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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Atla
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Atla »

Peter Holmes wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:16 pm
Atla wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 11:23 am
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:59 am Like all moral objectivists, Rescher (at least here) offers a factual explanation for why we have developed and are developing moral values and rules - but then fallaciously assumes those moral values and rules are themselves facts.
Isn't it sad that many of those 'objective morality' philosophers get paid for being terrible thinkers, while not really 'contributing' anything else either?
Yep. On the other hand, I quite like it that academics can make a paltry living doing practically useless work. It's a bit like having libraries - one mark of a civilised society. But I hear you.
Agreed
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:17 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:15 am
KLewchuk wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:42 am

1 True, choice is a matter of opinion and therefore subjective. However, I may choose wrongly. I may choose to drink poison, that does not mean poison results in happiness.
2 There are foundational principles that are not conditional. If you prefer pain to pleasure (e.g. sticking your hand in the fire vs not), society will rightly consider you "insane". If we have to define why it is better not to stick your hand in the fire, one of us is insane.
3 If someone shoots me, I cannot choose whether or not to bleed. The subject of moral concern is not subjective, although we may not be able to conclude what it is (i.e. subject to further research).
4. False, false, see #1
5. Go back to Aristotle. If morality is, by definition, about happiness, well being, etc., then drinking poison does have ethical implications. If nothing you write is about ethics... fine.
1 So, 'True, choice is a matter of opinion and subjective', and 'The choice of goal is actually not a matter of opinion and subjective'. Perhaps you haven't done much of this kind of thinking. That's called a contradiction. (The folly of a chosen action doesn't make it any less a matter of choice.)

2 Morally irrelevant. That we prefer pleasure to pain may be true - a fact of our nature. But that doesn't mean it's morally right to seek or provide pleasure. A factual premise can't entail a moral conclusion. Mental capacity is a red herring here, and I advise you to drop it as an issue.

3 Wtf? A cow cannot choose whether or not to die when we fire a captive bolt into its brain. Whether other species should be within the scope of our moral concern is a red-hot moral issue for vegans. And our opinions are subjective.

4 False, as demonstrated.

5 Aristotle's has been probably the most pernicious influence in moral philosophy. Do some research.
1. First, we define the term. If we accept a certain definition of "ethics", we are talking about the goal (i.e. happiness). That is ethics, by definition. Then we decide how to achieve that goal. It is this choice which we can get wrong.
2. Not at all; again, if follows from the definition of "ethics".
3. Yes, so getting shot is not great for well being of the cow.
4. You haven't demonstrated anything.
5. Disagree. That is simply an opinion and, like a**holes, we all have one.

So much of this comes back to simply a definition. In other words, what is a simple definition of ethics?

So much of the disagreements in ethics lie in the fact that people use the same word for different concepts.
Here's a screen shot of definitions of ethics.

Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Ethics: a general ... - BBC
Ethics are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for ... It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles.

ETHIC | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
3 days ago ... a system of accepted rules about behaviour, based on what is considered right and wrong: business/professional ethics It would be contrary to ...

Ethic | Definition of Ethic by Merriam-Webster
Ethic definition is - the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. How to use ethic in a sentence. Ethics vs Morals: Is there ...

Ethics | Definition of Ethics at Dictionary.com
(used with a plural verb) the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; ...

Notice, there's talk about good and bad, and right and wrong. But there's no mention of well-being, and nothing about happiness. So the choice of well-being and/or happiness as the criteria by which to judge the good and bad, or the right and wrong, is NOT integral to the idea of ethics. You are merely assuming those are the goals of ethics.

What counts as morally right or wrong is not fixed in the way moral realists and objectivists claim it to be. And that's the rub.
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:26 am
KLewchuk wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:17 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:15 am
1 So, 'True, choice is a matter of opinion and subjective', and 'The choice of goal is actually not a matter of opinion and subjective'. Perhaps you haven't done much of this kind of thinking. That's called a contradiction. (The folly of a chosen action doesn't make it any less a matter of choice.)

2 Morally irrelevant. That we prefer pleasure to pain may be true - a fact of our nature. But that doesn't mean it's morally right to seek or provide pleasure. A factual premise can't entail a moral conclusion. Mental capacity is a red herring here, and I advise you to drop it as an issue.

3 Wtf? A cow cannot choose whether or not to die when we fire a captive bolt into its brain. Whether other species should be within the scope of our moral concern is a red-hot moral issue for vegans. And our opinions are subjective.

4 False, as demonstrated.

5 Aristotle's has been probably the most pernicious influence in moral philosophy. Do some research.
1. First, we define the term. If we accept a certain definition of "ethics", we are talking about the goal (i.e. happiness). That is ethics, by definition. Then we decide how to achieve that goal. It is this choice which we can get wrong.
2. Not at all; again, if follows from the definition of "ethics".
3. Yes, so getting shot is not great for well being of the cow.
4. You haven't demonstrated anything.
5. Disagree. That is simply an opinion and, like a**holes, we all have one.

