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J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

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h_k_s
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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by h_k_s » September 12th, 2019, 3:46 pm

Kaz_1983 wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 10:40 pm
Moral Error Theory denies the truth to all ethical claims.

It's not an ethical system but a metaphysical system: a theory about what the world is truly like. Moral Error theorist claim that our morality is built on fundamental error: the belief in categorical reasons.
Ultimately ethics is an emotional issue.

If the topic gives you a positive emotional response then it is ethical.

If negative then not.

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Hereandnow » September 12th, 2019, 6:18 pm

Felix
So that we may retain our humanity you mean? I just do not know that the Universe cares that we do, life here on Earth may be just one experiment in a practically infinite number of them, and it need not be the stage on which Spirit, or Consciousness, to keep it secular, succeeds in knowing Itself. But since it apparently takes billions of years to construct a stage, it is wise not to take this marvelous opportunity for granted.
The meaning of what Mackie is saying gets lost in this kind of talk. The issue begins with, what is ethical goodness? All that empirical science might have to say about the matter, the random outcomes of "experimentation" or the ...... is off the table. Think of it as an examination of what is there that is moral, what makes it moral, that is, what its essence is that makes it what it is. Imagine the discovery of a new primary color, not derivative at all of others. Mackie say claims that ethics is objective are like this, for ethics as objective must have is grounding in a very unique concept of good and bad. It's not like a good or bad chair in that the good or bad of the chair can be determined according to context: a good chair is comfortable, suited for a human body and so on. But you may want an uncomfortable chair because you're a Zen Buddhist and its for long sitting and you don't want to fall asleep. Well then, the standard for what is good changes, doesn't it? Most goods and bads are just like this. But then comes ethics. Don't bludgeon your neighbor! Why? What standard in in place and why? The answer goes to purpose , but unlike the chair, the purpose seems to declare itself very quickly: because it hurts! You may relativize it by saying a society in which people bludgeoning each other is permitted will not survive, or the like, but in the end, with ethics, it always comes down to the hurt of the bludgeoning. Hurting a value, or a negative value, but it is bad in itself (of course, if you're a masochist then the hurting can be good, or you could say, what we generally call hurting is, for you, not hurting at all. It's the opposite.

But now the question is what makes hurt bad? I mean, if its not for something else, like a good chair is for sitting, but is bad in itself, then this utility of being good/bad is out the window. If something is bad in itself, then we have come upon Mackie's (Wittgenstein's, Moore's) philosophical problem. Bad in itself? What kind of thing is this?

If you're like me, you say there is such a thing as bad in itself and the "universe" (whatever that is) does this. It does no good to talk about how long it takes as it "experiments" around, it does this, period, and it is "doing"this as the poor wretched girl screams. My position is the condemned witch's suffering is not, such as it is, stand alone. There is, I say, an underpinning to our affairs in our sojourn in this place called the world that reveals in all cases a redemption of suffering.

Mackie says I am rewriting physics. Wittgenstein says I am speaking nonsense. The rabbit hole is really very deep once we consider the true gravitas is human suffering. Language occludes the Real, reduces it to something manageable, but this is an illusion.

Of all things

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Hereandnow » September 12th, 2019, 6:26 pm

Are we wise? It's hard to say, humankind has become hypnotized now by it's own ingenuity, which is often merely barbarism wearing a finely tailored suit. I am by nature an optimist but there is only so far one can descend into the abyss before the climb back out becomes impossible.
Humans may be barbaric, deluded, optimistic or pessimistic; the point of Mackie's Ethics is look objectively at the world and what is presents. Ethics, metaethics as here it is about the whether the good is GOOD and the bad is BAD, that is, I know this flame hurts my finger and I say with full justification it is bad, but this is the unanalyzed bad, the casual, everyday pronouncement of bad that we throw around freely. Ask if bad is BAD and you ask if there is something about this badness that in in the fabric of the world itself, not just over there, on that blue planet.

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Consul » September 13th, 2019, 4:57 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 11th, 2019, 10:43 am
Here is what Mackie says about Hare:
Hare suggests that both where it precedes a functional noun and where it precedes a non-functional one, say ‘sunset’, ‘good’ means (roughly) ‘having the characteristic qualities (whatever they are) which are commendable in the kind of object in question’. Commendation, he holds, is the thread that ties the various uses of ‘good’ together. Where there is a functional noun about, commendable qualities are those that enable the thing to perform its function; but what is commendable in sunsets is determined, presumably, by the preferences of those who like looking at them. But what is it to commend something? Putting together two dictionary definitions, Hare infers that to commend is to mention as being good. But if so, to define ‘good’ in terms of what is commendable, though not

Mackie, J. Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (p. 54). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
Of course, this remains contingent for the good, that is, for x's being good (a sunset, an action, an activity, and so forth) x is to be commended; or, to be good is no more than to be commended, but the who and what of commendation varies. This is clearly right, when we say something is good it cannot be, for someone or something (rain is good for ducks, and good for making mud), commended for that person, animal or thing.
For the moral and non-moral uses of "good", see: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15579&p=323817&hili ... on#p323817

"In sum, here are five subclasses of the class of ways of being good: the useful, skillful, enjoyable, beneficial, and morally good. Two points are worth drawing attention to before we move on." – Judith Thomson

What is good in one of the non-moral senses of the term can be (re)commended—be it an action, a person, or an object.
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Consul » September 13th, 2019, 5:10 pm

I think the principle that moral properties supervene on non-moral properties (of actions or persons) is correct. But the former aren't entailed by and hence not logically inferable from the latter, such that moral judgments are justifiable in terms of but not deducible from non-moral facts.

