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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Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 11:05 am

Veritas Aequitas wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:42 am
Yes, it is my personal belief based on evidences, i.e. on what you have posted on the subject.

You can prove my belief is wrong by quoting from Kant's books to support your view. If your evidences/argument are true, then I will change my beliefs on this issue.
So your admission criterion for valid counter-evidence is Kant and Kant alone?

No different to Christians demanding quotes from the Bible...

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:45 pm

Logik wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 9:01 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 8:04 pm
I disagree. That anyone says 'this is morally good / bad' doesn't and can't make it objectively (factually) morally good / bad. The commands or nature of a god, or the teachings of a religion, can't make a moral assertion 'true', any more than they could make a factual assertion true. And the supposed longevity of humanity is also irrelevant.
Throughout this discussion you have claimed that the English sentence "The Earth orbits the Sun" corresponds to reality.

Is this a factual claim?

The wrongness of "murder" is no more or less objective than the correspondence (factuality) of "Earth orbits the Sun".
Just because we use words that way does not mean they correspond to reality.

They are both subjective assertions, but you are too dogmatic about the correspondence theory of truth to recognise that the alternative theories of truth have valid arguments too.
1 As I think I've said several times, I reject correspondence theories of truth - at least, the ones I've come across so far. The claim that the factual assertion 'snow is white' is true because real snow really is white, obviously confuses what we say with the way things are - as though features of reality conform to our ways of talking about them. 'Correspondence' implies a two-way relationship - but actually it's all one-way.

2 But there is such stuff as snow and whiteness - stuff about which we can say factually true and false things, given the way we use the signs involved. For example, the factual assertion 'snow is usually black and made of wood' is false, given the way we use those signs. We call a true factual assertion, such as 'snow is usually white and made of water' a fact. And 'objectivity' is 'reliance on facts'. You're free to use those words in different ways, of course - but, so what? Who cares? There's no foundation beneath our linguistic practices that guarantees their truth or accuracy.

3 Given this, the moral objectivist task is to show that there is such a thing (such stuff) as 'the wrongness of murder' which verifies the moral assertion 'murder is wrong', in the way that the wetness and whiteness of snow verifies the factual assertion 'snow is usually white and made of water'. The claim that both of these are subjective assertions is false and represents an ab-use of the word 'subjectivity'. Again, you're free to use words any way you like - but who cares? Go and play your different game somewhere else.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:05 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:45 pm
1 As I think I've said several times, I reject correspondence theories of truth - at least, the ones I've come across so far. The claim that the factual assertion 'snow is white' is true because real snow really is white, obviously confuses what we say with the way things are - as though features of reality conform to our ways of talking about them. 'Correspondence' implies a two-way relationship - but actually it's all one-way.
Your rejection in words became worthless the moment that you insisted that the English sentence "Earth orbits the Sun" is a fact. By correspondence.
How did you assert that "The Earth orbits the Sun" is "the way things are"?

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:45 pm
2 But there is such stuff as snow and whiteness
Trichromates experience color different to tetrachromates. Is all "whiteness" the same for all observers?

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:45 pm
3 Given this, the moral objectivist task is to show that there is such a thing (such stuff) as 'the wrongness of murder' which verifies the moral assertion 'murder is wrong', in the way that the wetness and whiteness of snow verifies the factual assertion 'snow is usually white and made of water'. The claim that both of these are subjective assertions is false and represents an ab-use of the word 'subjectivity'. Again, you're free to use words any way you like - but who cares? Go and play your different game somewhere else.
No, you are just moving the goal posts to suit your dogma. Snowflakes are made of water (which is made of molecules, which is made of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which are made of sub-atomic particles and we know that the standard model of physics is wrong or incomplete). Snowflakes are translucent, not white. Snow (made of translucent snowflakes) appears white to a trichromatic observer because of refraction.

How did you assert that the English sentence "Snow is white" is "the way things are"?

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:59 pm

Veritas Aequitas wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:42 am

You can prove my belief is wrong by quoting from Kant's books to support your view. If your evidences/argument are true, then I will change my beliefs on this issue.
I don't read books per se, they are too long for my attention span. And this is actually not a joke.

And I actually don't know what your view is. You wrote it down, but I could not or else did not want to follow it. Too many capitalized, too many bolded, too many differently emphasized text... you sure do know how to lose your readers.

