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Featured Please Define "Religion"

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Nov 5, 2022.

  1. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    In context, I was actually referring specifically to the question of a scientific morality to keep it simple. As noted though, it is also true in general.

    Definition:

    An axiom, postulate, or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments.

    Examples:

    Basic assumptions of science - Understanding Science
     
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  2. Left Coast

    Left Coast The Fabulous
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    No number of observations can establish as fact that observations are accurate or that they comport with some objective world outside your mind. That reasoning begs the question. The problem of hard solipsism is not one that any number of observations can address. What we can say is what works based on models we develop through our observations. But what works isn't necessarily what's true or real. Again, these assumptions are safe ones. But they're still assumptions. And there's nothing antiscientific in acknowledging that.
     
  3. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane My own religion

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    And the joke is that hard solipsism is not correct other that as in effect a form of tautology, that doesn't work for the normal understanding of "I".
     
  4. URAVIP2ME

    URAVIP2ME Veteran Member

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    Back in the 60's I remember a sign in Greenwich Village which read to follow the path backwards in order to see.
    So, tracing even a thin tread back to it's starting point has value, but is it the whole spool of thread.
    To me the Scriptures are the whole spool of thread, so to speak.
    As with comparing counterfeit money with a genuine bill, then the line is drawn by using the genuine as the guide.
    This makes me think that Jesus used the genuine Hebrew Scriptures as his point of reference.
    In other words, where the words of Jesus are recorded as Jesus saying, " it is written......" means already written down or recorded in the old Hebrew Scriptures for all to see.
    Thus, I find Jesus used logical reasoning on the old Hebrew Scriptures as the basis for his teachings.
     
  5. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    Earlier in our conversation I predicted that we would arrive at a point we each suggests to the other that the other is exhibiting some degree of confirmation bias. I even provided a description of confirmation bias so that we may both keep that awareness of its causes and effects in the forefront of our minds primarily in evaluating the arguments we, ourselves are making.

    You have accused me of not engaging rationally, of Ad hominem attacks, and of arguing in bad faith to defend my indefensible positions. All I can say in defense is that I sincerely believe I am making every effort to engage rationally and to fully consider the arguments you present. I have even made concessions in the argument and apologized to you when poor wording on my part misrepresented your statements. I am trying, but like you, I am only human. :)

    I would also point out that I am challenging the institutional, conventional view of science and philosophy, and given human nature, I would fully expect to receive resistance from those who accept and operate within the institutional view. Since the effect of confirmation bias “is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs”, should we not anticipate that the subject of ethics and morals can engender such strong responses?

    If we both wish to engage rationally and in good faith, then we both must be open to the possibility that our positions may be weak or unsupported. Accepting that, we would then need to build some common ground from which to continue. If we agree on nothing at all and neither will move from their current position, then there is no foundation on which to engage rationally.

    If you agree, I would like to focus on this issue of ethics and morals for the moment. I propose two questions that come to mind as a starting point. If you see the need to set common ground with a different set of questions, please suggest them.

    My first question would be, is it appropriate to periodically challenge and reevaluate the premises, axioms, and conventions of institutional thought?

    My second question would be to ask whether you agree that ethics and morals have no objective universal standard.

    I am not in disagreement with Einstein, as it is my position that Science is Philosophy. Science explores the how and why of phenomena in the world. It can then use that information to solve perceived problems. Both of these tasks are done with the acknowledgement that those engaged in these activities are imperfect and fallible, and that active steps must be employed to mitigate that imperfection and fallibility.

    Since Theory is not Fact, it would be silly to state that Theory may only consist of Fact, for then it would be Fact not Theory. Hypothesis, speculation, guessing, trail and error, happy accident, and imagination are all part of Science and the scientific process. The key is maintaining a distinction between what part of an idea or concept is fact, law, hypothesis, theory, speculation, or imagination and applying the appropriate amount of confidence to the concept or idea based on that understanding.

    Now, if you want to say that Philosophy is the playground of unbridled imagination, then I have no problem with that. In that case I would see philosophy as being much like fictional literature, where one can set any premise or condition, realistic or imagined, and explore the possibilities arising out of that imagined set of conditions. If you want to characterize philosophy as the imagination engine of knowledge acquisition, then I would still see it as a subcategory within the overall umbrella of Science.
     
  6. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Confirmation bias requires there to be evidence that supports both perspectives, yet someone primarily looks at that which supports their preconceptions.

