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 » Wed May 22, 2019 8:36 am

For anyone following this post -

After much useful and interesting discussion here, I've posted a summary of my argument against moral objectivism at my OP 'Is morality objective or subjective?'

Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Wed May 22, 2019 9:44 am

Morality is something that people always and everywhere do and is an important part of culture. If someone disapproves of a tenet of a moral system he disapproves of an important part of the culture. His disapproval is his subjective judgement although he may be influenced by others and usually is.

You might as well ask " What could make culture objective?" The question does not make sense.

Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed May 22, 2019 10:45 am

Belinda wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 9:44 am
Morality is something that people always and everywhere do and is an important part of culture. If someone disapproves of a tenet of a moral system he disapproves of an important part of the culture. His disapproval is his subjective judgement although he may be influenced by others and usually is.

You might as well ask " What could make culture objective?" The question does not make sense.
I disagree. The point (and importance) of this question is the justification for the moral rules and values that inform a culture. But your question - what could make a culture objective? - is indeed incoherent.

Univalence
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 11:38 am

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 10:45 am
I disagree. The point (and importance) of this question is the justification for the moral rules and values that inform a culture. But your question - what could make a culture objective? - is indeed incoherent.
You are speaking about 'incoherence' and 'justification'. It sounds to me like you are speaking about epistemology then.
Coherentism in epistemology.

So, what do you think about this claim: Objective morality is an epistemic problem.
No need to answer it. It's rhetorical. You are speaking about epistemology.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:29 am
An objection to moral subjectivism is that, if moral values and judgements are matters of opinion, we can't know if they're correct.
That almost sounds like we might be getting somewhere, but it's really just an illusion.

If objective morality is an epistemic problem, then we have another, much more serious issue altogether.
The Problem of criterion
In the field of epistemology, the problem of the criterion is an issue regarding the starting point of knowledge. This is a separate and more fundamental issue than the regress argument found in discussions on justification of knowledge.
Indeed The Problem of the Criterion is considered by many to be a fundamental problem of epistemology. In fact, Chisholm (1973, 1) claims that the Problem of the Criterion is “one of the most important and one of the most difficult of all the problems of philosophy.

So I am going to go ahead and say that you are simply disagreeing for the sake of Philosophical contrarianism.
If you are willing to publicly state your epistemic criterion for 'justification' then it should be trivial to work towards objective morality also.

So, really. Belinda's point sticks. Your question doesn't make sense.

If knowledge is even possible, then I know at least this. Morality is objective and murder is wrong.
Moral knowledge is a priori empiricism.
Factual knowledge is a posteriori empiricism.

Peter Holmes
Posts: 514
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm

Univalence wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 11:38 am
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 10:45 am
I disagree. The point (and importance) of this question is the justification for the moral rules and values that inform a culture. But your question - what could make a culture objective? - is indeed incoherent.
You are speaking about 'incoherence' and 'justification'. It sounds to me like you are speaking about epistemology then.
Coherentism in epistemology.

So, what do you think about this claim: Objective morality is an epistemic problem.
No need to answer it. It's rhetorical. You are speaking about epistemology.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:29 am
An objection to moral subjectivism is that, if moral values and judgements are matters of opinion, we can't know if they're correct.
That almost sounds like we might be getting somewhere, but it's really just an illusion.

If objective morality is an epistemic problem, then we have another, much more serious issue altogether.
The Problem of criterion
In the field of epistemology, the problem of the criterion is an issue regarding the starting point of knowledge. This is a separate and more fundamental issue than the regress argument found in discussions on justification of knowledge.
Indeed The Problem of the Criterion is considered by many to be a fundamental problem of epistemology. In fact, Chisholm (1973, 1) claims that the Problem of the Criterion is “one of the most important and one of the most difficult of all the problems of philosophy.

So I am going to go ahead and say that you are simply disagreeing for the sake of Philosophical contrarianism.
If you are willing to publicly state your epistemic criterion for 'justification' then it should be trivial to work towards objective morality also.

So, really. Belinda's point sticks. Your question doesn't make sense.

If knowledge is even possible, then I know at least this. Morality is objective and murder is wrong.
Moral knowledge is a priori empiricism.
Factual knowledge is a posteriori empiricism.
Thanks for such a thoughtful response. If I understand it correctly - and I may not - I disagree with your analysis.