So much of this comes back to simply a definition. In other words, what is a simple definition of ethics?

So much of the disagreements in ethics lie in the fact that people use the same word for different concepts.
Here's a screen shot of definitions of ethics.

Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Ethics: a general ... - BBC
Ethics are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for ... It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles.

ETHIC | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
3 days ago ... a system of accepted rules about behaviour, based on what is considered right and wrong: business/professional ethics It would be contrary to ...

Ethic | Definition of Ethic by Merriam-Webster
Ethic definition is - the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. How to use ethic in a sentence. Ethics vs Morals: Is there ...

Ethics | Definition of Ethics at Dictionary.com
(used with a plural verb) the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; ...

Notice, there's talk about good and bad, and right and wrong. But there's no mention of well-being, and nothing about happiness. So the choice of well-being and/or happiness as the criteria by which to judge the good and bad, or the right and wrong, is NOT integral to the idea of ethics. You are merely assuming those are the goals of ethics.

What counts as morally right or wrong is not fixed in the way moral realists and objectivists claim it to be. And that's the rub.

That is level 1, so let's go to level 1A.

The encyclopedia of philosophy states: Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.

So, I am speaking of normative ethics. If we approach normative ethics merely from the perspective of habits or duties, I think it is challenging to formulate objective moral truth without some appeal to religious ethics, which then leads down to a certain "whose god" problem, which then leads to apologetics.

However, consequentialist ethics are of a different sort. To say that we "ought" to pursue the "best" consequences is coherent. We could then ask, what are the "best" consequences, to which the Greeks eloquently gave us the concept of eudaimonia.

Someone could then propose, fine... but eudaimonia is relative and does not provide a basis for objective moral truth. Except that it does; as a common, conscious species there are certain behaviors which contribute to our well being and those that do not. Therefore, if we define morality as right conduct and right conduct as that which produces good consequences and good consequences that which improves our well being and that there are certain behaviors which universally contribute to the well being of human beings; we may make objectively true statements of moral behavior.

This is the general formulation of the moral philosophy for all consequentialists.

A human ought-not stick their hand in the fire.
Peter Holmes
Posts: 1408
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:59 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:26 am
KLewchuk wrote: Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:17 pm

1. First, we define the term. If we accept a certain definition of "ethics", we are talking about the goal (i.e. happiness). That is ethics, by definition. Then we decide how to achieve that goal. It is this choice which we can get wrong.
2. Not at all; again, if follows from the definition of "ethics".
3. Yes, so getting shot is not great for well being of the cow.
4. You haven't demonstrated anything.
5. Disagree. That is simply an opinion and, like a**holes, we all have one.

So much of this comes back to simply a definition. In other words, what is a simple definition of ethics?

So much of the disagreements in ethics lie in the fact that people use the same word for different concepts.
Here's a screen shot of definitions of ethics.

Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Ethics: a general ... - BBC
Ethics are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for ... It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles.

ETHIC | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
3 days ago ... a system of accepted rules about behaviour, based on what is considered right and wrong: business/professional ethics It would be contrary to ...

Ethic | Definition of Ethic by Merriam-Webster
Ethic definition is - the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. How to use ethic in a sentence. Ethics vs Morals: Is there ...

Ethics | Definition of Ethics at Dictionary.com
(used with a plural verb) the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; ...

Notice, there's talk about good and bad, and right and wrong. But there's no mention of well-being, and nothing about happiness. So the choice of well-being and/or happiness as the criteria by which to judge the good and bad, or the right and wrong, is NOT integral to the idea of ethics. You are merely assuming those are the goals of ethics.

What counts as morally right or wrong is not fixed in the way moral realists and objectivists claim it to be. And that's the rub.

That is level 1, so let's go to level 1A.

The encyclopedia of philosophy states: Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.

So, I am speaking of normative ethics. If we approach normative ethics merely from the perspective of habits or duties, I think it is challenging to formulate objective moral truth without some appeal to religious ethics, which then leads down to a certain "whose god" problem, which then leads to apologetics.

However, consequentialist ethics are of a different sort. To say that we "ought" to pursue the "best" consequences is coherent. We could then ask, what are the "best" consequences, to which the Greeks eloquently gave us the concept of eudaimonia.

Someone could then propose, fine... but eudaimonia is relative and does not provide a basis for objective moral truth. Except that it does; as a common, conscious species there are certain behaviors which contribute to our well being and those that do not. Therefore, if we define morality as right conduct and right conduct as that which produces good consequences and good consequences that which improves our well being and that there are certain behaviors which universally contribute to the well being of human beings; we may make objectively true statements of moral behavior.

This is the general formulation of the moral philosophy for all consequentialists.

A human ought-not stick their hand in the fire.
Thanks, but 1A isn't much of an advance.

