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Cogito ergo sum

Here in the Philosophy forum we will talk about all the "why" questions. We'll have conversations about the way in which philosophy and theology and religion interact with each other. Metaphysics, ontology, origins, truth? They're all fair game so jump right in and have some fun! But remember...play nice!

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Atheism And Moral Progress

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  • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    I have.
    OK - that post I definitely missed. Can you point me to it?

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    But I thought you were claiming that discussion is impossible between people who value/cherish differently.
    No - that's NOT what I said. What I said was that rational argumentation to defend refute a given moral position is pointless between people who value/cherish differently - even if both use reason to go from valuing/cherishing to moralizing. That does not make discussion impossible. It means the discussion has to focus on the difference in valuing/cherishing with the intent of influencing a change.

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    You apparently value/cherish differently than I do and others on here.
    I do. Most here value/cherish their god above all else, AFAICT. I do not.

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    If you were on here merely diagnostically to measure how much one's values affected one's beliefs/arguments, I could understand your being here. But that's obviously not what you're doing.
    Correct, it's not.

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    You are emphatically arguing for your position, which means you think that there are reasons that you can use to persuade others who value/cherish in a radically different way from you.
    Actually, if you recall, you approached me concerning my subjectivism and challenged my views. I have merely been responding to your arguments and telling you what I think of them and how they do or do not stand up to scrutiny. I actually have no expectations of "persuading" anyone, nor is that my objective.

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    Or at least you think you can rationally defend your position from objections from those who value differently.
    No. Indeed, I have said exactly the opposite (see above).

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    But how can there be rational disagreement between those whose values radically clash?
    There can be disagreement. It can be explored rationally (to a point). I would suggest it can be explored rationally to determine what the valuing disconnect actually is, assuming both people use reason to arrive at their moral positions.

    Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
    In either case, it seems that your working assumption is that there can be rational disagreement, a realm of discourse that does not depend on (is logically independent of) the values of any of the participants.
    If you will note, Jim, our discussion has not been about particular moral positions. It has been about meta-ethics: the nature of morality itself. So I find your comments here a little perplexing.

    It is true that I have engaged others here on specific moral issues. But I learned that I was foolish to do so, pretty much for the reasons you cite and I have noted: if there is a fundamental disconnect in valuing/cherishing, there is little/no basis for a moral discussion until that valuing is more aligned. Since I am fairly sure that I will not be successful in influencing anyone here to value differently (i.e., a little less god, a little more humanity), and I am fairly sure they will not be able to influence me to return to my Christian beliefs, I conclude there is little purpose in discussions about specific moral points in this context. That leaves me with ignore (for moral positions that are relatively trivial and can simply be dismissed), isolate/separate (the medium of this website naturally does this) or contend (which I do in the political forum with my vote, my contributions, and my work with young people).
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

    Comment


    • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
      Then we disagree. Red is another objectively real thing that the observer experiences if they have the right optical equipment to do so. Morality is an inevitable consequence of a sapient being that can act. When a self-aware being can reflect on action, it is inevitable they will seek to sort those actions into "ought" and "ought not." That sorting is to make it possible to achieve an ends. When the ends is to protect something dearly valued/cherished, we label those principles "morality." Morality is a subset of "preference." Although most moral norms are social in scope, morality is not restricted to sociality.
      "Red" phenomenally is a subjectively real thing. And once again, sorting things into "ought" and "ought not" covers all of human action. It covers waxing my truck, clipping my toenails, blinking my eyes, etc. And it is more complex than just the amount of OOMPH. I was being sarcastic. My own survival has the most OOMPH for me of all my values but is not a moral consideration. As much as you want to reduce something complex to something simple, it just won't work.



      I submit that, if you have moral norms that pre-empt survival, then your own survival is NOT what you value/cherish most.
      My point was that my own physical survival is not or rarely a moral consideration even though it's of the greatest possible subjective value to me.



      Yes...exactly. Somewhere on the continuum from trivial to profound, we begin to refer to the derived principles as "moral." The only difference is the degree to which we value/cherish, and there is no specific point where this language shifts - nor is there any fixed order in which we value. Generally, there are things we tend to value/cherish more (life, happiness, liberty) and things we tend to value/cherish less (pizza, houseplants, brand of dust broom). But some people value some things in significantly different order (e.g., the Hindu and farmer value the cow differently). What is a moral consideration for some is simply not to others and vice versa.
      No, it's not just the degree, it's the content as well. Why do you refuse to look at the content? The Hindu values the cow due to non-moral beliefs. I may value my patio and treat it as a near-sacred site because I believe that aliens will use it as their landing pad in three weeks, or because I believe that a million dollars in gold bullion is buried beneath it. These are not moral beliefs but non-moral beliefs that moral beliefs may depend upon.

