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[Morality] Subjectivity vs Objectivity

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  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited June 2011
    When you talk about "a logical system", do you mean a system that is in keeping with the rules of logic, or do you mean a system of logic (i.e. a set of rules that defines what logic is)?

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    a system of logic. so the second one.
    there's more than one logical system isn't there?

    are you familiar with complex numbers? what i mean is something similar to how complex numbers exist along with real numbers.

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    But do they have logical proofs or are they making disguised personal assertations?
    I'm looking for the basics here, I would assume something that many people are so certain about would have a nice logical proof behind it. I was just wondering what it was.

    No one has a proof. Mostly because no one does proofs for really any position they hold.

    Objective and Subjective are opposites. They can't both be true, that would be a contradiction. Now, Jothiki is all for contradictions, but most people aren't.

    Largely because once you have a contradiction, logically, anything follows.

    So if we accept some moral system that is both objective and subjective the moon is made of cheese and the sky is green.

    I don't find this argument particularly self-evident. I could easily see a logical system built out of consistent contradictions. Consistency is what you want in a system, to my mind. It doesn't matter if something is contradictory as long as it is consistently so, and this contradiction does not actually affect anything other than the two contradictions.

    It doesn't "logically follow" because that is a generalisation from a specific to a universal.
    It might be very difficult to think in that way, but so what? It doesn't have to be easy.

    I generally avoid moral discussions because I can't find any underlying structure behind most of the arguments. Wether someone chooses one or the other mostly appears to be based on personal axioms in the end. It's really confusing to find someone talking about objectivity when they base it, fundamentally, on their personal beliefs. This is a contradiction, but obviously its a consistent one that is allowed. So one contradiction is okay, but another is not? I can't get my head around it. So I don't know where to start.

    Okay. So, you need to know some basics about symbolic logic in order to get my point about the contradictions. Since you were going on about proofs, I thought you knew it.

    One of the 10 basic rules of inference is as follows

    1. A v B (Either A is the case or B is the case. This actually doesn't rule out both being true, but that's not important)
    2. ~B (It is not true that B is the case)
    3. A (Therefore A)

    This is pretty simple and very basic. It's called the Disjunctive Syllogism. I can't stress enough how much I don't care to argue about whether you hold this as being true.

    Now, those of you familiar with mathematical proofs can get a bit how logical proofs work. You start with some basic assumptions and through the application of rules you can arrive at a conclusion. Now, you can use anything from any line in a proof for any other line. Like so. Let us say, for example we have the following:

    1. A & ~A (look at our neat contradiction)
    2. A (derived from a rule sometimes called Simplification [you can chop of any single part of an "&"])
    3. ~A (same rule, just used again)
    4. A or Z (another rule, you can always add in a new term with a disjunct)
    5. Z (Therefore Z, reached by using lines 4 and 3 with our previous rule of Disjunctive Syllogism)

    Now, can you see it? Literally everything follows from a contradiction because you can always chop it up and disjunct one side with anything. Now, you might think "well fuck that stupid you can disjunct at any time rule, that's the culprit!!!" However, you'd be wrong. It's a good rule that allows us to do lots of things that we want to do (it's also very intuitively satisfying), and there doesn't seem any reason to chuck the rule unless you WANT contradictions to be okay.

    Also, you are a little too liberal with the notion of "contradiction" there. Simply because I advocate something is objective that I in fact believe to be true isn't a contradiction. Can you see what you're doing to the standard of what it means to be "objective" with that kind of reasoning? You would require that all "objective" facts be things that NO ONE believed? Or that didn't have roots in axioms that ANYONE believed?

    It's sort of trivially true that moral theory is based on axioms. Mostly because any higher level reasoning is. Math, Science, Whether I like babies laughing or not. So if your quest is to get away from those, I only have one piece of advice for you

    Stop thinking

    (Again, I can't stress enough how I'm not going to argue whether logic is cool or not, and I'm not going to defend the system of Symbolic Logic. Largely because if you throw it out, then you've precluded any ability to discuss or reason)

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    a system of logic. so the second one.
    there's more than one logical system isn't there?

    are you familiar with complex numbers? what i mean is something similar to how complex numbers exist along with real numbers.

    Sort of. I would hesitate to say that there are separate systems of logic. Rather there are modifications that allow us to deal with different statements or thoughts in a systematic way. However, they are largely unnecessary for the discussion that we are having (as it isn't Modal).

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    thanks for that.

    I want to stress that I came in here to address my own ignorance. I asked questions and gave my point of view with the intention of being corrected in order for me to learn, because I do not know what the basis is and cannot work it out from context.

    I know that many people in a philosophy thread ask careful questions before they go on attack, but I do not plan to do this. I am only asking and that's it.

    I will read through your post and digest it before asking anything else.

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Okay I think I follow your tables and the argument using them. I have a couple of questions about the follow on comments from that.
    Also, you are a little too liberal with the notion of "contradiction" there. Simply because I advocate something is objective that I in fact believe to be true isn't a contradiction. Can you see what you're doing to the standard of what it means to be "objective" with that kind of reasoning? You would require that all "objective" facts be things that NO ONE believed? Or that didn't have roots in axioms that ANYONE believed?

    It's sort of trivially true that moral theory is based on axioms.

    I didn't really follow the first paragraph. I think I get that you are using disjunct to say what you are saying, but I'm not sure I can construct what you are doing symbolically myself because I am fairly weak with symbols in general. It takes me a lot of effort to integrate a symbol system. I was a couple of years behind my age in reading and writing, for example. I'm worried I might mess it up.

    Regarding the next sentence, my problem wasn't "axioms". It was "personal" axioms. It was the subjective choosing of accepted axioms and then turning this into a system which attempts to overlay an objective should onto someone else. Can you explain how this works using the same process you did for contradiction? I understand that personally accepting axioms is normal, but I can't shake the thought that using the same process for a system intended to proscribe "facts about shoulds" is...well intuitively unsatisfying to me. I realise "facts about shoulds" is an awkward phrase, it's an awkward thought as well.

