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The Denver Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › Here again is another attempt at 'Objective' Morals

Here again is another attempt at 'Objective' Morals

Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,346
Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions:



Even in spite of David Hume's Fork, Sam believes there are moral facts.

I've argued many times and in many places that this is impossible. But Sam believes otherwise.
John M
user 4849523
Denver, CO
Post #: 1,817
Dan, perhaps some of your difficulties reside in how you initially appraise what a fact is. As we've discussed in previous threads, a fact can be more than just a verifiable thing/object. What about relational fact? Causality is a relation, and is not verifiable nor observable but is inferred. And yet you have no problem accepting causality as fact. Why can't you do a similar thing in terms of human relationship/behavior?

I've maintained that as cultures rationally mature and drop those practices and values that cannot meet the requirements of rational argument, that through time, moral system will become to further and further resemble each other. Mature rational consciousness is effective in weeding out bad seductions and unjustifiable habits.
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,347
John M:
Dan, perhaps some of your difficulties reside in how you initially appraise what a fact is. As we've discussed in previous threads, a fact can be more than just a verifiable thing/object. What about relational fact? Causality is a relation, and is not verifiable nor observable but is inferred. And yet you have no problem accepting causality as fact. Why can't you do a similar thing in terms of human relationship/behavior?

I've maintained that as cultures rationally mature and drop those practices and values that cannot meet the requirements of rational argument, that through time, moral system will become to further and further resemble each other. Mature rational consciousness is effective in weeding out bad seductions and unjustifiable habits.

My biting at the bit with you John is that you choose to use such colorful language, and with all it's splendor and power, it conceals the clarity worth either objecting to or admitting in agreement with.

I constantly must apply some kind of deciphering hermeneutic to interpret the clear meaning to what you say.

Take in arbitrary example of this:
Their.
They're
There.

Now although there pronunciation is similar their meanings are not.

As to what a fact is, well we have a altogether difference making for it.
Scientific fact.
Historical fact.
Theoretical fact.
Moral fact.
Statistical fact.

The ambiguities abound, the vagueness win over.

By what rigor to identity do we make to either distinguish or associate between the common meaning 'fact' to the meaning of 'moral fact'?

None? Some? A lot? Very Little? By quantity? By quality? By method? By style?

No!

We say 'murder is wrong' as a 'moral fact'. Or 'giving is good' as a 'moral fact'.

Whereas witnessing an event, we say 'causation is implied as fact'. Which is all together different. It is necessary, without exception.

Whereas, in the former, one could muster up and surmise several volumes of exceptions to moral facts; but to the latter one cannot.

You see you are a seducer to such things (I suspect you have indeed been seduced yourself to it first).

But take a moment and look at the lack of equivalence.

Facts have standards, calling out that morals are indeed facts, proves that one has been thoroughly compromised (I too admit to being compromised by reading such statements) to mis-use reason.

To me those who try to either pursue proving moral facts, or trying to elevate morals to 'fact-hood' (not a word, fact-hood is) have compromised their reason.

There is a univocal standard to what facts are.

Take the time to listening to Sam's argument.

He put's out the value, for example, of women's rights by comparing those covered-up women, to those barely covered up women, saying there must be some middle ground.

If we take it upon ourself to ask 'where exactly is that Sam? You talk about facts, so where exactly is that middle ground, moral fact concerning women's rights, i.e. human rights?'

What we will get as an answer is something not clear, something fuzzy, ambiguous and vague.

However, if I misplaced my keys, the must be clearly, distinctly some precise place. Their fact of being somewhere, is deduced from the precise location they are at.

They can't be all over the place (unless my dog turned them into a chew toy, ha ha ha ha ha).

I had claimed before John, that we must begin tweaking things, watering them down, stealing their vigor, rigor and clarity to get it both ways.
John M
user 4849523
Denver, CO
Post #: 1,819
You don't find my thought experiment relevant? Let's say you and I had an enormous life span and could observe the change in moral rules in various societies as well those reflective forms of life on different planets. We observe them to start out very differently in terms of moral rules, due to their "junior levels" of knowledge and rational development, but through time, as they rationally matured, they begin to sort out the human relational issues with increasing levels of reflection, awareness, and experience, and begin to increasingly resemble each other in terms of rules and values.

