct is universal.

How do we get from the fact that the survival instinct is universal to any normatives? You don't at all address this.
In fact I do address this question in broad strokes in the OP dialogue:
Skeptic: I don't get it. What does survival have to do with morality.
Angel: Life is the primary value and that value is derived by Man in and through his drive to preserve his own life. Man is a rational animal and over time this value was transfered to others, to mates, family members, tribes. Moral judgment evolved over a long evolutionary period and was influenced by various cultural developments, but it all goes back to that innate primary value -- the value of life.

Skeptic: You're saying that all our moral judgments come from the drive to preserve one's life?
Angel: Yes, rationalized and acculturated over hundreds of thousands of years.
And here and there in the posts that follow I work this idea out in greater detail.

Across ages, as reason and society and culture developed in the prehistory of man, gradually the primary value (life) broadened into the concept of harm to others and informed a diversity of value judgments in a diversity of moral cultures.

But to answer your question with the utmost specificity, in order to avoid cavil and complaint from you hereafter, I shall use your own favorite word in the formulation of an answer to your question that is succinct and to the point:

Biological normativity over time became moral normativity by way of reasoning on the matter in increasingly social and culturally diverse contexts.
Image

User avatar
Angel Trismegistus
Posts: 462
Joined: July 25th, 2020, 1:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Location: New York City

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 14th, 2020, 4:28 am

Gertie wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 4:30 pm
Angel


We can agree that "there's an additional (moral) consideration or obligation involved in Oughts." Check.
We can agree that "Oughts are usually about actions rooted in a particular way of thinking about ourselves and the world." Check.

Based on our further agreement, we can ask ourselves whether moral prescriptions account for the whole of morality without remainder? That is to say, does this obligation language, even if it reflects a line of thought deeper than language, exhaust moral reflection and moral expression? In other words, is there more to moral discourse (and the thought behind moral discourse) than Oughts?
Lets remember 'You can't derive an Ought from an Is' is a handy sloganised distillation, and is referring to the action-based aspect of morality, Oughts imply actions.

We can think more widely about the concept of morality or right and wrong in whatever way we want. As an explanation for conscience for example, as a spark of divinity within us bequeathed by being the creation of a perfectly good God. Or at the other end of the spectrum we can talk about what we've come to call 'moral' predispositions being an evolved survival adaptation. But I'd say only a prescriptive conclusion has any practical moral value and justification in the 'doing of' morality, rather than the 'thinking about' it, and that is the prescriptive role of Oughts.


So my bitesize answer is morality in action necessarily implies oughts imo. But reflection and discourse about the concept of morality (your question) doesn't have to.


We might also ask ourselves whether this pre-linguistic moral thinking is natural to man -- that is to say, is this deeper-than-language moral thought sourced in human nature? Or is it conditioned by the very discourse we have supposed it is deeper than?
What we've come to call 'morality' is sourced in evolved-for-utility human nature. And then honed by environmental factors, including conceptualised moral discourse about right and wrong, which is part of our cultural heritage.
You and Hume omit from moral consideration any question of the good, and that omission is one of the reasons Hume's Fork doesn't cut the mustard, it seems to me. But let's return to this criticism later and carry on where we can agree.

So we are discussing "the action-based aspect of morality" with a view to better understand Hume's Is/Ought distinction.

What would you say is the difference between these two different actions: A1 and A2?
Which action demands moral consideration? A1? A2? Both? Neither?
Of course you can't answer this without knowing more, yes?
What would you need to know about A1 and A2 in order to decide whether an Ought applies?

And about this:
What we've come to call 'morality' is sourced in evolved-for-utility human nature. And then honed by environmental factors, including conceptualised moral discourse about right and wrong, which is part of our cultural heritage.
Was this a Yes or No to the question?
Image

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 607
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Marvin_Edwards » September 14th, 2020, 6:47 am

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 3:11 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 3:58 pm


Pre-linguistic moral thinking is apparently common in other species. For example, see this YouTube on two Capuchin monkeys given unequal pay for the same work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meiU6TxysCg
Sourced in nature then, yes?
Well, I don't like to anthropomorphize nature. But we assume that instincts that arose genetically and survived were morally good in that they did aid survival of the species. We call something "good" if it meets a real need that we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species. The need to survive motivates behavior that aids survival.

User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 4075
Joined: August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Bertrand Russell and WVO Quine
Location: NYC Man

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 14th, 2020, 9:28 am

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 3:43 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 4:00 pm


Okay, so in the other thread you're talking about moral principles, how they're rooted in biology, and specifically you say that they're rooted in a survival instinct. And let's assume for the moment that this survival instinct is universal.

How do we get from the fact that the survival instinct is universal to any normatives? You don't at all address this.
In fact I do address this question in broad strokes in the OP dialogue:
Skeptic: I don't get it. What does survival have to do with morality.
Angel: Life is the primary value and that value is derived by Man in and through his drive to preserve his own life. Man is a rational animal and over time this value was transfered to others, to mates, family members, tribes. Moral judgment evolved over a long evolutionary period and was influenced by various cultural developments, but it all goes back to that innate primary value -- the value of life.

