Why Be Moral?

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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odysseus
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by odysseus »

Immanuel Can
h, it's very simple. There's nothing behind them that justifies them. They're all merely arbitrary.
No, It's just the opposite. Contingency is all about there being context for validation. You simply have this wrong.
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.
No, no. This was just a way to illustrate contingency. The idea is that contingent propositions are bound to other things; they are not stand alone.
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.
But no, it's not about screaming bloody hell. This is just an example of what it means to have a situation of contingency: such things as the conscience, negative consequences and so on are in the balance and judgment is weighed accordingly. Absolutes are not like this.
ou'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.
It's not about the knife. The point is simply to illustrate contingency and how the terms good and bad apply according to context. It has nothing whatever to do with Macbeth or knives. These just serve to show something else. The "usability" just shows the contingency of the term 'sharp'. So it is with moral judgment: the value that may be in play changes in its being good or bad according to what the situation calls for. It's the same with, say, paper weight, which I may use to hold open the door. We may still call it a paper weight, but it no longer sits on paper. It is now a "good" door stop. See Stanley Fish's "Is There a Text in the Class" for a more elaborate accounting of this term 'contingency'.

And no, the issue is not about paper weights.
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.
A dodge?? No, it's just an example of of a given. The idea is that in all we do, as entangled as things get, when you question to the very end of justification and motivation, you inevitably find yourself facing foundational value. Things good or bad in themselves, One cannot argue, for example, that being is love is a bad thing. Now, and you have to pay attention to this: we are talking here of love qua love, or pain qua pain; NOT as it may apply in an entangled situation with variables that valuatively arbitrary. Think, again, like Kant did with his examination of reason qua reason, the essence of judgment, thought. This took him AWAY from application and had nothing to do with incidentals. Saying love is bad is like saying good is bad. It is a contradiction, for love is inherently good ( AGAIN!: NOT good if one's daughter is in love with a serial killer, e.g...........And the issue here has nothing to do with serial killers).
Hey, you picked it.
I understand. This matter before us is unequivocally NOT about Shakespeare's Macbeth in any way beyond it serving as an example of contingency. If you wish to take issue with this, and how the application of the word 'sharp' is NOT contingent, then tell me.
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.
You should not steal in general because stealing undermines the intersubjective confidence built into the a society's integrity. What "good" is a society's integrity? Without this, we would have to live in the cynical suspicion that we could be robbed on a regular basis. What wrong with this cynical suspicion? It leads to fear, and a life that is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” to quote Hobbes. What is wrong with this? Nasty is unpleasant, poor is without the means to be comfortable. And these? What is wrong with discomfort? It is analytically bad.

At this point the matter has reached its end. Of course, and you have to pay attention to this: This does not mean that being uncomfortable cannot be contextualized as a bad thing, like my comfort lazing around vis a vis a starving child. This is what I have been trying to drive home: in this world we are entangled with affairs that obfuscate the essence of ethics (again, not unlike they way one's incidental affairs obfuscate the form of reason itself in the search for the essence of reason). These entanglements are problems for ethical reasoning. That is NOT what this is about. This is about metaethics, metavalue.
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, its not about working backwards. It is about a reduction. And there is no presumption. The proof is in the analytical residuum. Look closely at your finger in the flame. Again, you are being invited to give an honest assessment of the event before you. It is not a presumption. You should have this by now.
Phenomenology is not about these historical events. When I refer to the reduction I am referring to Husserl's phenomenological reduction in his Ideas I. I'm afraid you would have to read this to get it, so sorry about that. A good model is Kant and reason. What does he do with judgment? he removes the incidentals. Here, it is the same: it's not about Hitler or death camps.
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.
o 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.
Now this you should have gotten. Read it again.
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.
At this point you need to step back and consider all that has been said. It has been quite clear.

Hume needs to be put to rest on this. He arbitrarily dismissed value from fact, as did Wittgenstein. They are wrong on this. Granted, one t does not observe the badness of the spear in my kidney, one simply observes the pain. But the badness is far and away the most salient feature.
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 exists." :shock:

