Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

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 Can
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Given the history of ethics and morals in philosophy I think the answer is that there is no absolutely right answer, just relatively right answers. Of course I await your proof.
My point here was not (yet) to pose proof against proof, but rather just to point out that the reasons for disbelief in absolutes that you were giving were not adequate to justify the conclusion you are at pains to draw from them. Disagreement among people does not rationalize the conclusion that there is no answer. Are we good so far on that?
Why would being a theist create objective moral facts. Still, tell me one?
No, I didn't say that. All I said was that being a Theist creates a belief in moral facts. I did not suggest that belief creates moral facts.
We mean, in this society the general consensus is that if you steal my wife it will be met with disapproval and possibly be against the law.
Of course that happens to be the case right now. But there have been unjust laws, such as the laws of pre-war Germany concerning Jews, for example. How do we know, absent any higher code, whether prohibitions against adultery are the kinds of laws that are good or evil?
I pretty much believe that one has no rights per se, other than what one demands and stands up for.
That fits with what you've said so far. I commend your consistency. But then, of course, what you're really ending up with is simply power. Whoever has the power makes the rules, and you have no justice in your complaint that this power is treating you unfairly -- for might makes right -- at least inasmuch as the word "right" can even have meaning within the supposition you defend here.
Which 'God' are you talking about? Which book has these specifications? If its left to the individual then I think this individual back in my boat of picking and choosing what he'll live by.
I'm happy to get to this, but we'll wait a bit. We need to establish the groundwork above first. Until we have that, it would be premature for us to move on, since we'd have a prior disagreement that would undermine our common agreements.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Arising_uk »

Immanuel Can wrote:My point here was not (yet) to pose proof against proof, but rather just to point out that the reasons for disbelief in absolutes that you were giving were not adequate to justify the conclusion you are at pains to draw from them.
I don't have a disbelief in absolutes, just that there is a way to have an absolute moral authority.
Disagreement among people does not rationalize the conclusion that there is no answer. Are we good so far on that?
Epistemologically yes but the history of morality and the history of philosophy shows that its a fruitless task and time to move on.
No, I didn't say that. All I said was that being a Theist creates a belief in moral facts. I did not suggest that belief creates moral facts.
But based upon a belief that also varies across time and culture?
Of course that happens to be the case right now. But there have been unjust laws, such as the laws of pre-war Germany concerning Jews, for example. How do we know, absent any higher code, whether prohibitions against adultery are the kinds of laws that are good or evil?
We don't and the concepts of 'good' and 'evil' also vary across time and cultures. How we decide is by the actions of those who agree or disagree.
That fits with what you've said so far. I commend your consistency. But then, of course, what you're really ending up with is simply power. Whoever has the power makes the rules, and you have no justice in your complaint that this power is treating you unfairly -- for might makes right -- at least inasmuch as the word "right" can even have meaning within the supposition you defend here.
I don't complain if the powers that be treat me unfairly, if I think they are then I try to do something about them. It's why I tend to hold very few ethics and morals.
I'm happy to get to this, but we'll wait a bit. We need to establish the groundwork above first. Until we have that, it would be premature for us to move on, since we'd have a prior disagreement that would undermine our common agreements.
I think you mean 'I'll wait a bit' but fair enough, I'll wait too.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Immanuel Can »

I don't have a disbelief in absolutes, just that there is a way to have an absolute moral authority.
I think you're stumbling over the word "authority." Let me reword what I mean by it, so it's less offensive to you, and so that you can see why I would say that with no "authority" there are no absolutes. Let the phrase "duty-to-obey" stand in the place of the offensive word. If there is not written into the universe somehow a "duty-to-obey" a particular moral precept, then by definition that precept isn't what we can call "absolute." And absolute has to be something that ought to be obeyed, even when it is not being: i.e. we have an absolute duty to it, whether we recognize it or not.

So again we should ask, do you disbelieve in moral absolutes, now under that improved definition?
Epistemologically yes but the history of morality and the history of philosophy shows that its a fruitless task and time to move on.
That's irrational, unless universal assent is somehow deemed necessary. But I can't see any reason it would be. And if, as you say, you do believe in absolutes, these absolutes certainly could not be contingent on universal recognition.

