Morality is based on desire.

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Marvin_Edwards
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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 21st, 2020, 7:29 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 6:23 am
Sculptor1 wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:58 am


Really??
Why not gender specific; age specific; nation specific; culture specific; history specific; church specific; state, county, town specific; street specific.
Why not individual specific??
Exactly, and it's worth drilling down a bit here too. Events and issues such as are morally judged don't happen independently, in isolation; they happen in context. Every time you add another "-specific", you pare away more of the context, more of the additional information that helps make the issue in question what it is. The more "-specific"s we add, the less universal, applicable and relevant we become. The logical extreme is that we pronounce only on one unique event/issue, with no context and no history, nothing to connect it or its associated meaning to ... anything else at all.
That's true. Different rules will apply in different contexts. Stealing a loaf of bread when you have a child but have no money may be easier to forgive than stealing a diamond necklace from an old lady. If we want to assure that the poor do not have to steal we must guarantee they have food.

The basic fundamentals of morality are common to all living species because they share certain basic needs for survival: a source of food, shelter from extreme weather and temperatures, and so on (the items at the base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs).

The reason I say that morality is species specific is that what is good for one species may be bad for another. Plant life inhales CO2 and exhales oxygen. CO2 is good for the plant but not so good for us. And the other example is that lions hunting gazelles is good for the lion but bad for the gazelle.

Most of our moral problems are about how we treat others of our species, rather than how we treat viruses and termites.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 21st, 2020, 9:27 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 7:03 am
Terrapin Station wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 5:52 am


You don't learn them. You can't learn to feel a particular way about something. Just because you're observing people around you behave some way (you're not literally observing how they feel, by the way; you're observing stuff correlated to how they feel, where you have to make guesses about the correlation), that doesn't mean that you wind up feeling the same way. You might feel the complete "opposite" way, and if they're pressuring you to conform with some norm in the context at hand, that might simply amplify your different feelings and also give rise to resentment about the pressure--while externally you might say that you agree just to get them to leave you alone.

Your environment will likely have some influence on you, but the influence is only going to result in agreement if you're already of a disposition to agree on that particular issue, plus you're also of a disposition to not negatively react to social pressure should you feel pressured, etc. The upshot of any social influence is going to depend on what an individual is like dispositionally, otherwise everyone in the same (more or less) environment would be a "clone," and that's not at all what the world is actually like.
Right. There are some influences of which we are consciously aware and may decide to reject. But at the physiological level, babies mimic the expressions of their mothers, and the expression resulting from the emotion can also activate the emotion. There are actually specialized neurons called "mirror neurons" that play a role in learning skills and enabling empathy (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron#Empathy ). So I think it is also true that we can acquire dispositions from others. Attitudes about gender and race, for example, are acquired from ones culture, rather than coming built-in with the brain.
One of a number of things I wrote that you seem to be overlooking is this:

"You're not literally observing how they feel, by the way; you're observing stuff correlated to how they feel, where you have to make guesses about the correlation."

In your post above you're treating the correlation as if it's transparent.

You're also positing unconscious mental content.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 21st, 2020, 9:30 am

You're also conflating beliefs about empirical claims (like "racial" characterics) with dispositions that aren't an issue of information about facts.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Pattern-chaser » November 21st, 2020, 9:51 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 11:41 pm
Axioms:
1. Life is good. Therefore it is good for every living organism to survive, thrive, and reproduce.
2. Morality is species specific. What is good for the cat is bad for the mouse.
An axiom is an assumption, declared as such, that we agree to understand as being true without justification, demonstration or proof. The discussions we are having with you, here, seem to be because we don't agree with your axioms; we don't accept them as true, as you do. What is good for a cat might also be good for a mouse, although the opposite can be true too. And that's the point. You introduce an axiom that appears to be true only sometimes, which is no use as a platform for further reasoning.
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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Count Lucanor » November 21st, 2020, 10:08 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 5:39 am
Count Lucanor wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 1:11 am

I'm not sure who was that directed to, but since I'm quoted I feel free to say that there are intersections of social contexts in which an individual moves (that includes simple everyday life, but also its existing, explicit and implicit prescriptive norms), and his/her moral disposition is nothing but the confluence of both the rational and emotive response to these specific situations. People must decide what is the general rule of action that applies in given situations and for that they must balance the internal and external influences.
If it's a root or foundational moral stance for that individual in that situation it's (the moral stance qua the moral stance) not going to have anything to do with rationality.
As per explained before, no individual can simply switch off their rationality, it is an essential part of their individuality and an implicit condition of their state of awareness. To some extent, madmen can lose some connection with reality, but that's not even close to switching them off completely.

