Morality is based on desire.

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Kaz_1983
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Morality is based on desire.

Post by Kaz_1983 » November 6th, 2020, 7:26 pm

Morality is quite funny, some people will say that morality is objective and others say it's subjective - no agreement to be found but in both cases "the desire to do X" is very important for either system to work, if you don't "desire" to do X - it's a non-starter and at the end of the day, reason is contingent upon desire not the other way around. And even if, morality is solely based on reason; what is the reason based on - more reason? I can see an infinite regress here... but back to what I was saying, the quote "desire is the root of all evil" makes a lot of sense, or as David Hume put it "reason is and ought to be, the slave to the passions" - the thing is, if morality is based on "desire" (things like moral disgust..) and "desire" in itself is a non-cognitive state, does this mean that morality is based on a non-cognitive attitude and therefore it isn't based on reason? Right?

See if morality really is based on a non-cognitive attitude like "desire" - maybe this is what I should be saying; "I disapprove of X" = bad, "I approve of Y" = good and we should be talking about "motivation to act" rather than "ought's" and "obligations" - sound better? Anyways, even if you do recognise that "desire" is a non-cognitive attitude, does it really matter that morality is quite often based on "desire"? Can morality still be truth-apt? Or when broken down, do you think that morality is based on something else?

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Jack D Ripper » November 6th, 2020, 11:17 pm

Since I agree with Hume:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16933

I agree that morality is non-cognitive and not based on reason.

But since I agree with Hume, I don't think morality is quite as simple as "I disapprove of X":

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16933

When speaking of morality, one is dealing with something common to most other people, which involves feelings of empathy or humanity or benevolence or whatever one wants to call such feelings, rather than simply personal preferences. (It is only "most people" because there are sociopaths who lack empathy.)

From that, we can discuss what sorts of feelings people generally have that are feelings of empathy or humanity or benevolence and come up with truths of ethics, which are, again, based on feelings that people have, rather than some thing out in the world to be discovered that is independent of people.

Of course, you are going to get responses from people who have different ideas about what morality is, so we can expect some divergence of opinion with respect to your last question.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by MAYA EL » November 7th, 2020, 2:49 am

Morality is 100% cultural and thought to us . However even though it is a cultural social Dogma I still believe that the first cause that "motivates" which ones are chosen would be desire because the majority of what mankind does is desire based.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 9:02 am

" . . . some people will say that morality is objective and others say it's subjective" - You're saying that it's subjective. (And I agree with you that it's subjective, by the way.)

Yes, it's noncognitive. I don't agree that it's necessarily based on desire, however. It's rather just based on "feelings" or disposition(s) about interpersonal behavior. Those feelings or dispositions do not necessarily cohere with one's desires. There can be conflicts. For example, you might desire to harm someone, even kill them, or you might have a desire to nonconsensually take some sort of action against someone, but you can have a disposition that it would be immoral to act on that desire. So there would be a conflict between your desires and your ethical dispositions in that case.

As something noncognitive, morality/ethics is not truth-apt.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 9:11 am

Jack D Ripper wrote:
November 6th, 2020, 11:17 pm
But since I agree with Hume, I don't think morality is quite as simple as "I disapprove of X":
It's not that simple because from "I disapprove of x," we can of course reason to things like, "Therefore I should do y, because an upshot of not doing y is that it leads to x (even if just as a side effect)," or "It leads to a which leads to b, a side effect of which is x" etc. (And where there's an addition disposition of "if I disapprove of x, then I feel I should act so as to avoid x," by the way.)
When speaking of morality, one is dealing with something common to most other people, which involves feelings of empathy or humanity or benevolence or whatever one wants to call such feelings, rather than simply personal preferences.
"I should act so as to take other people's feelings into consideration, where I'm imagining what it would be like to be in their shoes," IS a personal disposition that people can have (and that most people do have), or we could call it a preference--it's something the person prefers to the alternative (because of their innate disposition). One's morality only involves that if one has that disposition. Otherwise one's morality (one's dispositions about interpersonal behavior that one considers to be more significant that etiquette) won't involve empathy.
we can discuss what sorts of feelings people generally have that are feelings of empathy or humanity or benevolence and come up with truths of ethics,
They would only be truths of "descriptive metaethics"--in other words, statistical facts about what most persons' dispositions are. They would NOT be truths with respect to ethical stances, or "what's really ethically right" or anything like that. They could only be truths in the vein of, "99% of people feel that it's wrong to commit murder" or whatever the statistics happen to be. It's not possible to get from that to "It is wrong to commit murder," where the claim isn't statistically/descriptively about what specific people happen to think.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Count Lucanor » November 7th, 2020, 11:27 am

