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 »

Logik wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:21 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:02 pm As I've explained, a factual assertion can only be inside a frame of reference. That, from another perspective, it can be false, is trivially true and inconsequential.
It is not inconsequential. You gave me "The Earth orbits the Sun" as a fact. I gave you a trivial example of reference from which it isn't.
So the statement is only true IF you pre-suppose Heliocentrism. Which is contrary to your notion of "true irrespective of what what anybody claims to believe or know".
No, I've explained your misconception here, and there's little point going over it again. Let's leave it, shall we?
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Do you think a fact is an abstract entity which we happen to call a 'fact' - so that we have true and false 'conceptions' of what that thing is?
Yes. All language is abstract.
This is false. Linguistic signs are real things: sounds, marks on paper or screen, hand gestures, and so on. Perhaps your misconception here informs other mistakes.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:50 pm No, I've explained your misconception here, and there's little point going over it again. Let's leave it, shall we?
The point in going over it is so that we can correct the error in your reasoning which I am busy pointing out.

The notion of "true irrespective of what anybody believes or claims to know" does not apply to "The Earth orbits the Sun" because the statement is:
* True if you believe in Heliocentrism.
* False if you believe in Geocentrism or Baryocentrism.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm This is false. Linguistic signs are real things: sounds, marks on paper or screen, hand gestures, and so on. Perhaps your misconception here informs other mistakes.
Signs are real. Language is abstract.

The sign "cat" is real. The relationship between the sign "cat" and the animal is abstract.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Logik wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:03 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:50 pm No, I've explained your misconception here, and there's little point going over it again. Let's leave it, shall we?
The point in going over it is so that we can correct the error in your reasoning which I am busy pointing out.
No, all you're doing is repeating your mistake.

The notion of "true irrespective of what anybody believes or claims to know" does not apply to "The Earth orbits the Sun" because the statement is:
* True if you believe in Heliocentrism.
* False if you believe in Geocentrism or Baryocentrism.
And within a particular perspective, factual assertions are independently true or false. Why is this is so hard for you to understand?
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm This is false. Linguistic signs are real things: sounds, marks on paper or screen, hand gestures, and so on. Perhaps your misconception here informs other mistakes.
Signs are real. Language is abstract.

The sign "cat" is real. The relationship between the sign "cat" and the animal is abstract.
Whoa. You're obviously all at sea here. I'm after a more rational conversation really. But thanks for engaging.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:14 pm Why is this is so hard for you to understand?
Because you contradict yourself.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:14 pm And within a particular perspective, factual assertions are independently true or false.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:02 pm As I've explained, a factual assertion can only be inside a frame of reference.
If truth is a function of perspective and your chosen perspective is a value judgment you obliterate your own notion of 'objectivity'.

Just like you reject the Geocentric reference frame, I reject the Heliocentric reference frame so "The Earth orbits around the Sun" is false and therefore not a fact.

Your preference for the Heliocentric reference frame is a value judgment. At best - it's a bandwagon fallacy.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:14 pm Whoa. You're obviously all at sea here. I'm after a more rational conversation really. But thanks for engaging.
Seeming as I am the more rational between the two of us, I am not really sure what you mean.

The sign "cat" means what it means by convention. Collectively we could have picked any other sign. Indeed - we do that all the time. That is why we have about 6500 different languages on Earth. And in each one of those languages we could have swapped the meaning of the signs "cat" and "dog" and nobody would be the wiser. To claim that the choice of word for the animal in question is not arbitrary, subjective and culturally/socially contextual is absurd.

And if it is socially contextual then it cannot be "independent of what anybody claims to know and believe". Au contraire. It depends precisely on what everybody in your social circle accepts, knows and believes.

Just like the factuality of the statement "The Earth orbits the Sun" is contingent on one's acceptance of Heliocentrism!

Objectivity contingent on prior belief is an oxymoron!
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Immanuel Did
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Immanuel Did »

When we arrange a set of dots to be the letter A, we have added something which is more than the sum of the parts. The simple sum of the parts is just the number of dots. But in arranging them as the letter A we have added a modicum of meaning and increased potentiality for meaning.