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."
It is not about moral thinking, but metaethical reduction. Nor is it about beliefs, any more than Kant's Critique is about what anyone believes reason to be essentially. It is about analysis of ethical issues to discover their essence. The phenomenological reduction, and you can read about this online without having to read Husserl's onerous text, is a method for doing this. There is a reluctance on your part to see this for what it is. Just observe the conditions of an ethical matter: You are obliged to serve in the military, but your conscience says no. What is it at root about this kind of thing that makes the matter important at all? It goes beyond explanations of institutions, religious belief and the rest; these are incidental to our question. But there, embedded in competition of obligations, is what is put at risk, and the at risks of ethics is value. It is not about WHAT is valued, but value as such: the good or bad that all things ethical are phenomenologically/ontologically reducible to.
Remove presuppositions". There it is again. In the case of morality, it means, "Look at morality without thinking morally."
You're getting warm. To think ethically is NOT to think metaethically. So when you're considering what good it would do to give to UNICEF, or whatever, you stop and ask: I wonder what goodness is in itself. This is the question before us. So yes, stop thinking morally. This is not about what to do.
t 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.
The validation is in the analysis of the substance of the ethical situation. Per above.
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bahman
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by bahman »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am
bahman wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:07 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:42 am
So the rules are, you say, "blind." But they're "moral" too, you say.
Yeah. It is blind since any law which is agreed in any society is the result of what the nature of the majority is. The majority dictates, even if it is cannibalism.
So we're taking about morality, and you're arguing that cannibalism is moral? At least, it is if "the majority dictates" that it is?
Yes.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:42 am And the government makes them stick by means of a threat of force, not rationality or moral justification, so you act out of being "afraid" of being "punished," not out of any sense of rightness.
The government is a part of any modern social system but yet they follow what the majority ask for. They couldn't simply get the power unless they lie to people.
Oh. So people are actually totally incapable of being motivated through truth, or by moral considerations?
No. They could know about the government when the party takes power and acts. Who knows what is in mind of people?
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am They have to be deceived?
No. They might be deceived.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am And then you say that the government "follows what the majority asks for," but "lies to people" -- so they both follow and are leading by deceiving the same people? I'm wondering who's leading, there...
Any government in his term can do opposite what promised to people.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:42 am And governments must all be "moral," regardless of their differing natures, because anything the government "punishes" you for is that which is not "moral".
Yes, I get punished if I do something which the majority does not consider as moral.
So if a government and majority "consider" something as moral, it just is? Like Nazi Germany? There, rounding up and executing people was "moral"?
Yes. You might not like it but that is the state of matter. You need to put yourself in the shoes of a Nazi person.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 2:19 am Still not seeing how any of that makes sense.
It will make sense.
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bahman
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by bahman »

Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:21 am
bahman wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:59 pm Why be moral? Because otherwise, the government will punish you. So you are basically afraid of the society who is blindly making the rules.
The government is involved in politics, the legislature, the police, the judiciary which imposed laws and forced citizen to act in a certain way. It has nothing to do directly with Morality and Ethics.

Morality and Ethics are matters for the individual[s] mental developments e.g. one's Moral Compass and Conscience.
Where I made the attempt to improve my moral competence voluntarily, that is because of my human nature and has nothing to do with the government.
And how does the government take power?
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RCSaunders
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders »

henry quirk wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:54 pm By the way: I'm not that prickly ...
Oh yes you are! It's part of your charm.
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henry quirk
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by henry quirk »

RCSaunders wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:29 am
henry quirk wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:54 pm By the way: I'm not that prickly ...
Oh yes you are! It's part of your charm.
Harrumph!
Nick_A
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Nick_A »

henry quirk wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:35 am
RCSaunders wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:29 am
henry quirk wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:54 pm By the way: I'm not that prickly ...
Oh yes you are! It's part of your charm.
Harrumph!
Well I know who to ask for advice on deciding where to place my carbon footprint. :)
Veritas Aequitas
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:58 pm
Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:07 am What you need is an efficient Framework and System of Morality and System driven by secular objective absolute moral oughts/standards.
One might "need" it. One might desperately also want it. But it's quite evident that one still can't legitimately have it.

There is no rational justification for such principles. There is no "ought," absolute or otherwise, that can be rationally deduced in that way.
I have already demonstrated rational justification for the necessary 'secular objective absolute moral standards/oughts' to be used a GUIDE for an efficient Framework and System of Morality and System.

Since the moral ought is only a GUIDE, there is no question of legitimatizing it at all.

Note Moral and Ethics is NEVER related to legitimatizing, politics, legislatures and enforcement of laws and rules. This distinction and separation is imperative.
Show me wherein the Philosophy of Morality and Ethics where enforcing and policing is mentioned by any reputable philosopher?

Morality and Ethics involved facilitating the voluntarily self-development of acting spontaneously to produce good actions by the individuals for the greater good.

Note as in the Trolley and other Casuistry cases, the focus on the individual making a moral decision to either kill one or two or five or more in a given circumstances. There is no forcing the person to choose what he MUST do?

In the case, the person is thrown into a 'moral' situation either way, there is no question of 'Why Be Moral'.