    Again I'm just asking to understand. I would like to take part of these kinds of threads but I feel stymied by my own ignorance.

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I can easily imagine a lifeform that is more concerned with honor than suffering or pleasure.
    No, really, you can't.

    Honor only has meaning insofar as we believe that it is a better manner to achieve a greater good. That was my point about act-utilitarianism. If you can show that a set of behaviors tend to more suffering, such behaviors will not and cannot be called honorable. If you can show that a set of behaviors tend to less suffering, even in situations where the actor blindly holds to those behaviors in spite of what might seem like the obvious alternative utilitarian thing to do, then such behaviors misht very well fall under "honor" or some other principle, and yet still exist only because of their function in a reasoned morality of suffering and joy.

    The point is that starting with "suffering is bad" as your base assumption does not mean that "suffering is bad" is the only lesson any moral actor ever need be taught or ever need to consider when making a decision. Nor does it mean all ethical decisions must be broken down to the base assmuptions in order to be valid. When I do arithmetic, a lot of multiplication is performed by recall of rote memorization of times tables, without any consideration of the process and definition of multiplication. I don't think I've ever solved 3 x 4 = 12 by the process of adding 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. 3 x 4 is just 12. This doesn't mean that such a process nevertheless necessarily lies beneath, and we can show that.

    Perhaps many cling to a principle of honor without going through the rationale each time of why acting honorably is more likely to bring about the greater good even in cases where it might seem one can do more good by dishonoring himself. However, such rationale must and does exist; it's precisely how we evolve principles like honor. We've collectively learned, for instance, lying leads to bad things, and frequently does so even when you have the best of intentions with your lies. That's why honesty is considered a virtue and something to be held to, for the most part, even when you might think you can do more good by being dishonest.
    Objective and Subjective are opposites. They can't both be true, that would be a contradiction. Now, Jothiki is all for contradictions, but most people aren't.

    Largely because once you have a contradiction, logically, anything follows.

    So if we accept some moral system that is both objective and subjective the moon is made of cheese and the sky is green.
    I disagree. Subjective and objective are opposing directions on a continuum of degrees. There is no absolute, no binary/boolean operator, no mutual exclusion. When we have a statement of information, there are certain qualities in it that we may perceive related to consistency, consensus, reproducibility, specificity, ambiguity, emotion, personal preference, and so on. Altogether these qualities lead us to see the statement as a degree of objectivity/subjectivity. The more it is based on commonly understood sense data, accepted forms of reasoning, scientific methods, etc, the more objective we perceive it to be. The more it is based on individual tastes, points of view, subject to irrational change, personal preference, and so forth, the more subjective we perceive it to be. But nothing is ever purely one or the other. Especially when we do things like file "uncertainty" under "subjective," because there's always some uncertainty.

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Okay I think I follow your tables and the argument using them. I have a couple of questions about the follow on comments from that.
    Also, you are a little too liberal with the notion of "contradiction" there. Simply because I advocate something is objective that I in fact believe to be true isn't a contradiction. Can you see what you're doing to the standard of what it means to be "objective" with that kind of reasoning? You would require that all "objective" facts be things that NO ONE believed? Or that didn't have roots in axioms that ANYONE believed?

    It's sort of trivially true that moral theory is based on axioms.

    I didn't really follow the first paragraph. I think I get that you are using disjunct to say what you are saying, but I'm not sure I can construct what you are doing symbolically myself because I am fairly weak with symbols in general. It takes me a lot of effort to integrate a symbol system. I was a couple of years behind my age in reading and writing, for example. I'm worried I might mess it up.

    Regarding the next sentence, my problem wasn't "axioms". It was "personal" axioms. It was the subjective choosing of accepted axioms and then turning this into a system which attempts to overlay an objective should onto someone else. Can you explain how this works using the same process you did for contradiction? I understand that personally accepting axioms is normal, but I can't shake the thought that using the same process for a system intended to proscribe "facts about shoulds" is...well intuitively unsatisfying to me. I realise "facts about shoulds" is an awkward phrase, it's an awkward thought as well.

    Again I'm just asking to understand. I would like to take part of these kinds of threads but I feel stymied by my own ignorance.

    First I would like to say that I appreciate your refreshingly polite and well conducted discourse. Also, you seem to have some respect for the amount that I've studied and for my academic discipline, and that is rare to come by.

    Okay. Contradiction is a big word, and a major accusation. It's generally reserved only for things that legitimately are impossible (in the strongest sense of the word). Contradictions usually follow the form of "red all over and NOT red all over." Usually the same sentence, just with a negation inserted. Now, another type of contradiction that is talked about is something like "round square" or "square circle." By definition these words preclude each other. If a square is round, it isn't a square anymore.

    If I take a "personal" axiom and use it to establish a system of moral behavior that encompasses not only me but others as well then I haven't really engaged in any contradictory behavior. At least, can you see how it doesn't follow the form of the prior examples? And form is really what matters here.

    Not only is it not contradictory, but I believe that if we even take it as problematic, we commit an error. If I grant that you are correct that "personal" axioms ought not be used to establish a system of moral behavior, then how would one establish a system of moral behavior at all? Would I have to establish one on an axiom that I didn't myself hold? Is that kind of thinking sensical? MrMr actually addressed this issue quite well early on I believe.

    I think that I must use axioims that I personally hold to construct any sort of moral framework. I think that it's kind of unreasonable to do otherwise.

    It seems (though I certainly accept that I am mistaken) that you are having a problem essentially with "other people telling you what to do." But the very nature of an objective system of morality is that I am not telling you anything. When Kant lays out his very elegant Categorical Imperative, it isn't as if Kant somehow wants everyone to be like him. He simply wanted to construct what (to him) seemed to be the most reasonable (as in, best expressed the human capacity for reason) sytem of morality.

