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Objective Morality Without God

Discussion in 'Ethics and Morals' started by vulcanlogician, Dec 30, 2022.

  1. Ella S.

    Ella S. Well-Known Member

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    Despite everything you've written here, I really only have a response to a portion of it.

    This concept of "self-evident" good or bad, which permeates your entire response, is not something I agree with. I don't think good or bad is self-evident.

    You're also wrong. Stoics don't see pain as intrinsically bad. It's qualified as an indifferent under Stoicism. Stoics regard aversion to pain as an error in reasoning. That doesn't really matter too much, though. My main point is that the self-evidence of goodness and badness is an argument that I don't find even slightly convincing. It reminds me of how Reformed Epistemology just assumes that the existence of God is obvious and self-evident.

    I disagree. I think it is irrational to say, "I don't like pain, therefore it's bad." Or even, "I have a strong conviction that pain is bad, therefore it is." That's emotional reasoning.

    It's even more fallacious when you say, "Nobody likes pain, therefore it's bad." That's an Argumentum ad Populum on top of being emotional reasoning. There's no logic in that at all.

    And I think that's all you really have when you rely on the supposedly self-evident nature of morality. It's merely a rationalization for the moralization you made based on feeling. It's not a logical argument.

    It's not that there's disagreement on good and bad. When we disagree about reality, we go conduct an experiment or perform a measurement. When we disagree about an algorithm, we construct mathematical proofs. There's simply no such equivalent method of resolving disputes when it comes to morality.

    The disagreement isn't the issue. The issue is that there's no logical way to resolve the disagreement like there would be if either of them could be demonstrated to be true. I'm honestly just going to assume that you can't do this, given that you've failed to throughout this discussion and seem to fall back on the concept of self-evidence, which I consider to be irrational.

    I find it unlikely that further discussion on this topic will be productive.

    I am a moral realist. I think moral statements are at least treated as fact-claims and so they are truth-apt. As far as I can tell, though, no moral statement has been demonstrated to be true. In fact, moral statements cannot be demonstrated to be true unless they are derived from another moral statement, which Hume pointed out.

    So I'm firmly in the position of Error Theory, because all such moral axioms have failed to demonstrate their truth. At least in the case of mathematics we can talk about what has been formally defined according to mathematical axioms in order to derive true statements about that field. We have no such rigor for ethics and I don't think we ever will.
     
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  2. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    One way to approach this is whether there are conflict resolution procedures.

    So, if two people disagree about the morality of a certain action, is there some way of resolving the dispute?

    In science, if two people disagree about a claim, they find an experiment or observation that would go different ways depending on who is correct and then do the experiment or observation to see who is wrong. if no such experiment or observation is possible, the views are considered to be essentially the same.

    In math, if two people disagree about a claim, there is a way to reduce the proof to the axioms and see if the proof is actually valid.

    In both cases, the rules of conduct for scientists or mathematicians are set up to help resolve such conflicts.

    Is there some way to do this for moral questions? Are there basic rules to help us resolve such conflicts? Basic assumptions that make this easier?

    So, for example, it may be that people pray to resolve moral conflicts. The problem is that even if prayers are answered, they tend to be answered in contradictory ways. This suggests that prayer is a bad way to resolve moral conflicts.

    Are there other ways to approach this that *can* resolve such conflicts?

    I would suggest that morality is objective exactly if there are such conflict resolution methods.
     
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  3. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    If you know for sure that the command was from God then do it. But that is the problem, just believing the command is from God has it's drawbacks.

    It could be called that I suppose. Do I do what God wants me to do or what I want to do?
     
  4. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    In Christianity it is not about a list of commands and prohibitions but such lists and the practice therein can help lead us to moral maturity, knowing what God would want us to do and avoid.
    But of course many or even most things light be not prescribed or forbidden and so a maturity is need in life.
    In the OT there are things that God commands that must have seemed wrong to the Jews or whoever else the command was directed to. (eg Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac)
    The person would need to be sure the command was from God for a start and then it would be a matter of obedience or an immoral act would be the result.
    It is not that an action is morally bad only because God forbids it and it is not that an action is morally right because God prescribes it. It is more that we are moral beings who can be led astray and need the guidance from God who knows morals.
     
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  5. F1fan

    F1fan Veteran Member

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    The major drawback being that YOU as a human are making the moral judgment, thus you are accountable for the results. Until a God can be confirmed as existing, and any directive being confirmed as actually coming from that God, and that the God accepts responsibility, we humans are on our own.