If there is NO efficient Framework and System of Morality and System driven by secular objective absolute moral oughts/standards as a GUIDE to guide the person, the person will always be making erratic 'moral' decisions with no continuous improvements in his moral status.
Veritas Aequitas
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Veritas Aequitas »

bahman wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:56 pm
Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 6:21 am
bahman wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:59 pm Why be moral? Because otherwise, the government will punish you. So you are basically afraid of the society who is blindly making the rules.
The government is involved in politics, the legislature, the police, the judiciary which imposed laws and forced citizen to act in a certain way. It has nothing to do directly with Morality and Ethics.

Morality and Ethics are matters for the individual[s] mental developments e.g. one's Moral Compass and Conscience.
Where I made the attempt to improve my moral competence voluntarily, that is because of my human nature and has nothing to do with the government.
And how does the government take power?
Surely you are not ignorant of the above?
Governments take power via elections, unilaterally seizing power as in a dictatorship and various means where they can exercise their power.
This is politics.

What has that to do with Morality and Ethics as a subject.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Immanuel Can »

odysseus wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:41 pm
Immanuel Can
h, it's very simple. There's nothing behind them that justifies them. They're all merely arbitrary.
No, It's just the opposite. Contingency is all about there being context for validation. You simply have this wrong.
I don't, actually. "Contingent" is the opposite of "necessary." It means that the thing in question didn't have to be the way it is at all.
...contingent propositions are bound to other things; they are not stand alone.
Let's check that: "Contingent Proposition. A contingent proposition is a proposition that is not necessarily true or necessarily false (i.e., is not the negation of a necessary truth). A contingent truth is a true proposition that could have been false; a contingent falsehood is a false proposition that could have been true. This is sometimes expressed by saying that a contingent proposition is one that is true in some possible worlds and not in others." (University of Washington)

It doesn't have to do with "standing alone," but with the possibility that the even or claim in question need not necessarily be true (or false).

What you've mixed in, accidentally, is the non-philosophical definition of "contingent," the imprecise one that people use every day, in a sentence like, "You could not have foreseen that contingency," meaning "that accident" or "that happening."

That's a natural mistake, perhaps...but a mistake nonetheless.
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.
It's not about the knife. The point is simply to illustrate contingency and how the terms good and bad apply according to context.
Then my response is simply that the moral terms good and bad do not apply here at all. Knives are not morally bad. They're not morally good either. They have no moral standing. They're just objects.
The "usability" just shows the contingency of the term 'sharp'.
Here again, you misuse the word "contingency." The actual literal sharpness of an knife, the physical angle at which the blade is ground and refined, is an objective matter. Either the knife has been sharpened, or it has not. There is no moral involvement in the question at all.
So it is with moral judgment:
This is a false analogy, I have to say. Moral judgments are not like empirical ones. For empirical ones, we can look at the knife and see if it's properly ground. But there is no way to morally evaluate a knife qua knife.
The idea is that in all we do, as entangled as things get, when you question to the very end of justification and motivation, you inevitably find yourself facing foundational value.
And when you do, you have to show the justification of that foundational value, or nobody has reason to accept your evaluation of the case.
If you wish to take issue with this, and how the application of the word 'sharp' is NOT contingent, then tell me.
I do.

A knife is sharpened when the edge is refined at the requisite degrees (depending on the thickness of the metal, and so on). When it's sharp, it performs the knife-function of cutting the material for which it was designed with application of the specified force. All of that is empirical, statistical, observable and verifiable; and has zero to do with morally evaluating the knife.
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.
You should not steal in general because stealing undermines the intersubjective confidence built into the a society's integrity.
All this does is move the question back one step: why should I care about "intersubjective confidence" or "society's integrity"? Show that those things are morally required of me.

In point of fact, if I steal, I only undermine "intersubjective confidence" between me and others if I get caught. But I think I won't. And as for "society's integrity?" That doesn't even mean anything...society has no "integrity," and likewise will not be "less integrated" with me if I'm not caught stealing. So now I need a showing that I should care anyway.
Look closely at your finger in the flame. Again, you are being invited to give an honest assessment of the event before you. It is not a presumption. You should have this by now.
What's your question? Does it hurt? Perhaps. Is it evil? Why should I think so? "I don't like it" doesn't obviously equate to "it is wrong," just as "this makes me feel happy" does not equate to "this is right."
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.
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.
Now this you should have gotten. Read it again.
I saw what you wrote. I understand what you said. It seems obviously wrong. So I'm asking you to defend it rationally.
Hume needs to be put to rest on this. He arbitrarily dismissed value from fact,
Not at all.

Rather, Hume posed the question that secular moralists simply cannot answer: "how do you deduce the legitimacy of a moral value from a mere statement of empirical fact?"