Only factual assertions (typically linguistic expressions) have truth-value, and the very possibility of what you confusingly call 'objective moral truth' - factually true moral assertions - is the issue here. And neither normative ethics nor consequentialism addresses that fundamental problem in metaethics.

If definition is just establishing the use of terms, that gets us no nearer; and if it's the description of things - moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Skepdick
Posts: 5220
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:16 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Skepdick »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 pm moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Why did you exclude the word "problem" from the list above?

What and where is a "problem"?
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:59 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:26 am

Here's a screen shot of definitions of ethics.

Ethics - Introduction to ethics: Ethics: a general ... - BBC
Ethics are a system of moral principles and a branch of philosophy which defines what is good for ... It looks at the origins and meaning of ethical principles.

ETHIC | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
3 days ago ... a system of accepted rules about behaviour, based on what is considered right and wrong: business/professional ethics It would be contrary to ...

Ethic | Definition of Ethic by Merriam-Webster
Ethic definition is - the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. How to use ethic in a sentence. Ethics vs Morals: Is there ...

Ethics | Definition of Ethics at Dictionary.com
(used with a plural verb) the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; ...

Notice, there's talk about good and bad, and right and wrong. But there's no mention of well-being, and nothing about happiness. So the choice of well-being and/or happiness as the criteria by which to judge the good and bad, or the right and wrong, is NOT integral to the idea of ethics. You are merely assuming those are the goals of ethics.

What counts as morally right or wrong is not fixed in the way moral realists and objectivists claim it to be. And that's the rub.

That is level 1, so let's go to level 1A.

The encyclopedia of philosophy states: Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.

So, I am speaking of normative ethics. If we approach normative ethics merely from the perspective of habits or duties, I think it is challenging to formulate objective moral truth without some appeal to religious ethics, which then leads down to a certain "whose god" problem, which then leads to apologetics.

However, consequentialist ethics are of a different sort. To say that we "ought" to pursue the "best" consequences is coherent. We could then ask, what are the "best" consequences, to which the Greeks eloquently gave us the concept of eudaimonia.

Someone could then propose, fine... but eudaimonia is relative and does not provide a basis for objective moral truth. Except that it does; as a common, conscious species there are certain behaviors which contribute to our well being and those that do not. Therefore, if we define morality as right conduct and right conduct as that which produces good consequences and good consequences that which improves our well being and that there are certain behaviors which universally contribute to the well being of human beings; we may make objectively true statements of moral behavior.

This is the general formulation of the moral philosophy for all consequentialists.

A human ought-not stick their hand in the fire.
Thanks, but 1A isn't much of an advance.

Only factual assertions (typically linguistic expressions) have truth-value, and the very possibility of what you confusingly call 'objective moral truth' - factually true moral assertions - is the issue here. And neither normative ethics nor consequentialism addresses that fundamental problem in metaethics.

If definition is just establishing the use of terms, that gets us no nearer; and if it's the description of things - moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Factual assertions concern what "is". "Objective truth" with respect to factual assertions address whether the assertion corresponds with reality. If the assertion corresponds with reality, it is considered "true". Interestingly, there are few factual assertions that are universal (e.g. the shape of the earth) but this should not prohibit us from asserting that, based on current knowledge, the statement that the earth is flat is untrue.

Normative ethics address right desire, or what we "ought" to desire (i.e. assuming our conduct reflects our desires). Some desires are a matter of "taste", for example, whether you prefer apples or oranges. I should not say that you "ought" to eat apples and not oranges as a normative statement of objective morality. I can say that you "ought not" drink drano; excruciating pain is not a matter of taste. Will there be a person who seeks out pain? Probably, the same way there are those who believe the earth is flat. We can be wrong about moral truth, the same way we can be wrong about factual truth.

The taste / truth distinction in morality is Adler. Harris has same concept on his "peaks" of the moral landscape. Others have similar concepts.
Peter Holmes
Posts: 1408
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:37 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 4:59 pm


That is level 1, so let's go to level 1A.

The encyclopedia of philosophy states: Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct. This may involve articulating the good habits that we should acquire, the duties that we should follow, or the consequences of our behavior on others.

So, I am speaking of normative ethics. If we approach normative ethics merely from the perspective of habits or duties, I think it is challenging to formulate objective moral truth without some appeal to religious ethics, which then leads down to a certain "whose god" problem, which then leads to apologetics.

However, consequentialist ethics are of a different sort. To say that we "ought" to pursue the "best" consequences is coherent. We could then ask, what are the "best" consequences, to which the Greeks eloquently gave us the concept of eudaimonia.

Someone could then propose, fine... but eudaimonia is relative and does not provide a basis for objective moral truth. Except that it does; as a common, conscious species there are certain behaviors which contribute to our well being and those that do not. Therefore, if we define morality as right conduct and right conduct as that which produces good consequences and good consequences that which improves our well being and that there are certain behaviors which universally contribute to the well being of human beings; we may make objectively true statements of moral behavior.