Talk of moral epistemology makes no sense until it can be demonstrated that there are moral things that can be known. In other words, morality isn't about knowledge, empirical or otherwise. Of course, if such things are shown to exist, I'll have to re-think it all. Perhaps my use of the word 'justification' misled you. I referred to the justification for moral rules and values, not of knowledge-claims.

As for what you call the problem of criterion, I think that's an example of a confected metaphysical delusion - one of the many that have befuddled philosophers for centuries. The conceptual confusion of the JTB definition of knowledge is a case in point.

I say Belinda's question is incoherent because culture isn't the same kind of thing as morality. The claim 'culture is / isn't objective' seems to have no obvious meaning (at least to me), in the way that the claim 'morality is / isn't objective' does.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 1:19 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm
Talk of moral epistemology makes no sense until it can be demonstrated that there are moral things that can be known.
If the above statement is true, then talk of epistemology (moral or otherwise) makes no sense either until it can be demonstrated that anything can be known.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm
In other words, morality isn't about knowledge
I disagree with you. You disagree with you also.

Directly from your OP.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:29 am
if moral values and judgements are matters of opinion, we can't know if they're correct.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm
Perhaps my use of the word 'justification' misled you. I referred to the justification for moral rules and values, not of knowledge-claims.
Well your use of 'justification' was part of it. The other part was your claim of (in)coherence. Because coherentism is a theory of epistemic justification.

When you keep talking about 'justification', 'coherence', and and 'knowing correctness'.

It is absolutely clear to me (if not to you) that you are talking about epistemology!

Peter Holmes
Posts: 514
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm

Univalence wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:19 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm
Talk of moral epistemology makes no sense until it can be demonstrated that there are moral things that can be known.
If the above statement is true, then talk of epistemology (moral or otherwise) makes no sense either until it can be demonstrated that things can be known.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:04 pm
In other words, morality isn't about knowledge
I disagree with you.
You disagree with you also.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:29 am
An objection to moral subjectivism is that, if moral values and judgements are matters of opinion, we can't know if they're correct.
'If the above statement is true, then talk of epistemology (moral or otherwise) makes no sense either until it can be demonstrated that things can be known.'
I assume we're part of a reality consisting of things that can be known - of which there can be knowledge. I assume you agree, but if not, we'd better end it here. My claim is that there are no moral things. By all means, try to falsify it.

You misunderstand my use of the word 'know' in the OP. I go on immediately to question the idea that there is anything moral to be known.

May I suggest you read my 'An argument against moral objectivism' which I've just posted at my other OP: 'Is morality objective or subjective?'. I completely understand if you don't want to, but it will explain the thinking behind this post.
Last edited by Peter Holmes on Wed May 22, 2019 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 1:38 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
I assume we're part of a reality
I am with you so far...

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
consisting of things
Yep. Still with you....
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
that can be known - of which there can be knowledge.
This is where we part ways. How did you argue yourself into this position?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
May I suggest you read my 'An argument against moral objectivism' which I've just posted at my other OP: 'Is morality objective or subjective'. I completely understand if you don't want to, but it may explain the thinking behind this post.
I have read your argument.

I am trying to ascertain why you think objective morality is NOT an epistemic problem, when you are clearly using the language of epistemology to make your argument, as well as to dismiss counter-arguments.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 1:50 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
You misunderstand my use of the word 'know' in the OP. I go on immediately to question the idea that there is anything moral to be known.
There is certainly no misunderstanding on my part.

If you believe that some knowledge is possible but not others, you are going to have to make your argument for discerning the two kinds of knowledge.
Last edited by Univalence on Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Peter Holmes
Posts: 514
Joined: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm

Univalence wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:38 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
I assume we're part of a reality
I am with you so far...

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
consisting of things
Yep. Still with you....
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
that can be known - of which there can be knowledge.
This is where we part ways. How did you argue yourself into this position?
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:32 pm
May I suggest you read my 'An argument against moral objectivism' which I've just posted at my other OP: 'Is morality objective or subjective'. I completely understand if you don't want to, but it may explain the thinking behind this post.
I have read your argument.

I am trying to ascertain why you think objective morality is NOT an epistemic problem, when you are clearly using the language of epistemology to talk about it.
I assume you meant to say 'why you think morality is not an epistemic problem'. The expressions 'objective morality' and 'moral facts' are oxymorons, in my opinion. And I've explained why I think morality is not a matter of knowledge.

