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 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:02 pm

Wow. This is really ambiguous syntax you're using. I can't quite figure out what you mean. You write:
Obvious Leo wrote:The observance of the Golden Rule is ubiquitous in nature...
Do you mean "in [the realm of] nature, the observance of the GR is everywhere"?

If so, umm...where? Between dingos and babies? Between two male lions fighting for dominance of the pride? Where is the GR "ubiquitous in nature," as you say?
and perfectly compatible with evolutionary theory.
Evolutionary "nature"? It's in "the natural world," sponsoring Evolution? Nope. Not if you believe in survival of the fittest as the driver of Evolution. There's no smack of the GR in that. And the old allegation that altruism is adaptive is false for two very obvious reasons: firstly, it's only adaptive for the species, but kills the individual. But the individual, not the species, is the only possible moral agent, since only the individual can make a moral choice. "Species," considered as a whole, have no moral will.

Secondly, the behaviours that (rather anthropomorphically) get called "altruism" in nature are not typical. They're not the general rule in nature, but exceptions to the general rule. For the most part, animals in nature just compete with and kill each other. And there's no moral content in their choices to do so: foxes aren't "evil" for eating mice, and mice aren't "good" for being eaten. Each only does what it does. They don't ask moral questions like, "Is my eating this mouse a proper expression of the GR?" If they did, they'd starve.

Or do you mean simply to say, not that the GR is "in nature," but that it's "universal in [its] nature"? That is, that it is compulsory or believed by everyone -- that its "nature" is that it obliges everyone? But if you do, that's empirically untrue. Already we've named many communities that deny it, including some of the people in this strand. They don't seem to feel obliged at all; and it would be your task to prove to them they should.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:05 pm

henry quirk wrote:
"It's not like you to bridle at the implications"
I'm not...perhaps you should reread all my posts in-thread.
I did. I take you seriously, Henry...even when you're being funny.
how cleanly the conteints of those categories align with the way the world works
See, this is the part that seems obviously untrue to me. How does the world "work" to prevent stealing?

Dubious
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Dubious » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:09 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: The real point was that your subscription to one single imperative -- the GR or the SR or whichever -- is sufficient to make you a dyed-in-the-wool, bona fide moral objectivist.
I vehemently disagree with your version of sufficient cause. A mode of behavior with it's genesis in instinct does not constitute a "moral" anything.
Immanuel Can wrote:That doesn't answer the question. I was asking how a principle could be said to be ubiquitous, fundamental and applicable to all, but not thereby objective. If it's everywhere, basic and obligatory for everyone, then it's got to be objective. That's definitional.
I didn't say it wasn't "objective" if you really want to apply that term. I simply said it wasn't "morally" objective. The Golden Rule to me is nature's version of Contract Law. Nothing explicitly moral about it.

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:31 pm

Mannie,

The world doesn't stop theft...the world doesn't care.

The owner stops stealing, if he has the wherewithal.

If he doesn't, good bye treasured item.

Thought that was clear.

I fear I hobbled myself with my fire burns example.

Simply: the world works a certain way...if you abide then you largely succeed in furtheting yourself...if you don't, you probably die.

That's really the only objective standard you can apply.

Morality is nuthin' but, as I say, personal preference and after-the-fact rationalizing. Now, as you can, you can test your morality, see if it aligns in some way to the the world works...if yiu find a linkage: fantastic...more often than not, you'll find no such linkage.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:31 pm

Dubious wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: The real point was that your subscription to one single imperative -- the GR or the SR or whichever -- is sufficient to make you a dyed-in-the-wool, bona fide moral objectivist.
I vehemently disagree with your version of sufficient cause. A mode of behavior with it's genesis in instinct does not constitute a "moral" anything.
Vehemently disagree if you wish. But I didn't say anything about "sufficient cause." I said it's definitionally "sufficient." You're mixing up types of explanation. I didn't attribute any "cause" to your being that: I just pointed out that that is what you are by definition.

If you affirm a singular, universal moral principle, (or more) then the simple fact is that by definition you're a moral objectivist. And that's definitional: that is, it's not even possible to dispute without thereby denying the meaning of the words "moral objectivist."
I didn't say it wasn't "objective" if you really want to apply that term. I simply said it wasn't "morally" objective. The Golden Rule to me is nature's version of Contract Law. Nothing explicitly moral about it.
Oh. So you don't think it has any force of moral obligation...nobody owes anybody to follow the GR? For that is the inevitable implication of your view: if it's not moral, then it comes with no "ought-ness," no duty for anyone to care about it or follow it.

Well, if you think it's not a moral precept, then what's the use of mentioning it at all? All you've really said is "There's a thing out there that nobody has a duty to pay any attention to." :shock:

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:33 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: Not if you believe in survival of the fittest as the driver of Evolution.
Nobody does. This obsolete trope only applies to the origin of species.
Immanuel Can wrote: Do you mean "in [the realm of] nature, the observance of the GR is everywhere"?
There are literally billions of examples in biology but the most obvious one is a human being. There are at least 10,000 different species of organisms operating symbiotically to keep you alive, IC, so if you think of yourself as an individual organism then nothing could be further from the truth. You're an entire bloody ecosystem and that's only when we consider what's going on within you. There are billions of other species external to you without which you simply could not survive.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:33 pm

henry quirk wrote:Mannie,
The world doesn't stop theft...the world doesn't care.
Yep.
I fear I hobbled myself with my fire burns example.
It maybe led me into a misunderstanding of what you were saying.
Morality is nuthin' but, as I say, personal preference and after-the-fact rationalizing. Now, as you can, you can test your morality, see if it aligns in some way to the the world works...if yiu find a linkage: fantastic...more often than not, you'll find no such linkage.
Yep, okay. That's the Henry I know. :D

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:46 pm

"There are at least 10,000 different species of organisms operating symbiotically to keep you alive"

Can I take ths as your example of the goldn rule being common in nature?