It is exactly the same with emotions, you simply cannot get rid of them, they are an essential part of individuality. Some people can have medical conditions in which they have trouble eliciting emotions that should come up naturally, but that's not even close to switching them all completely.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 21st, 2020, 10:46 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 9:51 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 11:41 pm
Axioms:
1. Life is good. Therefore it is good for every living organism to survive, thrive, and reproduce.
2. Morality is species specific. What is good for the cat is bad for the mouse.
An axiom is an assumption, declared as such, that we agree to understand as being true without justification, demonstration or proof. The discussions we are having with you, here, seem to be because we don't agree with your axioms; we don't accept them as true, as you do.
Yeah, then I probably should have stopped my list of axioms at "Life is good". Do you disagree with that axiom? It seems to me to be built-into most animals and insects, because they resist attempts to harm or kill them.
Pattern-chaser wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 9:51 am
What is good for a cat might also be good for a mouse, although the opposite can be true too. And that's the point. You introduce an axiom that appears to be true only sometimes, which is no use as a platform for further reasoning.
Oh. So when I said "What is good for the cat is bad for the mouse", I should have said "What is good for the cat is sometimes bad for the mouse". Makes sense. Thanks.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Gertie » November 21st, 2020, 10:49 am

Marvin
Gertie wrote: ↑
Yesterday, 9:28 am
''Fact - everything requires particular conditions to be met in order to Function in particular ways. Crystals, toasters, carrots, humans, etc.''
Sure. But we're speaking of functions directly related to outcomes that may be classified as "morally good" or "morally bad". And we're speaking of functions performed by living organisms. I don't know why you think that crystals and toasters have anything to do with living organisms. So, I would call that a "tangential distraction", and I should have asked you to stay on topic.
Gertie wrote: ↑
Yesterday, 9:28 am
And then asked you to make the argument for your Claim that particular conditions being met which enable organisms to survive thrive and reproduce have moral connotations.
Moral connotations are "good's" and "bad's", "rights" and "wrongs". Living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce. That which aids the living organism to do these things are beneficial. That which prevents these things are harmful. Giving a person dying of thirst in the desert a cup of water is morally good because he needs the water to survive. Giving a person drowning in a swimming pool the same cup of water is morally bad, because he doesn't need the water, he needs a lifeguard.

Are you really unable to see this?
I can see what you're saying.

It's the move from Is to Moral which needs justification, right? Here's your argument -

P1 : Moral connotations are "good's" and "bad's", "rights" and "wrongs". - Agreed.

P2 : Living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce.- Agreed.

P3 : That which aids the living organism to do these things are beneficial. Beneficial to surviving - - Agreed.

P4 : That which prevents these things are harmful. Harmful to surviving - Agreed.

C : Giving a person dying of thirst in the desert a cup of water is morally good because he needs the water to survive. - Not justified by the premises.

The conclusion doesn't follow because you haven't justified what is good or bad, right or wrong about the state of affairs of biological organisms surviving. Which is what the argument is supposed to do.


And alternatively if you are claiming that the Is state of affairs of biological organisms surving, thriving and reproducing is axiomatically morally good, I disagree that this is undeniably true.

Because non-conscious organisms (eg carrots) have no interests in the state of affairs of surving, thriving and reproducing. And interests are what give the states of affairs meaning, mattering and value. Without these, the concept of right and wrong is meaningless and irrelevant.


All of which we've gone over before.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Count Lucanor » November 21st, 2020, 10:59 am

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 6:49 am
Count Lucanor wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:27 am

When deception is meant to harm or take unfair advantage of the other party.
Exactly. The more general rule that covers all forms of bad conduct is that we don't want to cause unnecessary harm to others. And in the formula "best good and least harm for everyone", avoiding an unnecessary harm reduces the total overall harm.
Count Lucanor wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:27 am
Notice that honesty can be used to harm or take unfair advantage of the other party.
In most cases, telling the truth is beneficial, but it can be harmful under some circumstances. For example, when hiding Anne Frank's family in the attic during the Nazi occupation, lying to the Nazi prevents a larger harm to her family.
Yes, I mostly agree. Still, specific contexts add nuances and some general rules collide or intersect with others in a given situation. For a warmonger, causing harm to others may be morally justified. And for the Nazis, revealing the location of a person hiding from authorities would be morally good. All parties from any side will find their actions morally good, even if they are opposed.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 21st, 2020, 11:37 am

Count Lucanor wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 10:59 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 6:49 am


Exactly. The more general rule that covers all forms of bad conduct is that we don't want to cause unnecessary harm to others. And in the formula "best good and least harm for everyone", avoiding an unnecessary harm reduces the total overall harm.