    Moral facts shouldn't bother you so much, they aren't really that weird. In fact, we're quite comfortable with facts that contain the word "should" used in a non-moral sense, such as: In order to get a good grade on a test, one SHOULD study. Moral facts are really no different than this, except that they are facts directed toward a particular set of ends.

    So you might get something like: In order to best maximize happiness (the end, what one ought to pursue), you SHOULD do x, y, z in this particular situation.

    Does that clear things up?

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yar wrote: »
    Objective and Subjective are opposites. They can't both be true, that would be a contradiction. Now, Jothiki is all for contradictions, but most people aren't.

    Largely because once you have a contradiction, logically, anything follows.

    So if we accept some moral system that is both objective and subjective the moon is made of cheese and the sky is green.
    I disagree. Subjective and objective are opposing directions on a continuum of degrees. There is no absolute, no binary/boolean operator, no mutual exclusion. When we have a statement of information, there are certain qualities in it that we may perceive related to consistency, consensus, reproducibility, specificity, ambiguity, emotion, personal preference, and so on. Altogether these qualities lead us to see the statement as a degree of objectivity/subjectivity. The more it is based on commonly understood sense data, accepted forms of reasoning, scientific methods, etc, the more objective we perceive it to be. The more it is based on individual tastes, points of view, subject to irrational change, personal preference, and so forth, the more subjective we perceive it to be. But nothing is ever purely one or the other. Especially when we do things like file "uncertainty" under "subjective," because there's always some uncertainty.

    Uh...no?

    They are mutually exclusive terms. If something is A, it cannot be ~A. If you disagree, then, well...I'm not sure we can discuss much.

    We can be mistaken about how objective our knowledge is, but it can't be both objective and not objective (which is what subjective means) at the same time.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yar wrote: »
    Objective and Subjective are opposites. They can't both be true, that would be a contradiction. Now, Jothiki is all for contradictions, but most people aren't.

    Largely because once you have a contradiction, logically, anything follows.

    So if we accept some moral system that is both objective and subjective the moon is made of cheese and the sky is green.
    I disagree. Subjective and objective are opposing directions on a continuum of degrees. There is no absolute, no binary/boolean operator, no mutual exclusion. When we have a statement of information, there are certain qualities in it that we may perceive related to consistency, consensus, reproducibility, specificity, ambiguity, emotion, personal preference, and so on. Altogether these qualities lead us to see the statement as a degree of objectivity/subjectivity. The more it is based on commonly understood sense data, accepted forms of reasoning, scientific methods, etc, the more objective we perceive it to be. The more it is based on individual tastes, points of view, subject to irrational change, personal preference, and so forth, the more subjective we perceive it to be. But nothing is ever purely one or the other. Especially when we do things like file "uncertainty" under "subjective," because there's always some uncertainty.

    Uh...no?

    They are mutually exclusive terms. If something is A, it cannot be ~A. If you disagree, then, well...I'm not sure we can discuss much.

    We can be mistaken about how objective our knowledge is, but it can't be both objective and not objective (which is what subjective means) at the same time.

    I disagree with both of you. The terms subjective and objective are human-defined, and we can apply or not apply them however we wish.

    Edit: Oh, you actually already referenced me. Hah, I'll keep this just to be contrary.

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    Objective and Subjective are opposites. They can't both be true, that would be a contradiction. Now, Jothiki is all for contradictions, but most people aren't.

    Largely because once you have a contradiction, logically, anything follows.

    So if we accept some moral system that is both objective and subjective the moon is made of cheese and the sky is green.
    I disagree. Subjective and objective are opposing directions on a continuum of degrees. There is no absolute, no binary/boolean operator, no mutual exclusion. When we have a statement of information, there are certain qualities in it that we may perceive related to consistency, consensus, reproducibility, specificity, ambiguity, emotion, personal preference, and so on. Altogether these qualities lead us to see the statement as a degree of objectivity/subjectivity. The more it is based on commonly understood sense data, accepted forms of reasoning, scientific methods, etc, the more objective we perceive it to be. The more it is based on individual tastes, points of view, subject to irrational change, personal preference, and so forth, the more subjective we perceive it to be. But nothing is ever purely one or the other. Especially when we do things like file "uncertainty" under "subjective," because there's always some uncertainty.

    Uh...no?

    They are mutually exclusive terms. If something is A, it cannot be ~A. If you disagree, then, well...I'm not sure we can discuss much.

    We can be mistaken about how objective our knowledge is, but it can't be both objective and not objective (which is what subjective means) at the same time.

    I disagree with both of you. The terms subjective and objective are human-defined, and we can apply or not apply them however we wish.

    Edit: Oh, you actually already referenced me. Hah, I'll keep this just to be contrary.

    Indeed, I did.

    Okay. An important note about language. In a trivial sense (trivial not really to be degrading, more because it's uninteresting), you're right. We can replace the word "tree" in our language with "objective" and "objective with "pork" and "pork with "black" and so on and so on. You get the point. However, while we can change what words we use, we can't change what those words mean in a real sense. We can change "pork" to "black" but the meaning of the word "boy that is some good pork (or black)." Whichever word we use is actually irrelevant. The meaning is the same regardless of the word.

    In that sense, we can use the word objective and subjective however we wish. However, the meaning of objective "that which is independent of the opinions of any on particular subject" still matters. In fact, it's really the only thing that matters. The particular string of letters and sounds we use to signify that meaning isn't important.

    So, in short. I think you're wrong. In fact, along with John Searle, you seem to have the remarkable ability to be wrong about everything. I don't think I would agree with you on whether snow was cold. (As sarcasm doesn't translate well through text, don't take that last part seriously)

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    In fact, along with John Searle, you seem to have the remarkable ability to be wrong about everything.

