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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Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:12 am
Belinda wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 6:55 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:37 pm
We're using the word 'sign' in different ways. I think words are linguistic signs - as in signifier/signified. So I don't see your sign/signal distinction as significant in this discussion of what constitutes a fact. If you prefer: words can mean only what we use them to mean - and there's no other court of appeal.
Leaving language out of the discussion you may be able to distinguish between signs and signals. If you will, think of a road sign with a graphic of rocks falling on to the road. This is commonly called a sign. And so it is. Actual rocks falling on to the road is also a sign of the very same event.The difference between the road sign and the falling rocks is the road sign signals the highway authority's intention to warn motorists.

When we do philosophy we try to be as explicit as we can. Explicit language makes use of fine distinctions.Now I have explained the fine distinction between sign and signal you might be able to make use of it when you are explaining something to do with semiology.
Thanks, but I think your sign/signal distinction is irrelevant in this discussion. (And your use of 'metaphor' and 'symbol' strikes me as bizarre.)

Yes, we do ordinarily use 'sign' to mean indication, evidence or even warning. But since Saussure, we have referred to words as signs bifurcated into signifiers and signifieds, and this is standard in post-structuralist discourse.

To use language is to use linguistic or other signs. And the point is that signs can mean only what we use them to mean. So 'intention to convey a clear message' is the given, and our argument over moral assertions is about the nature of that message.

I'm fully aware of the need for clarity and distinctions when we try to convey clear messages. Please can you explain how your fine distinction between signs and signals has a bearing on the nature and function of moral assertions? Perhaps I'm missing it.
A moral assertion deliberately signals the transmitter of the moral assertion holds that particular moral belief. Rituals signal the solidarity of the rituals' participants; ranging from school assemblies to black mass. Some linguistic signalling is ritualistic / devotional/ ethnic . Other linguistic signalling may be determinedly individualistic. In both cases, the individualistic and the sociable, the key difference between moral signs and moral signalling is neatly summed up in The Bible "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Matthew 6: 3.

People are so much motivated by our need to signal our virtue that few can fully imitate Jesus .
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:44 am
A moral assertion deliberately signals the transmitter of the moral assertion holds that particular moral belief.
Maybe. But moral objectivists claim something else - that, say, 'slavery is morally wrong' is a fact, whether anyone believes it or not. And what's 'being signalled' - the intended message - is what we're arguing about.
Rituals signal the solidarity of the rituals' participants; ranging from school assemblies to black mass. Some linguistic signalling is ritualistic / devotional/ ethnic . Other linguistic signalling may be determinedly individualistic. In both cases, the individualistic and the sociable, the key difference between moral signs and moral signalling is neatly summed up in The Bible "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Matthew 6: 3.
Okay, but so what? Can you give an example of a moral sign - not sure what that can be - and then an example of moral signalling that uses that moral sign? I just don't see what you're getting at - sorry.

People are so much motivated by our need to signal our virtue that few can fully imitate Jesus .
To me, this has nothing to do with the nature and function of moral assertions. But again, I may be missing something obvious.
Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:16 am
Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:44 am
A moral assertion deliberately signals the transmitter of the moral assertion holds that particular moral belief.
Maybe. But moral objectivists claim something else - that, say, 'slavery is morally wrong' is a fact, whether anyone believes it or not. And what's 'being signalled' - the intended message - is what we're arguing about.
Rituals signal the solidarity of the rituals' participants; ranging from school assemblies to black mass. Some linguistic signalling is ritualistic / devotional/ ethnic . Other linguistic signalling may be determinedly individualistic. In both cases, the individualistic and the sociable, the key difference between moral signs and moral signalling is neatly summed up in The Bible "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Matthew 6: 3.
Okay, but so what? Can you give an example of a moral sign - not sure what that can be - and then an example of moral signalling that uses that moral sign? I just don't see what you're getting at - sorry.