What would you make of that? Doesn't that resemble the development of epistemology and science? When you further develop your experimental techniques, reflection and objectivity, you find that people from other cultures, who similarly went through (and up) the ladder of reason and objectivity begin to resemble each other and understand each other as engaging in the same kind of reasoning.

Just as there is no american science, or russian science, or german science, (there's just science) at some point the moral systems will coalesce as a universal from this maturation process. I think it's inevitable. Bank on it.
John M
user 4849523
Denver, CO
Post #: 1,822


I had claimed before John, that we must begin tweaking things, watering them down, stealing their vigor, rigor and clarity to get it both ways.

No, Dan, you continually want me to play your epistemological 20th century analytic game, which is ill equipped to deal with ethics, as an objective rational enterprise. Your ethical methodology only limits yourself to "feeling" when it comes to moral motivation and justification. That is so hopelessly impoverished, in my estimation. To paraphrase Socrates from the Euthypro: "Is x good, because you simply desire it, or is x good, because it objectively is really good?"

20th Century analytic philosophy unequivocally endorses the former part of that question, as you do.
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,348
John M:
You don't find my thought experiment relevant? Let's say you and I had an enormous life span and could observe the change in moral rules in various societies as well those reflective forms of life on different planets. We observe them to start out very differently in terms of moral rules, due to their "junior levels" of knowledge and rational development, but through time, as they rationally matured, they begin to sort out the human relational issues with increasing levels of reflection, awareness, and experience, and begin to increasingly resemble each other in terms of rules and values.

It's quite Hegelian of you to put forth what you presume would be some end result from such beginnings.

But it is an assumption that people progressively develop.

From slavery, to segregation, to desegregation to averse racism. Of which the last state seems to not be able to progress any further.

Have we progressed?

No. We have merely striped legally was permitted that people did to other people, then legally permitted those people who were enslaved to have rights.

Not much real progression if you then point out that still people are racist. Although it is immoral to practice slavery, it merely became illegal to practice it. How is it now to be immoral to practice racism?

What appears at first look to be progressive, now appears to have dead ended.

As you can see, I'm not a big fan of progress, partly because I don't believe it to be true.

Look now at the American crime known as 'sex slavery'. Here is you progress. From Dogville to Manderlay!


John M:
What would you make of that? Doesn't that resemble the development of epistemology and science? When you further develop your experimental techniques, reflection and objectivity, you find that people from other cultures, who similarly went through (and up) the ladder of reason and objectivity begin to resemble each other and understand each other as engaging in the same kind of reasoning.

Just as there is no american science, or russian science, or german science, (there's just science) at some point the moral systems will coalesce as a universal from this maturation process. I think it's inevitable. Bank on it.

Funny, I mean American's wanted to be first in space, they came second, then first to the moon, of which they were.

And they used science.

American politician's were warned by A. Einstein that the German's were working on the A. Bomb; and this too motivated the American's to be the first. And first to use it.

Here's ethical progress through the sins of science.
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,349
John M:
To paraphrase Socrates from the Euthypro: "Is x good, because you simply desire it, or is x good, because it objectively is really good?"

20th Century analytic philosophy unequivocally endorses the former part of that question, as you do.

The Socratic Fallacy!
A former member
Post #: 13
Mortimer Adler's greatest contribution to philosophy was probably this idea:

Philosophers analyzing philosophical issues don't often argue them in a way that brings those issues into direct contrast. Instead, they glance off of one another at various angles.

He thought the thing for philosophers to do to address this problem was to have a discipline anterior to philosophy that would simply identify what the underlying issues really were (they could perhaps be stated as canonical questions), and then look at the relationship of various philosophical answers to those questions.

Now, if that makes any sense, one thing that philosophers need to do is to keep up with the current "state of the argument" -- that is, they should 1) know what the issues are in any given area of philosophical interest and 2) should have a good sense of all of the views on offer. (The other main pillars of rationalism, mathematics and science, take all of this for granted -- only philosophy tends to lag.)

It is probably the case (and certainly the case in my judgement) that the main tenets of Positivism are as dead as doornails, and have been for decades (and that includes most of the positions taken by Wittgenstein). The most compelling arguments to that effect can be found in "Reason and Analysis" by Brand Blanshard: http://www.amazon.com...­ (Uniformly five star rated, the highest possible, by 8 reviewers.)