This is the general formulation of the moral philosophy for all consequentialists.

A human ought-not stick their hand in the fire.
Thanks, but 1A isn't much of an advance.

Only factual assertions (typically linguistic expressions) have truth-value, and the very possibility of what you confusingly call 'objective moral truth' - factually true moral assertions - is the issue here. And neither normative ethics nor consequentialism addresses that fundamental problem in metaethics.

If definition is just establishing the use of terms, that gets us no nearer; and if it's the description of things - moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Factual assertions concern what "is". "Objective truth" with respect to factual assertions address whether the assertion corresponds with reality. If the assertion corresponds with reality, it is considered "true". Interestingly, there are few factual assertions that are universal (e.g. the shape of the earth) but this should not prohibit us from asserting that, based on current knowledge, the statement that the earth is flat is untrue.

Normative ethics address right desire, or what we "ought" to desire (i.e. assuming our conduct reflects our desires). Some desires are a matter of "taste", for example, whether you prefer apples or oranges. I should not say that you "ought" to eat apples and not oranges as a normative statement of objective morality. I can say that you "ought not" drink drano; excruciating pain is not a matter of taste. Will there be a person who seeks out pain? Probably, the same way there are those who believe the earth is flat. We can be wrong about moral truth, the same way we can be wrong about factual truth.

The taste / truth distinction in morality is Adler. Harris has same concept on his "peaks" of the moral landscape. Others have similar concepts.
1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts, so it's incoherent to say facts are objective. And since only factual assertions have truth-value, the expression 'objective truth' is incoherent - another grammatical misattribution - and also a common one.

2 Correspondence theories of truth demonstrate the potency of the myth of propositions at work - 'snow' is white' is true because snow is white - the whiteness of snow is a truth-maker. But we can leave that aside here, and use your account of how a factual assertion can be true.

3 So moral objectivism is the claim that a moral assertion - such as 'eating animals is morally wrong' - makes a factual claim, with a truth-value, about a feature of reality. - That there's something in reality that can verify the assertion 'eating animals is morally wrong', a real thing whose absence would falsify the assertion. And all of this independently from opinion, and therefore objectively. (The claim is obviously false.)

4 Adler's taste/truth distinction fails to establish that a moral assertion can have a truth-value - that there are moral facts in the first place. The assertion 'you ought not to drink bleach' has no moral implication whatsoever. It doesn't say 'drinking bleach is morally wrong', so it isn't a moral assertion with a truth-value.

5 Objectively verifiable consistency with a subjectively chosen goal doesn't confer factual status (and so truth-value) on a moral assertion. That's Harris's mistake.
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:01 am
KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:37 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 pm
Thanks, but 1A isn't much of an advance.

Only factual assertions (typically linguistic expressions) have truth-value, and the very possibility of what you confusingly call 'objective moral truth' - factually true moral assertions - is the issue here. And neither normative ethics nor consequentialism addresses that fundamental problem in metaethics.

If definition is just establishing the use of terms, that gets us no nearer; and if it's the description of things - moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Factual assertions concern what "is". "Objective truth" with respect to factual assertions address whether the assertion corresponds with reality. If the assertion corresponds with reality, it is considered "true". Interestingly, there are few factual assertions that are universal (e.g. the shape of the earth) but this should not prohibit us from asserting that, based on current knowledge, the statement that the earth is flat is untrue.

Normative ethics address right desire, or what we "ought" to desire (i.e. assuming our conduct reflects our desires). Some desires are a matter of "taste", for example, whether you prefer apples or oranges. I should not say that you "ought" to eat apples and not oranges as a normative statement of objective morality. I can say that you "ought not" drink drano; excruciating pain is not a matter of taste. Will there be a person who seeks out pain? Probably, the same way there are those who believe the earth is flat. We can be wrong about moral truth, the same way we can be wrong about factual truth.

The taste / truth distinction in morality is Adler. Harris has same concept on his "peaks" of the moral landscape. Others have similar concepts.
1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts, so it's incoherent to say facts are objective. And since only factual assertions have truth-value, the expression 'objective truth' is incoherent - another grammatical misattribution - and also a common one.

2 Correspondence theories of truth demonstrate the potency of the myth of propositions at work - 'snow' is white' is true because snow is white - the whiteness of snow is a truth-maker. But we can leave that aside here, and use your account of how a factual assertion can be true.

3 So moral objectivism is the claim that a moral assertion - such as 'eating animals is morally wrong' - makes a factual claim, with a truth-value, about a feature of reality. - That there's something in reality that can verify the assertion 'eating animals is morally wrong', a real thing whose absence would falsify the assertion. And all of this independently from opinion, and therefore objectively. (The claim is obviously false.)