When the letter A takes it's place in the statement THE CAT IS BLACK, then the arrangement has added further meaning which is more than the sum of the parts. In this fashion we see that the world is a structure of progressive arrangements of a hierarchal nature, and such is essentially organisation or organism. This means the letter A is not a 'thing', since we have transcended those random dots which are the basic 'thing' and have added a modicum of symbolic meaning. Number has transformed to literate meaning, and this becomes even more clear when we elaborate the letters to read THE CAT IS BLACK.

We have exactly the same state of affairs in considering living organic creatures such as an actual black cat. The black cat is not a 'thing', it is an arrangements of those random dots we call atoms. The fact we use the words BLACK CAT is simply naming a process for a particular arrangement of atomic dots. It is symbolism.

We thus have an exact parallelism:

1. An organic creature is an arrangement of atomic dots.

2. A meaningful human statement is an arrangement of mark dots.
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A_Seagull
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by A_Seagull »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm , if facts are value-judgements, then value-judgements are facts,
Not quite.

If A is a subset of B, it does not follow that B is a subset of A. (nor That A=B
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A_Seagull
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by A_Seagull »

Logik wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:03 pm
Signs are real. Language is abstract.

The sign "cat" is real. The relationship between the sign "cat" and the animal is abstract.
As I suggested in another thread.. 'Statements are intrinsically meaningless' language has no meaning until it is interpreted by a person. ( I suppose you could call it abstract if you wanted to.)

The relationship between a string of symbols such as 'cat' and an animal requires a mapping which typically can only be carried out by a person.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

A_Seagull wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 5:48 am
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm , if facts are value-judgements, then value-judgements are facts,
Not quite.

If A is a subset of B, it does not follow that B is a subset of A. (nor That A=B
You quote me out of context. I was pointing out the strangeness of this claim.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm An interesting but strange counter-claim - expressed in different ways here - is that what we call facts are themselves value-judgements, so that there's no justification for distinguishing between factual and non-factual assertions, because they all express value-judgements.
Do I need to point out that the fact/value distinction is your taxonomy - not mine?
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Which is denying the cake exists, while wanting to have and eat it.
It's hardly a denial. I am merely drawing a distinction between the notions of language and 'objective truth'. You are the one who insists on conflating them.

This is the reality we find ourselves in. 'Objectivity' and 'facts' are social conventions invented/emergent out of necessity.

It is because we speak of linguistic utility is why why the notion of ovjectivity based on the notion of facts is meaningless.

Utility is subjective.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Logik wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:08 am
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm An interesting but strange counter-claim - expressed in different ways here - is that what we call facts are themselves value-judgements, so that there's no justification for distinguishing between factual and non-factual assertions, because they all express value-judgements.
Do I need to point out that the fact/value distinction is your taxonomy - not mine?
And if you reject the fact-value distinction, you can't then talk about the objectivity (factual nature) of any assertion, let alone moral ones - unless you clarify the non-standard way you're using the words 'truth', 'fact' and 'objectivity'. I assume you agree.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Which is denying the cake exists, while wanting to have and eat it.
It's hardly a denial. I am merely drawing a distinction between the notions of language and 'objective truth'. You are the one who insists on conflating them.
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Language isn't a 'notion' - it's a concrete tool we use to, among other things, talk about features of reality by means of factual assertions, which are concrete, real things - also not notions. I don't in any way conflate or confuse language with objectivity.

This is the reality we find ourselves in. 'Objectivity' and 'facts' are social conventions invented/emergent out of necessity.

It is because we speak of linguistic utility is why why the notion of ovjectivity based on the notion of facts is meaningless.

Utility is subjective.
Your mistake is this: we find it useful to use language - with conventional rules - to make true factual assertions about features of reality - true given the entirely arbitrary way we use the words or other signs involved; and because the use of signs is merely conventional, what we call factual truth and objectivity are subjective - matters of opinion. Non sequitur.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:06 pm And if you reject the fact-value distinction, you can't then talk about the objectivity (factual nature) of any assertion, let alone moral ones - unless you clarify the non-standard way you're using the words 'truth', 'fact' and 'objectivity'. I assume you agree.
I can't talk about your conception of objectivity (grounded in facts) because we cannot agree on a reference frame in which we ought to make factual assertions about reality. This is the criterion problem in epistemology. Is the Baryocentric or Heliocentric conception of the Solar system "correct"? By what criterion for 'correctness'?

