What could make morality objective?

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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Immanuel Did
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Did » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:04 pm

I'm liking this exchange. I'm new to this forum and it's hard to see educated and mature discussion like this anywhere on the internet.

I can kind of see where Logik is coming from although I don't understand his basis. I would ask what your basis is Peter but I think it would be more helpful to ask:

Do you believe in conceptual and factual truth?

If so, what would be a conceptual truth and what would be a factual truth?

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:48 pm

Immanuel Did wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 8:04 pm
I'm liking this exchange. I'm new to this forum and it's hard to see educated and mature discussion like this anywhere on the internet.

I can kind of see where Logik is coming from although I don't understand his basis. I would ask what your basis is Peter but I think it would be more helpful to ask:

Do you believe in conceptual and factual truth?

If so, what would be a conceptual truth and what would be a factual truth?
Thanks. I'd be interested to know Logik's take on your questions.

But in my opinion, truth and falsehood are attributes of only factual assertions.

I think concepts are misleading fictions derived from mistaking abstract nouns (in this case, the word 'concept') for things which, because they are supposedly things, may or may not exist - which is the foundational delusion of metaphysics.

So, obviously, I don't know what a 'conceptual truth' could be, let alone its truth conditions.

Let me ask you: can you give an example of what you'd call a 'conceptual truth', so we can take it from there?

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Immanuel Did
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Did » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:01 pm

Re: Peter Holmes

I can see where you are coming from when you say there's a linguistic element that contorts our knowledge or understanding. I may not personally agree with it but I understand the premise.

I still am curious what you would consider a factual truth.

My idea of a conceptual truth would refer to tracescendtalism/idealistic notions. Such as logic. A is A and cannot be anything other than A without being contradictory. Anything that violates non-contradiction cannot be true in itself.

Many have proposed the idea that our understanding of mathematics (at times affiliated with logic) is such an example of conceptual truth.

2 + 2 will always equal four. A 'perfect' right triangle will always have a 90 degree angle.

Anything further than that is purely abstract which is proof by negation such as a square circle or married bachelors.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:48 pm

Immanuel Did wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:01 pm
Re: Peter Holmes

I can see where you are coming from when you say there's a linguistic element that contorts our knowledge or understanding. I may not personally agree with it but I understand the premise.

I still am curious what you would consider a factual truth.

My idea of a conceptual truth would refer to tracescendtalism/idealistic notions. Such as logic. A is A and cannot be anything other than A without being contradictory. Anything that violates non-contradiction cannot be true in itself.

Many have proposed the idea that our understanding of mathematics (at times affiliated with logic) is such an example of conceptual truth.

2 + 2 will always equal four. A 'perfect' right triangle will always have a 90 degree angle.

Anything further than that is purely abstract which is proof by negation such as a square circle or married bachelors.
An example of a fact - a true factual assertion - is: the earth orbits the sun.

The rules of logic are nothing more than linguistic expressions, tautologous and so only trivially true. They're not falsifiable, because they don't claim anything about reality that may not be the case. They're rules for what we can say, and rules have no (factual) truth value. And the same goes for mathematical and geometrical axioms. A move made in conformity with a rule is neither true not false.

I don't know what 'transcendental' and 'idealistic' mean in this context.

My point is not that 'a linguistic element...contorts our knowledge or understanding'. It's that our linguistic practices constitute everything we say about everything, including our knowledge and understanding. So there, if anywhere, is our foundation. Try explaining anything without using words or other signs, and you'll see what I mean. We can't get beyond language through language.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:57 am

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:48 pm
An example of a fact - a true factual assertion - is: the earth orbits the sun.
Would you say that this assertion was 'true' in 1100 A.D and if you answer 'yes', then I am getting the sense that you are using 'truth' in the sense of a 'social convention'?

The reason I ask this is because the Ptolemaic model was predominant till about the 16th century.

Similarly, the question "How many planets are there in the Solar system" had different 'factual' answers over time.