    There is no evidence that goes against my view as far as I am aware. Even those who propose a "scientific morality" (Sam Harris for example) make at least some explicit assumptions.

    I asked you to provide a single example that supports your claim that it is possible and said if you can do this, they I will concede you are right.

    You have written hundreds of words since then, but none that address this.

    So how can it be confirmation bias when I have seen no evidence that we can build a moral system without relying on at least one axiomatic principle?

    I have given numerous examples to show this, but you have never directly answered the question.

    All you need to do is give a basic explanation of what an axiom-free moral system would look like.

    It's not in the slightest emotionally charged to note morality relies on axioms though.

    I even noted several posts ago that this is by far the least interesting part of our discussion to me because it's not particularly controversial or disputed. I separated it out in the hope that we could discuss the parts about narrative/ideology that I find more interesting.

    :handpointdown:

    It says nothing about what morality is best or anything else that may trigger emotional attachment. Despite your assumptions, it isn't defending anything or promoting anything, it is, AFAIK, a simple fact.

    IIRC, you are the only person I've ever seen display such an attachment to the idea we can create an axiom free morality.

    If you have seen anyone else make such a case, I'd be happy to read the links. Then at least it would be possible to accuse me of confirmation bias :D

    Yes.

    Can you give me an example of how you would undertake this process without reliance on any axioms?

    Yes.

    If you agree, then can you give an example of how this can be true and a subjective moral system could be axiom free?

    The point is that theories are not simply based on consideration of what can be identified empirically. What we can identify empirically is, in turn, dependent on theory.

    In standard usage, this is a view on the philosophy of science.

    I use the term myth in a way that is legitimately used, but is uncommon. When I do this, I understand that other people might use the word according to its more common definition. I certainly cannot say people are "wrong" to use the more common definition.

    Do you accept that philosophy, in the standard academic usage of the term rather than your personal definition, is essential to things like science, morality, etc.?

    Who is the last philosopher you are aware of who claimed humans are infallible and advised taking no steps to mitigate their imperfections?
     
  7. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    I would say that there is more to it. Confirmation bias also includes ignoring contrary evidence as well as treating ambiguous information as supporting their claim. Would you agree?

    I am not proposing a scientific morality as the concept of morality is a non-objective abstract construct. What I am saying is that if there is a perceived problem related to human behavior, a scientific approach is the best way to understand how and why a particular behavior is being exhibited, understand why it is perceived as a problem, and propose potential remedies if there are any.

    As I said before, I concede that science cannot operate under the premises and framework of our current and historical philosophy of ethics and morals.

    Yes, I have limitations in my ability in formulating and communicating my arguments. If I have exceeded your patience, I completely understand.

    Yes, purely abstract systems require axiomatic principles. It would be a bias to say that we cannot set these existing abstract systems aside, especially any system that is not synthetic to reality, does not correlate to the real world when addressing real world questions.

    It is bias to insist that science must work within the conventions of historical ethical philosophy to address human behavior, as opposed to science addressing human behavior directly.

    You are asking me to demonstrate scientific morality, which I concede is not a thing and cannot be a thing. The abstract concept of morality is not objective. It is fiction.

    What I have insisted, is that science works to understand the how and why of human behavior, and that knowledge can then be used to evaluate perceived problems in individual and group behavior and consider solutions to those problems if the problem is solvable.

    Could emotions be involved if the issue is whether science is better suited to addressing issues of human behavior than is philosophy? Could emotion be involved if it suggested that philosophy is no longer appropriate to address some of the questions philosophy claims dominion over?

    Again, my apologies. I appreciate you having indulged me.

    To say that anyone or any system can say what morality is best is an illusion as there is no objective basis upon which to make such a determination. If it is your position that the philosophy of ethics and morality can objectively determine which of its proposed moralities is best, then I disagree.

    I concede that abstract systems such as ethics and morality require axioms. What I am challenging is whether science must adopt such axioms when it addresses issues of human behavior.

    I think this has been addressed above.

    MikeF said:
    My first question would be, is it appropriate to periodically challenge and reevaluate the premises, axioms, and conventions of institutional thought?
    Great. We have agreement at least that it is acceptable to reevaluate established or customary wisdom or convention.