4 Adler's taste/truth distinction fails to establish that a moral assertion can have a truth-value - that there are moral facts in the first place. The assertion 'you ought not to drink bleach' has no moral implication whatsoever. It doesn't say 'drinking bleach is morally wrong', so it isn't a moral assertion with a truth-value.

5 Objectively verifiable consistency with a subjectively chosen goal doesn't confer factual status (and so truth-value) on a moral assertion. That's Harris's mistake.
Ah; you are pomo. You are consistent, if you do not recognize "objective factual truth" you will not recognize "objective moral truth. The problems with pomo are a different matter.

But you could be right; there might be 3 chairs at my table or 4... whose to judge? :-)
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:01 am
KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:37 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:09 pm
Thanks, but 1A isn't much of an advance.

Only factual assertions (typically linguistic expressions) have truth-value, and the very possibility of what you confusingly call 'objective moral truth' - factually true moral assertions - is the issue here. And neither normative ethics nor consequentialism addresses that fundamental problem in metaethics.

If definition is just establishing the use of terms, that gets us no nearer; and if it's the description of things - moral things such as right and wrong, good and bad - those, like all supposed abstract things, are misleading metaphysical fictions.
Factual assertions concern what "is". "Objective truth" with respect to factual assertions address whether the assertion corresponds with reality. If the assertion corresponds with reality, it is considered "true". Interestingly, there are few factual assertions that are universal (e.g. the shape of the earth) but this should not prohibit us from asserting that, based on current knowledge, the statement that the earth is flat is untrue.

Normative ethics address right desire, or what we "ought" to desire (i.e. assuming our conduct reflects our desires). Some desires are a matter of "taste", for example, whether you prefer apples or oranges. I should not say that you "ought" to eat apples and not oranges as a normative statement of objective morality. I can say that you "ought not" drink drano; excruciating pain is not a matter of taste. Will there be a person who seeks out pain? Probably, the same way there are those who believe the earth is flat. We can be wrong about moral truth, the same way we can be wrong about factual truth.

The taste / truth distinction in morality is Adler. Harris has same concept on his "peaks" of the moral landscape. Others have similar concepts.
1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts, so it's incoherent to say facts are objective. And since only factual assertions have truth-value, the expression 'objective truth' is incoherent - another grammatical misattribution - and also a common one.

2 Correspondence theories of truth demonstrate the potency of the myth of propositions at work - 'snow' is white' is true because snow is white - the whiteness of snow is a truth-maker. But we can leave that aside here, and use your account of how a factual assertion can be true.

3 So moral objectivism is the claim that a moral assertion - such as 'eating animals is morally wrong' - makes a factual claim, with a truth-value, about a feature of reality. - That there's something in reality that can verify the assertion 'eating animals is morally wrong', a real thing whose absence would falsify the assertion. And all of this independently from opinion, and therefore objectively. (The claim is obviously false.)

4 Adler's taste/truth distinction fails to establish that a moral assertion can have a truth-value - that there are moral facts in the first place. The assertion 'you ought not to drink bleach' has no moral implication whatsoever. It doesn't say 'drinking bleach is morally wrong', so it isn't a moral assertion with a truth-value.

5 Objectively verifiable consistency with a subjectively chosen goal doesn't confer factual status (and so truth-value) on a moral assertion. That's Harris's mistake.
1 I have a belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If do not lie, I may make an assertion that reflects my belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If my assertion corresponds with reality (i.e. there are 4 chairs in the next room) my assertion corresponds with reality and is true.

3 Again, what do you mean by "morally wrong"? That would depend on the consequences of the action. Granted, this gets into some complicated waters but does not invalidate that there is a morally correct answer to whether we should eat animals based on the consequences of doing so.

4 The word "ought" is a normative / moral statement. It may be correct or incorrect, but it is a moral statement.

5 Too funny. I've put "Harris haters" into two camps; now I know which one you are in :-). That is not his position, his position is that we can be wrong about subjectively chosen goals... the subjectivity is irrelevant to morality.
Peter Holmes
Posts: 1408
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:01 am
KLewchuk wrote: Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:37 pm

Factual assertions concern what "is". "Objective truth" with respect to factual assertions address whether the assertion corresponds with reality. If the assertion corresponds with reality, it is considered "true". Interestingly, there are few factual assertions that are universal (e.g. the shape of the earth) but this should not prohibit us from asserting that, based on current knowledge, the statement that the earth is flat is untrue.

Normative ethics address right desire, or what we "ought" to desire (i.e. assuming our conduct reflects our desires). Some desires are a matter of "taste", for example, whether you prefer apples or oranges. I should not say that you "ought" to eat apples and not oranges as a normative statement of objective morality. I can say that you "ought not" drink drano; excruciating pain is not a matter of taste. Will there be a person who seeks out pain? Probably, the same way there are those who believe the earth is flat. We can be wrong about moral truth, the same way we can be wrong about factual truth.