    The thing many believers avoid acknowledging is that if they believe their version of God exists they could be mistaken about it. As flawed, Fallen, filthy rags how is it they are able to detect a God for which objective thinkers can't conclude there is adequate evidence for existing?


    Well, if you commit a crime in the name of God, usually murder, then the justice system will not honor your claims of doing God's will. The 9-11 hijackers were doing God's will, but world governments did not accept that claim as valid. If you gather food and give it to the hungery, well not harm caused and no one will be critical and reject your claim that it was God directing your moral acts, and not you as a decent person. But why not take credit for your own moral acts?
     
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  6. SkepticThinker

    SkepticThinker Veteran Member

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    So is yours. It's from "God's [supposed] view."

    And I submit again, that following orders isn't an exercise in morality at all.
     
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  7. SkepticThinker

    SkepticThinker Veteran Member

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    A person doing that is not exercising morality. They are following orders.

    And how can anybody possibly know for sure that any command is from God?

    Yeah, I'll say. So many different Gods with so many different opinions. And all of them seem to just be a reflection of the believer's own opinions.


    A good system of morality has a goal (e.g. the well-being of sentient creatures) by which to measure whether an action is good or bad, depending on the potential consequences of those actions on ourselves and those around us.
     
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  8. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I suppose we will be judged in all our actions, even when we think they are what God is saying to do but are not.
    I don't think those responsible for the Inquisition will be judged guiltless for such things.

    God will give us the credit we deserve for our acts also.

    Yes believers could be wrong, as we all could.
    It is not a matter of being able to think well and analyse the evidence in most cases, even if some evidence is certainly good. It is being willing to respond in faith.
    Sometimes the wise of this world want to trust in other things instead of Jesus. (eg their wealth or their learning or intelligence etc)
     
  9. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    They are following their conscience about trusting their God. They could be wrong and God will judge them accordingly. If they do evil thinking God told them to do it, God would not be happy with that.


    A goal could be to please God, knowing of course that God wants us to love and treat others as we love ourselves and would want others to treat us.
    "Potential consequences" can be a dicey one, especially if we think we should do something that we normally would think if wrong, just in case it has good effects.
     
  10. Pete in Panama

    Pete in Panama Active Member

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    Interesting, somehow I find it impossible to say what makes God happy or what God wants. God hasn't sent u an email on that, you probably FEEL u know what going on w/ God.

    My experience is that it's not a good idea to feel what's going on inside God, but rather that we just love him, fear him, obey him, and that's all we can do.
     
  11. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Sorry, but that simply doesn't hold water. The 9/11 attackers believed they were doing God's will. They were responding in faith. But because of that faith and their belief, they did great evil.

    All that shows is that faith isn't a good path to take for morality. Ultimately, it is still your own judgement as to what you think God is asking you to do. So *all* faith is ultimately faith in yourself.

    The difference is that religious faith justifies saying that those that don't believe are evil just because of that lack of belief. And the belief they are evil then often justifies great evil.

    At best, faith is a dereliction of our duty to think for ourselves. At worst, it is just following orders that you *cannot* know come from a God. At least, that is how I see it.

    For all too many people 'God thinks like me' is the basis of their morality.
     
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  12. vulcanlogician

    vulcanlogician Active Member

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    @Ella S.

    (I would like Ella's opinion on this as well. Still working on a good reply to your last post; you made some strong arguments , Ella.)

    I came across this the other day. If I understand what Polymath is asking, this article purports to at least do some of the work in the direction of resolving such a conflict. I would like to hear any objections that anyone might have to this strategy. I found the argument incredibly appealing, but that might just be because it handles logical expressions in my favorite way AND involves the Moorean (good/bad) conception of ethics. So feel free to challenge it, as I'm rather dissatisfied when I find myself in complete agreement with something. :p

    I realize it's a bit long, so tl;dr is an okay reply as far as I'm concerned, but (again) I think it's a nice little strategy for a moral realist to employ as a starting point to deny moral nihilism and justify moral realism.

    5.5 The implausibility of nihilism: a Moorean argument

    Nihilism holds that nothing is good, bad, right, or wrong. I have said enough to show why we are prima facie justified in rejecting this. A nihilist might accept this point but maintain that there are nevertheless strong arguments for nihilism that overcome the initial presumption against it.33 In the last section we saw some objections a nihilist might raise against realism, and we will see others in later chapters. What I argue in this section is that the presumption against nihilism is very strong, so that the arguments for nihilism would have to be extremely powerful to justify the nihilist’s position.

