odysseus wrote: ↑
Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:54 pm
Yes, "If." If one thinks that, then that's necessarily true. Quite so.
"Contingent" is one way of saying it: but "vacuous" is more accurate. There's quite simply nothing to such judgments. People make them, of course, but can't prove them justified.
You would have to take this up with Mackie, for he does think all ethics is contingent. Not sure why you think contingent affairs vacuous.
Oh, it's very simple. There's nothing behind them that justifies them. They're all merely arbitrary.
It's not vacuous to say, given that you don't want to go to jail,
I don't want to go to jail in the US or the UK. But I also don't want to go to jail in Saudi or North Korea or Nazi Germany. But in the former, you might go for murder or theft, and the latter three you would go for dissidence, or for exercising free speech, or blasphemy, or being a Jew.
Morally, there's a world of difference. In the first two cases, I would presumably be worthy of being jailed. In the latter ones, my being jailed would be only a function of tyranny. And to pretend that's morally equivalent would be monstrous.
...your conscience would scream bloody hell...
That depends, doesn't it? I would have to think that what I was doing was wrong, and I would need reasons to believe it was.
Well, no...that's the point. The judgment of the knife isn't even a moral judgment. It's just a judgment about usability. It lacks all moral dimension.
Usability is an interesting way to put it. It really IS a matter of how things "work" in contingent affairs.
You're missing the point, I fear.
The knife is not involved in morality in any way
here, except as the chosen instrument of a human being, who is morally capable. "Usability" is not a moral quality.
That is, as some will argue, what self interest is all about, and the argument goes that all moral actions are really reducible to self interest, and the acts we commit are essentially utility for the self.
I'm not speaking of Utilitarianism. I'm only speaking of utility, usability, function. Objects like knives have no knowledge of Mill or Bentham, and do not respond on that basis.
To be in love, e.g., does not require justification, and this is the kind of thing that drives all ethics,
No, that's a dodge, a facile escape from the real question. (Side Note: I don't mean you
are facile; I mean the answer isn't good, because it's far "too easy.")
If ethics were merely emotive, like "loving something," then we cannot possibly have obligation to do anything we don't "love" to do. But morality is inevitably about things we find difficult to do, but choose to do, so to speak, "on principle."
It is because stealing is so tempting that we have the injunction, "Thou shalt not steal." We have no injunction that reads, "Thou shalt not saw thy leg off," because no sane person ever wants to do that. When emotions and values align, morality doesn't even enter the question. We just do what we please.
And yet, it was an illustration you chose. Why choose an "altogether incidental" illustration?
But I think it's not incidental. Shakespeare was no fool: he knew what he was writing there. The rhetorical device he employs regarding the word "keen" is called "zeugma," the linking of two disparate objects with a single adjective. He knew that the moral "keenness" to kill was Lady Macbeth's, and that the knife was only literally "keen" -- keen-edged, not consciously keen on a moral or immoral objective, like Lady Macbeth.
Not sure why this is interesting. See the above for clarity.
Hey, you picked it.
That's yet to be shown. We can't make all "affairs" merely "valuatively arbitrary" by saying so. We have to show reasons why people should agree it's true.
You want reasons to agree it's true that putting a painful spear into another's kidney is, all contingent matters aside
, inherently wrong.
No, I don't. That's facile again.
I want an explanation of why I should not steal, on occasions when everything within me wants to steal, and I'm really sure I can avoid getting caught. Because that's when morality comes into play. Nobody needs to give me any reasons not to do what I have absolutely no inclination to do anyway, because it will never happen.
My position has been that the "reason" lies inherent in the phenomenon of pain itself.
Let's start there.
Can you show that the terms "pain" and "moral evil" are strictly identified with each other, so that there can be no "good pain," and there can be no "pain-free" condition that is not morally good too?
But one cannot separate metaethics and normative ethics in this way, because any normative ethical (and for that matter, any situational judgment, by extension too), has to be rationalized FROM the metaethical groundwork. At least it does if we want to present our ethics as a rational package, rather than merely an arbitrary judgment.