The taste / truth distinction in morality is Adler. Harris has same concept on his "peaks" of the moral landscape. Others have similar concepts.
1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts, so it's incoherent to say facts are objective. And since only factual assertions have truth-value, the expression 'objective truth' is incoherent - another grammatical misattribution - and also a common one.

2 Correspondence theories of truth demonstrate the potency of the myth of propositions at work - 'snow' is white' is true because snow is white - the whiteness of snow is a truth-maker. But we can leave that aside here, and use your account of how a factual assertion can be true.

3 So moral objectivism is the claim that a moral assertion - such as 'eating animals is morally wrong' - makes a factual claim, with a truth-value, about a feature of reality. - That there's something in reality that can verify the assertion 'eating animals is morally wrong', a real thing whose absence would falsify the assertion. And all of this independently from opinion, and therefore objectively. (The claim is obviously false.)

4 Adler's taste/truth distinction fails to establish that a moral assertion can have a truth-value - that there are moral facts in the first place. The assertion 'you ought not to drink bleach' has no moral implication whatsoever. It doesn't say 'drinking bleach is morally wrong', so it isn't a moral assertion with a truth-value.

5 Objectively verifiable consistency with a subjectively chosen goal doesn't confer factual status (and so truth-value) on a moral assertion. That's Harris's mistake.
1 I have a belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If do not lie, I may make an assertion that reflects my belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If my assertion corresponds with reality (i.e. there are 4 chairs in the next room) my assertion corresponds with reality and is true.

3 Again, what do you mean by "morally wrong"? That would depend on the consequences of the action. Granted, this gets into some complicated waters but does not invalidate that there is a morally correct answer to whether we should eat animals based on the consequences of doing so.

4 The word "ought" is a normative / moral statement. It may be correct or incorrect, but it is a moral statement.

5 Too funny. I've put "Harris haters" into two camps; now I know which one you are in :-). That is not his position, his position is that we can be wrong about subjectively chosen goals... the subjectivity is irrelevant to morality.
1 No disagreement here. I'm just clarifying the terms.

3 The point is, judgement as to the moral rightness or wrongness of the consequences of an action are no different from judgement as to moral rightness or wrongness of the action iteslf. Consequentialism adds nothing to the question of moral objectivity. There is no moral fact of the matter about either eating animals or the consequences or eating animals. Consequentialism is a dead end.

4 No, a word can't be a statement, such as a factual assertion with a truth-value. I guess you mean that an assertion using the modal 'ought to' is normative. If so, my point is that, if such an assertion is factual, it's no longer moral. In other words, moral 'ought' is different from goal-oriented 'ought'. And moral objectivists elide the distinction. For example: the claim 'if you want to extinguish a fire, you ought not to pour petrol on it' has no moral implication, so it isn't a moral assertion.

5 I'm not a Harris-hater. He's just wrong about the objectivity of morality. And your gloss demonstrates the mistake. Our being 'wrong' about a subjectively-chosen goal is a matter of opinion - not a fact.
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:55 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:01 am
1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts, so it's incoherent to say facts are objective. And since only factual assertions have truth-value, the expression 'objective truth' is incoherent - another grammatical misattribution - and also a common one.

2 Correspondence theories of truth demonstrate the potency of the myth of propositions at work - 'snow' is white' is true because snow is white - the whiteness of snow is a truth-maker. But we can leave that aside here, and use your account of how a factual assertion can be true.

3 So moral objectivism is the claim that a moral assertion - such as 'eating animals is morally wrong' - makes a factual claim, with a truth-value, about a feature of reality. - That there's something in reality that can verify the assertion 'eating animals is morally wrong', a real thing whose absence would falsify the assertion. And all of this independently from opinion, and therefore objectively. (The claim is obviously false.)

4 Adler's taste/truth distinction fails to establish that a moral assertion can have a truth-value - that there are moral facts in the first place. The assertion 'you ought not to drink bleach' has no moral implication whatsoever. It doesn't say 'drinking bleach is morally wrong', so it isn't a moral assertion with a truth-value.

5 Objectively verifiable consistency with a subjectively chosen goal doesn't confer factual status (and so truth-value) on a moral assertion. That's Harris's mistake.
1 I have a belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If do not lie, I may make an assertion that reflects my belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If my assertion corresponds with reality (i.e. there are 4 chairs in the next room) my assertion corresponds with reality and is true.

3 Again, what do you mean by "morally wrong"? That would depend on the consequences of the action. Granted, this gets into some complicated waters but does not invalidate that there is a morally correct answer to whether we should eat animals based on the consequences of doing so.

4 The word "ought" is a normative / moral statement. It may be correct or incorrect, but it is a moral statement.

5 Too funny. I've put "Harris haters" into two camps; now I know which one you are in :-). That is not his position, his position is that we can be wrong about subjectively chosen goals... the subjectivity is irrelevant to morality.
1 No disagreement here. I'm just clarifying the terms.

