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

Here again is another attempt at 'Objective' Morals

John M
user 4849523
Denver, CO
Post #: 1,826
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!



There are two issues here. One is moral awareness and conceptual progress. The other is the matter of progress when it comes to actual behavior. The former is in some ways more measurable than the latter.

But, yes, I would say there has been moral progress, in so far as moral debate and analysis have become more prominent in societies where there has been an expansion of educational opportunities. Without education and conceptual development, morality becomes more herd like and unreflective; it's all about blindly following some authority or the dictates of a local culture. The process of "rational selection," which is key to understanding moral conceptual development, leads to a further correction of beliefs and practices that are considered, upon examination, as either wrong or that the application of the principle should be universal and not only applied to a segment of the population. Inconsistent application of moral principles upon moral subjects cannot stand up to logical scrutiny or moral analysis.

There's no going back on moral conceptual development and universal applications of these conceptions. It would be like trying to abandon science and going back to folklore or fairy tales to explain the universe.
Spry
the.one
Amherst, OH
Post #: 779
I would agree with John largely, with a couple caveats.

First, this notion of moral progress is linked to the political and economic climate. Moral progress does not seem to occur without either expanding economic pies or with political system that encourage rent-seeking (i.e., redistributive systems). John has listed foundational pre-conditions for moral progress to be education and conceptual development. I believe that both of these are subordinate to the political and economic factors. For example, the leadership of the antebellum South, or of Imperial Rome, were broadly hypereducated and possessed a refined moral sense. Both Jefferson and Washington were highly educated, and both hated the institution of slavery and knew it to be wrong, yet they participated in it anyway. Each wrote about being trapped in it economically (aristocrats are stuck like a pig rent seekers enslaved just as much as their serfs -- but in nicer style).

In addition, we can characterize political action as occurring in one of two forms. These actions either seek "transformative change" (to be charitable to the spirit of the age) for the good, or they come in the flavor of a preserving action in order to prevent something worse. Necessarily, either a change for the good or a rear-guard defense of the good both involve knowledge of the good. I suppose it is fair to say (correct me if I'm wrong, John) that John's faith resides in the emergence of this knowledge in the fulness of time. Here, what he terms "rational selection" operates in a fashion similar either to "natural selection" or the iterative brute force of the scientific method or to the pricing action of a market dynamics. What results is a view of the society as sort of knowledge engine.

This brings me to my second point of departure from John. He exhibits strong faith in the durability of this machine. "There's no going back", he is wont to say. I cannot share that faith, and rather regard the advent and continued functioning of this machine over the past few hundred years to be rather extraordinary and miraculous. I think the engine is in more danger of seizing up these days than ever before. We face a precarious passage and are not in the best of health for it going in.

Well, there's my 2 cents. Hope yall had a good Easter.
John M
user 4849523
Denver, CO
Post #: 1,828
I would agree with John largely, with a couple caveats.

First, this notion of moral progress is linked to the political and economic climate. Moral progress does not seem to occur without either expanding economic pies or with political system that encourage rent-seeking (i.e., redistributive systems). John has listed foundational pre-conditions for moral progress to be education and conceptual development. I believe that both of these are subordinate to the political and economic factors. For example, the leadership of the antebellum South, or of Imperial Rome, were broadly hypereducated and possessed a refined moral sense. Both Jefferson and Washington were highly educated, and both hated the institution of slavery and knew it to be wrong, yet they participated in it anyway. Each wrote about being trapped in it economically (aristocrats are stuck like a pig rent seekers enslaved just as much as their serfs -- but in nicer style).

In addition, we can characterize political action as occurring in one of two forms. These actions either seek "transformative change" (to be charitable to the spirit of the age) for the good, or they come in the flavor of a preserving action in order to prevent something worse. Necessarily, either a change for the good or a rear-guard defense of the good both involve knowledge of the good. I suppose it is fair to say (correct me if I'm wrong, John) that John's faith resides in the emergence of this knowledge in the fulness of time. Here, what he terms "rational selection" operates in a fashion similar either to "natural selection" or the iterative brute force of the scientific method or to the pricing action of a market dynamics. What results is a view of the society as sort of knowledge engine.