In 1800 the answer was "There are 7 planets in the Solar system". That was a fact.
Around 1846 the answer changed to '8'.

Are facts interpreted in context of the times/social norms or facts true forever and always?

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am

Logik wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:57 am
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:48 pm
An example of a fact - a true factual assertion - is: the earth orbits the sun.
Would you say that this assertion was 'true' in 1100 A.D and if you answer 'yes', then I am getting the sense that you are using 'truth' in the sense of a 'social convention'?

The reason I ask this is because the Ptolemaic model was predominant till about the 16th century.

Similarly, the question "How many planets are there in the Solar system" had different 'factual' answers over time.

In 1800 the answer was "There are 7 planets in the Solar system". That was a fact.
Around 1846 the answer changed to '8'.

Are facts interpreted in context of the times/social norms or facts true forever and always?
I see what you mean. But I think we use the word 'fact' to mean 'true factual assertion'. It's true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know. But a factual assertion is always falsifiable, because it claims something about a feature of reality that may not be the case.

For example, the claim 'the earth orbits the sun' was, is and always will true as long as the earth did and does ('in fact') orbit the sun. That everyone used to think it false doesn't mean it was false. And if or when we find out that what we thought is a fact turns out not to be, we don't say that it has stopped being a fact. We just say we were mistaken. For example, we didn't stop knowing that the earth is flat.

It's the very independence of factual assertions that makes them objective and valuable. Facts constitute the objective knowledge of features of reality that we express in language. But they're nothing more than linguistic expressions that we use by following rules such as the rules of logic. So it's not that facts are conventional - just that the rules we follow when we produce facts are necessarily conventional. (And I'm aware this is a moot point in these discussions.)

And, to circle back to the OP: my point is that moral assertions are not and can't be factual - which is why morality isn't and can't be objective.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:46 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
I think we use the word 'fact' to mean 'true factual assertion'. It's true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know.
I am not sure how to reconcile these two sentences.

Take the assertion: "There are 7 planets in the Solar system".

Circa 1800 the vast majority of humans would have considered that to be a "true factual assertion".
Circa 1845 a handful of scientist may have said "certain of 7 with some evidence for an 8th".
When Neptune was finally observed on September 23rd 1846 those same scientists would have said "Well, turns out there are 8 planets in the Solar system".
In 1930 they became 9.

Factually speaking how many undiscovered planets are there in the Solar system?

Since nobody can possibly know the answer to this question, how do we separate the factual number of planets in the Solar system from the incompleteness of human knowledge?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
It's the very independence of factual assertions that makes them objective and valuable.
If we can't tell the difference between "facts" and "mistakes" I am not sure that's true.

What was the value of "There are 7 planets in the Solar system" in 1800 if it was clearly a mistake?
What is the value of "There are 9 planets in the Solar systems" in 2018 if it MAY be a mistake?
What was the value of the Ptolemaic system before the Copernican system?

To speak of "truth" as valuable is to speak of objective truth in service of subjective values. Surely in your conception truth is true irrespective of utility?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
And, to circle back to the OP: my point is that moral assertions are not and can't be factual - which is why morality isn't and can't be objective.
Perhaps. But if "moral assertions" and "factual assertions" both fall under the category of assertions then we ought to focus on the process of making assertions in general?

All assertions require an asserter and from the examples above it seems clear that the asserter's knowledge plays a part in determining whether an assertion is true or not. Furthermore, the asserter's knowledge is always incomplete so the asserter themselves cannot possibly tell the difference between a "true factual assertion" and a "mistake due to incomplete knowledge".

Which begs the question: are any humans capable of making "objectively true factual assertions" or are all truth-claims contingent on our knowledge's incompleteness?

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:15 pm

Logik wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:46 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
I think we use the word 'fact' to mean 'true factual assertion'. It's true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know.
I am not sure how to reconcile these two sentences.

Take the assertion: "There are 7 planets in the Solar system".