Kaz_1983 wrote:
November 6th, 2020, 7:26 pm
Morality is quite funny, some people will say that morality is objective and others say it's subjective - no agreement to be found but in both cases "the desire to do X" is very important for either system to work, if you don't "desire" to do X - it's a non-starter and at the end of the day, reason is contingent upon desire not the other way around.
The strict delimitation of reason and desire may be philosophically useful, working in the abstract, but it becomes useless once you start digging into the real mechanisms of motivations and actions. In the end, from a realistic and scientific point of view, what we call reason and desire are pretty much intertwined. Physiological mechanisms that are in the base of emotions will be triggered by processing data from perception and making sense of it, understanding it, so even though people may be acting on raw desires, the agents are aware of them, including the calculations of what outcomes they may expect from fulfilling such desires. They can even compare (a rational process) the long-term outcomes vs the short-term outcomes, so the agent might choose to postpone the fulfilling of one desire or even renounce to it, to obtain something else in the future.
Kaz_1983 wrote:
November 6th, 2020, 7:26 pm
And even if, morality is solely based on reason; what is the reason based on - more reason?
Haven't you thought of the possibility that it may be based on both reason and desire?

Kaz_1983 wrote:
November 6th, 2020, 7:26 pm
...quote "desire is the root of all evil" makes a lot of sense, or as David Hume put it "reason is and ought to be, the slave to the passions" - the thing is, if morality is based on "desire" (things like moral disgust..) and "desire" in itself is a non-cognitive state, does this mean that morality is based on a non-cognitive attitude and therefore it isn't based on reason? Right?
On what basis can you claim that "desire in itself is a non-cognitive state"? A non-cognitive state of what? Please explain what is a non-cognitive state in a consciously aware, normal human being.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 11:37 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 11:27 am
Haven't you thought of the possibility that it may be based on both reason and desire?
What could be an example of it starting with reason (mixed with desire if you like) on the "root" level?
On what basis can you claim that "desire in itself is a non-cognitive state"? A non-cognitive state of what? Please explain what is a non-cognitive state in a consciously aware, normal human being.
"Cognitive" generally has a connotation that the senses are involved--we're sensing something (via vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell) that we can gain knowledge of/knowledge about (where knowledge also has a connotation of something that can be true or false, because it's implied that we're talking about propositional knowledge, not just knowledge by acquaintance). Desire isn't something that we're sensing via vision, etc., and desires can't be true or false--aside from the fact that "Joe has a desire to wear Betty's underwear" or whatever it might be. (The desire "to wear Betty's underwear" isn't itself something that's true or false, so there can be no knowledge of it gained via the senses.)

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 7th, 2020, 12:33 pm

Life implies needs. Without needs we would be inert. But needs animate us to find food, build a house, and attract a mate. Thus, we call something "good" if it meets a real need that we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species.

A "desire" is different from a real need, in that it is often a false need. We need a mate, but we may desire Marilyn Monroe. We don't really need Marilyn Monroe in order to mate with a life companion and raise a family. Real needs always take precedence over mere desires.

Morality seeks the best good and the least harm for everyone. To the degree that benefits and harms can be objectively measured, moral judgement is also objective.

As with needs versus desires, objective judgement is better than subjective judgement. Subjective judgement is biased. Objective judgement is unbiased. It is always better to make a moral argument based upon objective evidence rather than personal prejudices.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Vali » November 7th, 2020, 1:20 pm

In skeptical societies morality is related to feelings. Rules are laws for dealing with feelings. For example, death causes sadness, theft causes various forms of pain. But children learn from experimentation what they shouldn't do. They slap first and then realize they made a mistake. The most connected feeling to morality is pain.

All of this is not valid for believing societies where the rules are established by authorities, institutions and books. So hurting the other is bad because God doesn't want to. In Indian tribes too. Some medieval philosophers said that a society without God is not possible. So animals also have their own rules, but those rules are amoral. An example for a monkey, the rules say "it is the boss who has access to the females". It is a "moral" rule.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 5:36 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 12:33 pm
Life implies needs.
You can keep repeating this all you want, but I'm going to keep pointing out that it's wrong.

Desires are what result in needs. Needs and desires are not the same thing, but needs hinge on desires. For desires to be met, they require that certain conditions are met. That's what needs are. The conditions that have to be met in order to fulfill some desire or other.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 7th, 2020, 6:11 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 5:36 pm
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 12:33 pm
Life implies needs.
You can keep repeating this all you want, but I'm going to keep pointing out that it's wrong.