      Because different people value differently, therefore what...? Diversity and consensus aren't dispositive of anything. But it is worht pointing out that most of the cases of diversity you point out are due to differences in factual non-moral belief. I can already anticipate your response: "If someone vales something strongly enough ( when the "oomph factor" hits some arbitrarily strong level), it just BECOMES a moral value because that's how I've arbitrarily decided to define my terms!"



      If that were true, they would have frame moral principles around it. I suspect you will find that when asked which they value more: life or mathematics, most mathematicians will say life. We all have our passions, Jim - but they seldom pre-empt the core things we value most.
      How do you know this? Because that's how you define your terms. And around and around we go! The core things we value most, such as our own survival, are not necessarily moral in character. I'm not aware of scientists or artists dedicated to their work above all else forming moral principles around that work, unless there is some principle embodied in the work that can be justified independently of the person's own involvemnet in it. So, again, content is crucial, not just quantity of valuing.



      No. You are using "morally true" here in an odd way. What I value drives the moral principles I adopt. There is nothing objectively true about those moral values and there cannot be - because they are driven by subjective valuing/cherishing. I will see them as subjectively true. In much the same way, if I prefer pizza over all other foods, I will see "choosing restaurants that serve pizza" as a "good thing." Not morally good, mind you, because I do not value/cherish pizza highly on my overall scale.
      THERE CANNOT BE! DO you all hear that?! Is that understood?

      What drives what you value? What drives what I value is navigating in terms of bestness, in terms of what is good and what is true. And what is good and what is true, even though I may not know what those are, are logically independent of what I believe or desire, even if the good and true I'm seeking is regarding my own particular situation. In moral deliberation, I am trying to discover the best thing to do. I am NOT trying to discover what I value. (I don't even know what that would mean. It would be a solipsistic recursive nightmare loop of some sort.) What I value is irrelevant. I am seeking to align what I value with what I discover to be the best thing to do. What you're saying is like saying that I drive my car in terms of my hands manipulating the steering wheel. You're technically correct, but you're at the wrong explanatory level.



      Not sure what this refers to.
      Jusitification vs. motivation, and it doesn't pre-suppose objective truth. But I think the best most satisfying explanation of justification is in terms of some sort of objectivism, either strong or weak.



      Your first statement sort of makes my point: honesty has impact on society and community. I was not speaking to the "semi-hermit" but to the true "mountain man independent" who disappears into the forest never to be seen again and lives independently. They have no need of "honesty" and will not have moral norms about it. Language is developed in the context of society, so someone who has been raised in society will take vestiges of it with them. That does not mean any of those vestiges are necessary in their specific situation. Find the stories of truly feral humans and see how much language they have developed.
      Yeah, I'm talking about the real hermit too. He would still have language, artifacts, could still self-talk, plan, etc. He would have to be "self-reliant," ie have self-honesty, integrity, if he were to survive. A human who was never acculturated would not be considered a 'person' at all.

      And self-honesty is a bit of a different thing. I will not fracture the relationship with myself if I am self-deceived. I may compromise my ability to survive depending on the nature of the self-deception, but not necessarily. Your claim that honesty is required for human functioning simply has not been made.
      You've never known people who lie to themselves? I've known people like that all my life. I've done it myself. It's a lack of honesty/integrity. It's necessary for self-functioning and communal functioning.



      Really? How do you know it is honesty he is relying on and not fear?

      But I quibble. I make no bones about the fact that a society functions on trust - and dishonesty erodes trust. Since most of us value/cherish relationships greatly and recognize this dynamic, we have moral norms about honesty. The relative strength of those moral norms will depend on what we value/cherish more or less. Even Trump is only dishonest about half the time. He simply (apparently) values some things more than relationship and a smooth functioning society. When those things are juxtaposed with relationships/society, honesty goes out the window.
      I'm sure the honesty is often psychologically motivated by fear. My point was that even criminals depend on truth and honesty to function. Without it, their operations would collapse in short order.