Circa 1800 the vast majority of humans would have considered that to be a "true factual assertion".
Circa 1845 a handful of scientist may have said "certain of 7 with some evidence for an 8th".
When Neptune was finally observed on September 23rd 1846 those same scientists would have said "Well, turns out there are 8 planets in the Solar system".
In 1930 they became 9.

Factually speaking how many undiscovered planets are there in the Solar system?

Since nobody can possibly know the answer to this question, how do we separate the factual number of planets in the Solar system from the incompleteness of human knowledge?
But there is a certain number of planets in our solar system, and a factual assertion of that number would be true - a fact. That we don't know what the number is atm is irrelevant. I don't see the problem here. There are features of reality, such as the planets in our solar system; there's what we believe and know about them, which may or may not be accurate; and there's what we say about them, which may be true or false.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
It's the very independence of factual assertions that makes them objective and valuable.
If we can't tell the difference between "facts" and "mistakes" I am not sure that's true.
You overstate the problem. We are amassing greater and greater factual knowledge, a lot of it consistently confirmed by experience. Of course, it's wise to think of our knowledge as provisional - because new information may develop or change it. But there's no reason to assume everything we know could be completely wrong - and that we have no way to test what we think of as facts.

What was the value of "There are 7 planets in the Solar system" in 1800 if it was clearly a mistake?
What is the value of "There are 9 planets in the Solar systems" in 2018 if it MAY be a mistake?
What was the value of the Ptolemaic system before the Copernican system?

To speak of "truth" as valuable is to speak of objective truth in service of subjective values. Surely in your conception truth is true irrespective of utility?
You're confusing things here. That we value something doesn't mean it's in itself a value.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
And, to circle back to the OP: my point is that moral assertions are not and can't be factual - which is why morality isn't and can't be objective.
Perhaps. But if "moral assertions" and "factual assertions" both fall under the category of assertions then we ought to focus on the process of making assertions in general?

All assertions require an asserter and from the examples above it seems clear that the asserter's knowledge plays a part in determining whether an assertion is true or not.
I'm sorry but this is patently false. A factual assertion's truth-value has nothing to do with its source. Why should it?

Furthermore, the asserter's knowledge is always incomplete so the asserter themselves cannot possibly tell the difference between a "true factual assertion" and a "mistake due to incomplete knowledge".
Again, this is irrelevant.

Which begs the question: are any humans capable of making "objectively true factual assertions" or are all truth-claims contingent on our knowledge's incompleteness?
Truth-claims are different from truth-values; what anyone says is true or false has no bearing on whether it is true or false.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:25 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:15 pm
But there is a certain number of planets in our solar system, and a factual assertion of that number would be true - a fact.
That we don't know what the number is atm is irrelevant. I don't see the problem here.
OK, but this contradicts your position/distinction between "the way things are" and "what we say about them".
If you don't know the exact number of planets then you can't determine whether any particular number corresponds!

That is a problem. Do you not see it; or do you not want to see it?

In 2018 we say that there are 9 planets in the Solar system. Does it correspond to the way things are; or are we mistaken?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
I'm sorry but this is patently false. A factual assertion's truth-value has nothing to do with its source. Why should it?
That is not my argument. I am saying that without omniscience the factuality of any assertions we make is only provisional until falsification.

Are there 9 planets in the Solar system or is there a 10th one we haven't found yet?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:15 pm
Truth-claims are different from truth-values; what anyone says is true or false has no bearing on whether it is true or false.
I claim that there are 9 planets in the Solar system. Who asserts the truth-value of my claim?

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:59 pm

Logik wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:25 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:15 pm
But there is a certain number of planets in our solar system, and a factual assertion of that number would be true - a fact.
That we don't know what the number is atm is irrelevant. I don't see the problem here.
OK, but this contradicts your position/distinction between "the way things are" and "what we say about them".
If you don't know the exact number of planets then you can't determine whether any particular number corresponds!