    <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" /> That's some sick burn, but come on now - John Searle isn't wrong about EVERYTHING. Just almost everything.

    He was right about:
    • Derrida.

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    In fact, along with John Searle, you seem to have the remarkable ability to be wrong about everything.

    <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" /> That's some sick burn, but come on now - John Searle isn't wrong about EVERYTHING. Just almost everything.

    He was right about:
    • Derrida.

    I'm not familiar with his remarks about Derrida.

    Also, I happen to think that John Searle is one of the most important people in philosophy for the past century. No one has been more wrong in more interesting ways that provoked better discussion than John Searle.

    I do happen to at least partially agree with Searle about a couple things. But it's rare when he's right even at all. It was hella awesome to watch him speak though. Especially when he and Dennett fought in front of a whole crowd. It was excellent. If there's one person I hate more than Searle, it's Daniel Fucking Dennett.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Searle on Derrida:

    "The kind of philosopher who gives bullshit a bad name."

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Searle on Derrida:

    "The kind of philosopher who gives bullshit a bad name."

    Accurate

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Searle on Derrida:

    "The kind of philosopher who gives bullshit a bad name."

    Accurate

    Exactly.

    He is right about Derrida... not much else.

    I agree that Searle is always interestingly wrong, and philosophy would be less fun if it weren't for him.

    That said, I am somewhat more sympathetic to Dennett than you are. At the very least Dennett creates great words/terms for different things.

    What I see sees me.
    SODOMISE INTOLERANCE
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Okay I think I follow your tables and the argument using them. I have a couple of questions about the follow on comments from that.
    Also, you are a little too liberal with the notion of "contradiction" there. Simply because I advocate something is objective that I in fact believe to be true isn't a contradiction. Can you see what you're doing to the standard of what it means to be "objective" with that kind of reasoning? You would require that all "objective" facts be things that NO ONE believed? Or that didn't have roots in axioms that ANYONE believed?

    It's sort of trivially true that moral theory is based on axioms.

    I didn't really follow the first paragraph. I think I get that you are using disjunct to say what you are saying, but I'm not sure I can construct what you are doing symbolically myself because I am fairly weak with symbols in general. It takes me a lot of effort to integrate a symbol system. I was a couple of years behind my age in reading and writing, for example. I'm worried I might mess it up.

    Regarding the next sentence, my problem wasn't "axioms". It was "personal" axioms. It was the subjective choosing of accepted axioms and then turning this into a system which attempts to overlay an objective should onto someone else. Can you explain how this works using the same process you did for contradiction? I understand that personally accepting axioms is normal, but I can't shake the thought that using the same process for a system intended to proscribe "facts about shoulds" is...well intuitively unsatisfying to me. I realise "facts about shoulds" is an awkward phrase, it's an awkward thought as well.

    Again I'm just asking to understand. I would like to take part of these kinds of threads but I feel stymied by my own ignorance.

    First I would like to say that I appreciate your refreshingly polite and well conducted discourse. Also, you seem to have some respect for the amount that I've studied and for my academic discipline, and that is rare to come by.

    Okay. Contradiction is a big word, and a major accusation. It's generally reserved only for things that legitimately are impossible (in the strongest sense of the word). Contradictions usually follow the form of "red all over and NOT red all over." Usually the same sentence, just with a negation inserted. Now, another type of contradiction that is talked about is something like "round square" or "square circle." By definition these words preclude each other. If a square is round, it isn't a square anymore.

    If I take a "personal" axiom and use it to establish a system of moral behavior that encompasses not only me but others as well then I haven't really engaged in any contradictory behavior. At least, can you see how it doesn't follow the form of the prior examples? And form is really what matters here.

    Not only is it not contradictory, but I believe that if we even take it as problematic, we commit an error. If I grant that you are correct that "personal" axioms ought not be used to establish a system of moral behavior, then how would one establish a system of moral behavior at all? Would I have to establish one on an axiom that I didn't myself hold? Is that kind of thinking sensical? MrMr actually addressed this issue quite well early on I believe.

    I think that I must use axioims that I personally hold to construct any sort of moral framework. I think that it's kind of unreasonable to do otherwise.

    It seems (though I certainly accept that I am mistaken) that you are having a problem essentially with "other people telling you what to do." But the very nature of an objective system of morality is that I am not telling you anything. When Kant lays out his very elegant Categorical Imperative, it isn't as if Kant somehow wants everyone to be like him. He simply wanted to construct what (to him) seemed to be the most reasonable (as in, best expressed the human capacity for reason) sytem of morality.

    Moral facts shouldn't bother you so much, they aren't really that weird. In fact, we're quite comfortable with facts that contain the word "should" used in a non-moral sense, such as: In order to get a good grade on a test, one SHOULD study. Moral facts are really no different than this, except that they are facts directed toward a particular set of ends.

    So you might get something like: In order to best maximize happiness (the end, what one ought to pursue), you SHOULD do x, y, z in this particular situation.

    Does that clear things up?

    Yes.
    In that case my problem is a perceived tendency for certain discussion to regress towards reductionistic moral universals when it is more logical, in my view, to pay attention to details, exceptions and so on, and build up a more complex system of morals.
    But I think that I am only having this perception because many people are arguing "objective vs subjective" as a universal issue, rather than in respect to any particular moral problem. I suspect if the topic moved onto any one particular system handling any one particular moral problem I would not have this perception.
    Would you agree?

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    edited June 2011


    Moral facts shouldn't bother you so much, they aren't really that weird. In fact, we're quite comfortable with facts that contain the word "should" used in a non-moral sense, such as: In order to get a good grade on a test, one SHOULD study. Moral facts are really no different than this, except that they are facts directed toward a particular set of ends.

    So you might get something like: In order to best maximize happiness (the end, what one ought to pursue), you SHOULD do x, y, z in this particular situation.

    Does that clear things up?