      Comment


      • Your post included the sentence, "I value love, life, consciousness intrinsically, for their own sake, because they're experiences." (emphasis mine) My response was about the inconsistency of your own post - and the incorrectness of this statement. I am not misreading you - but it may well be that you misspoke.
        We've had so many exchanges today, I'm getting a little lost, but what I said was I thought fairly clear: I value life, etc, intrinsically because they are experiences. The "because they are experiences" refers to the "intrinsically." Something is intrinsically good (or bad) because it is an experience. Experiences have intrinsic properties by their very nature. But not all experiences are good or bad. Many (most?) are neutral.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
          I couldn't disagree more. It takes a "leap of faith" to hold any view. You're conflating "holding a belief" with "burden of proof" (though I suspect we don't see eye to eye on "burden of proof" either). If someone says "there are unicorns," and you decide "no there are not," you are making a claim to a reality that you hold to be true: "there are no unicorns." It takes a leap of faith to get to that claim. It doesn't take a leap of faith to say, "you have not proven that there are unicorns." But it does take a leap of faith to make the definitive claim, "there are no unicorns."
          But I am not making a “definitive claim” about unicorns or anything else, that’s a component YOU have added. What I explicitly said was that I don’t believe in god (or unicorns if it comes to that), because there is no good reason to believe such an entity exists in the first place.

          The same is true concerning statements about god. I am absolutely aware that I live as much by faith as an atheist as I ever did as a Christian.
          See above.

          BTW: Not even science makes "definitive claims" that the laws and constants of nature (e.g. the speed of light) are absolutely true. But there are good practical reasons nevertheless to consider them as such even though (as with all science) they are falsifiable.
          “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
            But I am not making a “definitive claim” about unicorns or anything else, that’s a component YOU have added. What I explicitly said was that I don’t believe in god (or unicorns if it comes to that), because there is no good reason to believe such an entity exists in the first place.



            See above.

            BTW: Not even science makes "definitive claims" that the laws and constants of nature (e.g. the speed of light) are absolutely true. But there are good practical reasons nevertheless to consider them as such even though (as with all science) they are falsifiable.
            What you said was "I don’t have to make a “leap of faith” to say that there is no god because there is no good reason to believe such an entity exists in the first place.."

            You most certainly made the definitive claim "there is no god", you didn't simply say "I don't believe in god". Maybe try to keep your own words straight so someone else doesn't have to do it for you?
            ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
              What you said was "I don’t have to make a “leap of faith” to say that there is no god because there is no good reason to believe such an entity exists in the first place.."

              You most certainly made the definitive claim "there is no god", you didn't simply say "I don't believe in god". Maybe try to keep your own words straight so someone else doesn't have to do it for you?
              It’s a claim of “no god’ qualified by the lack of a good reason to believe in a god. The implication being that it’s hypothetically possible for a god to exist even if highly improbable.
              “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
                If god created the universe and god is supernatural, then the origins and creation of the universe are supernatural (i.e., science won't be able to explain it). Whether or not the universe itself supernatural depends on exactly what this hypothetical god created. If this god created this universe to be "understandable by science," then it is natural because science can explore and understand it. If not, then it is supernatural. That's what the words mean.
                That is what the words means only because we say so. But there is simply no objective way to support that. That is my point. We can name a rock and that name now has an objective reference or reality. To say that supernatural must means that which can not be investigated is an idea made up out of whole cloth with no objective reference. WE just do not know.


                Yeah - I know you do. You've made that opinion clear on multiple occasions. You simply have not supported it adequately with solid argumentation.

                No - it's not.

                No - I don't. Morality being subjective does not leave us with "no argument can be refuted." It leaves with "it is possible that a given moral position cannot be rationally refuted." But then again, it is possible that local, state, or national laws cannot be rationally refuted, and no one seems to complain about that. You are trying to carve out a special exception for morality - to equate it with logical and mathematical principles - but you have no justification for such a comparison. As has been noted multiple times, moral principles are more analogous to legal ones than to the laws of mathematics/logic. Both deal with behavior. Both specify what "ought" or "ought not" occur. The subjective nature of legal principles does not seem to be a problem - so I don't see why the subjective nature of moral principles would be any more problematic.

                It is only problematic because people have been conditioned to the idea that moral norms have to be absolute/universal and objectively true. That has been used by individuals and societies as a means to control other people for millennia now. But upon close examination, there is no reason to accept that just because it is what has always been accepted. In fact, morality is subjective. It always has been and cannot rationally be shown NOT to be. Indeed, what we see all around us is subjective morality in operation each and every day. I can trace my moral position to it's subjective roots. You CANNOT trace your moral positions to purely objectively true roots and will ALWAYS have to resort to subjective truths. THAT is what makes morality subjective.