Thereby, he put the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of the secular moralist. It's really the secular moral objectivist who is in the hot seat and owes an answer for how his moral claims are not merely arbitrary and illusory.

And if he can't answer, then Hume wins. Because the empirical status of an object, its "factness" can be scientifically ascertained; but the moral status of that fact, its "valueness" cannot be deduced in that way.
It is about analysis of ethical issues to discover their essence.
That's question-begging. Without already having an ethical framework in hand, it is not even possible to know for certain what issues are "ethical" an which are not. So this approach merely assumes its conclusion; it does nothing to justify it.
Remove presuppositions". There it is again. In the case of morality, it means, "Look at morality without thinking morally."
You're getting warm.
No, actually, I'm spot on. Phenomenology is methodologically amoral. It suspends all ethical judgments in order to buy descriptive acuity. But when ethics themselves are the issue in question, phenomenology is entirely uninformative for that reason...it eschews ethics. To allow ethics to determine which "phenomena" one will and will not observe in one's phenomenological analysis is simply to curtail and corrupt the phenomenological data.

That's the strength of the method -- that it's dispassionate, observational, and independent of things like expectation, tradition, prejudice, and so on (at least allegedly, though this can certainly be contested). But that's also its weakness...that it arbitrarily excludes things congenial to any value judgments of that phenomenological data. And the minute one attempts any moral assessment of the phenomena in hand, one has failed to be a phenomenologist anymore.
To think ethically is NOT to think metaethically.
No, ethics has three linked divisions: metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Moral judgments require consistency at all three levels, or the judgments themselves become both irrational and unjustifiable, and only ever accidentally right in any cases they happen to end up right. So there is simply no way to sever off metaethics and treat it as irrelevant to the other two levels.
The validation is in the analysis of the substance of the ethical situation. Per above.
I see now. You haven't understood the problem Hume pointed out.

"Analysis" is about facts. "Ethics" is about values. There is simply no way to jump from an analysis of phenomenological facts to a claim of justification for values.

Look at it like this: suppose I tell you a simple fact, like "The people get standard wages." What moral value and obligations does such a statement imply?

Does it mean, "The people are greedy, and want more?" Why should I care? Or "The cost of living has risen?" What can I do about that, and why should I do anything? Or "The owners are cheapskates?" So? Or "The bosses are tyrants?" Again, so? Or "The people want cash instead of cheques?" What's that got to do with me, if anything? What does it tell me, as the hearer, that I ought to do? Should I teach workers budgeting? Should I start a strike? Should I be glad I'm not a worker? Should I rail against corporations? Should I mind my own business? Should I shrug and walk away?

Nothing in the statement "The people are not happy with their wages" tells me anything about the moral status of that fact. It's just a fact. And from that mere fact alone, I have not the slightest sense of my own moral position relative to that fact.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Immanuel Can »

odysseus wrote: Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:41 pm
Immanuel Can
h, it's very simple. There's nothing behind them that justifies them. They're all merely arbitrary.
No, It's just the opposite. Contingency is all about there being context for validation. You simply have this wrong.
I don't, actually. "Contingent" is the opposite of "necessary." It means that the thing in question didn't have to be the way it is at all.
...contingent propositions are bound to other things; they are not stand alone.
Let's check that: "Contingent Proposition. A contingent proposition is a proposition that is not necessarily true or necessarily false (i.e., is not the negation of a necessary truth). A contingent truth is a true proposition that could have been false; a contingent falsehood is a false proposition that could have been true. This is sometimes expressed by saying that a contingent proposition is one that is true in some possible worlds and not in others." (University of Washington)

It doesn't have to do with "standing alone," but with the possibility that the even or claim in question need not necessarily be true (or false).

I'm thinking that perhaps you've mixed in, accidentally, the non-philosophical definition of "contingent," the imprecise one that people use every day, in a sentence like, "You could not have foreseen that contingency," meaning "that accident" or "that happening."

