A Critique on Objective Morality

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: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:21 pm

uwot wrote:Consequentialists, like myself, start with some definition of 'moral' along the lines of 'not causing unnecessary distress or harm'.
Are you merely choosing your definition arbitrarily, or do you have an underlying justification for the "consequence" you have chosen? If you choose "not causing harm," and I choose, say, "fulfilling my personal desires," is there any means of deciding which of us is choosing well, and which is choosing not-so-well?

In other words, since there are many forms of Consequentialism, each oriented to a different consequence, how do you choose yours?
Immanuel Can wrote:...but you can't say why you believe it either.
You are tripping over yourself. I don't have say why I believe something I don't think.
Then you would be being arbitrary -- though yes, indeed, you can choose to be arbitrary, of course. We all have that freedom. But if you wish to be able to make your opinion winsome to anyone else, you're going to have to say why you believe it: that is, unless they just happen to want to join you on a purely arbitrary basis of their own.
Immanuel Can wrote: if I can't convince them, I either accept defeat or I keep fighting; that is what happens in the real world.
How does one "fight," though, without reference to reasons? How can you convince anyone if, as you say, you assert your view merely as arbitrary and devoid of grounds that are compelling to anyone else? Common reasons are what make arguments work. There's no philosophical "fight" without them.
The point I was making is that even if there is a set of god given laws, because of our 'free will', some people will not believe it. Even god knows that.
Yes, but it's not particularly relevant to the question of whether such laws exist. People's approval is not a prerequisite for the ontology of anything.
Immanuel Can wrote:Your second fallacy is to think truth and consensus are related.
I have not said anything that you can attribute that to. It is just your poor logic that makes you think otherwise. You are bearing false witness again.
I am perhaps not understanding your language, then. It seemed clear to me you were assuming that people's agreement had something to do with our judgment about whether or not objective morals could exist. If you were not, I apologize, and am happy to let you revise if you wish. But what then were you saying? :shock:

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:51 pm

Immanuel Can wrote:
Obvious Leo wrote:If you can't see the circularity of this argument then we have a problem.
Perhaps the problem is that you may have overlooked the emphatic hypothetical "IF." I was not asking you to believe it (yet), and I wasn't asking you to concede my hypothetical condition to be true (yet): it's sufficient if you realize what would be the case IF I could make such a case.
I've asked you several times to make the case that such a thing as an objective morality is logically sustainable and now you're saying that the case cannot be made unless I first concede that an objective morality is logically sustainable. You may have have a taste for such sophistry but I don't so you either piss or get off the pot.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:40 pm

Does anyone else here find IC's squirming embarrassing?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:50 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:I've asked you several times to make the case that such a thing as an objective morality is logically sustainable.
Ah, but this isn't my circus.

Look up at the top of the page. The declared purpose of the strand is the opposite; namely, to evaluate the possibility of "critique."

Moreover, you are incorrect: I have not been asking you to concede that objective morality is sustainable. I would not do so. I would argue for it rationally. But until we see that the critique has failed, we are not ready to go forward. Let us therefore exhaust the negative, as the OP has asked us to do, and THEN go on to the possibility of a defense of objective morality.

However, continued objections from several sides convince me that not all our interlocutors regard the critique as exhausted yet. Until it is, we owe them to persist.

The truth, then, is the opposite of what you assert: we owe to evaluate properly the potential critiques here, not any subsequent defense. And if you believe any such "critique" can be warranted rationally, go ahead.

So back to you: because the truth is that the pot is yours.

Just make sure you don't miss it. :wink:

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:48 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: So back to you: because the truth is that the pot is yours.
I did my little business in the pot right at the outset when I agreed with you that to suggest that an objective morality does not exist cannot be classed as a truth statement, any more than can its converse. No other contributors to this topic have claimed any different so the discussion has moved on.

The notion of an objective morality is not even a legitimate topic for philosophical enquiry because it requires the a priori assumption of the existence of a transcendent author of such objectivity. "Transcendent", by definition, means beyond philosophical scrutiny. Since you can't or won't answer any of my earlier questions it seems you agree with me.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:30 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: So back to you: because the truth is that the pot is yours.
I did my little business in the pot right at the outset when I agreed with you that to suggest that an objective morality does not exist cannot be classed as a truth statement, any more than can its converse. No other contributors to this topic have claimed any different so the discussion has moved on.
Well, if you insist it has...but I guess we have one firm conclusion, then: namely, that no "critique on objective morality" is possible, and the headline of the strand is a bluff.

And if we're there, then I agree.
The notion of an objective morality is not even a legitimate topic for philosophical enquiry because it requires the a priori assumption of the existence of a transcendent author of such objectivity. "Transcendent", by definition, means beyond philosophical scrutiny.
Actually, it doesn't. "Transcendent" actually means only "above the range of normal physical activity." Look it up, if you don't believe me. But if "physical activity" were necessary for philosophy or science, then no mathematics or logic would be possible. Both are definitionally "transcendent." Neither depends on physicality; though, of course, both have implications for it.