    As to your question, I’m unsure if you are asking how I would establish an epistemology without axioms, or if you are asking how I would challenge and reevaluate philosophical ethics without resorting to axioms. If it is the latter, I think that has been addressed above. I will hold off attempting to answer the former in case that is not what you meant. Don’t want to further tax your patience.

    MikeF said:
    My second question would be to ask whether you agree that ethics and morals have no objective universal standard.
    Yes, we are both in agreement that ethics and morals have no objective universal standard. I think the answers above will have addressed this, but I will reiterate that I agree that a subjective moral system requires axioms. What I suggest is that science is an improved approach to understanding human behavior and as a result, better at understanding perceived problems related to human behavior.

    Medicine and Psychology would be subspecialties that would explore behavior of the individual and address problems in this area. Psychology, Social Science, and Political Science would explore group behavior and address problems in this area.

    I don’t disagree. But again, we are talking about theories. Sometimes theories miss the mark and can lead to dead ends. That is why confidence in a theory is tied to its predictive ability. A theory can be formulated that cannot be tested because we do not yet have the technical ability. The theory may be correct, but we do not know until it can be tested. Because theories can get off track, an appropriate level of skepticism must be maintained for an untested theory.

    It is unclear to me whether this refers to your comment or my comment, nor in either case am I sure what you are trying to convey.

    Philosophy in its entirety, in the standard academic usage of the term, is not essential to science. I see Mathematics (if that is considered part of philosophy), Language, and Logic as essential. My only caveat would be that when these analytic abstract systems are used as tools in science, methodologies are required to ensure that these abstract systems are used in ways that remain synthetic to reality, that the abstractions continue to correspond to the real world as they are used.

    Morality to my mind is a philosophical concept, a product of standard philosophy.

    Not sure what else you include in etc.

    It’s not a claim that all humans are infallible, it is an underestimation of the philosophers potential fallibility. It is an attitude that the lone philosopher can resolve questions about reality solely through logical reasoning and intuition as opposed to employing empiricism. Any philosopher who thinks they can resolve questions of the mind and consciousness outside of science, for example.
     
  8. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    I'd say that relates more to cognitive dissonance, but I agree that it is a factor in cognition regardless of what we call it.

    Which of these points, if any, do you disagree with?

    1. Morality relies on axioms
    2. Science cannot create these axioms
    3. Science can help us make more moral decisions once we have created these axioms

    This is what I have been arguing, and you have been strongly disagreeing with.

    But not bias to insist that morality will always be dependent on axioms that cannot be established scientifically, which is what I've been arguing. Agreed?

    Not really, as they are pretty nonsensical to me.

    It's like saying science is better at calculating the circumference of the earth than maths is.

    You can calculate the circumference using maths, but you can do it more accurately using science. The science cannot work without the maths though.

    If you have to pick one it needs to be maths, if you want to be most accurate you use both. It's not a competition, no need to try to isolate them to create some fictitious "team science" and "team philosophy" dichotomy.

    I thought we established that days ago :grinning:

    That he was talking about a philosophical underpinning of science, hence some philosophy is relevant for science.

    Do you mean all philosophy is not essential, or not all philosophy is essential?

    If the latter, I agree.

    I would say logic, epistemology, philosophy of science etc. are essential. Ethics is also important, but non-essential.

    Now you are arguing about the advantages of Empiricism over Rationalism. Seems you do see the value in philosophy after all :D
     
  9. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    Fundamentally I think we are saying similar things. I think we both agree with the adage that we don’t know what we don’t know. Also, to be very clear, I fully acknowledge the limitations of science, and the source of those limitations is we human beings and will be present in any human endeavor or activity.

    As to hard solipsism, I place it in the same category as gods and unicorns. Just because we can imagine a thing does not mean that such a thing is probable or even possible. As hard solipsism is not falsifiable, and for other reasons, I am very comfortable setting hard solipsism aside.

    To say that science relies on assumptions I consider misleading and a mischaracterization. Granting that we use specific words in a variety of ways, assumption can refer to conclusions that have been informed by a wide range of evidence, from absolutely no evidence (an unfounded assumption), all the way to compelling or conclusive evidence.

    What science is founded upon is not assumption, for any assumption of value requires some amount of evidence (experience) from which to even draw a conclusion or prediction. Science is founded upon experience, and it is from those experiences that conclusions are drawn. Those conclusions are held with varying degrees of confidence and science uses a variety of terms to broadly indicate its confidence in an idea, concept, or conclusion. This is why I feel it is a mistake to apply terms like ‘axiom’ from the discipline of Logic. Logic is an abstract system and abstract systems do not require experience as a foundation for their structure and development, they require axioms or premises. These axioms do not have to be ‘true’ or exist as mass-energy with spatiotemporal extension, they simply have to be agreed to by convention among those who use and work with the abstract system.