That's a natural mistake, perhaps...but a mistake nonetheless. "Contingent" things only are not "stand alone" in the sense that theoretically, they could be other than they are; and if things were different, they would be. They are things-that-depend-on-other-things; but those other things are in place already. That being so, they "stand" as they are.
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.
It's not about the knife. The point is simply to illustrate contingency and how the terms good and bad apply according to context.
Then my response is simply that the moral terms good and bad do not apply here at all. Knives are not morally bad. They're not morally good either. They have no moral standing. They're just objects.
The "usability" just shows the contingency of the term 'sharp'.
Here again, you misuse the word "contingency." The actual literal sharpness of an knife, the physical angle at which the blade is ground and refined, is an objective matter. Either the knife has been sharpened, or it has not. There is no moral involvement in the question at all.
So it is with moral judgment:
Ah, no... is a mistaken transfer of fact terms into value terms, and thus is a false analogy. Moral judgments are not like empirical ones. For empirical ones, we can look at the knife and see if it's properly ground. But there is no way to morally evaluate a knife qua knife, and there is no way to evaluate in strictly empirical terms the moral condition of anything.
The idea is that in all we do, as entangled as things get, when you question to the very end of justification and motivation, you inevitably find yourself facing foundational value.
Okay, true; but when you do, you have to show the justification of that foundational value, or nobody has reason to accept your evaluation of the case. That's the point. We don't get away with floating our ethics on nothing, and skipping the metaethical grounding just because it's inconvenient. If someone presses us, we need to be able to say, "My action makes sense, given my normative ethic; and my normative ethic makes sense, given my metaethics.

And then, if we're really smart, we can also find a way to show "My metaethical position makes sense, based on my ontology of the world, and my ontology is realistic and logically warranted."

Beyond that, no one can go.
If you wish to take issue with this, and how the application of the word 'sharp' is NOT contingent, then tell me.
I do. Empirical "sharpness" is a statistical matter. It may be contingent on whether or not the knife has been properly ground, but that, too, is very testable; and once a knife has been ground, its sharpness is empirically verifiable. You do it all the time.

A knife is sharpened when the edge is refined at the requisite degrees (depending on the thickness of the metal, and so on). When it's sharp, it performs the knife-function of cutting the material for which it was designed with application of the specified force. All of that is empirical, statistical, observable and verifiable; and has zero to do with morally evaluating the knife.
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.
You should not steal in general because stealing undermines the intersubjective confidence built into the a society's integrity.
All this does is move the question back one step: why should I care about "intersubjective confidence" or "society's integrity"? Show that those things are morally required of me.

In point of fact, if I steal, I only undermine "intersubjective confidence" between me and others if I get caught. But I think I won't. And as for "society's integrity?" I might simply respond that "social integrity" doesn't even mean anything...society has no "integrity," being diverse and multicultural, and unified only by the most extended bonds of law. It will not be "less integrated," and not even with me personally, if I'm not caught stealing.

So now, for moral information, I need a showing that I should care. It's not obvious I should, since stealing with work for me and I want to do it.
Look closely at your finger in the flame. Again, you are being invited to give an honest assessment of the event before you. It is not a presumption. You should have this by now.
What's your question? Does it hurt? Perhaps. Is it evil? Why should I think so? "I don't like it" doesn't obviously equate to "it is wrong," just as "this makes me feel happy" does not equate to "this is right." And "this hurts" does not automatically and unequivocally translate to "this is something I should not experience."

Athletes put their muscles through agony. Women go through labour. And they do these things by choice. Are you then going to have to say that athleticism and childbirth are morally evil?
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.
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.
Now this you should have gotten. Read it again.
I saw what you wrote. I understand what you said. It seems obviously wrong. So I'm asking you to defend it rationally.

Start with this premise, if you like: "There is no God."
Get to the conclusion: "Therefore, you morally must not ________ (let's say, "kill children")

Show me the middle link, the premise 2 of such a syllogism, or any chain of premises that will get you from the first to the last. Feel free to modify as you need to, so long as you keep your claim to the absence of God, in premise 1, and your arrival at a moral precept in the conclusion. This will help me see how you reason there.
Hume needs to be put to rest on this. He arbitrarily dismissed value from fact,
Not at all.

Rather, Hume posed the question that secular moralists simply cannot answer: "how do you deduce the legitimacy of a moral value from a mere statement of empirical fact?"

Thereby, he put the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of the secular moralist. It's really the secular moral objectivist who is in the hot seat and owes an answer for how his moral claims are not merely arbitrary and illusory. The skeptic, like Hume, simply says, "I see no reason to recognize any connection; so show me."

And if he can't answer, then Hume wins. Because the empirical status of an object, its "factness" can be scientifically ascertained; but the moral status of that fact, its "valueness" cannot be deduced in that way.
It is about analysis of ethical issues to discover their essence.
I'm afraid that that's a question-begging response.

Without already having an ethical framework in hand, it is not even possible to know for certain what issues are "ethical" an which are not. So this approach merely assumes its conclusion; it does nothing to justify it.
Remove presuppositions". There it is again. In the case of morality, it means, "Look at morality without thinking morally."
You're getting warm.
No, actually, I'm spot on. Phenomenology is methodologically amoral. It suspends all ethical judgments in order to buy descriptive acuity. But when ethics themselves are the issue in question, phenomenology is entirely uninformative for that reason...it eschews ethics. To allow ethics to determine which "phenomena" one will and will not observe in one's phenomenological analysis is simply to curtail and corrupt the phenomenological data.