Well and fine 'cept all them lil buggers got no choice in the matter so none can really be said to be 'doing unto the other...'.

You coukd say nature does a fine job of roboticly emulating the golden rule, or, you coukd say humans have done a fine job of codifying what nature does roboticaly.

Can't say: The observance of the Golden Rule is ubiquitous in nature...

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:46 pm

Obvious Leo wrote: There are literally billions of examples in biology but the most obvious one is a human being. There are at least 10,000 different species of organisms operating symbiotically to keep you alive, IC, so if you think of yourself as an individual organism then nothing could be further from the truth. You're an entire bloody ecosystem and that's only when we consider what's going on within you. There are billions of other species external to you without which you simply could not survive.
I don't grant that any of this is some kind of GR. The fact of biological interdependency isn't comparable to any Golden Rule ethics. And I would point out that there are far more examples of survival of the fittest than of anything one could even try to construe as any "natural" GR. I also don't know a single Darwinian who claims the primary motive of Evolution is altruism or "doing unto others what you would have them to do unto you."

I could ask you to justify all of that, and I'm quote certain you couldn't. But just for fiction's sake, let me suppose we grant you the point anyway....Let's move on.

In that case, so what? What places obligation on any of us to follow the GR?

Why not throw it over? What if we, as individuals, don't happen to care about the species, and prefer to take advantage for our own interests? What feature of this "nature" you mention produce some duty for the individual to care, or to modify his or her behaviour in keeping with the GR?

You see, in your telling, the GR is just another kind of contingent fact, like the Law of Gravity: people happen to conform to both, at times, and at other times the choose to defy each of those. So your GR tells us nothing about how we owe each other to behave, then. In short, it's not in any way moral or informative of social duty.

Again, what's the point of your GR then? Why not say, "people are interdependent with each other and the environment, and some of them choose not to be"?

Answer: because in that case, you've said nothing worth pointing out at all. Everybody knows it.

But it's not the GR. The GR is a moral precept: i.e. one that specifies moral duty.

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Immanuel Can
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Re:

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:48 pm

henry quirk wrote:Well and fine 'cept all them lil buggers got no choice in the matter so none can really be said to be 'doing unto the other...'.

You coukd say nature does a fine job of roboticly emulating the golden rule, or, you coukd say humans have done a fine job of codifying what nature does roboticaly.

Can't say: The observance of the Golden Rule is ubiquitous in nature...
Henry:

How come you manage to cut to the chase so much faster than I get there? Nicely put. :D

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:52 pm

Cuz I skip the impressive langauge and just 'say it'.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:57 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: I also don't know a single Darwinian who claims the primary motive of Evolution is altruism or "doing unto others what you would have them to do unto you."
I don't know a single Darwinian, period, and I've been a biologist all my life. To the best of my knowledge Darwin's model of evolution was already falsified before the end of the 19th century.

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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:03 pm

Immanuel Can wrote: But it's not the GR. The GR is a moral precept: i.e. one that specifies moral duty.
So say you. I was agreeing with Dubious that co-operation between individual organisms is a universal natural law. It is only how such co-operation manifests itself which varies from species to species and it hardly needs saying that in the case of homo sapiens such co-operation will be socially directed because we're a social species. All you're doing is looking for complications where no complications exist. We're just a fancy termite mound.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:10 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: But it's not the GR. The GR is a moral precept: i.e. one that specifies moral duty.
So say you.
Says me, yes; and so says the entire field of Ethics. Moral statements are either "prescriptive" or "descriptive" there. But as a merely "descriptive" statement, the GR is trivial, even if it were common. It's only if it can be advanced as a "prescription" of behaviour that it has any value.
All you're doing is looking for complications where no complications exist. We're just a fancy termite mound.
But termites have no morality...GR or otherwise. So if that's all we are, and I can find means to get my hands on your car...

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Immanuel Can
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Re: A Critique on Objective Morality

Post by Immanuel Can » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:15 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Immanuel Can wrote: I also don't know a single Darwinian who claims the primary motive of Evolution is altruism or "doing unto others what you would have them to do unto you."
I don't know a single Darwinian, period, and I've been a biologist all my life. To the best of my knowledge Darwin's model of evolution was already falsified before the end of the 19th century.
Interesting. I know plenty of the "naive" sorts of Darwinians. Most people are, in fact, of this sort. Very few people even know Evolutionary theory has dropped the simian hypothesis and has moved to the "common primordial ancestor" view. And much of their thinking is still to the effect that survival of the fittest is the main mechanism.

But in any case, altruism certainly isn't the main driver.

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