    I also disagree with your statement that what works isn’t necessarily true or real. If we have the capacity to distinguish between what works and doesn’t work in whatever context is imagined, I find it difficult to say that what works is not real. If we conclude that under a specific set of initial conditions an event will occur, and that event reliably occurs every time under those specific conditions, then that is a real result. It may not tell us why it occurs, and we may not know that if we understood ‘the why’ we could make other predictions outside that specific set of conditions that could not be made from those conditions alone, yet still, under that set of conditions, the resultant event can be considered real, part of reality. Newton’s Classical Mechanics would be a good example of this.
     
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  10. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    I think it instructive to look at Wikipedia’s full synopsis for ‘axiom’:

    Axiom: An axiom, postulate, or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Ancient Greek word ἀξίωμα (axíōma), meaning 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident'.

    The term has subtle differences in definition when used in the context of different fields of study. As defined in classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning.

    As used in mathematics, the term axiom is used in two related but distinguishable senses: "logical axioms" and "non-logical axioms". Logical axioms are usually statements that are taken to be true within the system of logic they define and are often shown in symbolic form (e.g., (A and B) implies A), while non-logical axioms (e.g., a + b = b + a) are actually substantive assertions about the elements of the domain of a specific mathematical theory (such as arithmetic).

    When used in the latter sense, "axiom", "postulate", and "assumption" may be used interchangeably. In most cases, a non-logical axiom is simply a formal logical expression used in deduction to build a mathematical theory, and might or might not be self-evident in nature (e.g., parallel postulate in Euclidean geometry). To axiomatize a system of knowledge is to show that its claims can be derived from a small, well-understood set of sentences (the axioms), and there are typically many ways to axiomatize a given mathematical domain.

    Any axiom is a statement that serves as a starting point from which other statements are logically derived. Whether it is meaningful (and, if so, what it means) for an axiom to be "true" is a subject of debate in the philosophy of mathematics.

    The synopsis explains that the term ‘axiom’ is used in different ways by different disciplines and lists three disciplines in which the term is used, Classic Philosophy, Logic, and Mathematics. Of particular note here, is that it is specifically in the discipline of Mathematics in which the terms “‘axiom’, ‘postulate’, and ‘assumption’ may be used interchangeably.

    My assumption ( :) ) would be that you are using the term ‘axiom’ as used in Classical Philosophy, in which case it would be considered explicitly distinct from the word ‘assumption’.

    This leaves us with a definition of ‘axiom’ used by philosophy to be “a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question.” Is this the academic definition of ‘axiom’ that applies when you use this word, or are you utilizing a different definition?

    Based on this definition, I would argue that the term ‘axiom’ does not apply to the discipline of Science, nor should it be used by it. Science does have phenomena and concepts that it considers well-established, but Science uses different terms to indicate such, as an example, the term ‘Law’ may be applied in such cases. At no time does Science accept phenomena or concepts as justified without question.

    As to your link “Basic assumptions of science - Understanding Science”, looking at the material of the website, their use of ‘assumption’ is not synonymous with the usage of ‘axiom’ in Classical Philosophy. Additionally, it is important to note that observations are not considered assumptions, and that assumptions in science can be justified. This last aspect reflects my assertion that knowledge, and particularly scientific knowledge or understanding is held with varying degrees of confidence, and such confidence is related to the extent of scientific justification.
     
  11. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    That’s fine. We’re in agreement that both concepts can be at play.

    We both are in agreement that Ethics and Morality are not objective, that there is no universal objective moral standard from which to measure any ethical or moral claim.

    I do not know yet if we are in agreement on point (1), for it depends on which definition of the term ‘axiom’ you are using.

    If it is the Classical Philosophy version, “a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question”, then we would *not* be in agreement, since there is no objective standard for Morality, and any claimed axiom could not have been evidenced or well-established.

    If you refer to ‘axiom’ as defined in the discipline of Logic, that “an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning”, then we would be in agreement, for Morality is a purely abstract system, not synthetic to reality, and therefore any premises may be used as agreed to by convention. In such an abstract system, one can imagine and curate an objective standard of Morality for the purposes of logical argument.