                But - as I have said multiple times now - all you need to do to show my position to be undeniably wrong is to take any moral position you hold and trace it to objectively true roots with no appeal whatsoever to subjectively true ideas. So far...crickets.
                I have no idea what you are getting at. If the laws of logic are not absolute we agree that rational debate is not possible. But if moral truths are not absolute we can still have a rational moral debate? Of course not, if relativism is true moral reasoning is not possible anymore than rational debate is possible without the law of logic. They both fall on the same sword. If you can not say that honesty is a universal moral good then no moral argument can obtain - ever.
                Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  "Red" phenomenally is a subjectively real thing.
                  As previously noted - "seeing red" is mind-dependent and individualized - but it is NOT subjective. And it is rooted in the objectively real wavelength of electromagnetic energy.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  And once again, sorting things into "ought" and "ought not" covers all of human action. It covers waxing my truck, clipping my toenails, blinking my eyes, etc.
                  It also covers my decision to take that property that doesn't belong to me, or to injure that person, or to tell that lie, or to do the opposite of all those things.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  And it is more complex than just the amount of OOMPH. I was being sarcastic. My own survival has the most OOMPH for me of all my values but is not a moral consideration. As much as you want to reduce something complex to something simple, it just won't work.
                  Your survival is indeed a moral consideration. I assume you have a moral prohibition against suicide...because it acts against your survival. You may even have moral ideas about self-care. If you have moral positions that could work against your own survival, then your survival is not what you value/cherish most: something else is. And when confronted by a conflict between protecting your survival and protecting this other thing (i.e., another person's life, perhaps), then you have a valuing/cherishing sequence that puts the survival of those others above your own. Most people would call you "selfless."

                  The basic rules of a chess game, Jim, are very simple. The basic components of DNA are quite simple and number only 4. Things with a simple core can lead to complex realities.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  My point was that my own physical survival is not or rarely a moral consideration even though it's of the greatest possible subjective value to me.
                  See above.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  No, it's not just the degree, it's the content as well. Why do you refuse to look at the content? The Hindu values the cow due to non-moral beliefs. I may value my patio and treat it as a near-sacred site because I believe that aliens will use it as their landing pad in three weeks, or because I believe that a million dollars in gold bullion is buried beneath it. These are not moral beliefs but non-moral beliefs that moral beliefs may depend upon.
                  Why do you think I am not looking at the content? Indeed, one cannot separate my valuing/cherishing from WHAT I am valuing/cherishing. And the thing I value/cherish is not the moral principle, it is the reason I form the moral principle. I value/cherish all human life. The moral principles that result include "random killing is a moral wrong" and "sharing what I have with those who are more in need than I is a moral good."

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  Because different people value differently, therefore what...?
                  People who value/cherish differently are likely to form differing moral principles. If we value/cherish similarly, and we use the same means for deriving moral principles from what we value/cherish, then we are more likely to arrive at the same moral principles.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  Diversity and consensus aren't dispositive of anything.
                  One thing I do like about talking to you is the number of times you send me to my dictionary! I believe I said that - without "dispositive." See my previous posts. We appear to be in agreement on this point.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  But it is worht pointing out that most of the cases of diversity you point out are due to differences in factual non-moral belief. I can already anticipate your response: "If someone vales something strongly enough ( when the "oomph factor" hits some arbitrarily strong level), it just BECOMES a moral value because that's how I've arbitrarily decided to define my terms!"
                  Close - but I don't think I have redefined any terms. If you think I have, I'd be curious to know which terms have been redefined. And the strength of what we value/cherish doesn't "cause" something to be a moral value, anymore than the increase in electromagnetic frequency "causes" a radiated signal to become an X-ray or Gamma rays. There is an electromagnetic spectrum that ranges from 0 Hz to (presumably) a near infinity of Hertz, and we have arbitrarily named certain ranges because the frequencies in that range are used differently or have a different effect. Likewise, we have a range of valuing/cherishing, and that forms the basis for how we make decisions about all of our actions. As we move from least valued/cherished to most valued/cherished, the "oomph" increases and, at some arbitrary point individually selected, we begin to used the term "moral" for those action choices.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  How do you know this?
                  I know this because it is my internal experience. I know this because the conversations I have with others reveals this process going on within them. I know this because no one has ever been able to make a rationale case for morality being based in objectively true principles. I know this because no one has ever been able to take a single moral principle, and demonstrate how it sources to only objectively true facts. There is always an appeal to what the individual values/cherishes.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  Because that's how you define your terms. And around and around we go!
                  Again, what terms do you think I have redefined?