That's the strength of the method -- that it's dispassionate, observational, and independent of things like expectation, tradition, prejudice, and so on (at least allegedly, though this can certainly be contested). But that's also its weakness...that it arbitrarily excludes things congenial to any value judgments of that phenomenological data. And the minute one attempts any moral assessment of the phenomena in hand, one has failed to be a phenomenologist anymore.
To think ethically is NOT to think metaethically.
No, ethics has three linked divisions: metaethics, normative ethics and applied ethics. Moral judgments require consistency at all three levels, or the judgments themselves become both irrational and unjustifiable, and only ever accidentally right in any cases they happen to end up right. So there is simply no way to sever off metaethics and treat it as irrelevant to the other two levels.
The validation is in the analysis of the substance of the ethical situation. Per above.
I see now. You haven't understood the problem Hume pointed out.

"Analysis" is about facts. "Ethics" is about values. There is simply no way to jump from an analysis of phenomenological facts to a claim of justification for values.

Look at it like this: suppose I tell you a simple fact, like "The people get standard wages." What moral value and obligations does such a statement imply?

Does it mean, "The people are greedy, and want more?" Why should I care? Or "The cost of living has risen?" What can I do about that, and why should I do anything? Or "The owners are cheapskates?" So? Or "The bosses are tyrants?" Again, so? Or "The people want cash instead of cheques?" What's that got to do with me, if anything? What does it tell me, as the hearer, that I ought to do? Should I teach workers budgeting? Should I start a strike? Should I be glad I'm not a worker? Should I rail against corporations? Should I mind my own business? Should I shrug and walk away?

Nothing in the statement "The people are not happy with their wages" tells me anything about the moral status of that fact. It's just a fact. And from that mere fact alone, I have not the slightest sense of my own moral position relative to that fact.
Last edited by Immanuel Can on Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by RCSaunders »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 4:24 am Rather, Hume posed the question that secular moralists simply cannot answer: "how do you deduce the legitimacy of a moral value from a mere statement of empirical fact?"
Hume's, "question," was typical sophism. The question of what, "ought," to be done, is not the floating abstraction he suggested. There is no such thing as an, "ought," unless there is some goal or objective of what is to be done.

What one should do is never an empirical question
, it is always a psychological question. The empirical (mere physical existence) has no purposes, only conscious beings have goals, purposes, or ends. Every idiot who swallowed Hume's deceptive question (every philosopher who followed him) has propagated that lie.

Until Hume's false premise is dropped, no rational discussion of the nature of values is possible.
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Re: Why Be Moral?

Post by Immanuel Can »

RCSaunders wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:11 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 4:24 am Rather, Hume posed the question that secular moralists simply cannot answer: "how do you deduce the legitimacy of a moral value from a mere statement of empirical fact?"
Hume's, "question," was typical sophism.
I would not say so, neither do ethicists and philosophers generally. I'm no friend of Hume, obviously, but I have to give him his due in this situation. He's described the problem well.
There is no such thing as an, "ought," unless there is some goal or objective of what is to be done.
True, but it just moves the same problem back one step.

Now, one has to justify the "goal or objective," and show that it "its to be done."
What one should do is never an empirical question[/i], it is always a psychological question.
Hume agreed it's not an empirical question. But to say "it's a psychological question" won't solve the problem at all, because much that's psychological is a product of invention, imagination and even delusion.

Moving morality into the psychological will not tell us what it is, or produce any justification of it. We still don't know if its status is like reasoning or like imagining unicorns and pixies. All we then say is, "Well, it's a psychological phenomenon." But psychological phenomena include things like children imagining dragons under the bed in the dark.
The empirical (mere physical existence) has no purposes, only conscious beings have goals, purposes, or ends.
Of course. But some are good and rational ends, and some are bad and irrational ones.

And that's the problem with pausing at that claim. For the fact that somebody's picked a "goal, purpose or end" does not go even one step to moral justification of that end -- anymore than the notorious "final solution" of the Nazis could be justified just because a Nazi embraced it enthusiastically as his "goal, purpose and end."
Last edited by Immanuel Can on Sun Mar 15, 2020 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Be Moral?

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bahman wrote: Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:59 pm Why be moral? Because otherwise, the government will punish you. So you are basically afraid of the society who is blindly making the rules.
At the lowest level of human motivation, maybe, but generally society expects or prefers individuals to be moral of their own accord, or "free will", but of course will forcibly impose a "bare minimum" of morality on those otherwise too socicopathic or immoral to do so of their own accord, such as forcing a rapist not to rape, or a murder not to murder (which is one of the biggest argument I hear against "religious legalism" anyway, that morality is solely done out of "fear of divine punishment" or "desire for reward in the afterlife").