Desires are what result in needs. Needs and desires are not the same thing, but needs hinge on desires. For desires to be met, they require that certain conditions are met. That's what needs are. The conditions that have to be met in order to fulfill some desire or other.
According to the OED,
a need is a necessity or requirement, and
a desire is "The fact or condition of desiring; that feeling or emotion which is directed to the attainment or possession of some object from which pleasure or satisfaction is expected; longing, craving; a particular instance of this feeling, a wish".

As in, "I need a mate if I am to reproduce" versus "I desire to mate with Marilyn Monroe". The biological necessity of finding a mate is the source of all our various desires to mate with specific individuals. That is, needs are what result in desires.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 6:19 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 6:11 pm
According to the OED,
a need is a necessity or requirement,
Right, a necessity or requirement for . . . ?

It's always going to be for something; it's always going to be in order to achieve something. The answer to that--the something to be achieved--is always something desired, contra possible alternatives.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 7th, 2020, 6:21 pm

Vali wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 1:20 pm
In skeptical societies morality is related to feelings. Rules are laws for dealing with feelings. For example, death causes sadness, theft causes various forms of pain. But children learn from experimentation what they shouldn't do. They slap first and then realize they made a mistake. The most connected feeling to morality is pain.

All of this is not valid for believing societies where the rules are established by authorities, institutions and books. So hurting the other is bad because God doesn't want to. In Indian tribes too. Some medieval philosophers said that a society without God is not possible. So animals also have their own rules, but those rules are amoral. An example for a monkey, the rules say "it is the boss who has access to the females". It is a "moral" rule.
Feelings are unreliable guides to moral behavior. Some things that feel really good, like heroin, are actually very bad for us. Some things that are painful, like childbirth, turn out to be very good for us. So, the correct sequence is to first determine what is right and good, and second choose to feel good about it.

The source of our rules is our assessment as to what rules will provide all of us with the best good and the least harm. This is how we ultimately judge any rule candidates, whether they come from God or anywhere else.

The consequentialists consider and morally compare rule candidates and decide which rules will work out best. The deontologist then go about disseminating those rules as the "word of God".

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Count Lucanor » November 7th, 2020, 6:29 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 11:37 am
Count Lucanor wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 11:27 am
Haven't you thought of the possibility that it may be based on both reason and desire?
What could be an example of it starting with reason (mixed with desire if you like) on the "root" level?
Take any moral rule, such as "it is wrong to take someone else's possessions without their consent". To accept or come up with this rule as a moral principle it must have been processed rationally, the individual understands its implications and applications in a real world context. The rule is expressed as a rational statement about how, when and to whom the norm applies. Even if this is done in pure introspection, the act of deriving a moral principle from anything else implies a rational process.
Terrapin Station wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 11:37 am
On what basis can you claim that "desire in itself is a non-cognitive state"? A non-cognitive state of what? Please explain what is a non-cognitive state in a consciously aware, normal human being.
"Cognitive" generally has a connotation that the senses are involved--we're sensing something (via vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell) that we can gain knowledge of/knowledge about (where knowledge also has a connotation of something that can be true or false, because it's implied that we're talking about propositional knowledge, not just knowledge by acquaintance). Desire isn't something that we're sensing via vision, etc., and desires can't be true or false--aside from the fact that "Joe has a desire to wear Betty's underwear" or whatever it might be. (The desire "to wear Betty's underwear" isn't itself something that's true or false, so there can be no knowledge of it gained via the senses.)
Cognition is a conscious relationship between ourselves and the world. While we remain in state of awareness, it is there, it doesn't disappear or go anywhere else. It is therefore also "on" when we desire, since we desire in state of awareness. Desire is not an independent thing "out there" that we capture with our senses, but a disposition of the agent to act in a certain way, given some conditions. The act in question must have been rationalized, understood, with its perceived outcomes, for example: "act X will produce me pleasure". Nothing of this can happen outside of cognition. In this case, I reflect on the possibilities of a singular moment of pleasure that the potential act will produce, based on my belief or knowledge that it does produce me pleasure, a belief most likely grounded on past experiences. But I also reflect on the possibilities of carrying on and consummate that experience, so that I become certain that I do want it an will go for it. It then will prove to be true or false that I desire something, given that it can be either true or false that I have certain disposition to act in some way.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 7th, 2020, 6:50 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
November 7th, 2020, 6:29 pm
Take any moral rule, such as "it is wrong to take someone else's possessions without their consent". To accept or come up with this rule as a moral principle it must have been processed rationally, the individual understands its implications and applications in a real world context. The rule is expressed as a rational statement about how, when and to whom the norm applies. Even if this is done in pure introspection, the act of deriving a moral principle from anything else implies a rational process.
Why wouldn't saying "It is right to take (at least particular others') possessions without their consent" be something that people have to "process rationally" in just the same way, so that the individual understand its implications and applications in a real world context?

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