    So far, I have focused on the qualitative point that many moral beliefs have prima facie justification. But justification comes in degrees: my justification for thinking that China exists is stronger than my justification for thinking that the theory of evolution is true, which is stronger than my justification for thinking that tomorrow will be sunny. What determines the degree to which an intuitive belief is prima facie justified? If one accepts Phenomenal Conservatism, the natural view to take is that the more obvious something seems, the stronger is its prima facie justification. Very clear and firm intuitions should take precedence over weak or wavering intuitions.

    Now consider in outline one of the arguments for nihilism:

    1. Moral good and bad, if they exist, would be intrinsically motivating—that is, things that any rational being would necessarily be motivated to pursue (in the case of good) or avoid (in the case of bad).
    2. It is impossible for anything to be intrinsically motivating in that sense.
    3. Therefore, good and bad do not exist.

    More needs to be said to properly assess each of those premises, but I won’t say it now. Right now I just want to use this argument to illustrate a general epistemological point. Given the nihilist conclusion in (3), one could validly infer such further conclusions as:

    4. It is not the case that a nuclear war would be bad.
    5. It is never the case that enjoyment is better than excruciating pain.

    And so on.

    Now, just as someone who accepted (1) and (2) might be moved by the above reasoning to accept (4) and (5), a realist might argue against (1) and (2) as follows:

    1'. A nuclear war would be bad.
    2'. Enjoyment is sometimes (if not always) better than excruciating pain.
    3'. Therefore, good and bad do exist.
    4'. Therefore, either
    a. Good and bad need not be intrinsically motivating, or
    b. It is possible for something to be intrinsically motivating.

    Some would charge this realist argument with ‘begging the question’ against nihilism, since premises (1') and (2') are precisely what the nihilist denies in his conclusion. But this embodies a naive conception of the burdens of dialectic, granting a presumption to whichever argument happens to be stated first. For if the realist argument had been stated first, then we could presumably say that the nihilist argument ‘begs the question’ against the realist since its premises (1) and (2) (conjointly) are precisely what the realist denies in his conclusion. The relationship between the two arguments is symmetric: each argument takes as premises the denial of the other argument’s conclusion. How, then, should we decide between them?

    The strength of an argument depends upon how well justified the premises are and how well they support the conclusion. Both of the above arguments support their conclusions equally well—both are deductively valid. So of the two arguments, the better is the one whose premises are more initially plausible. Now which seems more obvious: ‘Enjoyment is better than excruciating pain’ or ‘It is impossible for anything to be intrinsically motivating’? To me, the former seems far more obvious. And I do not think my judgment on this point is idiosyncratic. Therefore, it would be irrational to reject the former proposition on the basis of the latter.

    To justify his position, the nihilist would have to produce premises more plausible than any moral judgment—more plausible than ‘Murder is wrong’, more plausible than ‘Pain is worse than pleasure’, and so on. But some moral judgments are about as plausible as anything is. So the nihilist’s prospects look very bleak from the outset.

    Finally, a comment on philosophical method. The nihilist argument above, as well as the empiricist argument discussed earlier (section 5.4, Objection 4), evince a kind of rationalistic methodology common in philosophy. The method is roughly this: begin by laying down as obvious some abstract principle of the form, ‘No A can be B’. (For example, ‘No substantive knowledge can be a priori’; ‘No objective property can be intrinsically motivating’; ‘No unverifiable statement can be meaningful’.) Then use the general principle as a constraint in the interpretation of cases: if there should arise cases of A’s that for all the world look like B’s, argue that they cannot really be B’s because that conflicts with the principle, and seek some other interpretation of the cases. One of the great ironies of philosophy is that this rationalistic methodology is commonly employed by empiricists. One might have expected them to adopt the opposite approach: start by looking at cases, and only form generalizations that conform to the way all of the cases appear; stand ready to revise any generalizations upon discovery of counter-examples; treat the cases as a constraint on the generalizations.