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  The core things we value most, such as our own survival, are not necessarily moral in character. I'm not aware of scientists or artists dedicated to their work above all else forming moral principles around that work, unless there is some principle embodied in the work that can be justified independently of the person's own involvement in it. So, again, content is crucial, not just quantity of valuing.
                  It is not possible to value/cherish without being aware of the content of what is valued/cherished, so I don't understand this objection of yours. Are you saying that the meta-ethical framework I'm outlining is not content-specific? I'm not sure why you would think it would need to be. The framework does not dictate the content - it describes the dynamics of the system. The individual determines the content by determining what they most value/cherish.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  THERE CANNOT BE! DO you all hear that?! Is that understood?
                  I can make no connection between the all-cap statement and the post I made that apparently prompted it. But I certainly have the impression that you are getting frustrated with this discussion. That would account for the tone I am perceiving. If the discussion is that frustrating for you, it might be time to just hang it up? Just a thought...

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  What drives what you value?
                  Experience. That includes internal experiences, family, religion, society, community, friends, school, and all of the other ways that we are influenced by our context. Basically the same things that tend to influence ANY of our preferences and opinions.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  What drives what I value is navigating in terms of bestness, in terms of what is good and what is true.
                  This is the quintessential chicken/egg question. Do you value/cherish something more because you have evaluated it as somehow better? Or do you see something as better because you value/cherish it more? hen I look internally, I find that I cannot answer this question. The two are intrinsically interlocked.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  And what is good and what is true, even though I may not know what those are, are logically independent of what I believe or desire, even if the good and true I'm seeking is regarding my own particular situation.
                  This is a point we have already determined we disagree on. What is "good" is seen as "good" by us because of its relationship to the things we value. Good is not intrinsically in a thing, but is a subjective assessment by an individual. We see "healthy eating" as a "good" because it is a significant component of maintaining our health and our life. Healthy eating is a good only so long as we value that health and that life. The person on a hunger strike for a cause they value more than life will cease to see "healthy eating" as a good - it will be an ill with respect to what they are trying to achieve. Good is always relative/subjective to a context.

                  "True" is similar. True is the relationship between a statement/claim and the reality it represents. A statement/claim is true if it aligns with the reality it represents, and false if it does not. "The sky is blue" is true if the sky is blue, and false if it is not. This is true for all of our statements.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  In moral deliberation, I am trying to discover the best thing to do.
                  Agreed.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  I am NOT trying to discover what I value. (I don't even know what that would mean. It would be a solipsistic recursive nightmare loop of some sort.) What I value is irrelevant. I am seeking to align what I value with what I discover to be the best thing to do. What you're saying is like saying that I drive my car in terms of my hands manipulating the steering wheel. You're technically correct, but you're at the wrong explanatory level.
                  No - that is not what I am saying. But we can solve this fairly simply. I agree with you that our moralizing is to determine what is the best thing to do. My argument has been that the process of "determining best" sources to the impact of the considered action (or intent of the actor) on what I value/cherish. You think it is not. So, how do you determine how one action is "better" than another without referencing something you value/cherish?

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  Jusitification vs. motivation, and it doesn't pre-suppose objective truth. But I think the best most satisfying explanation of justification is in terms of some sort of objectivism, either strong or weak.
                  That didn't help.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  Yeah, I'm talking about the real hermit too. He would still have language, artifacts, could still self-talk, plan, etc. He would have to be "self-reliant," ie have self-honesty, integrity, if he were to survive. A human who was never acculturated would not be considered a 'person' at all.
                  He has language, Jim, because he developed it in the context of society/community. Your claim was that honesty was required for a human being to be functional. We have many examples of feral humans who demonstrate that we adopt the characteristics of the community in which we arise. And we appear to have different definitions of "human." A feral human is still human - they simply have not been influenced by human societies.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  You've never known people who lie to themselves? I've known people like that all my life. I've done it myself. It's a lack of honesty/integrity. It's necessary for self-functioning and communal functioning.
                  I truly don't know anyone who "lies to themselves." I can't think of a single instance where I have done so internally. Frankly, I don't think it is possible. A "lie" is an intentional falsehood. When I tell a lie - I know the truth and intentionally alter the communication to reflect an untruth. Simply saying something that is false does not make me a liar - I have to intend the falsehood. I do not see how it is possible for someone to intend a falsehood directed at themselves since lying requires the individual to know the truth. It's simply impossible. What is possible is for my self-image to be incomplete or to be skewed in some fashion. It is possible for me to be in denial about something, but the person in denial is either denying to others but internally aware of the truth, or they are truly ignorant of the truth internally and externally.

                  But I think we are definitively on a tangent, at this point.

