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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Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:59 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:22 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:11 pm
Just asking - genuine interest and not to be contrarian - if there's no foundation beneath empirical / scientific claims, what value or purpose do you think they have? What information or knowledge can testing them provide?
They are strictly pragmatic/instrumental. They allow us to predict events and gain some semblance of control over the environment.

What we use knowledge for is still up to us. e.g we could use nuclear fission for social benefit (cheap electricity) or for warfare (Hiroshima and Nagasaki).

Knowledge is power. Quite literally. Power over the matter.

Or if you go higher up the chain of complexity - models of the biosphere allow us to predict trends like global warming etc. Useful metrics to avoid going extinct.
Thanks. And all agreed. There is a reality of which we can have knowledge, and testing claims is the only way to (always provisionally and tentatively) verify them. Theories can only ever be best-working-explanations-so-far.

We obviously disagree that moral things are features of that reality, though I agree we can assess the consequences of people's moral opinions.

In my opinion, there's no foundation, for what we say, beneath our linguistic practices, which is why classical foundationalism (including empiricism) misfires. But that's another argument.

Univalence
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:02 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:59 pm
We obviously disagree that moral things are features of that reality, though I agree we can assess the consequences of people's moral opinions.

In my opinion, there's no foundation, for what we say, beneath our linguistic practices, which is why classical foundationalism (including empiricism) misfires. But that's another argument.
There is a way to test your claim (but you won't like it). Go and murder somebody. Right now.

I bet you can't. That thing that won't let you do it - that's "objective morality". Majority of humans have it.

Peter Holmes
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:20 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:02 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 3:59 pm
We obviously disagree that moral things are features of that reality, though I agree we can assess the consequences of people's moral opinions.

In my opinion, there's no foundation, for what we say, beneath our linguistic practices, which is why classical foundationalism (including empiricism) misfires. But that's another argument.
There is a way to test your claim (but you won't like it). Go and murder somebody. Right now.

I bet you can't. That thing that won't let you do it - that's "objective morality". Majority of humans have it.
Back in the same obtuse circle: murder is wrong, because I'll be arrested if I commit murder. Why will I be arrested if I commit murder? Because people think murder is wrong, and have laws to punish it. Substitute 'a homosexual act' for 'murder', and see how that works out.

Been there, wasted time on it. Signing out now.

Univalence
Posts: 492
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:22 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:20 pm
Back in the same obtuse circle: murder is wrong, because I'll be arrested if I commit murder. Why will I be arrested if I commit murder? Because people think murder is wrong, and have laws to punish it. Substitute 'a homosexual act' for 'murder', and see how that works out.
Your counter-argument is about fear-of-consequences of committing murder.

I am betting you that you can't even bring yourself to commit murder. Even if you took precautionary steps to avoid getting caught.

Peter Holmes
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:10 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:22 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:20 pm
Back in the same obtuse circle: murder is wrong, because I'll be arrested if I commit murder. Why will I be arrested if I commit murder? Because people think murder is wrong, and have laws to punish it. Substitute 'a homosexual act' for 'murder', and see how that works out.
Your counter-argument is about fear-of-consequences of committing murder.

I am betting you that you can't even bring yourself to commit murder. Even if you took precautionary steps to avoid getting caught.
No. You really are obtuse, stuck in your own self-confirmatory circle and impervious to reason. Happiness.

Univalence
Posts: 492
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:14 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:10 pm
No. You really are obtuse, stuck in your own self-confirmatory circle and impervious to reason. Happiness.
I am perfectly pervious to reason and evidence. I am an empiricist after all.

It's just that you offer neither of those things.

All of your claims are untestable, let alone falsifiable. Typical philosophical babble.

Belinda
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:16 pm

Univalence wrote:
I am betting you that you can't even bring yourself to commit murder. Even if you took precautionary steps to avoid getting caught.
Yes, but it's far better when there's a rationale too.

Univalence
Posts: 492
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:16 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:16 pm
Yes, but it's far better when there's a rationale too.
Empiricism doesn't care about rationalization.