    That's not really accurate. The common use of 'should' here, as expressing a relation between an act and its likely effects, is definitely not the same as its use in expressing moral facts. Or, rather, if this is all a moral fact is in your system, then you're no kind of moral realist. The 'should' expressed in relating a moral fact is normative, not descriptive. It asserts the existence of an obligation. The most skeptical of moral skeptics wouldn't have any kind of problem with the objectivity of your example.

    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Aren't some subjectively true things objectively true though? Like Feral said, if I was annoyed yesterday that was a (mostly) subjective experience, and while you all might have seen the evidence in the posts I made you might not have either, or you might have believed that was simulated since I'm a zombie without real existence and therefore I was not frustrated. Either way, my subjective annoyance is an objective fact regardless of other people's beliefs about it, because it was a true experience I observed (and participated in).

    In fact, didn't we pretty well establish that subjective truths are only semantically different than objective truths, but not materially so? Assuming that subjective truths are simply not-tautologies, because they can be false statements under a set of conditions, but under other conditions a subjective truth has the true state. When any statement has the state "true" then isn't the statement trivially objectively equivalent to true under the context that gives it that state?

    Where does this leave morality on the subjectivity/objectivity scale, or is such a scale an illusion leaving objectivity and subjectivity as unimportant and purely semantic distinctions?

    Also, I apologize if my use of "trivially" in past posts was taken as derogatory. I simply used it to mean "obviously", or "easily".

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011


    Moral facts shouldn't bother you so much, they aren't really that weird. In fact, we're quite comfortable with facts that contain the word "should" used in a non-moral sense, such as: In order to get a good grade on a test, one SHOULD study. Moral facts are really no different than this, except that they are facts directed toward a particular set of ends.

    So you might get something like: In order to best maximize happiness (the end, what one ought to pursue), you SHOULD do x, y, z in this particular situation.

    Does that clear things up?

    That's not really accurate. The common use of 'should' here, as expressing a relation between an act and its likely effects, is definitely not the same as its use in expressing moral facts. Or, rather, if this is all a moral fact is in your system, then you're no kind of moral realist. The 'should' expressed in relating a moral fact is normative, not descriptive. It asserts the existence of an obligation. The most skeptical of moral skeptics wouldn't have any kind of problem with the objectivity of your example.

    Right, but often the use of "should" outside of moral expressions is normative as well. In fact, if I was saying a sentence similar to:
    In order to get a good grade on a test, one SHOULD study.
    To my own children as a father or any student or group of students as a teacher I would be using it in the normative sense.

    In fact, where should is used descriptively it usually stands for "probably", or "with a high degree of certainty", and this could be argued to be a mis-use of the word, or at least a secondary use of should. The primary use of should, as I understand it, is the normative usage, because there isn't another word in common use as a synonym for the normative should (I could be wrong and just unable to think of one).

    Edit: There is "ought" but that is in common use in the states, is it?

  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    edited June 2011
    The example is potentially ambiguous, since you're right that the underlying implication for this statement will often be "If you study you'll get better grades, and you should want to get better grades." But if I say, "If you want good donuts, you should go to Joe's Donuts on Fifth." that's different than "You should try to maximize happiness." The first is just describing a relationship. The second is attributing an inherently normative character to the position (or it is if it's being asserted as the basis for an objective morality - it need not be). To build an objective moral system ((one that is not purely descriptive, at least) at some point one has to assert the bare, inherent normativity of some proposition, from which the normativity of all the other statements (like the original example's, in your interpretation) can be derived. It's the validity of that initial "should" that separates objective from subjective morality. It's one thing, anyway.

    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Yar wrote: »
    I can easily imagine a lifeform that is more concerned with honor than suffering or pleasure.
    No, really, you can't.

    Honor only has meaning insofar as we believe that it is a better manner to achieve a greater good. That was my point about act-utilitarianism. If you can show that a set of behaviors tend to more suffering, such behaviors will not and cannot be called honorable. If you can show that a set of behaviors tend to less suffering, even in situations where the actor blindly holds to those behaviors in spite of what might seem like the obvious alternative utilitarian thing to do, then such behaviors misht very well fall under "honor" or some other principle, and yet still exist only because of their function in a reasoned morality of suffering and joy.

    I suppose for some understandings of honor, you might have a point. What is honorable kind of depends on the culture dealing with the honor though. What principle necessitates that suffering and joy need to be the foundation of honor?

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011

    Yes.
    In that case my problem is a perceived tendency for certain discussion to regress towards reductionistic moral universals when it is more logical, in my view, to pay attention to details, exceptions and so on, and build up a more complex system of morals.
    But I think that I am only having this perception because many people are arguing "objective vs subjective" as a universal issue, rather than in respect to any particular moral problem. I suspect if the topic moved onto any one particular system handling any one particular moral problem I would not have this perception.
    Would you agree?

    Well, to a certain extent, the question of moral realism is really a universal question. Once we've gone beyond the basics of "are there moral facts?" We move on to more interesting questions, and we start getting into the more detailed questions.

    I think, at the very least, that such questions are far more interesting.

    So in a sense, there is no escaping the general nature of the discussion at the level we are currently at. Once you've accepted that there are such things as moral facts (without specifying what those facts might be), that's where more fine points are made.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    A quick bit of Wikipedia searching reveals that Searle is indeed wrong about everything.

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    A quick bit of Wikipedia searching reveals that Searle is indeed wrong about everything.

    Indeed. But as I said, always wrong in interesting ways that really make our thinking better on the whole.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Why do there need to be universal moral facts? Is it not possible to handle moral problems on an individual basis and derive guidelines for universals from a great many individual moral problems of similar nature?
    This is hard to express. I'm not saying why do there need to be facts in potentia. I'm saying why is there so much focus on starting with universals first. Moral problems can be some of the most complex problems possible to encounter, so trying so hard to focus on a "universal that rules them all", so to speak, risks the loss of any lessons that might be learnt from any given moral problems complexity.
    It seems to me that this would render the question of objective vs subjective irrelevant. A subjective view would happily allow for individual treatment, and an objective view would treat it as a large collection of many complex facts. Obviously I'm missing something because I'm sure someone would have thought of this a long time ago.