    On point (2) we are *not* in agreement, primarily on the grounds that the wording is not clear or accurate. Anyone can create a purely analytic abstract system and select any axioms they wish for that system. I think it would be more accurate to say that Science would not use nor rely upon a purely analytic abstract system to understand human behavior and resolve perceived problems related to human behavior. By the same token, Philosophy cannot use or rely upon purely analytic abstract systems to understand human behavior and resolve perceived problems related to human behavior either. This is what I have been arguing. Do you agree?

    On point (3), we are also *not* in agreement. As I have conceded earlier in the conversation that Science cannot operate or function within a purely analytic abstract system, science would simply demarcate and identify such a system as being purely an analytic abstraction. Science will use abstract systems such as Language, Logic, and Mathematics as tools to label, categorize, reason upon, and form conclusions about reality using methodologies to ensure such use of these abstractions remains synthetic to, or maintains in correspondence with reality, the world of our experience.

    Agreed. Do you agree that a purely analytic abstraction created from such axioms does not reflect reality?

    It is important to note here that the labels and categories we create are abstractions and are simply a method to help us organize and think about things we perceive as related. What should fall into which category depends on what criteria establish the category, and as such, the same thing can be placed in multiple categories based on its multiple characteristics. In other words, any category is fiction, nothing more than a tool of convenience.

    I have been challenging the current convention for categorizing these subjects to create some cognitive dissonance, to get folks to think about why the current convention arose and what it says about how we think about these subjects and what informs our attitudes towards them.

    All subjects related to understanding both the world and ourselves were considered part of the same overarching category. I think they should still be considered as such. Under that overarching category, I have no problem creating a subcategory that deals with understanding reality, the real world, and creating another category that deals with pure analytic abstraction. Historically, when all knowledge pursuit was under the same banner, there lacked a realization that care was required to ensure differentiation between thoughts and ideas that corresponded to reality and those thoughts and ideas that did not, that were purely abstraction. I see this problem persisting to this day, and as such see it as important that in all knowledge pursuits, a requirement for clear demarcation is required. Returning all knowledge pursuit under the same banner I see as a way of forcing that demarcation process to be the first criteria for further subdividing subject pursuits and thus helping to mitigate this historical problem.

    Indeed. :) But remember, I see it all as the same thing, Philosophy/Science or Science/Philosophy.
     
  12. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    In this context, something unprovable that is used as a first principle and that underpins all further reasoning.

    For example, a utilitarian might have the following axioms:

    The morality of an action is judged by consequences
    Moral actions produce the greatest benefits for the greatest number of people
    Utility is the sum of benefits minus the sum of harms
    etc.

    Is there a word you would prefer to use?

    I'm not really sure what you mean here and how it differs from what I said.

    With ethics, unless it can be done by purely objective scientific methods, whatever is left is, by definition, philosophy.

    I think pretty much all moral systems reflect reality, even if the narratives that underpin them are fantastical. Moral systems develop and change in accordance with environment, and many "irrational" moralities are, or at least were, perfectly rational for their environment.

    For example, many modern westerners see honour cultures as being brutish and irrational, but they made a lot of sense for a medieval Scottish Highlander and perhaps even today for an Afghan villager.

    A lot of religious rules also make/made sense but many increasingly less so in modern urban environments.

    Cultural change tends to lag behind environmental change, so things can end up out of sync, but within reason, resistance to change is a good thing. There should be a balance between conservatism and progress as long standing values survive because they work and we should be wary of fadishness. A progressive approach is important to clear out traditions that no longer work.

    This explains my perspective (probably shared this before):

    Wikipedia:Chesterton's fence - Wikipedia

    Again I'm not really sure of what you mean here and how it differs from what I said about using science to help inform moral decisions.

    I think the same, but just think you got it the wrong way round as important parts of philosophy simply can't be done using scientific methods. I also don't believe renaming these "science" does anything to improve their levels of rigour simply because they are now being done by "scientists" rather than "philosophers".

    So when you say "science works, philosophy doesn't" so we should call it science, it doesn't seem to convey anything meaningful to me.
     
  13. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    This comment above perfectly illustrates my point. One can maintain the illusion that the illusion is real within Philosophy. When the fantastical can be seen to reflect reality, it speaks to embracing human fallibility as opposed to mitigating it. I rest my case. :)

    No, axiom is fine here and in your clarification, your definition seems to fit with the version used in Logic as described in the Wikipedia page you referenced.