I can talk about objective morality because I think we can agree on a framework in which we can make moral assertions about human existence in reality.

The conception of objectivity grounded in "facts" is an error because there are far too many perspectives from which one can 'view' reality.
Objectivity grounded in human experience is far more stable grounding - because that is the one thing we all share.

Most everybody would agree that getting kicked in the shins hurts. And we could agree that (if given a choice) getting kicked in the shins is not something we want to experience.

Of course - you have already rejected phenomenology once, so I am not sure if you are keen to be convinced.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Language isn't a 'notion' - it's a concrete tool we use to, among other things, talk about features of reality by means of factual assertions, which are concrete, real things - also not notions. I don't in any way conflate or confuse language with objectivity.
I agree. It is just a tool. As are the notions of 'facts' and 'objectivity'. We get to decide how to use our tools.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Your mistake is this: we find it useful to use language - with conventional rules - to make true factual assertions about features of reality - true given the entirely arbitrary way we use the words or other signs involved; and because the use of signs is merely conventional, what we call factual truth and objectivity are subjective - matters of opinion. Non sequitur.
OK, so if the rules are arbitrary then why have you chosen that particular conception of objectivity to derive morality from?
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Logik wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:01 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:06 pm And if you reject the fact-value distinction, you can't then talk about the objectivity (factual nature) of any assertion, let alone moral ones - unless you clarify the non-standard way you're using the words 'truth', 'fact' and 'objectivity'. I assume you agree.
I can't talk about your conception of objectivity (grounded in facts) because we cannot agree on a reference frame in which we ought to make factual assertions about reality. This is the criterion problem in epistemology. Is the Baryocentric or Heliocentric conception of the Solar system "correct"? By what criterion for 'correctness'?
The criterion for correctness - and therefore what constitutes the factual - is always within a frame of reference, so there's no correct frame of reference. I thought we'd agreed on that. But notice that what we say about frames of reference is factual - true or false - so this is the nature of our dilemma - again, as I think you agree. There's no way off this hamster-wheel.

I can talk about objective morality because I think we can agree on a framework in which we can make moral assertions about human existence in reality.
There's the rub. If we've agreed on a framework in which 'objective' means 'factual', and if we've agreed that 'factual' means 'making a claim about a feature of reality that's independent of opinion'', then the question is: can you provide an example of what you call a moral fact - a true factual assertion about a moral feature of reality, independent of opinion - without begging the question? If you can't - and I'm confident you can't - then, within this frame of reference, I'd like to know why you claim morality is objective.

The conception of objectivity grounded in "facts" is an error because there are far too many perspectives from which one can 'view' reality.
Objectivity grounded in human experience is far more stable grounding - because that is the one thing we all share.
1 So you propose a phenomenological foundation, having dismissed all foundationalisms as flawed.
2 What will 'ground' the truth-value of phenomenological assertions about experience? Could it by chance be exactly what grounds the truth-value of ordinary assertions in natural language: our linguistic practices?

Most everybody would agree that getting kicked in the shins hurts. And we could agree that (if given a choice) getting kicked in the shins is not something we want to experience.

Of course - you have already rejected phenomenology once, so I am not sure if you are keen to be convinced.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Language isn't a 'notion' - it's a concrete tool we use to, among other things, talk about features of reality by means of factual assertions, which are concrete, real things - also not notions. I don't in any way conflate or confuse language with objectivity.
I agree. It is just a tool. As are the notions of 'facts' and 'objectivity'. We get to decide how to use our tools.
And having decided how to use them, we can then distinguish between factual assertions, which are objective, and moral assertions, which are subjective.
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:56 pm Your mistake is this: we find it useful to use language - with conventional rules - to make true factual assertions about features of reality - true given the entirely arbitrary way we use the words or other signs involved; and because the use of signs is merely conventional, what we call factual truth and objectivity are subjective - matters of opinion. Non sequitur.
OK, so if the rules are arbitrary then why have you chosen that particular conception of objectivity to derive morality from?
There's the mistake. My argument all along has been that we don't and can't 'derive' morality from factual assertions; that we use the words 'objective' and 'subjective' to distinguish sharply between matters of fact and matters of judgement or opinion.