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    A quick bit of Wikipedia searching reveals that Searle is indeed wrong about everything.

    Indeed. But as I said, always wrong in interesting ways that really make our thinking better on the whole.

    My favorite thing that he got wrong was the Chinese Room. It's an excellent demonstration of why the human brain isn't particularly special when it comes to thought.

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Other than being the only known organism capable of complex abstract and symbolistic thought?
    I'd say it's special.
    I'd love to hear a dolphin's interpretation of the chinese room. Or a room. Or "chinese". Or "or". Especially "or".

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Why do there need to be universal moral facts? Is it not possible to handle moral problems on an individual basis and derive guidelines for universals from a great many individual moral problems of similar nature?
    This is hard to express. I'm not saying why do there need to be facts in potentia. I'm saying why is there so much focus on starting with universals first. Moral problems can be some of the most complex problems possible to encounter, so trying so hard to focus on a "universal that rules them all", so to speak, risks the loss of any lessons that might be learnt from any given moral problems complexity.
    It seems to me that this would render the question of objective vs subjective irrelevant. A subjective view would happily allow for individual treatment, and an objective view would treat it as a large collection of many complex facts. Obviously I'm missing something because I'm sure someone would have thought of this a long time ago.

    I believe this is covered under moral skepticism. Which if I remember correctly contends morals are not objective. It does not, however, deem them useless either.

  • Grid SystemGrid System Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Why do there need to be universal moral facts? Is it not possible to handle moral problems on an individual basis and derive guidelines for universals from a great many individual moral problems of similar nature?
    This is hard to express. I'm not saying why do there need to be facts in potentia. I'm saying why is there so much focus on starting with universals first. Moral problems can be some of the most complex problems possible to encounter, so trying so hard to focus on a "universal that rules them all", so to speak, risks the loss of any lessons that might be learnt from any given moral problems complexity.
    It seems to me that this would render the question of objective vs subjective irrelevant. A subjective view would happily allow for individual treatment, and an objective view would treat it as a large collection of many complex facts. Obviously I'm missing something because I'm sure someone would have thought of this a long time ago.

    I think what you're talking about is the process John Rawls called reflective equilibrium. When people try to talk about moral universals or moral facts or what have you, they don't generally just pick axioms or principles out of thin air. We, human beings, have intuitions about what is the best course of action in a given situation. But these intuitions are prone to distortions due to incomplete or incorrect information, for example. So what we do is consider our intuitions, the basic principles that seem to underlie those intuitions, and the implications of a broader or more consistent application of those principles.

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    That article doesn't really say much about criticisms of the idea. I assume there are some?

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Why do there need to be universal moral facts? Is it not possible to handle moral problems on an individual basis and derive guidelines for universals from a great many individual moral problems of similar nature?
    This is hard to express. I'm not saying why do there need to be facts in potentia. I'm saying why is there so much focus on starting with universals first. Moral problems can be some of the most complex problems possible to encounter, so trying so hard to focus on a "universal that rules them all", so to speak, risks the loss of any lessons that might be learnt from any given moral problems complexity.
    It seems to me that this would render the question of objective vs subjective irrelevant. A subjective view would happily allow for individual treatment, and an objective view would treat it as a large collection of many complex facts. Obviously I'm missing something because I'm sure someone would have thought of this a long time ago.

    When you say "universal fact," what do you mean?

    Do you mean something like "stealing is always wrong?" Because that's what comes to my mind.

    Moral Realism doesn't necessitate such facts, not in the slightest.

    These things are largely symptoms of the notion that moral systems ought to be rule based systems. I myself don't subscribe to such a notion, I think the whole notion of moral rules is misguided.

    If by "universal fact" you mean something like "there is a fact of the matter as to whether x or y was the correct action to take in situation z" then you are indicting Moral Realism.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    That article doesn't really say much about criticisms of the idea. I assume there are some?

    It's part of a larger structure, and is actually a political theory, not a moral one. It's merely used as a method for people to sort out political action.

    There are lots of criticisms of Rawls work. I don't agree with Rawls, so if you're particularly interested, I could go into them. However, it will require me to provide a lot of information about the totality of Rawls' theory of justice.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Neitzsche
  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Why do there need to be universal moral facts? Is it not possible to handle moral problems on an individual basis and derive guidelines for universals from a great many individual moral problems of similar nature?
    This is hard to express. I'm not saying why do there need to be facts in potentia. I'm saying why is there so much focus on starting with universals first. Moral problems can be some of the most complex problems possible to encounter, so trying so hard to focus on a "universal that rules them all", so to speak, risks the loss of any lessons that might be learnt from any given moral problems complexity.
    It seems to me that this would render the question of objective vs subjective irrelevant. A subjective view would happily allow for individual treatment, and an objective view would treat it as a large collection of many complex facts. Obviously I'm missing something because I'm sure someone would have thought of this a long time ago.

    When you say "universal fact," what do you mean?

    Do you mean something like "stealing is always wrong?" Because that's what comes to my mind.

    Moral Realism doesn't necessitate such facts, not in the slightest.

    These things are largely symptoms of the notion that moral systems ought to be rule based systems. I myself don't subscribe to such a notion, I think the whole notion of moral rules is misguided.

    If by "universal fact" you mean something like "there is a fact of the matter as to whether x or y was the correct action to take in situation z" then you are indicting Moral Realism.

    Well an example being discussed earlier was "suffering is always bad".

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Well an example being discussed earlier was "suffering is always bad".