    In regards to the axioms above, what authority does the Utilitarian have to recommend these axioms? In the previous examples that you provided, what criteria does philosophy use to decide whether utilitarianism is better than virtue ethics, or to what extent the rich should give to the poor, or whether parents have the right to leave their children unvaccinated?

    As I see it, Philosophy is just as impotent in answering these questions objectively as Science is. I am curious to learn in what way you think it is not.

    But whatever is left is simply somebody’s opinion, and given all the factors that influence and inform all our unique individual mix of beliefs and opinions, why should anyone give any weight or consideration to a particular philosopher's opinion (set of biases) over their own, especially in light of the fact that we both agree that ethics and morals are not objective concepts or beliefs?

    It is not ethical and moral philosophy that reflects reality, it is political systems that reflect the reality of the unique current and historical conditions and the amalgamation of the unique and dynamic subjective participation of historical and current members within a given group. All of this results in the organic development and implementation of the standards and limits governing the group, including mechanisms of enforcement of the set standards and limits.

    The organic process arrives at standards and limits either through compromise or subjective positions dictated to the group by some subset of the group with sufficient power to do so. As you have stated, standards and limits develop and change over time, reflecting political renegotiation, the drive to renegotiate prompted by a building dissatisfaction with the status quo.

    The principle expressed in “Chesterton’s fence”, that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood, is a sentiment I am in full agreement with.

    However, in terms of Philosophy and Science, I think we do understand the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs. If we understand current affairs, how long must the present arrangement persist to avoid fadishness? Two hundred years? Four hundred years? In the case of religious thought we are going on millennia now. I really do not see that “Chesterton’s fence” applies to our discussion.

    All I can say is my opening comments illustrate why I believe I have things the right way ‘round. :)
     
  14. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    If you think it in any way relates to this point you have completely misunderstood what I was saying, otherwise your argument would be:

    Religious narratives are human constructs that offered benefits with regard to tangible real-world issues therefore calling philosophy science makes it more rigorous even if it's still done in the exact same way as before.

    I'm going to assume that you wouldn't actually make such an argument :D

    The narratives that underpin any moral system are fictions, we simply accept them as true as they are convenient. If they are all human constructs, why would they not reflect reality (i.e. grow out of tangible, real world needs).

    For example, the ancient Greeks realised that human arrogance and overconfidence brings about our own downfall, hence they created myths warning against hubris (icarus, prometheus, etc.).

    The narrative may be fantastical, but underpins something with tangible real-world benefits and thus 'reflects reality'. Do you think otherwise?

    For example, almost every moral system, including your own, is based on human exceptionalism. Whether this is underpinned by a religious or secular fiction makes little difference. We all maintain the illusion that this illusion is real, even while accepting it is false. That is we experience it as true and respond emotionally to it.

    Fantastical narratives are convenient for underpinning things that impact on reality because we understand the world via narrative. Just the same as untrue, but slightly less fantastical, secular narratives are.

    Again you seem to have this odd idea about what philosophy is. No one thinks they are answering it objectively. Since the beginning, you have created a straw-philosophy that you are railing against.

    The point is that regardless of who is answering these questions, and whatever methods they are using it is philosophy, just like adding 2+2 is maths.

    Unless you can make a case that they can be answered scientifically, which you have said you can't, they can only be answered philosophically.

    For what reasons do you ever listen to people's opinion on any subjective issue?

    Political systems don't emerge and evolve independently of ethics and moral philosophy. They are also grounded in the same kind of highly subjective/ (and often fictitious) narratives.

    We certainly don't fully understand political systems, current affairs, etc.

    We are always creating unintended consequences with our actions. See the Iraq War a textbook example of 'breaking' something you don't understand.

    With the sciences we frequently don't really fully understand things either, look at all of the historical harms that have been done because we thought the science was correct.

    We have to accept we know far less than we think we do, which goes back to the warnings against hubris of which Chesterton's Fence is a modern example.

    In the case of "religious thought", what do you think would happen if everyone stopped being religious?
     
  15. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane My own religion

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    Nothing, because as not an absolute, but as a conditional, it is conditionally so for human biology for observe/think/feel as long as human do it that way there is no solution to the is-ought problem, because "is", is science and ought is not science. It is a narrative of what we ought to do.