But I know this much: Kant's idea is that to do only those acts which we would approve of if everyone does that particular deed in the given circumstances.

This is a prisoner's dilemma. If, for instance, everyone works towards a common good, such as no theft of private property, then one might say, "hey, nobody is going to steal from me, but if I steal from someone, in a way that I can get away with it unsuspected and unpunished, then I'll get an advantage in social standing. So I will steal given the proper circumstances."

There you have it, AV.

That's A.

B. is that moral guides are what? Tour guides? guide rails? "This maxim of Kant (ibid) shalt guide my moral behaviour." What does that actually mean, guide my behaviour? That sometimes I follow it, and sometimes I don't, depending on the inner and outer landscape of circumstances at a time?

If you can explain what you and Kant meant by "guide", then I'll be closer to the truth. At this point I am forced to think that a moral "guide" derived from nothing by intellectualized speculative means is at best a weak proposition, and lo and behold, at this point in my view it provides no more certainty than a prisoners dilemma.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:07 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:59 pm
If you can explain what you and Kant meant by "guide", then I'll be closer to the truth. At this point I am forced to think that a moral "guide" derived from nothing by intellectualized speculative means is at best a weak proposition, and lo and behold, at this point in my view it provides no more certainty than a prisoners dilemma.
And what do you mean by 'certainty'? Ensemble averages, time averages, probabilities, p-values?

What is it that you want to be certain about?

From the Wikipedia definition, one could argue that "absolute certainty" (perfect knowledge) is a Kantian categorical imperative (as VA conceptualises it). An unattainable ideal which "guides" us. Ceteris paribus a more certainty is better than less certainty. Therefore more certain courses of action are more moral.
Certainty is perfect knowledge that has total security from error, or the mental state of being without doubt. Objectively defined, certainty is total continuity and validity of all foundational inquiry, to the highest degree of precision. Something is certain only if no skepticism can occur
It's in line with Pyrrhonism's conception of epistemology. Acquiring knowledge is the process of eradicating uncertainty and doubt.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:37 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:59 pm
This is a prisoner's dilemma. If, for instance, everyone works towards a common good, such as no theft of private property, then one might say, "hey, nobody is going to steal from me, but if I steal from someone, in a way that I can get away with it unsuspected and unpunished, then I'll get an advantage in social standing. So I will steal given the proper circumstances."
It turns out that extortion is (individually) a more successful strategy than reciprocity/cooperation: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11125

Abstract:
Zero-determinant (ZD) strategies, as discovered by Press and Dyson, can enforce a linear relationship between a pair of players’ scores in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. Particularly, the extortionate ZD strategies can enforce and exploit cooperation, providing a player with a score advantage, and consequently higher scores than those from either mutual cooperation or generous ZD strategies. In laboratory experiments in which human subjects were paired with computer co-players, we demonstrate that both the generous and the extortionate ZD strategies indeed enforce a unilateral control of the reward. When the experimental setting is sufficiently long and the computerized nature of the opponent is known to human subjects, the extortionate strategy outperforms the generous strategy. Human subjects’ cooperation rates when playing against extortionate and generous ZD strategies are similar after learning has occurred. More than half of extortionate strategists finally obtain an average score higher than that from mutual cooperation.

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:55 pm

Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:07 pm
And what do you mean by 'certainty'? Ensemble averages, time averages, probabilities, p-values?

Certainty is perfect knowledge that has total security from error, or the mental state of being without doubt.
How about this definition by usage:
There are different modal verbs you can use to express different degrees of certainty, but you can also use adverbs to express degrees of certainty. ... etc.
According to this, certainty is not defined as you have...

According to your definition there are no degrees of certainty. Absolute is absolute.

I used certainty similarly in the sense of the second quote: certainty lies along a spectrum.

I actually am wondering why you had to ask that... it ought to have been obvious from the text.