Skeptic: You're saying that all our moral judgments come from the drive to preserve one's life?
Angel: Yes, rationalized and acculturated over hundreds of thousands of years.
And here and there in the posts that follow I work this idea out in greater detail.

Across ages, as reason and society and culture developed in the prehistory of man, gradually the primary value (life) broadened into the concept of harm to others and informed a diversity of value judgments in a diversity of moral cultures.

But to answer your question with the utmost specificity, in order to avoid cavil and complaint from you hereafter, I shall use your own favorite word in the formulation of an answer to your question that is succinct and to the point:

Biological normativity over time became moral normativity by way of reasoning on the matter in increasingly social and culturally diverse contexts.
That doesn't address what I'm asking you. First, you understand that normatives are prescriptions a la "shoulds," right? That's what I'm asking you about.

User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 4075
Joined: August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Bertrand Russell and WVO Quine
Location: NYC Man

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 14th, 2020, 9:40 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 9:23 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 6:30 pm


Normatives aren't true or false. They're noncognitive. They're statements of dispositions or preferences that people have.
Theoretically, normatives are simply statistical means. They would state the most common dispositions and preferences (median or mean).

Rules that are shared influence the statistical norm, but that, of course, is not sufficient to make them right. Rules are considered more or less right, or more or less wrong, by applying the criteria of moral judgment: "the best good and the least harm for everyone".
Normatives are different than norms. Normatives are prescriptions--"shoulds."

For example, saying that one should act in a manner that results in the most good and least harm for everyone is a normative.

Saying that people do act in a manner that results in the most good and least harm for everyone might be a norm, but it's not a normative. It's simply descriptive (if it happens to be the case; and then of course there's also a subjective element to the assessment).

Per most views, if we don't have prescriptions, we don't have morality. Morality entails views that people should not commit murder, for example. If we simply note a norm--that most people do not commit murder, and then note that Joe, over there, isn't like most people and he committed a murder, "Oh well," then morality isn't at play in our observations. Morality comes into the picture when we talk about how people should or should not behave, contrary to how some do behave.

User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 4075
Joined: August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Bertrand Russell and WVO Quine
Location: NYC Man

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 14th, 2020, 9:41 am

"Ought" is another form of "should" by the way.

User avatar
Sculptor1
Posts: 2529
Joined: May 16th, 2019, 5:35 am

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Sculptor1 » September 14th, 2020, 11:37 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 9:25 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 6:39 pm

Thanks for your opinion.
But that is not a necessary conclusion.
It's not a conclusion at all. It is the beginning of the resolution of the problem.
Only in your opinion.
There is a long list of things you might want to do with that "IS", but there is not consequent "ought" that follows. Hume was right about that.
Many of your fellow countrymen including the POTAS if her were honest, would have diametrically opposed proposed solutions.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 3223
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Belindi » September 14th, 2020, 11:53 am

Angel Trismegistus, life may be the primary value for you but not for some workaholics and creative geniuses for whom power, wealth, and the urge to satisfy curiosity are far more important than life or health.

Belindi
Moderator
Posts: 3223
Joined: September 11th, 2016, 2:11 pm

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Belindi » September 14th, 2020, 12:14 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 9:41 am
"Ought" is another form of "should" by the way.
Yes it is, I agree.

"I ought to wait until the dough rises "

1. the customers will complain:

2. I will not be pleased with my baking:

3. the bread will be inedible:

4. I owe it to my family to make good bread:

5. I hope to pass my bakery exam ;

6. that is the correct way to make bread.

Each of these conditionals can be transposed or rephrased so that 'I ought to wait until the dough rises' is predicated of all of the main clauses , nos 1.2.3.3.4.5. and 6. Each of the conditional sentences can be taken as a moral or as an efficient 'ought', depending on the context.

Apart from the feeling tone there is no difference between ought and is.

User avatar
Marvin_Edwards
Posts: 607
Joined: April 14th, 2020, 9:34 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Contact:

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Marvin_Edwards » September 14th, 2020, 12:17 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 9:40 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
September 13th, 2020, 9:23 pm


Theoretically, normatives are simply statistical means. They would state the most common dispositions and preferences (median or mean).

Rules that are shared influence the statistical norm, but that, of course, is not sufficient to make them right. Rules are considered more or less right, or more or less wrong, by applying the criteria of moral judgment: "the best good and the least harm for everyone".
Normatives are different than norms. Normatives are prescriptions--"shoulds."

For example, saying that one should act in a manner that results in the most good and least harm for everyone is a normative.

Saying that people do act in a manner that results in the most good and least harm for everyone might be a norm, but it's not a normative. It's simply descriptive (if it happens to be the case; and then of course there's also a subjective element to the assessment).