That is a problem. Do you not see it; or do you not want to see it?

In 2018 we say that there are 9 planets in the Solar system. Does it correspond to the way things are; or are we mistaken?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:11 am
I'm sorry but this is patently false. A factual assertion's truth-value has nothing to do with its source. Why should it?
That is not my argument. I am saying that without omniscience the factuality of any assertions we make is only provisional until falsification.

Are there 9 planets in the Solar system or is there a 10th one we haven't found yet?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:15 pm
Truth-claims are different from truth-values; what anyone says is true or false has no bearing on whether it is true or false.
I claim that there are 9 planets in the Solar system. Who asserts the truth-value of my claim?
I'm sorry, but I really don't understand the point you're making.

If the earth does orbit the sun, then the factual assertion 'the earth orbits the sun' is true - it's a fact. And if planet X orbits its sun in Y parallel universe to which we can never have access, then the factual assertion 'planet X orbits its sun in Y parallel universe' is also true - it's a fact. Knowledge - and so omniscience - has nothing to do with this.

I think your claim - 'without omniscience the factuality of any assertions we make is only provisional until falsification' - is confused.

But thanks for the conversation.
Last edited by Peter Holmes on Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:49 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:59 pm
I think your claim - 'without omniscience the factuality of any assertions we make is only provisional until falsification' - is confused.

But thanks for the conversation.
In the spirit of Aumann’a agreement theorem let’s clear up the confusion by getting straight to the point.

According to you is the statement “There are 9 planets in the Solar system” a fact or not?

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Immanuel Did
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Did » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:59 pm

The transcendtal analytic or "idealism" I'm appealing to is the framework of Kant's philosophical system.

Kant posits that our relation to objects or abstract notions appeals to a priori concepts or truths.

He parts ways with Platonic idealism as too dogmatic in it's assertions. Rather withholding that contigent reality is more than just a realm of 'being'.

I think the point that me and Logik are aiming at is the limitation of empirical knowledge involving contingent reality.

Your example of the Earth spinning around the sun as a 'factual' truth would not have been seen as factual but as conceptual hundreds of years ago.

A long with however number of objects in our solar system we consider planets.

The most you can say is that out current picture of scientific knowledge illustrates that the Earth rotates around the Sun however labeling that as factual truth would be purposely for aesthetics since there could be something in the future that would change our understanding of said phenomena.

For example, did you know the kilogram was recently redefined?:

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/ ... ht-science

For instance we don't even know what constitutes up to around 85% of matter.

The advocate of natural science has to admit that when placating their belief into scientific methodology it is a faith based commitment to what is currently known as "truth".

My contention might be separate from Logik however I am claiming that all truth is conceptual and must be true priori before it can be true a posteriori.

In fact, I contend this is how the validity of science functions through the scientific method (Hypothesis and repeated observation).

Mathematics is an a priori truth because it is how our mind analyzes contingent reality. It may play out in contigent reality by following logical axioms but it is at bottom conceptual.

To appeal to the softer side of platonic idealism you may draw a right triangle in the dirt but it is the idea of the 'perfect' triangle you are appealing to.

I would say the same thing for all objects but especially circles (Can you honestly say you've ever experienced a perfect circle in contingent reality?).

Most of what we could call knowledge is conceptual it may be "true" for a finite time but I would be hard pressed to find anything that is 'purely empirical truth'.

As for language the first homosapiens would have communicated with art above all before formulating any sort of intricate language or symbols or signs to communicate with one another.

Sure, there would have been grunting and sounds but I wouldn't consider that a language would you?

As for this whole language business. Human knowledge is a funhouse mirror upon review because linguistics distorts our understanding. How do you arrive at this conclusion and how do you provide a basis for your own knowledge?

Is linguistic knowledge your knowledge that knowledge can't be trusted because of linguistics?

We're running into some issues here.
Last edited by Immanuel Did on Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:41 am

Logik and Immanuel Did

I've been trying to get to the heart of what we seem to be disagreeing about. Here's one possibility.