3 The point is, judgement as to the moral rightness or wrongness of the consequences of an action are no different from judgement as to moral rightness or wrongness of the action iteslf. Consequentialism adds nothing to the question of moral objectivity. There is no moral fact of the matter about either eating animals or the consequences or eating animals. Consequentialism is a dead end.

4 No, a word can't be a statement, such as a factual assertion with a truth-value. I guess you mean that an assertion using the modal 'ought to' is normative. If so, my point is that, if such an assertion is factual, it's no longer moral. In other words, moral 'ought' is different from goal-oriented 'ought'. And moral objectivists elide the distinction. For example: the claim 'if you want to extinguish a fire, you ought not to pour petrol on it' has no moral implication, so it isn't a moral assertion.

5 I'm not a Harris-hater. He's just wrong about the objectivity of morality. And your gloss demonstrates the mistake. Our being 'wrong' about a subjectively-chosen goal is a matter of opinion - not a fact.
Omer gerd:

1 So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that there are facts and values. Values are subjective and therefore they cannot be an objective morality.

I will borrow a concept from Harris: The most suffering of all sentient beings for as long as possible vs the greatest sense of wellbeing of all sentient creatures for as long as possible. Can we make a value judgment regarding these two options? For example, that suffering is "bad" and well-being "good". Or, we don't even need to go that far, we can say that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering". If we accept that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering" we have a higher value and a lesser value. From a consequentialist perspective, one "ought" to pursue that which is of higher value.

Unless one is a radical skeptic (which then, just state the assumption) you do need to find bedrock. The assertion that "suffering is bad" is generally pretty well accepted.
Peter Holmes
Posts: 1408
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:14 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:55 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:04 pm

1 I have a belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If do not lie, I may make an assertion that reflects my belief that there are 4 chairs in the next room. If my assertion corresponds with reality (i.e. there are 4 chairs in the next room) my assertion corresponds with reality and is true.

3 Again, what do you mean by "morally wrong"? That would depend on the consequences of the action. Granted, this gets into some complicated waters but does not invalidate that there is a morally correct answer to whether we should eat animals based on the consequences of doing so.

4 The word "ought" is a normative / moral statement. It may be correct or incorrect, but it is a moral statement.

5 Too funny. I've put "Harris haters" into two camps; now I know which one you are in :-). That is not his position, his position is that we can be wrong about subjectively chosen goals... the subjectivity is irrelevant to morality.
1 No disagreement here. I'm just clarifying the terms.

3 The point is, judgement as to the moral rightness or wrongness of the consequences of an action are no different from judgement as to moral rightness or wrongness of the action iteslf. Consequentialism adds nothing to the question of moral objectivity. There is no moral fact of the matter about either eating animals or the consequences or eating animals. Consequentialism is a dead end.

4 No, a word can't be a statement, such as a factual assertion with a truth-value. I guess you mean that an assertion using the modal 'ought to' is normative. If so, my point is that, if such an assertion is factual, it's no longer moral. In other words, moral 'ought' is different from goal-oriented 'ought'. And moral objectivists elide the distinction. For example: the claim 'if you want to extinguish a fire, you ought not to pour petrol on it' has no moral implication, so it isn't a moral assertion.

5 I'm not a Harris-hater. He's just wrong about the objectivity of morality. And your gloss demonstrates the mistake. Our being 'wrong' about a subjectively-chosen goal is a matter of opinion - not a fact.
Omer gerd:

1 So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that there are facts and values. Values are subjective and therefore they cannot be an objective morality.

I will borrow a concept from Harris: The most suffering of all sentient beings for as long as possible vs the greatest sense of wellbeing of all sentient creatures for as long as possible. Can we make a value judgment regarding these two options? For example, that suffering is "bad" and well-being "good". Or, we don't even need to go that far, we can say that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering". If we accept that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering" we have a higher value and a lesser value. From a consequentialist perspective, one "ought" to pursue that which is of higher value.

Unless one is a radical skeptic (which then, just state the assumption) you do need to find bedrock. The assertion that "suffering is bad" is generally pretty well accepted.
Yep, there are no moral facts, but only moral opinions held by people, some of whom think their own moral opinions are facts. (Moral realists and objectivists never think their moral opinions could be false - in my experience.)

Whatever facts we deploy to justify a moral opinion, it remains an opinion. And others can deploy the same facts differently, or different facts, to justify a different moral opinion. That is our inescapable moral predicament.