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:58 pm

Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:37 pm
-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:59 pm
This is a prisoner's dilemma. If, for instance, everyone works towards a common good, such as no theft of private property, then one might say, "hey, nobody is going to steal from me, but if I steal from someone, in a way that I can get away with it unsuspected and unpunished, then I'll get an advantage in social standing. So I will steal given the proper circumstances."
It turns out that extortion is (individually) a more successful strategy than reciprocity/cooperation: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11125

Abstract:
Zero-determinant (ZD) strategies, as discovered by Press and Dyson, can enforce a linear relationship between a pair of players’ scores in the iterated prisoner’s dilemma. Particularly, the extortionate ZD strategies can enforce and exploit cooperation, providing a player with a score advantage, and consequently higher scores than those from either mutual cooperation or generous ZD strategies. In laboratory experiments in which human subjects were paired with computer co-players, we demonstrate that both the generous and the extortionate ZD strategies indeed enforce a unilateral control of the reward. When the experimental setting is sufficiently long and the computerized nature of the opponent is known to human subjects, the extortionate strategy outperforms the generous strategy. Human subjects’ cooperation rates when playing against extortionate and generous ZD strategies are similar after learning has occurred. More than half of extortionate strategists finally obtain an average score higher than that from mutual cooperation.
There you go. Thanks for researching the literature to support my point vis-a-vis Kant's Categorical Impractice.

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:06 pm

Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:37 pm

It turns out that extortion is (individually) a more successful strategy than reciprocity/cooperation
Of course the experiment lacks completeness. Extortion is advantageous for the individual who practices it, in a pool of individuals who are in majority cooperationists.

Try the experiment with ONLY extortionists and you will see it will yield zero-sum results.

That actually is a tautology, since you can weigh the gain by extortionists only in a mixed pool, but you can't in a homogeneous pool of extortionists. My bad.

I wonder what would happen in a pool of majority extortionists vs a minority cooperationists. Let's say the reward is a set of scarce life-sustaining resources. The cooperationists may unite against the extortionists, but the extortionists are by definition unable to cooperate, they are lone wolves. So let's do it and find out. My bet is that the cooperationists will off the extortionists one-by-one, should the extortionists not eat all of the cooperationists first like a pack of wolves eat a goat of sheep.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:07 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:55 pm
According to your definition there are no degrees of certainty. Absolute is absolute.
Well, no. According to my definition certainty is on a continuum. And "Absolute certainty" means the same as "maximum certainty".
-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:55 pm
I used certainty similarly in the sense of the second quote: certainty lies along a spectrum.
Of course, but precisely because certainty is on a continuum the question of drawing lines arises. Where is "enough"?

It's hard to answer such questions because more is always better e.g towards "absolute certainty" is always better.
Which is how I interpret VA's treatment of ideals. They are like the horizon. In that direction, but never to be reached.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:30 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:06 pm
Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:37 pm

It turns out that extortion is (individually) a more successful strategy than reciprocity/cooperation
Of course the experiment lacks completeness. Extortion is advantageous for the individual who practices it, in a pool of individuals who are in majority cooperationists.

Try the experiment with ONLY extortionists and you will see it will yield zero-sum results.

That actually is a tautology, since you can weigh the gain by extortionists only in a mixed pool, but you can't in a homogeneous pool of extortionists. My bad.

I wonder what would happen in a pool of majority extortionists vs a minority cooperationists. Let's say the reward is a set of scarce life-sustaining resources. The cooperationists may unite against the extortionists, but the extortionists are by definition unable to cooperate, they are lone wolves. So let's do it and find out. My bet is that the cooperationists will off the extortionists one-by-one, should the extortionists not eat all of the cooperationists first like a pack of wolves eat a goat of sheep.
And what if extortionists cooperate? Honour among thieves.

Even lone wolves do what they must for survival.

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:37 pm

Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:30 pm
And what if extortionists cooperate? Honour among thieves.

Even lone wolves do what they must for survival.
Extortionists are unable to cooperate without running the risk of losing a game of prisoners' dilemma. And they each know it.

How do you figure that obstacle can be overcome in view of cooperation?

------------

Setting aside that above dilemma I posed to you, once extortionists cooperate, they become cooperationists. So they lose their extortionist's character, which is needed to be retained in them for the sake of the experiment.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:43 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:37 pm
Extortionists are unable to cooperate without running the risk of losing a game of prisoners' dilemma. And they each know it.

How do you figure that obstacle can be overcome in view of cooperation?
Of course, but it's a numbers' game. Big risk - big reward. Short vs long term plays.

In iterative versions of prisoner's dilemma (which is closer to reality) losing one game is like losing a battle, but never the war. As long as you are still alive - you are still in the game.