Plus the idea that a civilized, 1st world government which forces rapists not to rape, or murders not to murder is "no different" than a fascist, totalitarian, or tyrannical government (e.x. a Nazi government which forces people to rate out Jews to the Gestapo) is rather naïve and hypocritical, along with the notion that the rules are made "blindly" for "for no reason".

(e.x. In Common Law countries, books on the subject such as by Oilver Wendall Holmes outline what the legal and moral philosophy is, as well as the system of judicial precedents, and whatnot).

So I take it your arguing from an "anarchist POV", but even then you're arguing that it's inherently "immoral" for others to make moral rules or "impose" morality on people who have none of their own.

So do you believe it would be more moral to let a rapist rape women, or a Nazi gang member murder black people and Jews, than for the state to "impose morality on them arbitrarily"?
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Re: Why Be Moral?, My Answer

Post by RCSaunders »

To: pilgrim1917, Nick_A, henry quirk, Impenitent, Immanuel Can, Age, odysseus, Skepdick, IvoryBlackBishop, Veritas Aequitas, and bahman,

My View And Answer To The Question: "Why should anyone observe any moral standards?"

First let me thank everyone for your interesting, thoughtful, and good answers. As I promised, this is my response to your posts. Since I'm only interested in ideas, not personalities, and also have no interest in changing anyone else's views, my comments will be to the ideas expressed and my disagreements will only be to demonstrate my views, not to criticize yours. Having reviewed all the posts so far, there seem to be only eight different answers to the question which I identify as, The reason you should choose to be moral is:

A. Because there are eternal consequences to your behavior.
B. Just because it is right, as an end in itself.
C. To evade suffering a troubling conscience.
D. To avoid the wrath or punishment of law, determined by authorities or society (majority).
E. Because others will treat you the way you treat them.
F. Because it is your duty.
G. So you can live in peace and harmony with others.
H. For the future of mankind.

These are not meant to be explanatory, only a way of categorizing the different answers, most of which were much more detailed than implied by this list. If you think I have mis-characterized or misinterpreted any of these, please correct me. I'll address each briefly, than give my explanation of why one should live morally, or to be more precise, in my terms, rationally.

A. Because there are eternal consequences to your behavior. Theists (and perhaps those with other mystic views) will of course hold this as a reason to live morally. I'm not going to comment on this view. For those who hold this view, eternal consequences are a reason to be moral. Whether that view is correct or not is a question for a different thread.

B. Just because it is right. This is a very common view. It was espoused by Immanual Kant, among others. Unless why something is right and how it is right for the individual, even if true, it would not be a reason an individual should choose it.

C. To evade suffering a troubling conscience. This would certainly be a reason to live morally. No one wants to experience the unpleasant feelings of guilt and regret. There is a problem with conscience, however. I mentioned sociopaths and psychopaths as individuals without apparent consciences, and it was admitted, "there is no reason to be moral," and added, "there are those who ask what inspires me to feel conscience? That is a philosophical/psychological question some feel and some don't when guided by pragmatism."

The key words in that last sentence are, "a philosophical/psychological question some feel and some don't." Conscience is a feeling, a physiological response to one's thinking, beliefs, and values. Conscience cannot tell one what is right and wrong, it can only respond to what one already believes or thinks is right and wrong. If someone does something they believe is wrong they will experience what we call, "a guilty conscience," but someone who does the same thing and does not believe it is wrong will have no such feeling.

D. To avoid the wrath or punishment of law, determined by authorities or society (majority). If someone is afraid of such punishment of course it would be a good reason to live, "morally," or at least in conformance to whatever the law demands. Not everyone is afraid of punishment, however. Some would rather take a chance on not getting caught then to comply with society's moral rules, and others are willing to risk the punishment. "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime," is a common expression among those who are willing to do the time if they get caught.

E. Because others will treat you the way you treat them. If it is important to someone how others treat them, this might be a reason to be moral. The premise, however, is mistaken. Most of us have have had the opposite experience. After being very kind and helpful to someone else we have been repaid with ingratitude and contempt. (If you've ever worked in retail you have had that experience.) The opposite is common too. There are some people who despise all forms of vengeance and never return evil for evil.

F. Because it is your duty. A, "duty," is something one is supposedly required or obligated to do, which is not a consequence of anyone's choices or actions. It is not an obligation one has because of any agreement they have made (to pay their bills for example) or as a result of something they did (they caused the accident and are obligated to pay the damages, for example). A duty is something someone is obligated to do just because they were born, like one's duty to God, or their country, or to society, or to mankind. If there were such a thing as an undeserved, "duty," that would be, at least for those who believe it, a reason to be moral. Whether there is any such thing as an undeserved duty is another question.