As for normal philosophical categories, you just denied the existence of the entire field of metaphysics.

As for Theists, the originators of science, such as Francis Bacon and Newton, would never agree with you. Their name for science was "natural philosophy." They believed that by looking at the creation one could get clues to the nature of the creator. You may disagree...but you cannot say that there is no overlap between philosophy and theology. That's just too easy to refute...both historically and conceptually. Even Dawkins admits that much.

Now, while I have been careful so far to stay on the topic of critique rather than defence, the case in favour of objective morality is actually so rationally strong that even all my caution has been insufficient to keep us from covering one very powerful defence of objective morality already. And I have not heard a thing in refutation of that...we must suppose either because you have no ready answer to it, or that you were actually oblivious to it...

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:15 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: Well, if you insist it has...but I guess we have one firm conclusion, then: namely, that no "critique on objective morality" is possible, and the headline of the strand is a bluff.

And if we're there, then I agree.
We're there. The statement made in the OP was clumsy but it wasn't foolish because it allows for a broader discussion on the subject of morality more generally. Everybody except you is trying to proceed with this discussion.
Immanuel Can wrote: Actually, it doesn't. "Transcendent" actually means only "above the range of normal physical activity." Look it up, if you don't believe me. But if "physical activity" were necessary for philosophy or science, then no mathematics or logic would be possible.
Bullshit. Both logic and mathematics are thought procedures which can only be applied to that which is physically real.
Immanuel Can wrote: As for normal philosophical categories, you just denied the existence of the entire field of metaphysics.
No I haven't. The study of metaphysics is defined as an exploration into the nature of being. Such a concept has no meaning unless applied to entities which demonstrably exist. You may regard the peculiar habits of leprechauns as germane to the philosophical discourse but you'll be preaching to an audience of one.
Immanuel Can wrote:As for Theists, the originators of science, such as Francis Bacon and Newton, would never agree with you.
I'll take that as a compliment.
Immanuel Can wrote:Now, while I have been careful so far to stay on the topic of critique rather than defence, the case in favour of objective morality is actually so rationally strong that even all my caution has been insufficient to keep us from covering one very powerful defence of objective morality already. And I have not heard a thing in refutation of that...we must suppose either because you have no ready answer to it, or that you were actually oblivious to it...
Let's hear it.

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A_Seagull
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by A_Seagull » Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:07 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
A_Seagull wrote:Can you justify that, or is it just an opinion?
It's straightforward and definitional. A "justification" is quite different from an "opinion," even at the conceptual level. See the dictionary...I'll let you choose the volume.
I'll take it as an opinion then. :)

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:10 am

Obvious Leo wrote:Everybody except you is trying to proceed with this discussion.
...and yet strangely, it's me you're engaging. An odd choice for one so mortally offended, if that's what you are. And I don't hear anyone else saying, "Stop talking to Immanuel Can, and get on with it, Leo."

When they start, I'll be content to yield you the field. There's no need for us not to be gentlemen about this.
Both logic and mathematics are thought procedures which can only be applied to that which is physically real.
Not so. Each can also operate entirely within its closed system of symbols. It can be applied to its own internal rules, or, if we wish, to the physical world. So each has two options, not one.

Mathematics, for example, can perform elegant operations in the mind of a mathematician or on a piece of paper or in a computer, all the while constructing absolutely nothing in the physical world. Likewise, symbolic logic can do operations without producing physical results, and deductive logical operations can be made on premises that have no reference to existing things and yet can yield valid patterns of reasoning.
Immanuel Can wrote: The study of metaphysics is defined as an exploration into the nature of being. Such a concept has no meaning unless applied to entities which demonstrably exist. You may regard the peculiar habits of leprechauns as germane to the philosophical discourse but you'll be preaching to an audience of one.
I fear your unfamiliarity with the field of metaphysics is showing here. I'll anger you if I say more, so I'll let you look it up if you're so inclined. Or read something on the philosophy of mind, or on selfhood, or on identity...
Immanuel Can wrote:Now, while I have been careful so far to stay on the topic of critique rather than defence, the case in favour of objective morality is actually so rationally strong that even all my caution has been insufficient to keep us from covering one very powerful defence of objective morality already. And I have not heard a thing in refutation of that...we must suppose either because you have no ready answer to it, or that you were actually oblivious to it...
Let's hear it.
You have already, actually. But it goes like this...

I must assume you expect others who are reading your responses -- whether on other continents, or me -- to accept your value judgments. You make a great number of them. Yet you insist there are no objective values to back them.