    My method is something between those two: begin with whatever seems true, both about cases and about general rules. If conflicts arise, resolve them in favor of whichever proposition appears most obvious. Roughly speaking, we want to adopt the coherent belief system that is closest to the appearances, where fidelity to appearances is a matter of how many apparently-true propositions are maintained, with these propositions weighted by their initial degree of plausibility. We can call this the method of reflective equilibrium. The method of reflective equilibrium leads us to endorse some moral judgments. It is highly unlikely that it could ever lead us to endorse nihilism, as the latter requires a rejection of our entire body of moral beliefs. Indeed, it would be hard to devise a theory less faithful to the appearances.
     
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  13. F1fan

    F1fan Veteran Member

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    But why assume such unlikely Christian concepts are true? We are better off being accountable to each other and the environment rather than get lost and confused in quite fantastic religious docrines.

    No gods are known to exist, so to assume such an absurd thing could confuse a believer to such a degree they can justify crimes against other humans as justified. Notice your fellow Christians in 194-0's Germany had no problems exterminating 6 million Jews. They didn't seem concerned. We would be better off rejecting these ineffective religious doctrines and teach children reasoning and moral accountability via their own agency.



    So why act as if these religious doctrines are real? There is a serious amount of self-deception going on here, and that being the case how well can a person be rooted in reality to a degree that they understand morality?

    HGow does using faith offer any advantage? We see all sortds of confused believers relying on faith, and there would be more clarity if they used facts and reason. Faith can excuse any vile, immoral act BECAUSE it avoids reason and personal agency. It excuses the self and defers any act as being God's will. That means believers are little more than obedient robots who fail at moral agency.

    If we saw a remarkablke moral consistency among Christians you would have a point. But there is a long history of Christians commiting crimes ahaionst humans. The Inquisition saw hundreds if not thousands tortured and executed in Jesus name. Good, moral protestatnts tortured and killed about 30,000 people for witchcraft in the 17th century, in Jesus name. Lutherans and Catholics in Nazi Germany rounded up and extreminated 6 million Jews. Scott Roeder and paul Hill murdered abortion doctors because they were doing God's will.

    I know you want to think the best of your religion, but the fact is is your version of God exists it has done a horrible job of policing Christians. Why bother sending the New Testament if Christians will go this far off a moral track?
     
  14. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Veteran Member
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    Resolving disputes over morality through agreed upon objective criterium is what ethics is about. Morality is individual principals of right and wrong. Ethics is collective action and behavior to achieve a consensus on right or wrong outcome.

    I wouldn't say that having ethics, ethics committees etc makes the morality objective. The criterium of each person in the collective can still only contextualize principals based on their subjective experience. It just means they have an objective rules system for their subjective views. And that's not a bad thing.

    Often subjectivity is attempted to be twisted into equivalent to arbitrary to demonize the term. But understanding that whatever standard you have for morality will *always* have data gaps because your experience will always have data gaps makes for more adaptable ethics laid out in the future, subject to change when more information comes about.

    And yes, to extend the metaphor this means you could also say that science conclusions are subjective while science as a process is objective. In that while the rules for conducting science have an objective framework, the dataset will always be subject to the limited experience of the data collectors, and margins for error should always be accounted for.
     
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  15. Ponder This

    Ponder This Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. The problem with your argument is that you didn't explain why stealing is, objectively, wrong. You explained why you "personally" think stealing is wrong.

    As far as I can tell, this is essential to your argument because you say, "if THOSE REASONS explain why stealing is wrong, then..."
     
  16. Ella S.

    Ella S. Well-Known Member

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    Well, my last post was going to be the last post I made on RF, but I can stick around a bit longer for an extended discussion of this subject. It is something that I think is important to investigate, and I greatly appreciate your ability to support a contradictory position to me in such a rational and thought-out way. I am not used to such a productive dialectic on these forums.

    I think any argument that relies on intuition is doomed to fail. We constructed logic for the express purpose of questioning and correcting our intuitions, because our intuitions are so prone to fallacy and bias. I think this is a poor approach to take on any subject, but especially one as important as morality.

    Personally, I think this is a terrible argument for nihilism, for a number of reasons. The rest of the post goes into some of them, but more immediately I would question the assumption that "good" and "bad" would be intrinsically motivating. On what basis could the nihilist make such a claim?

    Would the fact that some people are motivated to behave "badly" automatically mean that there is not an objective standard of goodness to hold them to? I don't think so. This only applies to a very particular interpretation of what constitutes a normative statement. Personally, I tend to agree with the realist argument that a "normative statement" is really just a description of what is good, and so it does not necessarily need any inherent motivator. When we say you morally "ought" to perform a certain action, we tend to be implying that performing that action is good and not performing it is bad.