Could it be that you're comparing what we call objectivity, facts and truth with some kind of (perhaps Platonic) ideal against which standard our efforts must fall short? As an implacable anti-metaphysician, I reject any such mystical standard of perfection, completeness, accuracy or precision.

When you ask, 'How can we know or be sure that [insert the fact of choice]?', what myths of knowledge or certainty are you invoking?

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:24 am

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:41 am
I've been trying to get to the heart of what we seem to be disagreeing about. Here's one possibility.
I shall appeal to Aumann's agreement theorem again. Let's not distract ourselves with speculation on why we are disagreeing. Let's just find a way to agree.

For the purpose of the discussion I am happy to adopt your position, but I need you to help me understand it. Which is why I am asking you whether "There are 9 planets in the Solar system" is a fact? In my framework it is a fact, but only to the best of my fallible knowledge (circa 2018), so I do not immediately dismiss what may seem as "counterfactual" arguments. An astronomer may know something I don't.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:41 am
Could it be that you're comparing what we call objectivity, facts and truth with some kind of (perhaps Platonic) ideal against which standard our efforts must fall short?
Perhaps. Since our linguistic practices abide to the laws of logic I am comparing what you call "objectivity", "facts" and "truth" against the law of non-contradiction. Do you disagree with my approach? Would you call the LNC a Platonic ideal?

Both of these are your claims:

1. I think we use the word 'fact' to mean 'true factual assertion'. It's true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know.
2. A factual assertion is always falsifiable, because it claims something about a feature of reality that may not be the case.

If facts are "true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know" then the phrase "falsifiable factual assertion" is a contradictory use of the word "factual".

I trust you are familiar with the Principle of explosion? From a contradiction anything follows.

So, to answer the OP: What could make morality objective? Logically, and therefore linguistically - a contradiction can.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:26 pm

Logik wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:24 am
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:41 am
I've been trying to get to the heart of what we seem to be disagreeing about. Here's one possibility.
I shall appeal to Aumann's agreement theorem again. Let's not distract ourselves with speculation on why we are disagreeing. Let's just find a way to agree.

For the purpose of the discussion I am happy to adopt your position, but I need you to help me understand it. Which is why I am asking you whether "There are 9 planets in the Solar system" is a fact? In my framework it is a fact, but only to the best of my fallible knowledge (circa 2018), so I do not immediately dismiss what may seem as "counterfactual" arguments. An astronomer may know something I don't.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:41 am
Could it be that you're comparing what we call objectivity, facts and truth with some kind of (perhaps Platonic) ideal against which standard our efforts must fall short?
Perhaps. Since our linguistic practices abide to the laws of logic I am comparing what you call "objectivity", "facts" and "truth" against the law of non-contradiction. Do you disagree with my approach? Would you call the LNC a Platonic ideal?

Both of these are your claims:

1. I think we use the word 'fact' to mean 'true factual assertion'. It's true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know.
2. A factual assertion is always falsifiable, because it claims something about a feature of reality that may not be the case.

If facts are "true regardless of what anyone believes or claims to know" then the phrase "falsifiable factual assertion" is a contradictory use of the word "factual".

I trust you are familiar with the Principle of explosion? From a contradiction anything follows.

So, to answer the OP: What could make morality objective? Logically, and therefore linguistically - a contradiction can.
The problem seems to be terminological.

I define a factual assertion as one that makes a falsifiable claim about a feature of reality. The term distinguishes factual from non-factual assertions.

So a factual assertion may be true or false. And we call the true ones: facts. (I've defined a fact as a true factual assertion. Obviously, if 'factual assertion' means 'fact', the modifier 'true' in 'true factual assertion' would be redundant - tautological.)

My OP argument is that moral assertions are non-factual, because they express value-judgements rather than making falsifiable factual claims. And that's why morality isn't and can't be objective - a factual matter.

I hope that clears it up.

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