In most cases, telling the truth is beneficial, but it can be harmful under some circumstances. For example, when hiding Anne Frank's family in the attic during the Nazi occupation, lying to the Nazi prevents a larger harm to her family.
Yes, I mostly agree. Still, specific contexts add nuances and some general rules collide or intersect with others in a given situation. For a warmonger, causing harm to others may be morally justified. And for the Nazis, revealing the location of a person hiding from authorities would be morally good. All parties from any side will find their actions morally good, even if they are opposed.
Right. And that is the key problem, how do we find agreement between two opposing parties, each with its own view as to whether lying to the Nazi authorities in order to save Anne Frank's family is right or wrong. The solution to that problem requires some criteria for moral judgement that both parties can agree to. I believe that the only criteria that can be universally agreed to is "the best good and the least harm for everyone".

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by popeye1945 » November 21st, 2020, 11:49 am

Personally I believe there are but three manifestations that govern the biology into forming a morality, which might be considered a biological extension. Desire certainly plays its part but so too do pleasure and pain. Ones emotions are generated around these three what might be considered functional operatives for lack of a better term. Although we can experience pain, pleasure and desire as bodily functions, it is largely the physical world that evokes desire, pain and pleasure, The old standard, subject and object stand or fall together, the physical world as object is the fuel of the body/mind. The physical world evokes desires from the biological organism as needs and wants, fulfilling these involves pain and pleasure.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 21st, 2020, 1:00 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 9:27 am
Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 7:03 am

Right. There are some influences of which we are consciously aware and may decide to reject. But at the physiological level, babies mimic the expressions of their mothers, and the expression resulting from the emotion can also activate the emotion. There are actually specialized neurons called "mirror neurons" that play a role in learning skills and enabling empathy (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron#Empathy ). So I think it is also true that we can acquire dispositions from others. Attitudes about gender and race, for example, are acquired from ones culture, rather than coming built-in with the brain.
One of a number of things I wrote that you seem to be overlooking is this:

"You're not literally observing how they feel, by the way; you're observing stuff correlated to how they feel, where you have to make guesses about the correlation."

In your post above you're treating the correlation as if it's transparent.
My understanding is that the feelings of the mother appear in her face, and when the baby mirrors the expression it arouses the same feeling in the baby. Now, you may be right that in some cases only the expression is mirrored, perhaps in a baby that is genetically unable to have certain feelings. But I suspect that in most cases, at least with an infant, the feelings of the mother, especially those associated with certain words, like "queer" or "n*****" for instance, could be picked up.
Terrapin Station wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 9:27 am
You're also positing unconscious mental content.
I don't think so. I presume the baby is consciously aware of the mother's smile when he emulates it. But I may be misunderstanding what you mean.
Terrapin Station wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 9:27 am
You're also conflating beliefs about empirical claims (like "racial" characterics) with dispositions that aren't an issue of information about facts.
You lost me there. Could you give an example so I can understand better what you mean?

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Marvin_Edwards » November 21st, 2020, 1:50 pm

Gertie wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 10:49 am
Marvin


Sure. But we're speaking of functions directly related to outcomes that may be classified as "morally good" or "morally bad". And we're speaking of functions performed by living organisms. I don't know why you think that crystals and toasters have anything to do with living organisms. So, I would call that a "tangential distraction", and I should have asked you to stay on topic.

Moral connotations are "good's" and "bad's", "rights" and "wrongs". Living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce. That which aids the living organism to do these things are beneficial. That which prevents these things are harmful. Giving a person dying of thirst in the desert a cup of water is morally good because he needs the water to survive. Giving a person drowning in a swimming pool the same cup of water is morally bad, because he doesn't need the water, he needs a lifeguard.

Are you really unable to see this?
I can see what you're saying.

It's the move from Is to Moral which needs justification, right? Here's your argument -

P1 : Moral connotations are "good's" and "bad's", "rights" and "wrongs". - Agreed.

P2 : Living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce.- Agreed.

P3 : That which aids the living organism to do these things are beneficial. Beneficial to surviving - - Agreed.

P4 : That which prevents these things are harmful. Harmful to surviving - Agreed.

C : Giving a person dying of thirst in the desert a cup of water is morally good because he needs the water to survive. - Not justified by the premises.

The conclusion doesn't follow because you haven't justified what is good or bad, right or wrong about the state of affairs of biological organisms surviving. Which is what the argument is supposed to do.

And alternatively if you are claiming that the Is state of affairs of biological organisms surving, thriving and reproducing is axiomatically morally good, I disagree that this is undeniably true.
I think that everything begins with the axiom that Life is Morally Good. Which implies that surviving, thriving, and reproducing are morally good, because that is how all organic life operates.

The natural objection to this is that the life of the fleas on our dog are not morally good for us or our dog. What is good for the flea is usually bad for us and the dog. What the flea does to survive, thrive, and reproduce creates problems for us. So, we destroy the flea.

So, the axiom that Life is Morally Good must be considered separately for us and for the fleas. The interests of the flea are different from, and can run counter to, our own interests, especially if the flea is carrying a disease.