    If someone did not care about adhering to morality, I don't think that's an argument against the existence of moral truth. It just demonstrates that that individual is immoral.

    I think the superior method is, when two conclusions conflict, go with the one that makes the least assumptions. I think there is an assumption made here that certain moral statements are true. One could argue that there needs to be an assumption that such statements are false, too, and that nihilists are shifting the burden of proof, but I don't think that's how the burden of proof works.

    The burden of proof is on someone who makes a positive claim. They have to demonstrate that their claim is likely or necessarily true. An Argument from Ignorance is what we have when something is asserted to be true with insufficient supporting evidence or when something with sufficient evidence is rejected for not being an absolute proof. Because moral statements have not demonstrated their truth, they have not shown that they are likely to be true. If something is unlikely to be true then, by the bivariance principle, it is also likely to be false.

    That can change through evidence or argumentation, but I think it's an Argument from Ignorance to assert that moral nihilism has to prove itself any further than pointing out that no moral statements have demonstrated their truth and that it makes less assumptions to not claim the truth of those statements. Falsity is merely the default position of any unproven claim in classical logic, so it does not incur the same burden of proof. Asserting that it does is, in my opinion, a misunderstanding of what an Argument from Ignorance actually refers to.

    So what is my argument in favor of Error Theory? Simple; you can only derive a moral statement from another moral statement. You cannot derive a moral statement from a fact.

    Every attempt to derive a moral statement from a fact can be demonstrated to have implicit moral statements, and each of these moral statements is an unverified assumption. Until one of these assumptions can be verified, whatever conclusion they are used to arrive at must be false because it cannot be demonstrated to be true. This is the general idea behind the is-ought gap and the fact-value distinction, but all of the arguments against these two distinctions can be shown to implicitly slip values and oughts into their premises, thus ironically proving these rules.

    For instance, under functionalism, they make assumptions such as "a sailor ought to do what we typically associate with sailors" or "an organ ought to perform the function it evolved to play in the organism." These claims need corroborating evidence. Without it, they can be safely dismissed.

    Intuition is not reliable evidence, but it seems that most moral axioms are derived from it. I find this particularly unconvincing in part because I personally have no such intuition, so the arguments that rely on these intuitions are completely incomprehensible to me. Nonetheless, what people call a "moral intuition" seems to mostly reduce to various appeals to emotion, such as empathy, disgust, shame, guilt, aversion, and desire. That makes them a form of emotional reasoning, which is irrational.

    Another approach is using specific cultural mores as a starting place. No matter how widespread these are, this usually seems to amount to an Argumentum ad Populum. So I would strongly question whether we should really take the so-called "obvious" nature of the truth of these statements for granted; on the contrary, that supposed "obviousness" seems more to be due to some form of cognitive bias. It's a good reminder to critically double-check our thought processes against rationality.

    We can, of course, describe the various social mores of different cultures, how we personally feel about certain actions, and even what is objectively a consequence of the axioms of particular ethical philosophies like functionalism or consequentialism. We just cannot support that any of these are indicative of objective truth, because doing so is necessarily fallacious.
     
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  17. Brian2

    Brian2 Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough.
     
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  18. vulcanlogician

    vulcanlogician Active Member

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    Well then, it would appear that we are in agreement. If I understand you correctly, God's commands are there to guide us, perhaps to give us structure or help us from being led "astray." But they are not the end-all-be-all of morality.

    The example of Abraham may even serve as an example there. I think that, in the story, even Abraham thought that that killing his son was a reprehensible deed. Even God's commanding it would not make such an act morally acceptable. But the point of the story (which I'm not particularly a fan of, btw) was that obedience to God trumps all other concerns... even moral ones.

    So, since we both agree that Divine Command Theory is false (or do we?), the only other relevant arguments that I'm aware of are the lawmaker arguments that we looked at first. We can return to it if you wish, but I'm fine having made the points I've made. I don't need you to agree with me that God is not necessary for moral objectivity, but hopefully I've demonstrated that it's a reasonable position.

    If you feel there is an argument that I have not treated yet that necessitates God for objective morality, we can look at that too. But aside from my points about the lawmaker arguments and the refutation DCT (which I didn't have to present), I've pretty much made my case.
     
    #298 vulcanlogician, Jan 27, 2023 at 2:33 PM
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2023 at 3:30 PM
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  19. Ella S.