Peter is arguing that the wrongness of murder is up to one's beliefs. But a matter of choice/opinion.
It's not. Most people are incapable of murder for the sake of it.

A whole lot of people are incapable of taking life even when their own survival depends on it.
Which is why soldiers have to go through training/conditioning/desensitisation before they muster the will to take human life. And even then - a whole lot of them can't.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killology ... g_soldiers

It's brain wiring way more than it's choice.

Belinda
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:42 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:16 pm
Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:16 pm
Yes, but it's far better when there's a rationale too.
Empiricism doesn't care about rationalization.

Peter is arguing that the wrongness of murder is up to one's beliefs. But a matter of choice/opinion.
It's not. Most people are incapable of murder for the sake of it.

A whole lot of people are incapable of taking life even when their own survival depends on it.
Which is why soldiers have to go through training/conditioning/desensitisation before they muster the will to take human life. And even then - a whole lot of them can't.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killology ... g_soldiers
I am not quite sure what you are claiming. Do you mean wanting not to kill other men is a biological fact of our species? Perhaps true of all mammalian species? If so I agree, although I don't know of any way to prove that empirically.

Why would any mammal bother to leave its food and its sofa to take the risk of being aggressive unless being aggressive was more rewarding than otherwise?

Univalence
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:45 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:42 pm
I am not quite sure what you are claiming. Do you mean wanting not to kill other men is a biological fact of our species? Perhaps true of all mammalian species? If so I agree, although I don't know of any way to prove that empirically.

Why would any mammal bother to leave its food and its sofa to take the risk of being aggressive unless being aggressive was more rewarding than otherwise?
I am claiming that the wrongness of murder is more than just lip service and matter of philosophical debate.
There is an emotional (physical) response to actually doing it. An aversion. It's not reasoned - it's autonomous.

The way you test this empirically is when you find out that soldiers refuse to kill. The link I posted contains some material.

The Christmas truces of World War 1 speak towards solidarity more than they speak of hatred.

Belinda
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:52 pm

Univalence wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:45 pm
Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:42 pm
I am not quite sure what you are claiming. Do you mean wanting not to kill other men is a biological fact of our species? Perhaps true of all mammalian species? If so I agree, although I don't know of any way to prove that empirically.

Why would any mammal bother to leave its food and its sofa to take the risk of being aggressive unless being aggressive was more rewarding than otherwise?
I am claiming that the wrongness of murder is more than just lip service and matter of philosophical debate.
There is an emotional (physical) response to actually doing it. An aversion. It's not reasoned - it's autonomous.

The way you test this empirically is when you find out that soldiers refuse to kill. The link I posted contains some material.

The Christmas truces of World War 1 speak towards solidarity more than they speak of hatred.
But the soldiers were socialised not to kill other men, unless the soldiers in question were psychopaths in which case they would be remorseless. Nature or nurture?

Univalence
Posts: 492
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:53 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:52 pm
But the soldiers were socialised not to kill other men, unless the soldiers in question were psychopaths in which case they would be remorseless. Nature or nurture?
Statistically - I am betting on nature.

700 years of reduction of murder (and way before that even if you look at Hammurabi around 2500 BC) doesn't mean we got nurtured into civility all of a sudden. It was always there.

As you rightfully point out - those who wage war (engage in combat) don't make natural selection for very long...

Belinda
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:32 pm

I too bet on nature. It's the nature of men to be social animals who live in societies. Men in societies have common technologies and meanings and they have to trust each other or else the society would be ungovernable. Murder is antisocial , it would destroy mutual trust unless murderers were brought to justice and punished. Killing other men has been common throughout the human past. Power is the main motivator of all men. And this is why I am a socialist, because unbridled power once it gets into the hands of the few corrupts individuals and causes societies eventually to break down into warring factions.