Each of us, the flea, the dog, and me, behave as if the axiom "Life is Morally Good" is true. Even the carrot has mechanisms designed specifically to survive, thrive, and reproduce.

So, it is not such a stretch to agree to the axiom that Life is Morally Good as a reasonable and general assumption. That seems to be a guiding principle that explains the behavior of living organisms, even those incapable of explaining themselves.

You may point out examples where life is pretty horrible for some people, and in some cases it is so horrible that they kill themselves.

And it is also true that Life always ends with Death, so that the best we can hope for is a good life followed by a good death.

But these exceptions are also commonly understood. Life is Morally Good (until we die naturally or unless a specific life is particularly horrible).
Gertie wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 10:49 am
Because non-conscious organisms (eg carrots) have no interests in the state of affairs of surving, thriving and reproducing. And interests are what give the states of affairs meaning, mattering and value. Without these, the concept of right and wrong is meaningless and irrelevant.
Only if you use subjective experience as a prerequisite for the notion of "interest". For me, the carrot has an interest in the availability of sunlight and water. And it need not have any subjective experience in order to really need those things.
Gertie wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 10:49 am
All of which we've gone over before.
Yes. And we can stop now in this thread if you like. But I suspect the topic of morality will be coming up often, and we may end up repeating all this again. But perhaps, instead of me presenting my views, you could detail your own theory of morality.

One side note: I think you need to copy the quote id of the post you're responding to in order to generate a notification to the person you're answering. You can generate this by using the " symbol in the upper right corner of the comment you're responding to.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Gertie » November 21st, 2020, 6:23 pm

Marvin
I can see what you're saying.

It's the move from Is to Moral which needs justification, right? Here's your argument -

P1 : Moral connotations are "good's" and "bad's", "rights" and "wrongs". - Agreed.

P2 : Living organisms are biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce.- Agreed.

P3 : That which aids the living organism to do these things are beneficial. Beneficial to surviving - - Agreed.

P4 : That which prevents these things are harmful. Harmful to surviving - Agreed.

C : Giving a person dying of thirst in the desert a cup of water is morally good because he needs the water to survive. - Not justified by the premises.

The conclusion doesn't follow because you haven't justified what is good or bad, right or wrong about the state of affairs of biological organisms surviving. Which is what the argument is supposed to do.

And alternatively if you are claiming that the Is state of affairs of biological organisms surving, thriving and reproducing is axiomatically morally good, I disagree that this is undeniably true.
I just laid out why your argument fails. You haven't defended it, your response is to repeat the claim, based on it being axiomatically true. So I can put aside the hope you have a sound foundational argument.


(
The natural objection to this is that the life of the fleas on our dog are not morally good for us or our dog.
That is not my objection. Rather it's the reason you came up with the notion that Life is not only objectively good, it can simultaneously not be objectively good, depending on the pov of the species - we haven't even got to the problems with that yet).
I think that everything begins with the axiom that Life is Morally Good. Which implies that surviving, thriving, and reproducing are morally good, because that is how all organic life operates.

If the Moral Goodness of Life was self-evident, you could show why and only a few people might disagree who were for idiosyncratic reasons unable to grasp this. You presumably think this is what's happening here, you've run into a bunch of people who can't see what's staring them in the face. But most people arguing with you do grasp what you're saying, but believe you are using axiomatic incorrectly. Just because it looks self-evident to you, does not make it self-evident to others, if you are mistaken.

I have made the comparison with the chemical processes with crystals to prompt you to explain why biological processes are axiomatically morally good, but chemical processes aren't. You haven't been able to.


I have made the point that Interests are the key element which makes the difference between a morally neutral state of affairs or action, and a morally relevant one. And that interests come into being with the qualiative nature of conscious experience. You have incorrectly dismissed this as an appeal to subjective desires, rather than my actual position - qualiative experience is the very grounding of meaning, value, mattering and therefore morality.

This is why I can say that you chopping up a carrot has no moral connotations, but you chopping up a cat does. But you have to rely on your own subjective feelings about cats and carrots find moral connotations.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 21st, 2020, 7:06 pm

Count Lucanor wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 10:08 am
As per explained before, no individual can simply switch off their rationality,
That has nothing at all to do with whether a foundational or root moral stance qua a moral stance can be based on rationality in any manner. You're bringing up a red herring that has nothing to do with the statement I made.

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Re: Morality is based on desire.

Post by Terrapin Station » November 21st, 2020, 7:08 pm

Marvin_Edwards wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 1:00 pm
My understanding is that the feelings of the mother appear in her face,
Feelings, and more generally any mental content, aren't the same thing as facial expressions (or utterances, or any other observable phenomena). Those things are correlated in some way with mental content, but they're not the same, and we can only guess as to how other persons' observable behavior, expressions, etc. are correlated to their mental content.

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