I believe you claim to know that morality is objective, and that murder is wrong. Please can you justify those knowledge-claims. Perhaps you can show what and where the 'wrongness of murder' is. The burden of proof is yours.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 1:56 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm
I believe you claim to know that morality is objective, and that murder is wrong. Please can you justify those knowledge-claims. Perhaps you can show what and where the 'wrongness of murder' is. The burden of proof is yours.
No, Peter. You can't shift the burden of proof here.

Please present us with an argument as to why you believe some kinds of knowledge are possible, but others aren't.
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm
And I've explained why I think morality is not a matter of knowledge.
Your argument fails to convince while you use words like 'incoherent', 'justify' and 'know' while speaking about it.
Last edited by Univalence on Wed May 22, 2019 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Univalence
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 2:00 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm
The expressions 'objective morality' and 'moral facts' are oxymorons, in my opinion. And I've explained why I think morality is not a matter of knowledge.
The distinction between 'facts' and 'moral facts' is equally unjustified.
If you think facts can be known, but moral facts can't be known then you are necessarily making the claim that some knowledge is possible while other isn't.

I would like you hear your argument for that claim.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes » Wed May 22, 2019 2:10 pm

Univalence wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 2:00 pm
Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:54 pm
The expressions 'objective morality' and 'moral facts' are oxymorons, in my opinion. And I've explained why I think morality is not a matter of knowledge.
The distinction between 'facts' and 'moral facts' is equally unjustified.
If you think facts can be known, but moral facts can't be known then you are necessarily making the claim that some knowledge is possible while other isn't.

I would like you hear your argument for that claim.
No, you're still assuming that there are moral facts, which is precisely what I'm denying. The distinction is not between facts and moral facts - it's between factual and non-factual assertions, such as moral and aesthetic ones, that express judgements, beliefs or opinions, rather than make falsifiable factual claims.

If you think a moral assertion, such as 'murder is wrong' is true (a true factual assertion), can you show what in reality makes it true, independent of judgement, belief or opinion, the absence of which would falsify it? I'm checking out now until you provide that information. Thanks for the craic.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Univalence » Wed May 22, 2019 2:11 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 2:10 pm
No, you're still assuming that there are moral facts, which is precisely what I'm denying. The distinction is not between facts and moral facts - it's between factual and non-factual assertions, such as moral and aesthetic ones, that express judgements, beliefs or opinions, rather than make falsifiable factual claims.

If you think a moral assertion, such as 'murder is wrong' is true (a true factual assertion), can you show what in reality makes it true, independent of judgement, belief or opinion, the absence of which would falsify it? I'm checking out now until you provide that information. Thanks for the craic.
Peter, this is directly from your OP
Peter Holmes wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:29 am
But this assumes that there is indeed something to be known: an object of some kind that verifies the assertion slavery is wrong and falsifies the assertion slavery is right - or, perhaps, vice versa. But what is the object that makes moral judgements objective - matters of fact - and therefore true or false?
And this is my poetic take on the above
But this assumes that there is indeed some way to determine, an object of some kind that verifies the assertion that knowledge is possible, and falsifies the assertion knowledge is impossible - or, perhaps, vice versa. But what is the object that makes possibility/impossibility judgments - matter of fact - and therefore true or false?
So I beg you, address the question. Is this a true claim? "Knowledge is possible".

You force me to repeat myself: It is absolutely clear to me (if not to you) that you are talking about epistemology!

When you tell me how you solved the epistemic problems of criterion AND justification in order to determine that knowledge is possible, then I will tell you how I determined that morality is objective.

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

Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda » Wed May 22, 2019 4:27 pm

Peter Holmes wrote:
Talk of moral epistemology makes no sense until it can be demonstrated that there are moral things that can be known. In other words, morality isn't about knowledge, empirical or otherwise. Of course, if such things are shown to exist, I'll have to re-think it all. Perhaps my use of the word 'justification' misled you. I referred to the justification for moral rules and values, not of knowledge-claims.

As for what you call the problem of criterion, I think that's an example of a confected metaphysical delusion - one of the many that have befuddled philosophers for centuries. The conceptual confusion of the JTB definition of knowledge is a case in point.

I say Belinda's question is incoherent because culture isn't the same kind of thing as morality. The claim 'culture is / isn't objective' seems to have no obvious meaning (at least to me), in the way that the claim 'morality is / isn't objective' does.
Culture is the same kind of thing as morality. Here's an illustration:
" We of -------land keep laying hens for our main source of protein and we agree that we should and must use birds that don't lay eggs as boiling fowls. We regard it as immoral to waste this important source of food."

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