Hume's arguments concerning ethics are shown to fail (again, inarguably in my view) in another of Blanshard's books "Reason and Goodness".

The remarkable thing about Blanshard's philosophical work generally is this: it is invariably extremely clearly stated, always very persuasively and exhaustively argued, and nobody has yet succeeded in overturning to any significant degree any of the philosophical positions that he took. This means that, to a very large degree, his work represents the high water mark in Western philosophy to date (far more so than, say, Wittgenstein or Quine or Russell). Yet his work is largely unknown.

If the discipline was anything but philosophy, this would be shocking. As matters stand, it is merely disgraceful.

In any case, I commend Blanshard to anyone interested in questions concerning the objectivity of morality (and what objectivity, more generally, is all about).

Jeanette M. N.
wickedatheist
Denver, CO
Post #: 2,662
Ken Roberts:
In any case, I commend Blanshard to anyone interested in questions concerning the objectivity of morality (and what objectivity, more generally, is all about).

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check into it as soon as I can find the time, since I've been frustrated by this redundant and thus-far fruitless discussion.

But (everybody) I like Sam Harris. tongue
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,352
Ken Roberts:
Mortimer Adler's greatest contribution to philosophy was probably this idea:

Philosophers analyzing philosophical issues don't often argue them in a way that brings those issues into direct contrast. Instead, they glance off of one another at various angles.

Only assuming that the goal of said analysis was to explicate contrast between different positions in a philosophical subject.

But more remarkably, I’d be interested in you citing an analytic philosopher who ‘glances off’ a given subject rather than contrasts it with one or several different positions on the subject.

Ken Roberts:
He thought the thing for philosophers to do to address this problem was to have a discipline anterior to philosophy that would simply identify what the underlying issues really were (they could perhaps be stated as canonical questions), and then look at the relationship of various philosophical answers to those questions.

This was the position held by the logical positivists to begin with. So I am rather clueless whether this is a criticism aimed at Analytic thought, or in support of it?

Ken Roberts:
Now, if that makes any sense, one thing that philosophers need to do is to keep up with the current "state of the argument" -- that is, they should 1) know what the issues are in any given area of philosophical interest and 2) should have a good sense of all of the views on offer. (The other main pillars of rationalism, mathematics and science, take all of this for granted -- only philosophy tends to lag.)

Usually when lawyers make counter charges that are general rather than specific against some plaintiff or witness it is genuinely stricken from the protest as heresy or unfounded?

Indicting philosophy of some general lag behind would follow such claims as well. I mean if ‘every’ philosopher did this, it would follow nicely—but if one single philosopher didn’t, you’d see the good suspicion to think it’s reasonable to be suspicious of your claim…..

Ken Roberts:
It is probably the case (and certainly the case in my judgment) that the main tenets of Positivism are as dead as doornails, and have been for decades (and that includes most of the positions taken by Wittgenstein). The most compelling arguments to that effect can be found in "Reason and Analysis" by Brand Blanshard: http://www.amazon.com...­ (Uniformly five star rated, the highest possible, by 8 reviewers.)

Hume's arguments concerning ethics are shown to fail (again, inarguably in my view) in another of Blanshard's books "Reason and Goodness".

The remarkable thing about Blanshard's philosophical work generally is this: it is invariably extremely clearly stated, always very persuasively and exhaustively argued, and nobody has yet succeeded in overturning to any significant degree any of the philosophical positions that he took. This means that, to a very large degree, his work represents the high water mark in Western philosophy to date (far more so than, say, Wittgenstein or Quine or Russell). Yet his work is largely unknown.

If the discipline was anything but philosophy, this would be shocking. As matters stand, it is merely disgraceful.

In any case, I commend Blanshard to anyone interested in questions concerning the objectivity of morality (and what objectivity, more generally, is all about).

So it is to your liking to believe Blanshard to ending the Logical Positivist movement?

This is the usual response from Idealists.

I don’t share such sympathies, but I’ll bite and be open to your suggestion.

He was against reductionism, Hume, logical atomism (or it’s ugly twin brother logical holism) and Wittgenstein.

But it will spare me considerable charm if you might merely suggest Blanshard’s formal arguments against Logical Positivism, rather than refer to some more reading (not that I’ll not take up the challenge and read up on the fellow).

That way we all can put out the thesis’ and examined in plain view to decide from there….?
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