                  Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                  I'm sure the honesty is often psychologically motivated by fear. My point was that even criminals depend on truth and honesty to function. Without it, their operations would collapse in short order.
                  Again, you demonstrate that what we hold as moral positions will depend on what we value. The criminal values their organization and recognizes the impact of lies on that organization - so they employ honesty in that context. They do not value the broader society and generally view it as a means to an end (wealth, power, etc.), so their moral proscription does not extend to that community.

                  But I agree that trust is fundamental to society and relationship - and dishonesty erodes trust. I have said so many times. Every day of our lives we engage in a multitude of exercises in communal trust. That is what makes the modern day erosion of trust so dangerous: when a lie is accepted as readily as the truth, the very foundations of society are under attack and the society will eventually collapse if the situation is not addressed. This is the primary reason I want to see Trump removed from office. He is a threat to the very foundations of our democracy because of the casual ways he employs lying almost continually, and has made lying "acceptable" in our society.
                  The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                  I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Jim B. View Post
                    We've had so many exchanges today, I'm getting a little lost, but what I said was I thought fairly clear: I value life, etc, intrinsically because they are experiences. The "because they are experiences" refers to the "intrinsically." Something is intrinsically good (or bad) because it is an experience. Experiences have intrinsic properties by their very nature. But not all experiences are good or bad. Many (most?) are neutral.
                    I don't know if it is me or you, but this statement makes no sense to me. A thing is not intrinsically good (or bad) because it's an experience. Everything we know or encounter is "an experience." It is not the state f being "an experience" that renders the thing good or bad. It is the relationship between the experience in question and something we value/cherish. Goodness/badness is not intrinsic to the experience. If it were, then the same experience would be similarly good in all contexts and for all people. It is most clearly not.

                    But I do agree that we have had a multitude of posts - and my impression is that the discussion has diluted into a multitude of tangents and no longer has a clear focus/purpose. I am not sure how to restore that focus/purpose.
                    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                      But I am not making a “definitive claim” about unicorns or anything else, that’s a component YOU have added. What I explicitly said was that I don’t believe in god (or unicorns if it comes to that), because there is no good reason to believe such an entity exists in the first place.

                      See above.
                      This hinges on what "I don't believe in X" means to you. If it means "I have no position on whether or not X exists - I simply know you have not made the case that it does," then this is the former type I mentioned earlier and does not require a leap of faith.

                      If "I don't believe in X" means "I don't believe X exists," then this is the "leap of faith" I was referring to.

                      So which is it? Are you saying you believe unicorns (or gods) don't exist - or are you saying you have no position on the existence of unicorns (or gods) and simply note that they have not been proven to exist?

                      Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                      BTW: Not even science makes "definitive claims" that the laws and constants of nature (e.g. the speed of light) are absolutely true. But there are good practical reasons nevertheless to consider them as such even though (as with all science) they are falsifiable.
                      Yes, there are - hence the need for science to make a "leap of faith" to consider these things as such until they are shown to be otherwise. While science never claims absolute knowledge, it accepts certain principles as true so long as they continue to fit the observable facts and permit accurate predictions of future events. THAT is the leap of faith made by science. Or it's at least one of them.
                      The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                      I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Tassman View Post
                        It’s a claim of “no god’ qualified by the lack of a good reason to believe in a god. The implication being that it’s hypothetically possible for a god to exist even if highly improbable.
                        Yeah...I think you're quibbling a bit. Your statement was "there is no god." That is a definitive statement and requires a leap of faith. If you want to amend the statement with a qualification in light of the discussion, by all means do so. We all misspeak at one time or another. But the original statement was accurately responded to.
                        The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                        I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by seer View Post
                          That is what the words means only because we say so.
                          Correct. That's how language works, Seer. How we commonly use a word becomes its meaning.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          But there is simply no objective way to support that. That is my point.
                          I'm having no problem with it, objective or otherwise. I'm not sure why you are.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          We can name a rock and that name now has an objective reference or reality. To say that supernatural must means that which can not be investigated is an idea made up out of whole cloth with no objective reference. WE just do not know.
                          I'm having no problem knowing what the words mean or how to apply them. What science can investigate is fairly clear. What science cannot is pretty much everything else. It is true that we sometimes attribute something to the supernatural that science then provides a perfectly naturalistic explanation for. So sometimes we miss-classify something. But that happens all the time with all sorts of words. We distinguish between "healthy" food and "unhealthy food." We know what the terms mean. Sometimes we miss-classify food due to a lack of knowledge or even incorrect knowledge. It doesn't mean we throw the words away.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          I have no idea what you are getting at.
                          You know - this is a much more civil statement than "nonsense" or "that's silly" or all of the other ways you historically have responded. It tells me about the state of your mind concening the proposition without attacking or accusing either of us.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          If the laws of logic are not absolute we agree that rational debate is not possible.
                          Correct.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          But if moral truths are not absolute we can still have a rational moral debate?
                          Possibly. It depends on what the individuals having the discussion value/cherish and whether or not logic is their basis for arriving at moral principles.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          Of course not, if relativism is true moral reasoning is not possible anymore than rational debate is possible without the law of logic.
                          Not correct. It MAY not be possible in a specific situation. It MAY be possible in others.