G. So you can live in peace and harmony with others. This, of course, assumes that living morally results in peace and harmony. Since, at this point, what actual moral principles are has not been established, whether or not they would lead to peace and harmony has not been established either. If moral principles would have that result it would be a reason to live morally.

H. For the future of mankind. It is, at least for me, very difficult to see how this could be a reason for anyone to live morally. Unless the lives of those living in the here and now is in some way improved by living for the sake of some, as yet, non-existent future generations, it is no reason to live morally.

My Reasons

A very long time ago, when becoming a teenager meant it was time to get a job, one of my first full-time jobs, while going to school, was selling photo equipment and supplies for a large retail chain. The company sent all it's young, "salesmen," to Kodak School in Poughkeepsie, New York. The key message that sales course emphasized was to first discover what a customer wanted, then show the customer how the product you wished to sell would fulfill that customer's wishes. Unless a customer was convinced your product was in his own best interest, you didn't make the sale.

I am convinced, unless it can be shown why living morally is in the best interest of the individual, he will not choose to live morally. I am also convinced that it is in the best interest of an individual to live morally. I am also convinced that all supposed problems with human relations and society can only be solved by individuals choosing to live morally, not for the sake of society or others, but because it is in their own best interest to do so. If every individual chose to live morally, there would be no inter-personal or social issues.

Moral Nature

In my introductory comments I wrote: "The possibility of moral principles assumes individuals have a choice about how they behave. If human behavior were determined by something other than individual choice, whether there were moral principles or not would not matter, since no one could choose either to observe or evade them."

It is that aspect of human consciousness that requires human beings to live by conscious choice I refer to as the moral nature. It is what differentiates human beings from all other forms of life. We do not hold the animals morally accountable for their actions because all their behavior is determined by their instinctive nature.

What I mean by instinct is that total behavioral program that determines all an animals behavior, from what it eats and how it acquires it, to how it lives its life. All of an animal's behavior automatically fulfills the requirements of its nature as the kind of animal it is. A fish's instinctive program guarantees all its behavior fulfills the requirements of its nature as a fish, and a deer's instinctive program guarantees all its behavior fulfills the requirements of its nature as a deer. So long as an animal's environment is appropriate to its instinctive program its survival is guaranteed, and it cannot choose to act against the requirements of its own nature.

It is that total behavioral program human beings are not born with. None of the behavior required for human being's survival, much less their fulfillment as human beings, is provided. Instead of instinct, human beings have minds, that unique attribute of human consciousness that we call volition (the necessity and ability to consciously choose all one's behavior), intellect (the necessity and ability to gain and hold knowledge), and rationality (the necessity and ability to use knowledge to ask and answer questions, and make judgements). Unlike all other animals human beings must learn or discover what their nature requires for their survival and success as human beings and, if they are to live and succeed, they must choose to use that knowledge to live as their nature requires.

While an animal's survival is guaranteed by it's instinctive nature, human beings have no such guarantee, and must discover how to live and then choose to do what is required to live. For human beings, the ultimate question always is, "to be or not to be?" That is the ultimate moral question. This is not a question of suicide. For a human being, to not discover what one's life requires and choose to do it is suicide.

Remember the question of this thread is: Why should anyone observe any moral standards? My answer is, because your life and your enjoyment of it depend on it. If you do not live morally you will not survive and as long as you do survive you will not fully enjoy your life.

I have made no attempt to identify what those moral principles are, only to identify what moral principles are for and why one would choose to live according to them. Moral principles are not mandates, not obligations, not one's duty, they are not for the sake of society, or one's neighbor, or mankind. Moral principles only identify how an individual can choose to live successfully as a human being, but the choice must be made by each individual. If an individual chooses to live successfully and enjoy his life, he not only "ought" to live morally, he must live morally.

I will provide a brief outline of what moral principles are in another post.
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Re: Why Be Moral?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sun Mar 15, 2020 2:33 pm I would not say so, neither do ethicists and philosophers generally. I'm no friend of Hume, obviously, but I have to give him his due in this situation. He's described the problem well.
There is no problem! You think so, because you accept the word of authorities, ethicists, and philosophers, who, just as I said, "swallowed Hume's deceptive question (and every philosopher who followed him) has propagated that lie," and you've swallowed it too.

Hume's premise was wrong. What "is" [the empirical] does not determine any objectives, and without objectives there are no values. That is the point and the only point I made. Everything else you wrote is irrelevant to that point.

Hume began with a wrong premise and everything he based on it is wrong.
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