    If you're referring to my arguments, then your quote, as stated, isn't precisely what I meant. It's closer to "non-suffering is preferable to suffering." Suffering isn't necessarily bad if a small suffering can prevent a much larger suffering. (Or, more controversially, if a small suffering can bring a great joy. I say controversially here because comparing joy and suffering in a quantitative manner is very dicey business, and tends to only be defensible when we are talking about very small sufferings and very great joys.)

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    Well an example being discussed earlier was "suffering is always bad".

    If you're referring to my arguments, then your quote, as stated, isn't precisely what I meant. It's closer to "non-suffering is preferable to suffering." Suffering isn't necessarily bad if a small suffering can prevent a much larger suffering. (Or, more controversially, if a small suffering can bring a great joy. I say controversially here because comparing joy and suffering in a quantitative manner is very dicey business, and tends to only be defensible when we are talking about very small sufferings and very great joys.)

    And provided that the joy/suffering are in the same individual.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    I have a question for those in the know.

    Is there a logical proof that subjective morality and objective morality are dichotomous extremes? That is, that there cannot be a mix of the two, but any given morality must be one or the other? I know this is probably going to look like a stupid question, but that's okay, I'm not afraid to ask a stupid question.

    I've been wanting to respond to this for a couple of days, but I've been busy, then I've been tired, then I've been busy again.

    Anyway, they're only dichotomous categories when stated a certain way. I don't think that they're necessarily dichotomous.

    Consider my previous example that a statement of feeling can be an objective fact. "I am annoyed at my coworker" is a declarative statement, describing an entity (myself) with a truth value. It might be easy to lie, just as it is easy to lie if I were to say "I have a sealed box. Inside that box is an insect. You may not look inside the box. Just take my word for it." Yet it is still a declarative statement with a truth value, even if we do not know what that truth value is. It is an objective fact, in as much as any statement about the world is an objective fact.

    Yet all empirical statements depend on the point of view of the observer. We cannot have perfect complete knowledge of the world - we are all caught in our subjective perspectives.

    All statements are then both subjective and objective. How do we resolve this?

    In the truth thread a couple of weeks ago, I argued that a relativist statement, conditional on a particular frame of reference, is also an objective fact. For instance, light shifts wavelengths when exiting or entering a gravity well - this is one of the pieces of evidence for general relativity. From Earth, the light coming from the sun has a redshift of X, while on the moon, the light coming from the sun is going to have a redshift of Y. X and Y are slightly different values due to the different gravitational pulls. "In Earth sea-level gravity, light from the sun has a redshift of X" is both a relative and an objective statement. It does not cease to be true just because I am standing on the moon, it merely does not apply to my frame of reference.

    We don't typically specify our frames of reference unless we have a good reason to do so - usually if we suspect that our audience, or a relevant third-party, is observing from a significantly different frame of reference. We might explicitly state our subjectivity out of politeness. Yet it can be inferred, for all statements, that they are being spoken from the speaker's point of view, whether that point of view is voiced or not.

    Consequently, when we're concerned about objectivity, what we're actually concerned about is how generalizable a given statement is. An objective statement is one that is very generalizable to other points of view. A subjective statement is highly specific to a particular point of view. "My coworker is annoying" is subjective in that perhaps only I find him annoying; maybe my perception of annoyingness says more about my frame of reference than his nature.

    Generalizability is not dichotomous; statements can be more or less generalizable. It may not even be a binary scale, as a statement can be highly generalizable given a particular state of affairs yet not so generalizable given another state of affairs. Generalizability is also subject to reason and evidence - we need not throw up our hands and say "all things are subjective, nothing is an objective fact," we can look at the circumstances of the speaker of a given statement - whether that statement is a moral rule, or a description of a physical object, or even an aesthetic preference - and work out how common those circumstances are among other possible observers. We are subject to mortal limitations in that endeavor; we cannot truly see through the eyes of another person, nor can we imagine all possible beings in all possible circumstances; but the endeavor is not impossible.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    That article doesn't really say much about criticisms of the idea. I assume there are some?

    It's part of a larger structure, and is actually a political theory, not a moral one. It's merely used as a method for people to sort out political action.

    There are lots of criticisms of Rawls work. I don't agree with Rawls, so if you're particularly interested, I could go into them. However, it will require me to provide a lot of information about the totality of Rawls' theory of justice.

    There are some definite problems with Rawls work, but I do think the veil of ignorance is a great pedagogical tool, and is useful for discussing moral dilemmas.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I have a question for those in the know.

    Is there a logical proof that subjective morality and objective morality are dichotomous extremes? That is, that there cannot be a mix of the two, but any given morality must be one or the other? I know this is probably going to look like a stupid question, but that's okay, I'm not afraid to ask a stupid question.

    I've been wanting to respond to this for a couple of days, but I've been busy, then I've been tired, then I've been busy again.

    Anyway, they're only dichotomous categories when stated a certain way. I don't think that they're necessarily dichotomous.

    Consider my previous example that a statement of feeling can be an objective fact. "I am annoyed at my coworker" is a declarative statement, describing an entity (myself) with a truth value. It might be easy to lie, just as it is easy to lie if I were to say "I have a sealed box. Inside that box is an insect. You may not look inside the box. Just take my word for it." Yet it is still a declarative statement with a truth value, even if we do not know what that truth value is. It is an objective fact, in as much as any statement about the world is an objective fact.

    Yet all empirical statements depend on the point of view of the observer. We cannot have perfect complete knowledge of the world - we are all caught in our subjective perspectives.

    All statements are then both subjective and objective. How do we resolve this?

    In the truth thread a couple of weeks ago, I argued that a relativist statement, conditional on a particular frame of reference, is also an objective fact. For instance, light shifts wavelengths when exiting or entering a gravity well - this is one of the pieces of evidence for general relativity. From Earth, the light coming from the sun has a redshift of X, while on the moon, the light coming from the sun is going to have a redshift of Y. X and Y are slightly different values due to the different gravitational pulls. "In Earth sea-level gravity, light from the sun has a redshift of X" is both a relative and an objective statement. It does not cease to be true just because I am standing on the moon, it merely does not apply to my frame of reference.