                          Originally posted by seer View Post
                          They both fall on the same sword. If you can not say that honesty is a universal moral good then no moral argument can obtain - ever.
                          They fall on the same sword to you because you have arbitrarily aligned the principles of logic and mathematics with the principles of morality. As I have noted, you have no justification for this alignment. Let me show you:

                          If the laws of logic are not absolute we agree that rational debate is not possible. But if legal truths are not absolute we can still have a rational legal debate? Of course not, if relativism is true legal reasoning is not possible anymore than rational debate is possible without the law of logic. They both fall on the same sword. If you can not say that honesty is a universal legal good then no legal argument can obtain - ever.


                          See the problem? Your box now makes no sense. Yet all I have done is substitute something that actually IS analogous to moral principles: legal ones. Both deal with determining what actions ought and ought not be done. And legal principles are demonstrably subjective - yet we can have legal discussions all the time. Within a society living under the same legal code, that discussion is easier, but forming new legal principles is complicated because the members of that society value/cherish differently. And there will always be legal codes that some members of the society reject/resist. Between societies living under differing legal codes it is even more complex. Such societies not only likely value differently, they may even have different means of arriving at legal codes. Yet even then we find ways to have discussions/debates about international legal norms, creating a hierarchy of laws we all live under.

                          Your problem, Seer, is that you are assuming your conclusion. You are assuming morality HAS to be objective, and then showing that subjective morality is NOT objective so it fails. In other words, as I have said many, many, times - your argument reduces to "it cannot be subjective because then it would not be objective." That is not an argument. It is nothing more than a restatement of the definition of objective and subjective (as mutually exclusive sets).
                          Last edited by carpedm9587; 09-27-2019, 12:06 PM.
                          The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                          I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post
                            Correct. That's how language works, Seer. How we commonly use a word becomes its meaning.

                            I'm having no problem knowing what the words mean or how to apply them. What science can investigate is fairly clear. What science cannot is pretty much everything else. It is true that we sometimes attribute something to the supernatural that science then provides a perfectly naturalistic explanation for. So sometimes we miss-classify something. But that happens all the time with all sorts of words. We distinguish between "healthy" food and "unhealthy food." We know what the terms mean. Sometimes we miss-classify food due to a lack of knowledge or even incorrect knowledge. It doesn't mean we throw the words away.
                            And unlike with naming our pet rock we have no objective way to identify the difference between supernatural and natural. It is a complete guess.



                            I'm having no problem with it, objective or otherwise. I'm not sure why you are.


                            You know - this is a much more civil statement than "nonsense" or "that's silly" or all of the other ways you historically have responded. It tells me about the state of your mind concening the proposition without attacking or accusing either of us.
                            So how would civil laws fare if honestly was considered a relative good? They only work because most human beings see honestly as an objective good - not something that can be dispensed at will, due to relative preferences.


                            Possibly. It depends on what the individuals having the discussion value/cherish and whether or not logic is their basis for arriving at moral principles.
                            Tell me how that works if a basis belief in honestly is relative?


                            Not correct. It MAY not be possible in a specific situation. It MAY be possible in others.

                            So rational debates are possible where the laws of logic are not absolute? Why not if you are correct?

                            They fall on the same sword to you because you have arbitrarily aligned the principles of logic and mathematics with the principles of morality. As I have noted, you have no justification for this alignment. Let me show you:

                            If the laws of logic are not absolute we agree that rational debate is not possible. But if legal truths are not absolute we can still have a rational legal debate? Of course not, if relativism is true legal reasoning is not possible anymore than rational debate is possible without the law of logic. They both fall on the same sword. If you can not say that honesty is a universal legal good then no legal argument can obtain - ever.