    But as long as some people treat the "is" for the cat is black and the meaning of life is..., as the exactly same "is" for how it works, then they will keep claiming that what is best, is the same as the cat is black.

    In other words some people treat observe/think/feel as the same, where as I treat that as different human behaviors and access how different people do that as combined differently and I include myself in that.

    I don't make models of the landscape as independent of me. I was trained differently as in the landscape acting there as a part of the landscape.
    In everyday words, they observe as independent of what is going on where as I act as a cog in the machinery.

    As a former civil servant in the end, I was conditioned to act for the objective(the world in one sense), the social(the world in another sense) and the individuals(the world in yet another sense) for the narrative of a natural, secular humanistic worldview for the ought of a good, healthy and productive life.

    They make the perfect models for good/best. I just do that differently. They want perfect, I just settle of good enough and accept the human condition as in part flawed as an existential part of being a human. They don't accept that and want perfect.
     
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  16. MikeF

    MikeF Proponent of RAEism
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    MikeF said:
    This comment above perfectly illustrates my point. One can maintain the illusion that the illusion is real within Philosophy. When the fantastical can be seen to reflect reality, it speaks to embracing human fallibility as opposed to mitigating it. I rest my case. [​IMG]
    You have conflated ancient Greek poets with ancient Greek philosophers. They are not the same. To imply that from the beginning, Western Philosophy was anything other than a truth seeking activity would be a fantastical reimagining of philosophy. I would disagree that fictions that underpin current moral attitudes were considered fiction at their creation or after. You and I may recognize them as fiction, but there are many who would argue a real and existent objective morality, especially on this forum.

    MikeF said:
    In regards to the axioms above, what authority does the Utilitarian have to recommend these axioms? In the previous examples that you provided, what criteria does philosophy use to decide whether utilitarianism is better than virtue ethics, or to what extent the rich should give to the poor, or whether parents have the right to leave their children unvaccinated?

    As I see it, Philosophy is just as impotent in answering these questions objectively as Science is. I am curious to learn in what way you think it is not.
    ...
    Again, I would suggest that it is you that possesses an odd idea about what philosophy is. Is it your position that Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Philo, Aquinas, Copernicus, Bacon, Descartes, Pascal, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Durkheim, Russell, Heidegger, Popper, Arendt, Foucault, and Nagel saw their work as creating fictional narratives that despite being fictitious, were to be accepted as true for convenience? I strongly disagree.

    The case that I make in regards to this current discussion is that science is the means by which we can understand the how and why of human behavior and to solve perceived problems related to human behavior, where possible. No fictional narrative required.

    MikeF said:
    It is not ethical and moral philosophy that reflects reality, it is political systems that reflect the reality of the unique current and historical conditions and the amalgamation of the unique and dynamic subjective participation of historical and current members within a given group.
    I am in no way arguing that subjective individuals are not influenced by fictional narratives. However, each of those individuals do not latch on to the exact same set of fictional narratives nor when a particular fictional narrative is shared does it result in identical behavioral outcomes. Political systems simply manage the unavoidable, unsolvable disparity and conflict between unique individuals with different sets of needs and wants. These systems function by setting standards and limits that are arrived at dynamically by a varying ratio of consensus, concession, and submission.

    What I am arguing is that despite the presence of fictional narratives in social systems, no set of fictional narratives have been, nor will be, universally adopted or generate identical behavior in individuals. This is a factual reality. Therefore no particular fiction is necessary or required. All that is required is a method to manage unique individuals in group interactions. I see this as more appropriately addressed through a thorough understanding of the reality of human behavior rather than relying on a fictitious imagining of human behavior developed millennia ago.

    Is it your position that we must maintain the Abrahamic fictional narrative of good and evil and “simply accept them as true as they are convenient”? If so, I would be in strong disagreement.

    MikeF said:
    However, in terms of Philosophy and Science, I think we do understand the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs. If we understand current affairs, how long must the present arrangement persist to avoid fadishness? Two hundred years? Four hundred years? In the case of religious thought we are going on millennia now. I really do not see that “Chesterton’s fence” applies to our discussion.
    Let’s be fair. Human behavior of an individual is complex, group behavior would be exponentially more complex. :)

    I have also stressed periodically on this thread and elsewhere that our understanding of the human CNS and resultant human behavior is limited. We are nowhere near a complete and comprehensive understanding. Given that, is it better to base decisions upon a limited but growing understanding of human behavior, or is it better to base decisions upon a stagnant fiction that was created millennia ago in a time of dramatically less understanding?