I couldn't have said it better. But I am not separating them at all, I am abstracting from real circumstances to isolate their essence.
That's phenomenological, alright, but it's also working backwards. And the problem with working backwards is that it presumes the legitimacy of the phenomenon observed, and then tries to explain how it comes about, rather than opening the question of the legitimacy of the phenomenon in the first place -- which is where moral considerations begin.
So a phenomenologist, if he's really a phenomenologist, would walk into a death camp and say, "I observe the phenomenon of dying people here. Let's accept that people die, and ask what sorts of regimes produce this outcome. Let's leave the metaethical question of the legitimacy of Nazi moral values aside...Nazis have values, and so do Jews. Let's just look at them all as phenomena."
Phenomenology will never teach us a thing about morality, because it operationally suspends the kinds of judgments necessary to arbitrate in a moral situation. It does not pass value judgments, far less justify any. Instead, it uses detachment, cold observation, recording and cataloguing of the phenomena. And this produces no moral clarity, even when it makes morality itself into the inert object of its study; for its methodology rules out the very subject matter it hopes to look at.
No, that's clearly not so.
As you say, such a thing as an objective ethic may be possible; but you've already shown that it's only possible if the supposition of God's existence is introduced at the metaethical, or prior to that, at the ontological level. Remove that metaethical underpinning, and it's no longer clear that it's "possible" at all.
Your reasoning on that is a little like saying, "We can make tea with a tea bag and hot water; and once we realize that's possible, we can eliminate the tea bag, and we'll have tea."
No, I'm simply demonstrating how an absolute would be binding.
But then you immediately revert to saying, there IS no God, while dropping the inevitable logical consequence: that under those conditions, morality is no longer objective.
And so you have tea without a teabag.
God is A tea bag, not THE tea bag discussed here.
To make that plausible, you'd have to produce the other teabag. And you haven't. You've only argued that in theory,
and if conditions were other than they are,
metaethics could conceivably be objective. You've done not a thing to show that, given the conditions of godlessness you insist pertain, the same is true.
Ethics is already upon us, as is its absolute essence.
There it is: the phenomenological error.
It has to take for granted that whatever we've got, whatever is "phenomenologically evident" must also be legitimate. Not only DOES it exist, it OUGHT TO exist, assumes phenomenology.
And that's an error of amphiboly, of course, one that would make Hume turn over in his grave.
As I wrote earlier:
That won't work. Phenomenology requires us to start from the point that a "belief exists" among human beings, so to speak. It can't rationally justify that phenomenon, because it only deals with the IS, not the ought. The method can only teach us that there is this weird, human activity called "making ethical judgments," but cannot tell us whether or not any of those judgments are right, true or good.
I think I see the basic category error you might be making here. It's to equate the claim "(something known as) morality objectively exists
," with the claim "objective morality
In other words, the objective fact that human beings happen to indulge in a phenomenon called "moral thinking" does not remotely suggest that their thinking is objectively true, good or right. Even their universal belief in "objective truth" wouldn't be sufficient to make that belief "objectively true."
But back to our present case.
May point here is that if you do this, look at the actuality of day to day ethics, and remove presuppositions as is required, what will emerge is a moral absolute.
"Remove presuppositions". There it is again. In the case of morality, it means, "Look at morality without thinking morally."
Tea without tea again.
Do you think that it's just fine to make a claim to objectivity without validating it, and we can just claim it's self-validating? I think that's obviously a vulnerable declaration.
If we claim anything is "objectively" or "absolutely" the case in ethics, any rational skeptic is going to ask us how we can validate that claim. Only the most naive or simple-minded onlooker is going to say, "Yeah...self-validating...that's good." Anyone with an ounce of sense is going to say, "Yeah? How do you know?"
I hope the above shows I have just made a claim without validating it.
It does. In just this way:
Above, I see the phenomenon of a claim. Indeed so. And yes, I do observe that you've not validated it. Indeed so.
But the obvious conclusion has to be that your claim either lacks validation
(at the moment) or perhaps even is not capable of validation
by anyone. Either would be a problem.