    We don't typically specify our frames of reference unless we have a good reason to do so - usually if we suspect that our audience, or a relevant third-party, is observing from a significantly different frame of reference. We might explicitly state our subjectivity out of politeness. Yet it can be inferred, for all statements, that they are being spoken from the speaker's point of view, whether that point of view is voiced or not.

    Consequently, when we're concerned about objectivity, what we're actually concerned about is how generalizable a given statement is. An objective statement is one that is very generalizable to other points of view. A subjective statement is highly specific to a particular point of view. "My coworker is annoying" is subjective in that perhaps only I find him annoying; maybe my perception of annoyingness says more about my frame of reference than his nature.

    Generalizability is not dichotomous; statements can be more or less generalizable. It may not even be a binary scale, as a statement can be highly generalizable given a particular state of affairs yet not so generalizable given another state of affairs. Generalizability is also subject to reason and evidence - we need not throw up our hands and say "all things are subjective, nothing is an objective fact," we can look at the circumstances of the speaker of a given statement - whether that statement is a moral rule, or a description of a physical object, or even an aesthetic preference - and work out how common those circumstances are among other possible observers. We are subject to mortal limitations in that endeavor; we cannot truly see through the eyes of another person, nor can we imagine all possible beings in all possible circumstances; but the endeavor is not impossible.

    Generalizability may be the most important characteristic of any objective moral system (even non-rule based systems) and it is certainly the only useful sense of the word "objective" in relation to morals. This is really the fundamental underpinning of rule-based ethics systems, which I understand are not favored by most ITT. However, given that generally you should get the same answers from a rule-based and act-based systems, many choose to use rules based systems to discuss moral dilemmas, because quantifying satisfaction vs suffering and weighing them directly in all cases is a non-trivial problem in and of itself, as several people have mentioned ITT. At that point you simply have to be willing to change the rules in a rule based system to better correspond with logic and empirical evidence, when needed. Of course if you choose not to assume that act-based and rule-based systems will generally agree on moral determinations, then you might reject this approach, but be prepared for a mountain of work and many arguments over how to weigh satisfaction vs suffering.

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I have a question for those in the know.

    Is there a logical proof that subjective morality and objective morality are dichotomous extremes? That is, that there cannot be a mix of the two, but any given morality must be one or the other? I know this is probably going to look like a stupid question, but that's okay, I'm not afraid to ask a stupid question.

    I've been wanting to respond to this for a couple of days, but I've been busy, then I've been tired, then I've been busy again.

    Anyway, they're only dichotomous categories when stated a certain way. I don't think that they're necessarily dichotomous.

    Consider my previous example that a statement of feeling can be an objective fact. "I am annoyed at my coworker" is a declarative statement, describing an entity (myself) with a truth value. It might be easy to lie, just as it is easy to lie if I were to say "I have a sealed box. Inside that box is an insect. You may not look inside the box. Just take my word for it." Yet it is still a declarative statement with a truth value, even if we do not know what that truth value is. It is an objective fact, in as much as any statement about the world is an objective fact.

    Yet all empirical statements depend on the point of view of the observer. We cannot have perfect complete knowledge of the world - we are all caught in our subjective perspectives.

    All statements are then both subjective and objective. How do we resolve this?

    In the truth thread a couple of weeks ago, I argued that a relativist statement, conditional on a particular frame of reference, is also an objective fact. For instance, light shifts wavelengths when exiting or entering a gravity well - this is one of the pieces of evidence for general relativity. From Earth, the light coming from the sun has a redshift of X, while on the moon, the light coming from the sun is going to have a redshift of Y. X and Y are slightly different values due to the different gravitational pulls. "In Earth sea-level gravity, light from the sun has a redshift of X" is both a relative and an objective statement. It does not cease to be true just because I am standing on the moon, it merely does not apply to my frame of reference.

    We don't typically specify our frames of reference unless we have a good reason to do so - usually if we suspect that our audience, or a relevant third-party, is observing from a significantly different frame of reference. We might explicitly state our subjectivity out of politeness. Yet it can be inferred, for all statements, that they are being spoken from the speaker's point of view, whether that point of view is voiced or not.

    Consequently, when we're concerned about objectivity, what we're actually concerned about is how generalizable a given statement is. An objective statement is one that is very generalizable to other points of view. A subjective statement is highly specific to a particular point of view. "My coworker is annoying" is subjective in that perhaps only I find him annoying; maybe my perception of annoyingness says more about my frame of reference than his nature.

    Generalizability is not dichotomous; statements can be more or less generalizable. It may not even be a binary scale, as a statement can be highly generalizable given a particular state of affairs yet not so generalizable given another state of affairs. Generalizability is also subject to reason and evidence - we need not throw up our hands and say "all things are subjective, nothing is an objective fact," we can look at the circumstances of the speaker of a given statement - whether that statement is a moral rule, or a description of a physical object, or even an aesthetic preference - and work out how common those circumstances are among other possible observers. We are subject to mortal limitations in that endeavor; we cannot truly see through the eyes of another person, nor can we imagine all possible beings in all possible circumstances; but the endeavor is not impossible.

    I agree with your ideas but I think you've misplaced the focus of your argument somewhat. I think that relative is a better word than subjective. I'm fairly sure that subjective has a particular set of connotations in this kind of discussion that would make it hard to claim they are not dichotomous.
    You are more or less saying that there are objective facts, but that knowing them is relative to the observer. I don't think that's a contentious idea, but it doesn't, as far as I can tell, change the definitions in any meaningful way.

    My Dark Souls 2 Diary
    (PSN: Morninglord) (Steam: Morninglord) I like to record and toss up a lot of random gaming videos here.
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