    I have also stressed that human beings are imperfect and fallible. So, which approach at least attempts to mitigate that fallibility as opposed to treating the fantastical as actual reality? I see holding fictions as reality a fallibility.

    As to what I think would happen if everyone stopped being religious, I do not see that happening overnight or in a year, etc. As Europe is seen as becoming increasingly less religious and seems to continue as a group of functioning societies no worse than any other society and considered better than many, I foresee no issue with this trend continuing of weening away from religious fiction.
     
  17. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    I think quite a lot would happen, although I've no idea what.

    The majority of the world's people would be looking for new guiding ideologies, and new ones would certainly appear.

    So something would certainly happen, as to whether or not this something would make things better, worse or pretty much the same is unknowable.
     
  18. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane My own religion

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    Well, I don't think religion is a special positive nor negative. It is a human condition for in effect all value systems for what matters for humans as such.
    But yes, we would properly get some weird ideologies. As for what that would end up with, I agree. That is unknowable.
     
  19. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    No I haven't.

    This was the context:

    I wasn't quite sure what this meant, but the point was that all moral (and cultural) systems reflect reality, even if the narratives that underpin them are fantastical.

    Myths may be untrue, but that doesn't mean they don't reflect reality.

    The hubris example was showing an untrue narrative that makes an important point about reality.

    Why is it fantastical?

    Greek philosophy was primarily about ethics: living a good life.

    Diogenes lived in a jar, wanked himself off in public, pissed on people who annoyed him and shat in the theatre.

    This wan't about "truth" but demonstrating the art of being free.

    In context, I was meaning modern academic Philosophers doing moral philosophy. No one really believes they are creating objective truth any more.

    From you list of philosophers, we can't say much that unites them. For example, Nietzsche and Foucault would believe moral systems are fictions.

    Nietzsche criticised those (e.g. humanists) who had abandoned their faith, yet still clung to Christian values as meaningful. He believed they lacked the intellectual courage to accept the full meaning of their unbelief.

    His ideas of the ubermensch and will to power were a self-conscious creation of myth to replace this.

    Of course some people today believe the myths are objectively true (for example religious fundies), but even those of us who can say they are merely convenient fictions still experience them as true.

    We can still feel moral indignation or disgust about transgressions of the values underpinned by our culture's fictions.

    When our values change we think of our past beliefs as "wrong" not simply different.

    This makes them different to many other subjective preferences, like music or food.

    I think you overstate the potential benefits. Much of what science confirms about human behaviour has been known for millennia.

    We have a lot of experience and intergenerational knowledge about human behaviour after all.

    Humans are irrational, self-serving but with the potential for altruism,and frequently violent. All individual problems become exponentially worse at scale, and we collectively fail to learn from experience and hubristically think we are smarter and more in control than we actually are.

    Also, this field of science is one of the least reliable of all. Possibly more than half of all published findings are false.

    Can you think of any major new insights science has made in this field that have brought significant advantages?

    And anyway, even if we did have great and profound scientific insights, we still need the fictional (or if you prefer, highly subjective and not objectively true) narratives to underpin culture.

    We can create new ones if we like, but they are still fictions.

    No specific fiction is required, but a fiction of some kind is required.

    Something approximating the truth is too unpalatable to be the foundation for a healthy society if people actually accepted it and acted ratonally in accordance with it.

    Fiction and sentiment underpin civilisation.

    10th time lucky.... :D

    I'm not religious, never have been and am not promoting nor protecting nor advocating for any ideology in particular.


    I still don't really see the link meaning a better understanding of human behaviour can make a major impact on the subjective narratives underpinning morality and culture.

    A more scientific ideology would not necessarily be a more humanistic one.

    The main advantage of traditional religions is they act as a bulwark against something worse coming along. Attempts to radically remake society on more "rational" grounds, such as the French Revolution and Marxism, didn't exactly end up doing too well.

    As Nietzsche noted, the secular west today is still basically culturally Christian without being religiously Christian. It's not really a break form the past, just the latest iteration of a culture that has been revising and updating itself for 2 millennia.

    Revisions are not really about a "better understanding of human nature" (they can be a worse understanding), but about adaptations to a changing environment.
     
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