    Ella S. Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but before we can establish an agreed upon criterium, we first have to engage in meta-ethics. I think this thread is more about meta-ethics than it is about ethics. There is not much disagreement that those who agree on a standard can evaluate their own ethics based on that standard. The issue is how such a standard can substantiate itself as the objectively correct one when compared to other standards.

    Here I would contest that the rules they have are objective, for the aforementioned reasons.

    I agree that whether a specific ethical framework is objective or subjective does not make much of a practical difference for whoever adheres to it. There are plenty of moral nihilists who, nonetheless, live by some form of ethical philosophy. They just don't claim that their morality is objective.

    I will point out that, technically, moral nihilism and moral subjectivism are contradictory positions, though. Moral subjectivists assert that moral claims can be true, but that their truth is based in subjectivity. Moral nihilists deny that any moral claims are true. Yet both can adhere to a moral framework just as closely and devoutly as those who believe their morality is objective.

    I would not say that science conclusions are subjective. I would say that they are contingent on the data being evaluated. There is still an objectively correct conclusion to draw in most cases, so long as there is sufficient data of a proper standard of quality. Those conclusions might be overridden by later findings, but it doesn't change the fact that they were the objectively correct conclusions to draw at that time.

    In that sense, I would say that the conclusions remain objective, but not in the sense that they are necessarily absolute truth. I think that's a common mistake people make about scientific claims, since that sort of dogma is common in other fields like theology.
     
    #299 Ella S., Jan 27, 2023 at 3:58 PM
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2023 at 4:33 PM
  20. vulcanlogician

    vulcanlogician Active Member

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    True. It is irrational.

    1. I don't like pain
    2. Therefore pain is objectively bad

    That's a bad argument. A nonsequiteur. In the hedonist view, we don't like pain because it's bad. Our disliking of pain is not what makes it bad. I think that would be Desire Satisfaction Theory or something. To the hedonist, the badness of pain comes prior to our disliking of it.

    Yes. I admit that its an argumentum ad populum. And it's my fault because I said, "and I like to argue that we all view pain as intrinsically bad." I was being imprecise with my words. I really did imply that our collective agreement counts as evidence for the badness of pain, and that is not correct.

    But hedonism as a theory does not make that error. That was just me just being a sloppy philosopher while arguing hedonism's behalf.

    1. We all view pain as intrinsically bad.
    2. Therefore: pain is intrinsically bad.

    Invalid argument. Another non sequitur. (my bad.)

    So, I think this is my fault again. Because I am giving reasons that support the case that pain is bad, but my thesis is that pain is axiomatically bad. If something is an axiom, the presumption is that it doesn't require reasons to believe. It's obvious. THAT'S the hedonist's real argument. And I -personally- think its a self-evident axiom.

    ***

    Let's consider a natural event... a person has her index finger pricked with a needle. This is a cause... with a bunch of effects.

    1. Person's skin is broken by the needle.
    2. The needle makes contact with nerve tissue.
    3. The nerve tissue of the index finger becomes excited, sending pulses of electricity through the nervous system.
    4. Some of this nervous activity reaches the brain and causes more neural activity to happen inside the brain.
    5. The person experiences pain.
    6. The person pulls their hand away because she has an aversion to the sensation of pain.
    7. The person, afterward, thinks to herself, "That experience was bad."

    Where in all these events does the badness lie according to the hedonist? It is only present in ONE of the above items. Which one?

    Number 5.

    That is the only candidate for something that is qualitatively bad. It's bad just because it happens. None of the other items on the list qualify as an event that could be objectively bad. But five is objectively bad, because it necessarily includes a certain qualitative element. Whether we like it or not, the qualitative element is there- in that event. You cannot explain it away or dismiss it. Whatever genuine badness necessarily accompanies number five is an objectively true thing. None of the others could be ethically important because they are dry matters of fact without a qualitative element that by necessity accompanies them.

    I love Error Theory. I think it's the best refutation to realism. Hard to deny. But how can you be an error theorist and a realist? I see a dichotomy there. Can you explain?

    That has actually been a pebble in my shoe since you brought it up. I wouldn't want to use the term "intrinsically motivating." I would want to cite "reasons for" or "reasons against" when justifying one natural state over another. "Intrinsically motivating" seems a lil' dodgy. But I suppose the "reasons for/reasons against approach to normativity is controversial too.
     
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