This brings me to my second point of departure from John. He exhibits strong faith in the durability of this machine. "There's no going back", he is wont to say. I cannot share that faith, and rather regard the advent and continued functioning of this machine over the past few hundred years to be rather extraordinary and miraculous. I think the engine is in more danger of seizing up these days than ever before. We face a precarious passage and are not in the best of health for it going in.

Well, there's my 2 cents. Hope yall had a good Easter.

When I posit the educational aspects of my argument, in terms of not going back morally, I'm referring to the spread of moral and epistemological notions amongst more and more reflective subjects. This does presuppose economic and technological progress, as democratic education and epistemological progress amongst greater numbers of people necessitate educational systems and some leisure to nurture rational development. Philosophy could really only arise when cities emerged and division of labor to create more wealth, allowing some segment of the population to have the time and energy to contemplate the more esoteric questions of life.

But I simply do not see how there can be a reversal on such moral/political notions as equality and rights. When such a large part of the population has rationally settled upon it as true based on its simplicity and elegant, mutual recognition, you have a threshold that's crossed that will not let go of it. To me, it would be like trying to be eight years old again. You really can't go back to childhood, in terms of perspective and self understanding.

Earlier forms of institutional slavery could only be subsidized by force and cultural irrationality (ignorance), keeping a certain segment of the population conned into thinking the unequal arrangements were natural and just. Those submitting to servitude simply, on the whole, didn't have rational, cogent arguments in their heads to make the relations appear radically unjust and unjustifiable.

But I would be interested in seeing what you think as being a possible reversion from what the "Western machine" has developed, in terms of fundamental political morality.
Spry
the.one
Amherst, OH
Post #: 782
I made it to about the 20:00 mark until I couldn't take the raw crap anymore.

Holy shit, Dan, this was crap.

Please re-commit yourself to posting things of at least a sliver of intrinsic value.

All this has done has been to re-confirm the sense that Sam Harris is in over his head. If such is your point going in, please make it known because time is too short to wallow in such idiocies as I have just seen with this crap.

Thanks,

Spry
Dan
danlg
Group Organizer
Broomfield, CO
Post #: 1,357
Actually Spry, this is the rare occasion that I totally agree with you that Sam Harris is way over his head on the matter.

It's (any kind of science) not going to help us understand morals.
Spry
the.one
Amherst, OH
Post #: 783
Hmm, that last post was supposed to have been filed under Dan's thread about Sam Harris' awful, failed attempt to do, well, something I guess.

Really, the whole experience of that was too much layers of bullshit for anybody to take. Harris should have been rightfully kicked square in the balls, and only this presents the chance for a righteous outcome.
A former member
Post #: 968
Dan: 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.

-------------

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.

Dan, I think your own argument for respecting differences contradicts your comparison of boob-factor to lost keys.

We could say, for example, it is a fact that Sam's middle ground is Between the shuttlecock burqa and the bikini. The context is important, it has something to do with what is appropriate dress for women, it certainly wants input from women, not just Sam, and it is a different kind of fact from "what is the location of my keychain?"
Spry
the.one
Amherst, OH
Post #: 784
Actually Spry, this is the rare occasion that I totally agree with you that Sam Harris is way over his head on the matter.

It's (any kind of science) not going to help us understand morals.

Well, that's a hopefull indication, as I take it. May we have more moments of agreement in the future.

Goodnight.
A former member
Post #: 969
John: There's no going back on moral conceptual development and universal applications of these conceptions. It would be like trying to abandon science and going back to folklore or fairy tales to explain the universe.

There is no going back from where you happen to be, Mr. John.

Everyone starts at square zero. There is a spread of value systems. If your "philosophy" ignores this fact because it belongs to sociology, then you are irrational: you could just as well label and ignore any facts that contradict your thesis.

Suppose 90% of the world population's center of gravity is pre-rational: suppose most people are strongly religious or involved with peyote-magic or just happy family communes.

Then suppose the other 10% of the world is centered in a rational worldview. They noticed God never appears on talk shows and figure they will get on with life anyway. They look around and decide everyone should have equal rights and they call this "the truth" (because they think they have reached the apex of human development, just like everyone else does).

So what? 90% of the world is still emotive, supplying appropriate religious, magical, and communal justification as required.

This highlights your view as more of an interesting story than a "truth."

There is no need to "go back," the world is already full of folklore and fairy tales.
A former member
Post #: 970
I like the way Sam inhales through his nose between paragraphs.
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