"That moral properties supervene on non-moral properties means simply that acts, etc., have the moral properties because they have the non-moral properties ('It is wrong because it was an act of inflicting pain for fun'), although the moral property is not the same property as the non-moral property, nor even entailed by it. Someone who said that it was an act of inflicting pain for fun but not wrong would not be contradicting himself."
(pp. 21-2)

"[T]he objectivistic naturalist's project is the right one, though he executes it badly. But not all that badly. There is another very important truth he has got hold of. He has grasped that moral statements are made about actions for reasons, namely that the actions have certain non-moral properties. An act was wrong, for example, because it was an act of hurting somebody for fun. This property of moral statements, their supervenience on non-moral statements, is crucial to an understanding of them. But the objectivistic naturalist has misunderstood the nature of the 'because'. He mistakes supervenience for entailment, and thus makes into analytically true statements what are really substantial moral principles. That it is wrong to hurt people for fun is not an analytic statement. But still the act is wrong because it was that sort of act."
(pp. 126-7)

(Hare, R. M. Sorting Out Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Consul » September 13th, 2019, 5:52 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
September 11th, 2019, 8:18 pm
Consul
Factual goodness-for/badness-for (* isn't moral goodness/badness!
And therein lies the rub: If the badness of torturing someone ( complex justifications aside) is, as morally bad, different from the badness of over chlorinating your pool or high winds being bad for trees, then how do we understand this? Is there some qualitative difference? Or is it just a categorial difference: moral badness is just for humans and perhaps animals and moral language is reserved only for these because they are blissful and suffer and and all contained therein, and moral language is reserved just for these, just as talk of quantum physics is reserved for particle behavior under certain well defined conditions. This is what categorial talk does with the world. But ethics: something Mackie will have no truck with, which presents a qualitative difference, a sui generis called value. This is what Wittgenstein was on about. Why he refused to speak of it, mostly. There is something unspeakable about torture (love, music, heartbreak, depression, and all the like) just as one cannot "speak" the color orange. one can only contextualize it, and speak relatively, contingently, about it.
There needn't be any (real) moral properties or facts in addition to the non-moral ones, because to call an action/behavior morally bad or wrong is simply to condemn it and to say Don't do it!. (Why not? Because it has some unwanted, undesired, or unpreferred non-moral aspects or consequences.)
"We may philosophize well or ill, but we must philosophize." – Wilfrid Sellars

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Re: J.L .Mackie's Moral Error Theory

Post by Hereandnow » Yesterday, 8:56 pm

Consul:
There needn't be any (real) moral properties or facts in addition to the non-moral ones, because to call an action/behavior morally bad or wrong is simply to condemn it and to say Don't do it!. (Why not? Because it has some unwanted, undesired, or unpreferred non-moral aspects or consequences.)

Look, I'm not being tediously romantic about the matter when I say that the moral "property" of getting your teeth removed without Novocain has more to it than Don't do it! It is patently absurd.
"That moral properties supervene on non-moral properties means simply that acts, etc., have the moral properties because they have the non-moral properties ('It is wrong because it was an act of inflicting pain for fun'), although the moral property is not the same property as the non-moral property, nor even entailed by it. Someone who said that it was an act of inflicting pain for fun but not wrong would not be contradicting himself."
This last statement is the telling one. It is where I find adamant disagreement. It is granted that moral acts' wrongness is defeasable in entangled real moral situations,but I think Hare's point is about this essentially that the non moral natural act which is simply a description of the event, has no moral property to it; that is, the factual account as such produces no ethical account whatever, but it is the notion of supervenience of a moral property upon this that makes the act moral at all. But this kind of reasoning proves to be no more than an attempt to see how, analytically, supervenience serves the explanatory need. ISadly.in the end, supervenience is certainly not clearly understood; in fact, just the opposite. For if natural nonmoral property A and moral property B are related such that if there is a change in B there is a concomitant (that is, nomological) change in A, the exact nature of the relation remains undefined. The best that is to be gotten is, as in many nomological relations, an apparent correspondence, which is, vacuous, really.
Moore was the one who placed the term supervenience to explain the relation between moral and non moral properties/acts, and I thought he was on to something.
But now I take issue: it is the insight that moral properties are qualitatively distinct from any natural description of an event that makes for an uncrossable chasm: one can never explain what the ??#@#?! a non natural quality actually is. At all. This makes Hare's point, in my view, just gratuitous analysis.

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