People agree and disagree about all kinds of things that we know to be facts. A "Flat Earth" society still exists, but I don't think reasonable people join it. Some people still read their horoscopes, but I don't think that suggests there's no answer to whether or not stars determine our destinies. Some people believe in reincarnation, and some deny it: but that disagreement does not mean that reincarnation will start or stop happening simply because disagreement exists. In all cases, disagreement does prove that people have possession of different degrees of the truth; it does not tell us one iota about whether or not a truth exists over which they are disagreeing. That's pretty basic logic, really.
We don't [know, absent any higher code, any moral facts] and the concepts of 'good' and 'evil' also vary across time and cultures. How we decide is by the actions of those who agree or disagree.
So forcible slavery is not really, ultimately "wrong'? Wife beating is "right" in cultures that believe it is? Child molestation is "okay" if lots of people practice it? And the Holocaust wouldn't have been "wrong" if enough people had agreed with it? You're happy with those consequences? Because they are the logical corollaries of what you just said.

I doubt you're happy with that. You don't seem the type, so far as I can judge. I think you do want to advocate extreme libertarianism of some kind, but I hesitate to attribute a willingness to justify any of the above to you...

Will you accept those consequences, or do you deny them?
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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk »

"duty-to-obey"

HA!

Forgive me, Mannie, but: fuck that noise (and I'll respectfully say the same to God when and if He comes knockin').

Yeah, I'm a jackass...not my fault...God made me this way...HA!
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henry quirk
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by henry quirk »

"You're happy with those consequences?"

One doesn't have to accept the consequences you lay out above.

One can always meet the might that seeks to enslave or beat or molest or exterminate with an opposing might and one is never obligated to ground such opposition in anything other than 'I don't like this and I'm going to stop it'.

'I want to and can' is sufficient.

Might against might, power against power, will against will: this is the true and only ground(ing).
thedoc
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by thedoc »

henry quirk wrote:"You're happy with those consequences?"

One doesn't have to accept the consequences you lay out above.

One can always meet the might that seeks to enslave or beat or molest or exterminate with an opposing might and one is never obligated to ground such opposition in anything other than 'I don't like this and I'm going to stop it'.

'I want to and can' is sufficient.

Might against might, power against power, will against will: this is the true and only ground(ing).
Even a small victory is better than no victory at all.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Might against might, power against power, will against will: this is the true and only ground(ing).
Then there IS no morality...just the cold fact of power, over which we artificially and futilely lay the language of ethics. That's all there is.

All that's possible, of course. In fact, in a Godless universe it's completely rationally necessary. But I've never yet met the person who genuinely lived as if it were true...or, when he considered its full implications, wanted to do so.
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henry quirk
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by henry quirk »

Well, I have no way to prove this to you, Mannie, but you have 'met' this person: me.

And: I'm well cognizant of what it means to live in an amoral universe.

It makes for an honest, clarified, life (for me, anyway).
Nibbana
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Nibbana »

we need ethics? why? laws are not enough? why not?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Social Darwinism is, if there ever was such a thing, a very overrated form of social organization. It means the strong can perennially prey upon the weak, and the weak are without recourse. And since, at some time in our lives, all of us will be weak -- if not now, then in old age at least -- then I wonder how long such bravado will hold out.

As for you, Henry, you're a closet moralist, you cantankerous old goat. :D You talk a good game about people leaving you alone, but if alone is what you have in mind, what're you doing here? Moreover, by what logic do you plead to be left alone when, according to your own lights, you have no "rights" by which to defend such a plea?

Bah, humbug.

:wink:
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Arising_uk
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Arising_uk »

Immanuel Can wrote:...

So again we should ask, do you disbelieve in moral absolutes, now under that improved definition?
Yes.