However, if what you say about that is true, then we can only understand your value judgments as expressions of personal feeling, not as any sort of common wisdom; for as you say, there exists no principle that says that we are rational, moral or correct to compel us to agree with you about anything at all.

In other words, if you're merely being subjective, you're not actually arguing -- you're emoting; and if you are conscious that that is all you are doing, you could not possibly have any reasonable expectation to convince anyone of any duty on their part to care or conform to your (self-admittedly) subjective view.

On the contrary, if you are actually intending to argue, then the only resource you can draw on to assert that we ought to listen to you, or that any of us owes you anything by way of respect or agreement, is that there would have to exist a corresponding universal, objective, moral principle that says we should. But you deny any such can exist, so you can't get started on that.

So here's your dilemma. A're you arguing, and thus undermining your own case by depending on an objective moral imperative (such as "You ought to listen to reasoned arguments," or "You must not be evasive," or "Hypocrites are bad, and you are one," or some other such thing) all the time loudly insisting no such objective obligations exist? Or are you speaking merely subjectively, and thereby incapable of referring to any principle that would cause us to agree with you?

So which way would you like your case to fail? For either way, you are caught by the performative inconsistency (and practical contradiction) of arguing without any objective moral truths to validate your values assumptions and moral claims.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:12 am

A_Seagull wrote:I'll take it as an opinion then. :)
Can you justify that? :wink:

Obvious Leo
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Fri Apr 15, 2016 4:42 am

Immanuel Can wrote: An odd choice for one so mortally offended,
Rest assured I'm not in the least bit offended. I'm rather frustrated that you refuse to address any questions leveled at you but I've got used to it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Both logic and mathematics are thought procedures which can only be applied to that which is physically real.


Not so. Each can also operate entirely within its closed system of symbols. It can be applied to its own internal rules, or, if we wish, to the physical world. So each has two options, not one.

Mathematics, for example, can perform elegant operations in the mind of a mathematician or on a piece of paper or in a computer, all the while constructing absolutely nothing in the physical world. Likewise, symbolic logic can do operations without producing physical results, and deductive logical operations can be made on premises that have no reference to existing things and yet can yield valid patterns of reasoning.
You conflate philosophy with navel-gazing sophistry. A valid pattern of reasoning is not synonymous with meaningfulness.
Immanuel Can wrote: I fear your unfamiliarity with the field of metaphysics is showing here. I'll anger you if I say more, so I'll let you look it up if you're so inclined. Or read something on the philosophy of mind, or on selfhood, or on identity...
Don't patronise me, you insolent pipsqeak. I've worked in the field of applied metaphysics for most of my life and I'll not be instructed by you in the subject.

The rest of your word salad is unworthy of a reply.

uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:43 am

Immanuel Can wrote:If you choose "not causing harm," and I choose, say, "fulfilling my personal desires," is there any means of deciding which of us is choosing well, and which is choosing not-so-well?
By all means fulfil your personal desires, but if that is at the expense of others, without their consent, the chances are that you will be breaking the law. In a developed democracy, the laws tend to be in line with "not causing harm". Whether there is an underlying 'objective' moral principle makes no difference in court.
Immanuel Can wrote:How does one "fight," though, without reference to reasons? How can you convince anyone if, as you say, you assert your view merely as arbitrary and devoid of grounds that are compelling to anyone else? Common reasons are what make arguments work. There's no philosophical "fight" without them.
Common reasons? But Mr Can:
Immanuel Can wrote:People's approval is not a prerequisite for the ontology of anything.
Immanuel Can wrote:I am perhaps not understanding your language, then.
If you speak like that, it's little wonder.
Immanuel Can wrote:It seemed clear to me you were assuming that people's agreement had something to do with our judgment about whether or not objective morals could exist.
At no point have I used any language that could be interpreted in such a way by anyone who actually reads it. It is simply your oafish intellect that divides opinion into what you believe, and everything else.
Immanuel Can wrote:If you were not, I apologize, and am happy to let you revise if you wish. But what then were you saying? :shock:
I see you have been practising your stupids. I have no need to revise anything. It's a tall order, but you, on the other hand, need to develop the courtesy and the intellectual integrity to address what people actually say. If you care to know what I was saying, go back and read it.

uwot
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by uwot » Fri Apr 15, 2016 7:54 am

Immanuel Can wrote:I must assume you expect others who are reading your responses -- whether on other continents, or me -- to accept your value judgments.
You are wrong to do so, Mr Can. Haven't you heard? That's why we have the law.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:25 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:[The rest of your word salad is unworthy of a reply.
You're cornered. And it cannot, in your view, be objectively "wrong" for me to have done so.

And that's the objective truth.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:28 pm

wot wrote:You are wrong to do so, Mr Can. Haven't you heard? That's why we have the law.
You think there's a law against "assuming"? :shock: Because that's what the syntax you use would literally indicate.

Let me assure you, where I live, there's no such law.

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