People are so much motivated by our need to signal our virtue that few can fully imitate Jesus .
To me, this has nothing to do with the nature and function of moral assertions. But again, I may be missing something obvious.
One example of a moral sign that is not intended to signal anything is a gift from an anonymous benefactor. Another example of a moral sign that is not intended to signal anything is unconditional love of parents for their children.
The keynote of unconditional love is personal reward is not a consideration, that is to say unconditional love cannot be signalling because signalling is intended effect some outcome.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:32 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 11:16 am
Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:44 am
A moral assertion deliberately signals the transmitter of the moral assertion holds that particular moral belief.
Maybe. But moral objectivists claim something else - that, say, 'slavery is morally wrong' is a fact, whether anyone believes it or not. And what's 'being signalled' - the intended message - is what we're arguing about.
Rituals signal the solidarity of the rituals' participants; ranging from school assemblies to black mass. Some linguistic signalling is ritualistic / devotional/ ethnic . Other linguistic signalling may be determinedly individualistic. In both cases, the individualistic and the sociable, the key difference between moral signs and moral signalling is neatly summed up in The Bible "Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Matthew 6: 3.
Okay, but so what? Can you give an example of a moral sign - not sure what that can be - and then an example of moral signalling that uses that moral sign? I just don't see what you're getting at - sorry.

People are so much motivated by our need to signal our virtue that few can fully imitate Jesus .
To me, this has nothing to do with the nature and function of moral assertions. But again, I may be missing something obvious.
One example of a moral sign that is not intended to signal anything is a gift from an anonymous benefactor. Another example of a moral sign that is not intended to signal anything is unconditional love of parents for their children.
The keynote of unconditional love is personal reward is not a consideration, that is to say unconditional love cannot be signalling because signalling is intended effect some outcome.
Okay. As I thought, this use of the word 'sign' to mean a thing that indicates something, but doesn't express an intention, so it's not a signal, is incoherent - which is why semiotics or semiology - Saussure's proposed 'science of signs' - has largely faded away. Saussure's premise - that signs somehow contain signifieds - was metaphysical nonsense in the first place; and poststructuralist developments, such as Derrida's deconstructionism, merely recycled the mistake.

Meanwhile, back to the issue: are there moral facts? Do the assertions '{Jesus} was a morally good man', 'we should try to be like [Jesus]', and 'it's morally right to be like [Jesus]' express factual claims with truth-value, or are they matters of opinion? {Insert the hero of choice.]
Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes, it was unusually blunt to tell me my claim was incoherent. However it's my job to make myself clear and so I must take the blame.
Meanwhile, back to the issue: are there moral facts? Do the assertions '{Jesus} was a morally good man', 'we should try to be like [Jesus]', and 'it's morally right to be like [Jesus]' express factual claims with truth-value, or are they matters of opinion? {Insert the hero of choice.]
There are no incontrovertable facts of any sort.

We need the ability to see the failures of mythical historical characters. The useful thing about mythical persons as paradigms of good is mythical persons have no warts on them at all. So far it seems to me Jesus of the Gospels has no faults at all. He is sometimes accused of glorifying poverty but this is a rather twisted idea.

We should review myths at frequent intervals especially those that purport to be historical myths ; this is what Black Lives Matter is at present engaged in, and toppling a statue of a slave trader over the dockside is an act of poetry.
Last edited by Belinda on Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:36 pm Peter Holmes, it was unusually blunt to tell me my claim was incoherent. However it's my job to make myself clear and so I must take the blame.
I apologise for my bluntness, and there's certainly no blame. I could be wrong about this, because I'm too thick to understand it.

But, to the point: do you think there are moral facts, so that moral assertions have independent truth-value, and morality is objective?
Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:47 pm
Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:36 pm Peter Holmes, it was unusually blunt to tell me my claim was incoherent. However it's my job to make myself clear and so I must take the blame.
I apologise for my bluntness, and there's certainly no blame. I could be wrong about this, because I'm too thick to understand it.