Kant tried all this and duty can be shown to be immoral.
That's irrational, unless universal assent is somehow deemed necessary. But I can't see any reason it would be. And if, as you say, you do believe in absolutes, these absolutes certainly could not be contingent on universal recognition.
They're not but when met are universally recognised to be absolute.
... In all cases, disagreement does prove that people have possession of different degrees of the truth; it does not tell us one iota about whether or not a truth exists over which they are disagreeing. That's pretty basic logic, really.
I disagree, what it shows is that they don't know if a thing is true or not, not that they hold different degrees of truth. And in most cases I think it shows that there is no absolute truth then, as such things are known straight away.
So forcible slavery is not really, ultimately "wrong'?
Not ultimately no.
Wife beating is "right" in cultures that believe it is?
Obviously.
Child molestation is "okay" if lots of people practice it?
In the culture that practices it, yes.
And the Holocaust wouldn't have been "wrong" if enough people had agreed with it?
Enough people did and they found no wrong with it.
You're happy with those consequences? Because they are the logical corollaries of what you just said.
Why would I be happy with such things? As in all of them I can see my self-interest affected.
I doubt you're happy with that. You don't seem the type, so far as I can judge. I think you do want to advocate extreme libertarianism of some kind, but I hesitate to attribute a willingness to justify any of the above to you...
:lol: Ask Henry if I'm an extreme libertarian. The old left used to have a phrase, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" and I think Rights pretty-much come from the same place.
Will you accept those consequences, or do you deny them?
I accept them but this doesn't mean I won't oppose them.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Kant tried all this and duty can be shown to be immoral.
Kant didn't try this, and nothing can be shown to be immoral unless you already have a moral code in place that can judge it.
They're not but when met are universally recognised to be absolute.
By whom? When are they "met"? And for that matter, what are they? (I'll take one, for an example.)
And in most cases I think it shows that there is no absolute truth then, as such things are known straight away
.
Non sequitur, I'm afraid, and empirically untrue. People have not known "straight away" a great many things that are now known to be true.
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" and I think Rights pretty-much come from the same place.
Nope. As a matter of fact, they come from the rationale provided by John Locke: a thoroughly Theistic rationale too. Go read him and you'll see.
I accept them but this doesn't mean I won't oppose them.
Oh, of course. But you won't have any "right" or know that you're "right" to do so. You'll oppose them because you want to.
Ask Henry if I'm an extreme libertarian.
Henry, I'm askin'.
Ginkgo
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Re: Why hasn't Ethics made more progress in today's world?

Post by Ginkgo »

Arising_uk wrote:
"Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun" and I think Rights pretty-much come from the same place.
Immanuel Can wrote: Nope. As a matter of fact, they come from the rationale provided by John Locke: a thoroughly Theistic rationale too. Go read him and you'll see.
We have already been though this ages ago IC. Political power and natural rights were NOT given a theistic interpretation by people such as Locke. The whole idea of the Enlightenment was to reject theistic explanations.
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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk »

"Social Darwinism is, if there ever was such a thing, a very overrated form of social organization."

I always saw it as a simple descriptor for 'is' (the fit tend to out-do the unfit).

#

"I wonder how long such bravado will hold out."

As long as I can get shells for the coach gun... ;)

#

"you're a closet moralist"

If you mean that I have a framework for deciding what is 'right' and what is 'wrong', then, yes, I am. (an un-closeted moralist)

That framework, however, is the on-going result of my on-going assessment of the world, myself, and myself 'in' the world. I make no claim that what I suss out is applicable to any one else, or has any grounding beyond ‘me’.

#

"you cantankerous old goat"

HA!

#

"if alone is what you have in mind, what're you doing here?"

I'm here in the civilized world cuz this is where my eight year old nephew lives...I love him...I believe my being in his life today greatly increases his changes of having a great life tomorrow...I know that his being in my life brings me a joy I wouldn't have otherwise.

When he no longer needs me: there are distant, 'empty', places for me to go.

#

"Moreover, by what logic do you plead to be left alone when, according to your own lights, you have no "rights" by which to defend such a plea?"

You'll note I've never laid claim to a right to anything (beyond what I can assert and defend). When it comes to autonomy (the fancy word for being left alone) I simply say, 'leave me be or I'll make you leave me be'. My 'right' to autonomy is, therefore, only as good as my ability to defend it.

#

Bah, humbug.

HA!

When I think of you, Orson Bean comes to mind...a good thing...I like Bean.
Last edited by henry quirk on Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk »

"Henry, I'm askin'."

A_uk?

Just another commie bastid... ;)

Nah, A_uk is a peculiar mix of communitarian and libertarian.

Mebbe Democrat (as in philosophy, not party) works best for him.

Whatever...he's a good egg.
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