What is this school of ethics called?

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Bert Newton
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What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Bert Newton »

Hi,

Long ago I came across (I vaguely remember doing, at least) a school of ethics that was somewhat like utilitarianism but instead of favouirng the maximum pleasure it attempted to favour the most just. The reason why I am asking is because I thought up some principles of morality, thought it was cool, then thought it may exist already. It goes like:

I was trying to think of how morality could be objective because moral relativism (or should I say, moral relativists) make me uncomfortable. I know it's wrong that a religion causes people to throw homosexuals from rooftops because they are homosexual, or throw acid in the face of a child for reading a book, and I know how (the pleasure principle) but I can't justify how to give imperatives without being subjective.

Then wondered why objectivity wasn't used in subjective morality anyhow? That is, why don't we use science (as much as we can) to resolve moral issues? I know this has been said before and I do like the work of Sam Harris but I'm not sure if he quite nails this point. We do this every day in courthouses. If someone is suspected of murder they are given a trial where as much evidence is given to help find the truth. And while subjectivity will no doubt creep in, it does replicate somewhat the scientific method; at least they are looking for facts, as much as possible. Why not in ethics?

The reason why I feel uncomfortable with moral relativists is because they generally end up taking one of two stances regarding harm:
  • It's all in the eye of the beholder. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists deserved to die because they offended someones religion
or
  • I believe it's wrong because my society told me so, but they believe it's right because that's what their society told them so, so I can make no objective claims against it.
What if?.....We use science to find the cause of a harmful action and dismiss highly subjective claims in favour of objective facts?

In Papua New Guinea it is traditional for tribal men to accuse woman of witchcraft if a village member dies prematurely. They then torture the accused with burning irons for days on end. In Islam they kill homosexuals, apostates, and rape non-believers, in Christianity they circumcise, etc. All these actions can be scientifically proven to be incorrect: The PNG person who died prematurely can have an autopsy (this has actually been done, and of course, they find the man died of natural causes), the Islamists act on a subjective source, and is there any evidence circumcision is beneficial?

Now I'm not saying we should go and invade those countries and sort them out, but rather, now moral relativists can have the following attitude towards harmful behaviour:
  • I don't believe it's correct and it can be objectively proven by science
...and I will feel a lot more comfortable around my fellow moral relativists. Anyway, that is a long way of asking: does a system like this already exist or something close?

Thanks.
FlashDangerpants
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by FlashDangerpants »

Bert Newton wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:21 am What if?.....We use science to find the cause of a harmful action and dismiss highly subjective claims in favour of objective facts?
The theory you are looking for has to overcome some funadmental problems such as what sort of science would investigate the conceptual notions of morality as if they were proper objects of scientific investigation?... or what sort of bait and switch philosophy would replace those concepts with something that can be measured by a science? Similar problems to those which afflict persons who try to use science to test for the existence of God if I'm honest with you, and the results will similarly disappoint.

But the good news is that no matter how dumb the task, there is somebody relentless enough to literally waste their life on it. If you search the Ethical Theory sub for the term "axiology" you will find that exact man, his name is prof and he has spent decades on an extremely bad theory.

If you check out his threads from at least 4 years ago, you should find a copy of his ebook where he attempts to use an actual philosophical argument based on different types of infinite expansions to justify a science of ethics. As his work devolves into mere self-help pamphlet territory over time, the newer threads are not really worth looking at, it's just repeated errors with the foundations obscured. If you copy out any line of the text in any of his OPs and google it, you should find the many other forums on which he has pasted the same stuff and you will probably find one where he is still active - if he is still alive, he really has spent an entire lifetime on this stuff and is I think in his 90s.

If you want to find a younger, more energetic person, on the same life-wasting trajectory of self inflicted failure, check the same sub for anything written by Vertical Anglegrinder. He posts at least one new thread every day purporting to prove that morality is available to science in much the same way as prof, although with very much less talent. If you want something you could at least be forgiven for falling for, the very old man is by far the better choice.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Bert Newton wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:21 am That is, why don't we use science (as much as we can) to resolve moral issues?
The answer was provided by David Hume. We can't use science to resolve moral issues because science deals strictly with facts, and morals are about values. Facts don't automatically issue in particular values. So no matter how many discoveries science makes, it tells us nothing about which values we should be backing.

This is known as "Hume's Guillotine." (https://gohighbrow.com/humes-guillotine/)
Veritas Aequitas
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Veritas Aequitas »

Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Jul 27, 2020 1:29 pm
Bert Newton wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 10:21 am That is, why don't we use science (as much as we can) to resolve moral issues?
The answer was provided by David Hume. We can't use science to resolve moral issues because science deals strictly with facts, and morals are about values. Facts don't automatically issue in particular values. So no matter how many discoveries science makes, it tells us nothing about which values we should be backing.

This is known as "Hume's Guillotine." (https://gohighbrow.com/humes-guillotine/)
You are wrong.
Hume's Guillotine is not referenced to scientific facts versus moral facts.

See:
Hume: Morality = Moral Sense = Objective
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=30013
Hume believed scientific facts are the same [analogous] with moral facts.

Any views on W L Craig's claims 'ought is possible from is'
W L Craig: Ought Possible From IS
viewtopic.php?p=465839#p465839
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:06 am Hume believed scientific facts are the same [analogous] with moral facts.
This is totally incorrect, VA. And besides, "analogous" implies "not the same, but similar in one particular (analogous) way." So there's another self-contradiction.

But I've talked with you long enough to know I'm not going to get you to change your mind about anything, so that's that, I guess. *shrug*
Veritas Aequitas
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Veritas Aequitas »

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:52 pm
Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:06 am Hume believed scientific facts are the same [analogous] with moral facts.
This is totally incorrect, VA. And besides, "analogous" implies "not the same, but similar in one particular (analogous) way." So there's another self-contradiction.

But I've talked with you long enough to know I'm not going to get you to change your mind about anything, so that's that, I guess. *shrug*
Principle of Charity??

You jumped on word 'same' too literally.
Obviously moral facts are different from 'water is H20' and the likes.
If you read the thread, you will definitely understand what I meant by 'same' [analogous] in the context of that thread.

You get me to change my mind??
Nah..
No need to expect, I will naturally flow with what is justified true beliefs.

For me, I have no expectations to change anyone's mind.
All I do is presenting justified true beliefs and ultimately it's the discretion of others to do whatever with it.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:49 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:52 pm
Veritas Aequitas wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 6:06 am Hume believed scientific facts are the same [analogous] with moral facts.
This is totally incorrect, VA. And besides, "analogous" implies "not the same, but similar in one particular (analogous) way." So there's another self-contradiction.

But I've talked with you long enough to know I'm not going to get you to change your mind about anything, so that's that, I guess. *shrug*
Principle of Charity??
Exhausted long ago, in this case. Massive precedent convinces against it.
Skepdick
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Re: What is this school of ethics called?

Post by Skepdick »

The fundamental problem with any "school of ethics" is that ethics is applied, not theoretical.

A descriptive theory of ethics is always a posteriori. But ethical decision making is always a priori - in the face of uncertainty.

A priori, we are a mixture of Kantian consequentialists (as paradoxical as this sounds). We have the best intentions, and we have science at our disposal to track the consequences of our actions over time. If we are really lucky - science can predict the consequences, but in complex domains it rarely works, which is why broad, overarching, utopian ethical theories always fail. They don't generalise well to societies.

They rarely generalise well beyond individual action.
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