Peter Holmes
Posts: 556
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:53 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:32 pm
I too bet on nature. It's the nature of men to be social animals who live in societies. Men in societies have common technologies and meanings and they have to trust each other or else the society would be ungovernable. Murder is antisocial , it would destroy mutual trust unless murderers were brought to justice and punished. Killing other men has been common throughout the human past. Power is the main motivator of all men. And this is why I am a socialist, because unbridled power once it gets into the hands of the few corrupts individuals and causes societies eventually to break down into warring factions.
Consider these pairs of claims:

1 Humans are social animals. Humans should be social animals.
2 Human societies have moral codes. Human societies should have moral codes.
3 People instinctively can't commit murder. People shouldn't commit murder.
4 People think murder is wrong. People should think murder is wrong.

The first of each pair is a falsifiable factual assertion, testable in reality. The second is an unfalsifiable moral assertion, untestable in reality. And the first can never entail the second, or (by association) prove that the second is a falsifiable factual assertion, let alone a fact.

We can test the consequences of people holding a moral opinion, such as that murder is wrong. For example, that may lead to a fall in the murder rate. Then 'when people believe murder is wrong, this leads to a fall in the murder rate' is a falsifiable factual assertion, testable in reality. And if it's true, that shows that there's a causal connection.

But that doesn't and can't turn the moral assertion 'murder is wrong' into a fact. That's just faulty reasoning, extrapolating from (and assuming) that a fall in the murder rate is a good thing - another moral assertion. And if people believed murder is right (as people often have through our history), and that lead to a rise in the murder rate (as it often has through our history), that would similarly merely show a causal connection. It wouldn't and couldn't turn the moral assertion 'murder is right' into a fact. That's similarly just faulty reasoning.

I agree completely about human social survival and coherence, and how having a moral value such as 'murder is wrong' contributes to them. But that human societies should survive and cohere is a value-judgement, not a fact. (And our future porcine masters will think differently.) Given all the facts we deploy to justify our judgements, they remain judgements (opinions), not facts.

Belinda, I'm addressing this to you, because I'd like to know where you think my reasoning is faulty - if you do. (Univalence and I disagree, but I don't really understand her/his argument, so I'd be grateful to see yours. No worries if you're bored with it all.)

By the way - greetings from a fellow socialist!

Univalence
Posts: 492
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:04 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:53 pm
Consider these pairs of claims:

1 Humans are social animals. Humans should be social animals.
2 Human societies have moral codes. Human societies should have moral codes.
3 People instinctively can't commit murder. People shouldn't commit murder.
4 People think murder is wrong. People should think murder is wrong.

The first of each pair is a falsifiable factual assertion, testable in reality. The second is an unfalsifiable moral assertion, untestable in reality. And the first can never entail the second, or (by association) prove that the second is a falsifiable factual assertion, let alone a fact.
That's not true. I told you how to test it. You are tripping over the temporal nature of the is-ought gap!
IS relates to past/present.
OUGHT relates to the future.

Obviously the future hasn't arrived yet and so making claims about it is completely non-sensical from an epistemic point of view.
BUT, I have told you how to work around this epistemic problem. Rewind time!

Which is precisely what I did when I showed you the evidence that in 1300 people said "We ought not murder".
And for the next 700 years that could be verified as true.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:53 pm
We can test the consequences of people holding a moral opinion, such as that murder is wrong. For example, that may lead to a fall in the murder rate. Then 'when people believe murder is wrong, this leads to a fall in the murder rate' is a falsifiable factual assertion, testable in reality. And if it's true, that shows that there's a causal connection.

But that doesn't and can't turn the moral assertion 'murder is wrong' into a fact.
That's precisely how scientific facts work! All of them. Cause and effect.
If your moral assertion has no measurable effect on reality, then it's inconsequential!

That's not reality's fault. That's your fault. You haven't grounded the meaning of "wrongness".
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:53 pm
That's just faulty reasoning, extrapolating from (and assuming) that a fall in the murder rate is a good thing - another moral assertion. And if people believed murder is right (as people often have through our history), and that lead to a rise in the murder rate (as it often has through our history), that would similarly merely show a causal connection. It wouldn't and couldn't turn the moral assertion 'murder is right' into a fact. That's similarly just faulty reasoning.
In 2019 that is what "objectivity" means. You don't like it? Invent a new epistemology.
Last edited by Univalence on Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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