                            See the problem? Your box now makes no sense. Yet all I have done is substitute something that actually IS analogous to moral principles: legal ones. Both deal with determining what actions ought and ought not be done. And legal principles are demonstrably subjective - yet we can have legal discussions all the time. Within a society living under the same legal code, that discussion is easier, but forming new legal principles is complicated because the members of that society value/cherish differently. And there will always be legal codes that some members of the society reject/resist. Between societies living under differing legal codes it is even more complex. Such societies not only likely value differently, they may even have different means of arriving at legal codes. Yet even then we find ways to have discussions/debates about international legal norms, creating a hierarchy of laws we all live under.

                            Your problem, Seer, is that you are assuming your conclusion. You are assuming morality HAS to be objective, and then showing that subjective morality is NOT objective so it fails. In other words, as I have said many, many, times - your argument reduces to "it cannot be subjective because then it would not be objective." That is not an argument. It is nothing more than a restatement of the definition of objective and subjective (as mutually exclusive sets).
                            No Carp, I don't see the problem, how would legal reasoning work where honestly is not assumed as an absolute? What would that look like?
                            Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by seer View Post
                              And unlike with naming our pet rock we have no objective way to identify the difference between supernatural and natural. It is a complete guess.
                              We actually do. What science can explore is anything that is amenable to exploration via the scientific method. Everything else is either supernatural, or something that will eventually found to be natural. We cannot quantify those latter two subsets, as I have previously noted, but that does not alter the meaning of the words. They are simply and well defined. For most of us, anyway...

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              I'm having no problem with it, objective or otherwise. I'm not sure why you are.
                              I have no idea what this refers to.

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              So how would civil laws fare if honestly was considered a relative good?
                              They would fair quite well so long as the majority of us actually do see "honesty" as a moral good, which is pretty much the case. Society as a whole would very likely collapse if the majority of us did not see honesty as a good, which is pretty much why so many of us DO see it as a moral good.

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              They only work because most human beings see honestly as an objective good - not something that can be dispensed at will, due to relative preferences.
                              Well, you were doing well until you got to the second half (after the hyphen). We are in agreement with what precedes the hyphen, but not what follows. You are creating a false dichotomy. The opposite of "most human beings see honesty as an objective good" is "most human beings don't see honesty as an objective good," not "honesty is something that can be dispensed at will due to relative preferences." The opposite of the latter is "honesty is an absolute/objective moral norm," as best I can tell.

                              In other words, the issue of how many people adhere to a moral norm is separate from the meta-ethics of morality itself.

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              Tell me how that works if a basis belief in honestly is relative?
                              The same way it works in a non-relative moral framework: the discussion can be had between people who accept honesty as a moral good, and is largely pointless between those who do not, or who do but regularly lie anyway.

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              So rational debates are possible where the laws of logic are not absolute? Why not if you are correct?
                              Since I never said anything remotely like this, I have no response.

                              Originally posted by seer View Post
                              No Carp, I don't see the problem, how would legal reasoning work where honestly is not assumed as an absolute? What would that look like?
                              See above. And I am certainly aware that you do not see the problem. I'm not sure there is anything I can say that will help you with that. I've tried every way I know how to articulate it. Nothing seems to get through, based on your regular inability to accurately reflect back even the simple statements I have made. There is something about the objectivist meta-ethic that makes seeing outside of it incredibly difficult. I remember encountering that when I began my own journey out of that worldview.
                              Last edited by carpedm9587; 09-27-2019, 02:25 PM.
                              The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

                              I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by carpedm9587 View Post

                                Jim, what you call first and second order desires are really nothing more than competing desires due to differing levels of valuing. Take Frankfurt's addict. Frankfurt describes the unwilling, wanton, and willing addict in terns of forming or not forming second order desires and the specific desire formed. Unwilling forms second order against taking drugs, willing forms second order for taking drugs, and wanton forms no second order desire whatsoever. It's a cute way to describe individuals, but not a necessary way. The same dynamic is easily explained by the ordering of valuing/cherishing. The unwilling addict values health above the pleasure of the high, but struggles against immediate versus long-term gratification. The willing and wanton addict simply values the pleasure of the high above health. Indeed, there is no real distinction between the wanton addict and the willing addict, except in Frankfurt's construct.
                                First of all, it's not me calling it first and second order desires, but Frankfurt. I was using his schema as a rough analogy, even though I don't really buy into his version of compatibilism. What you're missing in Frankfurt is that he's talking about internal constraints on the will and about how freedom of the will can be formulated within a compatibilist framework. He's talking about what separates humans from other species regarding their desires, which is reflective self-evaluation. The wanton would lack this ability so and so would be different from the willing addict who would still retain it except regarding their addiction.

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