If you want to explain objectivity and subjectivity in a different, non-standard way, using a different frame of reference, then by all means do so. But you can't deny the distinction and its basis within this frame of reference. No frame of reference is superior to any other - none can say: 'You're not using the words 'true', 'false', 'fact', 'objective' and 'subjective' correctly.' But that's what you've been doing all this time.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm The criterion for correctness - and therefore what constitutes the factual - is always within a frame of reference, so there's no correct frame of reference. I thought we'd agreed on that. But notice that what we say about frames of reference is factual - true or false - so this is the nature of our dilemma - again, as I think you agree.
I don't agree. Are you aware of the use-mention distinction?

Talking about a reference frame means that we both recognize the concept of a "reference frame" it does not mean we have agreed on one.
Until we both agree on said frame of reference from which we are to evaluate our "factual claims" we are stuck.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's no way off this hamster-wheel.
The way of this hamster wheel is convention which is the product of consensus. I think we have agreed on that?
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's the rub. If we've agreed on a framework in which 'objective' means 'factual', and if we've agreed that 'factual' means 'making a claim about a feature of reality that's independent of opinion'',
So that is two ifs? That is (at least) two things we need to agree on before we can start talking about, reality, objectivity and facts?
Given that we have disagreed about this for 10+ pages of dialogue I am open to suggestions on how to come up to an agreement on these things.

But you seem hopeful. Go ahead and propose a reference frame together with all of the axioms which one must accept within said reference frame.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm If you can't - and I'm confident you can't - then, within this frame of reference, I'd like to know why you claim morality is objective.
Because I have an easier way for us to reach consensus.I can kick you in the shins and ask you: "Do you want me to do that again?". I am confident you will agree the answer is "No".

By your definition of "facts" (claims about features of reality) I can reasonably claim that me kicking you was true, real and objective.
The pain you felt was true, real and objective.

And now you reasonably understand what I mean by harm.

By Occam's razor this is far easier than having to agree on frame of reference, objectivity, facts any other nonsense.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Logik wrote: Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:11 am
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm The criterion for correctness - and therefore what constitutes the factual - is always within a frame of reference, so there's no correct frame of reference. I thought we'd agreed on that. But notice that what we say about frames of reference is factual - true or false - so this is the nature of our dilemma - again, as I think you agree.
I don't agree. Are you aware of the use-mention distinction?

Talking about a reference frame means that we both recognize the concept of a "reference frame" it does not mean we have agreed on one.
Until we both agree on said frame of reference from which we are to evaluate our "factual claims" we are stuck.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's no way off this hamster-wheel.
The way of this hamster wheel is convention which is the product of consensus. I think we have agreed on that?
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's the rub. If we've agreed on a framework in which 'objective' means 'factual', and if we've agreed that 'factual' means 'making a claim about a feature of reality that's independent of opinion'',
So that is two ifs? That is (at least) two things we need to agree on before we can start talking about, reality, objectivity and facts?
Given that we have disagreed about this for 10+ pages of dialogue I am open to suggestions on how to come up to an agreement on these things.

But you seem hopeful. Go ahead and propose a reference frame together with all of the axioms which one must accept within said reference frame.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm If you can't - and I'm confident you can't - then, within this frame of reference, I'd like to know why you claim morality is objective.
Because I have an easier way for us to reach consensus.I can kick you in the shins and ask you: "Do you want me to do that again?". I am confident you will agree the answer is "No".

By your definition of "facts" (claims about features of reality) I can reasonably claim that me kicking you was true, real and objective.
The pain you felt was true, real and objective.

And now you reasonably understand what I mean by harm.

By Occam's razor this is far easier than having to agree on frame of reference, objectivity, facts any other nonsense.
What I find puzzling is that you claim we have loads of work to do to find agreement about the meanings of the words we're using.

But then in your shin-kicking scenario, you say you can 'reasonably claim that your kicking me was true, real and objective.
The pain I felt was true, real and objective.'