Per most views, if we don't have prescriptions, we don't have morality. Morality entails views that people should not commit murder, for example. If we simply note a norm--that most people do not commit murder, and then note that Joe, over there, isn't like most people and he committed a murder, "Oh well," then morality isn't at play in our observations. Morality comes into the picture when we talk about how people should or should not behave, contrary to how some do behave.
Thanks for the clarification. That's helpful.

User avatar
Angel Trismegistus
Posts: 462
Joined: July 25th, 2020, 1:19 pm
Favorite Philosopher: William James
Location: New York City

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Angel Trismegistus » September 14th, 2020, 1:09 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 9:28 am
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 3:43 am

In fact I do address this question in broad strokes in the OP dialogue:


And here and there in the posts that follow I work this idea out in greater detail.

Across ages, as reason and society and culture developed in the prehistory of man, gradually the primary value (life) broadened into the concept of harm to others and informed a diversity of value judgments in a diversity of moral cultures.

But to answer your question with the utmost specificity, in order to avoid cavil and complaint from you hereafter, I shall use your own favorite word in the formulation of an answer to your question that is succinct and to the point:

Biological normativity over time became moral normativity by way of reasoning on the matter in increasingly social and culturally diverse contexts.
That doesn't address what I'm asking you. First, you understand that normatives are prescriptions a la "shoulds," right? That's what I'm asking you about.
I know what "normatives" means in the way you use it. I use it in just that way in my reply to your question. I believe I've answered your question. What makes you say I haven't even "addressed" what you're asking? I wouldn't be surprised if you said you disagree with my account, and I'm pretty certain you don't like my account, but how can you say I haven't addressed your question?
Image

User avatar
Terrapin Station
Posts: 4075
Joined: August 23rd, 2016, 3:00 pm
Favorite Philosopher: Bertrand Russell and WVO Quine
Location: NYC Man

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Terrapin Station » September 14th, 2020, 2:07 pm

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 1:09 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
September 14th, 2020, 9:28 am

That doesn't address what I'm asking you. First, you understand that normatives are prescriptions a la "shoulds," right? That's what I'm asking you about.
I know what "normatives" means in the way you use it. I use it in just that way in my reply to your question. I believe I've answered your question. What makes you say I haven't even "addressed" what you're asking? I wouldn't be surprised if you said you disagree with my account, and I'm pretty certain you don't like my account, but how can you say I haven't addressed your question?
Right. So for example, take this bit: " Life is the primary value and that value is derived by Man in and through his drive to preserve his own life. Man is a rational animal and over time this value was transfered to others, to mates, family members, tribes."

For one, how is it transferred to others?

Gertie
Posts: 1047
Joined: January 7th, 2015, 7:09 am

Re: A Moral Universe

Post by Gertie » September 14th, 2020, 4:11 pm

So we are discussing "the action-based aspect of morality" with a view to better understand Hume's Is/Ought distinction.

What would you say is the difference between these two different actions: A1 and A2?
Which action demands moral consideration? A1? A2? Both? Neither?
Of course you can't answer this without knowing more, yes?
What would you need to know about A1 and A2 in order to decide whether an Ought applies?
Hume says '' For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation,’tis necessary that it shou’d be observ’d and explain’d; ''


We agree, I think, this ''new relation'' relies on the belief that some actions carry an extra burden of obligation or justification which relates to the notion of some actions being morally right and some being morally wrong. (The term ''ought'' is used as a language signifier to identify such actions).


To directly judge whether or not a specific action itself is suitably viewed in terms of right and wrong, brings the Objective v Subjective nature of morality into play. A moral realist would say there are identifiable moral facts about the world which she could presumably refer to and list as The Answer. I'm not a moral realist, and Hume wasn't. I believe my answer, like everybody else, relies on my own specific beliefs about right and wrong. What I would need to know about any action might differ from what you would need to know. Hence I can give My Answer, but that doesn't mean it's The Answer, or there's such a thing as The Answer. My answer -

I would need to know if it positively or negatively affects the wellbeing of conscious beings, because that is the basis for my personal notion of right and wrong.
And about this:
What we've come to call 'morality' is sourced in evolved-for-utility human nature. And then honed by environmental factors, including conceptualised moral discourse about right and wrong, which is part of our cultural heritage.
Was this a Yes or No to the question?
It's a question I have to break down to answer.

We might also ask ourselves whether this pre-linguistic moral thinking is natural to man
- yes
that is to say, is this deeper-than-language moral thought sourced in human nature?
- 'moral intuitions' are, yes. But you'd have to clarify what you mean by ''thinking'' if you're asking about something else.
Or is it conditioned by the very discourse we have supposed it is deeper than?
- yes and no. These natural intuitions are conditioned as specifically ''moral'' intuitions by discourse, in the sense of given particular types of 'right and wrong framing' properties - yes.

But no they aren't the source, they are a particular framing of the intuitive source - Hume's Yuck v Yummy point.

Post Reply