But, to the point: do you think there are moral facts, so that moral assertions have independent truth-value, and morality is objective?
Peter, I edited my last reply to you., twice in total.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:36 pm Peter Holmes, it was unusually blunt to tell me my claim was incoherent. However it's my job to make myself clear and so I must take the blame.
Meanwhile, back to the issue: are there moral facts? Do the assertions '{Jesus} was a morally good man', 'we should try to be like [Jesus]', and 'it's morally right to be like [Jesus]' express factual claims with truth-value, or are they matters of opinion? {Insert the hero of choice.]
There are no incontrovertable facts of any sort.
1 Is it a fact - a true factual assertion - that there are no incontrovertible facts of any sort?
2 Why aren't what we call truth and facts what we say they are?
3 If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?

We need the ability to see the failures of mythical historical characters. The useful thing about mythical persons as paradigms of good is mythical persons have no warts on them at all. So far it seems to me Jesus of the Gospels has no faults at all. He is sometimes accused of glorifying poverty but this is a rather twisted idea.

We should review myths at frequent intervals especially those that purport to be historical myths ; this is what Black Lives Matter is at present engaged in, and toppling a statue of a slave trader over the dockside is an act of poetry.
Hear, hear.
Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes wrote:
If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?
Nothing , except the people who support slavery win the next election and once againt rewrite the history. We all need to choose whether we are sheep or goats, and life was never promised to be a rose garden There is song called that , I must look it up,
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:14 pm Peter Holmes wrote:
If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?
Nothing , except the people who support slavery win the next election and once againt rewrite the history. We all need to choose whether we are sheep or goats, and life was never promised to be a rose garden There is song called that , I must look it up,
Lynn Anderson: I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.

The difference is, we know what can show a factual assertion is false - and a popular vote is irrelevant.
Belinda
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Belinda »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:18 pm
Belinda wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:14 pm Peter Holmes wrote:
If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?
Nothing , except the people who support slavery win the next election and once againt rewrite the history. We all need to choose whether we are sheep or goats, and life was never promised to be a rose garden There is song called that , I must look it up,
Lynn Anderson: I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.

The difference is, we know what can show a factual assertion is false - and a popular vote is irrelevant.
Huh! Tell that to populist politicians.
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Sculptor
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Sculptor »

Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:00 pm
3 If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?
War ought to be waged against the weak and it is our moral duty to enslave and bend the defeated to our will.

Are you going to argue against Aristotle?
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

Sculptor wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:56 pm
Peter Holmes wrote: Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:00 pm
3 If the supposed moral fact 'slavery is morally wrong' is not incontrovertible, what could show that it's false?
War ought to be waged against the weak and it is our moral duty to enslave and bend the defeated to our will.

Are you going to argue against Aristotle?
Ah. Our old friend, Aristotle. Gotta love him.
Peter Holmes
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Re: What could make morality objective?

Post by Peter Holmes »

I thought it may be worth clarifying the lines of my argument that nothing can make morality objective,

1 What we call objectivity is independence from opinion when considering the facts - so that there are facts is a given.

2 What we call a fact is a true factual assertion which, in context, describes a feature of reality, and whose truth-value is independent from opinion.

3 Moral realists and objectivists claim that there are moral features of reality, so that a moral assertion such as 'slavery is wrong' describes a feature of reality - the moral wrongness of slavery - and is therefore a fact.

4 The burden of proving the existence of moral features of reality, such as the wrongness of slavery, so that a moral assertion has a truth-value, is with moral realists and objectivists - and unmet so far, to my knowledge.

5 I conclude that a moral assertion does not make a factual claim with truth-value about a feature of reality, but rather expresses a moral value-judgement; that therefore there are no moral facts; and that therefore morality cannot be objective.

(Note: I strongly believe slavery is morally wrong.)
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henry quirk
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pete

Post by henry quirk »

I strongly believe slavery is morally wrong.

what's the basis for your strong moral opposition to slavery?
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