And even then - lab experiments are bounded to fixed-length experiment durations. In reality - the game never really stops.

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:37 pm
Setting aside that above dilemma I posed to you, once extortionists cooperate, they become cooperationists. So they lose their extortionist's character, which is needed to be retained in them for the sake of the experiment.
No, that's too simplistic a view. There are cooperationists with self-imposed moral boundaries. Things they wouldn't do and lines they wouldn't cross - that is to their detriment.

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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by -1- » Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:53 pm

Logik wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:07 pm
-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:55 pm
According to your definition there are no degrees of certainty. Absolute is absolute.
Well, no. According to my definition certainty is on a continuum. And "Absolute certainty" means the same as "maximum certainty".
-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:55 pm
I used certainty similarly in the sense of the second quote: certainty lies along a spectrum.
Of course, but precisely because certainty is on a continuum the question of drawing lines arises. Where is "enough"?

It's hard to answer such questions because more is always better e.g towards "absolute certainty" is always better.
Which is how I interpret VA's treatment of ideals. They are like the horizon. In that direction, but never to be reached.
I actually did not pose the "enough" limit, or questioned it. I posed that CI gives no more certainty of a stable moral society than the set-up and execution of a prisoner's dilemma. I assumed that the "enough" would be above the certainty level of the prisoner's dilemma for providing a society in which everyone behaves above that hypothetical and yet undefined level in moral conduct.

So, what do you think is "enough" here, Logik? What level of buy-in (expressed in percentages of those who comply vs the whole (compliant and non-compliant individuals)) is sufficient, and if it is, what is the sufficiency defined as?

Thou seest, once one goes away from natural language, then he gets bogged down by details of insurmountable problems.

Sticking to natural language has the advantage of not being swallowed up by a twister that detaches one from the practical point at hand. For instance, every person on the Earth will understand your concept when you say "god". But the moment you try to pin god to a definition, you are lost.

My stance is that we ought not to hold the other to completely strict and rigorous definitions of words they use. Many words have many different definitions, and all words actually do. Sometimes the difference in meanings is subtle. What I wish to propose is to avoid the need to define words, unless it's absolutely necessary.

Case in point, "certainty". Your first challenge was this word's definition; you cited concepts from inferential statistics. Your second challenge was the level (what is enough). Then you retracted your first challenge, claiming you mean the same thing as I.

If that is so truly, then maybe you only needed to challenge "enough", and leave the definition of certainty alone, not even bringing it up as issue.

Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:03 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:53 pm
Thou seest, once one goes away from natural language, then he gets bogged down by details of insurmountable problems.

Sticking to natural language has the advantage of not being swallowed up by a twister that detaches one from the practical point at hand. For instance, every person on the Earth will understand your concept when you say "god". But the moment you try to pin god to a definition, you are lost.

My stance is that we ought not to hold the other to completely strict and rigorous definitions of words they use. Many words have many different definitions, and all words actually do. Sometimes the difference in meanings is subtle. What I wish to propose is to avoid the need to define words, unless it's absolutely necessary.
Agreed. So don't define things - quantify/measure them.

If we all agree that "more education" is good then decreasing illiteracy is good and increasing illiteracy is bad etc.
We can only make such assertions at societal level though. And that requires the "equal rules for everyone" assumption.

It's the utilitarian way. Naturally utilitarianism suffers from its own hard-to-answer questions.
-1- wrote:
Wed Dec 26, 2018 4:53 pm
Case in point, "certainty". Your first challenge was this word's definition; you cited concepts from inferential statistics. Your second challenge was the level (what is enough). Then you retracted your first challenge, claiming you mean the same thing as I.

If that is so truly, then maybe you only needed to challenge "enough", and leave the definition of certainty alone, not even bringing it up as issue.
Well, sadly the devil is in the details. For somebody who cares only about "society/humanity" at the holistic perspective then all you should care about is measuring and improving ensemble averages. Again - this is the utilitarian way. Probabilistically you know that more people are better off today than they were 20 years ago and so you pat yourself on the back, because overall "society is better". While those who were better off 20 years ago are now piss poor because of your system screwed them somehow - they are probably not so happy with the way life turned out...

It all boils down to trolley problems. Would you kill a bystander to save 5 people?

As an individual experiencing life - all I care about is better time-averages. I can't die 20% less.

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