Harris, Dillanhunty and others make a simple mistake. Of course we can prefer well-being to suffering, maximal or otherwise, for good (meaning rational) reasons. But that one 'is better than' the other is a value-judgement, not a fact - a true factual assertion independent from opinion.
Skepdick
Posts: 5220
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:16 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Skepdick »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:00 pm But that one 'is better than' the other is a value-judgement, not a fact - a true factual assertion independent from opinion.
So, objectively speaking why do you think the fact-value distinction is subjectively valuable?
KLewchuk
Posts: 161
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by KLewchuk »

Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:00 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:14 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 4:55 pm
1 No disagreement here. I'm just clarifying the terms.

3 The point is, judgement as to the moral rightness or wrongness of the consequences of an action are no different from judgement as to moral rightness or wrongness of the action iteslf. Consequentialism adds nothing to the question of moral objectivity. There is no moral fact of the matter about either eating animals or the consequences or eating animals. Consequentialism is a dead end.

4 No, a word can't be a statement, such as a factual assertion with a truth-value. I guess you mean that an assertion using the modal 'ought to' is normative. If so, my point is that, if such an assertion is factual, it's no longer moral. In other words, moral 'ought' is different from goal-oriented 'ought'. And moral objectivists elide the distinction. For example: the claim 'if you want to extinguish a fire, you ought not to pour petrol on it' has no moral implication, so it isn't a moral assertion.

5 I'm not a Harris-hater. He's just wrong about the objectivity of morality. And your gloss demonstrates the mistake. Our being 'wrong' about a subjectively-chosen goal is a matter of opinion - not a fact.
Omer gerd:

1 So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that there are facts and values. Values are subjective and therefore they cannot be an objective morality.

I will borrow a concept from Harris: The most suffering of all sentient beings for as long as possible vs the greatest sense of wellbeing of all sentient creatures for as long as possible. Can we make a value judgment regarding these two options? For example, that suffering is "bad" and well-being "good". Or, we don't even need to go that far, we can say that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering". If we accept that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering" we have a higher value and a lesser value. From a consequentialist perspective, one "ought" to pursue that which is of higher value.

Unless one is a radical skeptic (which then, just state the assumption) you do need to find bedrock. The assertion that "suffering is bad" is generally pretty well accepted.
Yep, there are no moral facts, but only moral opinions held by people, some of whom think their own moral opinions are facts. (Moral realists and objectivists never think their moral opinions could be false - in my experience.)

Whatever facts we deploy to justify a moral opinion, it remains an opinion. And others can deploy the same facts differently, or different facts, to justify a different moral opinion. That is our inescapable moral predicament.

Harris, Dillanhunty and others make a simple mistake. Of course we can prefer well-being to suffering, maximal or otherwise, for good (meaning rational) reasons. But that one 'is better than' the other is a value-judgement, not a fact - a true factual assertion independent from opinion.
This is where the conversation basically stops. Once a person attempts to defend their position by saying that the statement "suffering is bad" is merely an opinion is either irrational, insane, or has never witness or experienced suffering.
Peter Holmes
Posts: 1408
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:10 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 6:00 pm
KLewchuk wrote: Sun Oct 25, 2020 5:14 pm

Omer gerd:

1 So, if I understand you correctly, you believe that there are facts and values. Values are subjective and therefore they cannot be an objective morality.

I will borrow a concept from Harris: The most suffering of all sentient beings for as long as possible vs the greatest sense of wellbeing of all sentient creatures for as long as possible. Can we make a value judgment regarding these two options? For example, that suffering is "bad" and well-being "good". Or, we don't even need to go that far, we can say that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering". If we accept that "less suffering" is better than "more suffering" we have a higher value and a lesser value. From a consequentialist perspective, one "ought" to pursue that which is of higher value.

Unless one is a radical skeptic (which then, just state the assumption) you do need to find bedrock. The assertion that "suffering is bad" is generally pretty well accepted.
Yep, there are no moral facts, but only moral opinions held by people, some of whom think their own moral opinions are facts. (Moral realists and objectivists never think their moral opinions could be false - in my experience.)

Whatever facts we deploy to justify a moral opinion, it remains an opinion. And others can deploy the same facts differently, or different facts, to justify a different moral opinion. That is our inescapable moral predicament.

Harris, Dillanhunty and others make a simple mistake. Of course we can prefer well-being to suffering, maximal or otherwise, for good (meaning rational) reasons. But that one 'is better than' the other is a value-judgement, not a fact - a true factual assertion independent from opinion.
This is where the conversation basically stops. Once a person attempts to defend their position by saying that the statement "suffering is bad" is merely an opinion is either irrational, insane, or has never witness or experienced suffering.
Call it a belief or a judgement - and omit 'merely'.

There are religions and other ideologies that teach the benefit of suffering. No pain, no gain. You may think their adherents irrational or insane, but that's just your opinion.

And you are presumptuous. I've both witnessed and experienced suffering, and I definitely prefer well-being and happiness. But your - and VA's and the Dick's argument - that if we don't want something it's a fact that it's morally wrong - is utterly fatuous and demonstrably unsound.

Thanks for the craic.
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