I agree this is a reasonable claim, because you're using those words in a standard way - though you're making a common mistake in saying that an action can be true and objective, because only factual assertions can be true or false, and 'objective' means 'relying on facts - true factual assertions'. I take your actual meaning . I 'reasonably understand what I mean by harm', because you're using the word 'harm' in a standard way.

But now we're back to the sleight-of-hand deduction of a moral assertion from a factual one: your kicking me harms me, and you shouldn't kick me.

The following two assertions have completely different functions:

1 Kicking people harms them, because it hurts. (Let's ignore the obvious problems with this, such as that I may be a masochist.)

2 It's morally wrong to harm people.

The first is (arguably) a factual assertion. The second is a moral value-judgement. And the one doesn't entail the other in any way whatsoever.
Logik
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Logik »

Peter Holmes wrote: Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:55 pm
Logik wrote: Fri Dec 21, 2018 11:11 am
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm The criterion for correctness - and therefore what constitutes the factual - is always within a frame of reference, so there's no correct frame of reference. I thought we'd agreed on that. But notice that what we say about frames of reference is factual - true or false - so this is the nature of our dilemma - again, as I think you agree.
I don't agree. Are you aware of the use-mention distinction?

Talking about a reference frame means that we both recognize the concept of a "reference frame" it does not mean we have agreed on one.
Until we both agree on said frame of reference from which we are to evaluate our "factual claims" we are stuck.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's no way off this hamster-wheel.
The way of this hamster wheel is convention which is the product of consensus. I think we have agreed on that?
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm There's the rub. If we've agreed on a framework in which 'objective' means 'factual', and if we've agreed that 'factual' means 'making a claim about a feature of reality that's independent of opinion'',
So that is two ifs? That is (at least) two things we need to agree on before we can start talking about, reality, objectivity and facts?
Given that we have disagreed about this for 10+ pages of dialogue I am open to suggestions on how to come up to an agreement on these things.

But you seem hopeful. Go ahead and propose a reference frame together with all of the axioms which one must accept within said reference frame.
Peter Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:28 pm If you can't - and I'm confident you can't - then, within this frame of reference, I'd like to know why you claim morality is objective.
Because I have an easier way for us to reach consensus.I can kick you in the shins and ask you: "Do you want me to do that again?". I am confident you will agree the answer is "No".

By your definition of "facts" (claims about features of reality) I can reasonably claim that me kicking you was true, real and objective.
The pain you felt was true, real and objective.

And now you reasonably understand what I mean by harm.

By Occam's razor this is far easier than having to agree on frame of reference, objectivity, facts any other nonsense.
What I find puzzling is that you claim we have loads of work to do to find agreement about the meanings of the words we're using.

But then in your shin-kicking scenario, you say you can 'reasonably claim that your kicking me was true, real and objective.
The pain I felt was true, real and objective.'

I agree this is a reasonable claim, because you're using those words in a standard way - though you're making a common mistake in saying that an action can be true and objective, because only factual assertions can be true or false, and 'objective' means 'relying on facts - true factual assertions'. I take your actual meaning . I 'reasonably understand what I mean by harm', because you're using the word 'harm' in a standard way.

But now we're back to the sleight-of-hand deduction of a moral assertion from a factual one: your kicking me harms me, and you shouldn't kick me.

The following two assertions have completely different functions:

1 Kicking people harms them, because it hurts. (Let's ignore the obvious problems with this, such as that I may be a masochist.)

2 It's morally wrong to harm people.

The first is (arguably) a factual assertion. The second is a moral value-judgement. And the one doesn't entail the other in any way whatsoever.
It is no better than your approach. And the masochism example is not a problem because you seem happy to sweep cotigencies in your approach just the same.

Even if we could objectively assert that It is morally wrong to harm people, we could be mistaken. Or it could be wrong from one reference frame and right from another. Of what use is such “objective” morality?

And so one has to ask the question: If this is just about linguistic classification then why do we even care about objective morality then? Subjective morality works just fine too.

The foundational problem is one of agreement, not facts.

And using your definition this is a factual claim about reality: majority of humans agree that it is wrong to harm people.

Does this mean harm is objectively wrong?
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