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Three Arguments on Moral Realism

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Your objection to the appeal to exclusion opens up a whole extra can of worms. To start: what is the physicalist's definition of rational thought? In fact, what is the physicalist's account of rationality?

    Is this at me?

    I don't think there is a consensus for either question from a neuroscientists standpoint, which is why it's so hard to describe to someone else.

    Don't think there is in cognitive either, or social.

    Differential has "knowledge" which the philsophical definition of rationality could be thought of as falling under. But they don't really define where it comes from in terms of the physical, they work with how it differs between people.

    It's not actually an important question to an empericist science.

    No, it's not directed at you. Nor is a question of neurology; presumably we could determine whether an alien is rational or not despite it having a completely different basis for cognition. What I mean by "account" is really, "How do physicalists translate the idea of rationality into physical terms?"

    So physicalist is a philisophical term?

    Unknown is a really good term, I like that.

    True/False/Unknown.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Your objection to the appeal to exclusion opens up a whole extra can of worms. To start: what is the physicalist's definition of rational thought? In fact, what is the physicalist's account of rationality?

    Is this at me?

    I don't think there is a consensus for either question from a neuroscientists standpoint, which is why it's so hard to describe to someone else.

    Don't think there is in cognitive either, or social.

    Differential has "knowledge" which the philsophical definition of rationality could be thought of as falling under. But they don't really define where it comes from in terms of the physical, they work with how it differs between people.

    It's not actually an important question to an empericist science.

    No, it's not directed at you. Nor is a question of neurology; presumably we could determine whether an alien is rational or not despite it having a completely different basis for cognition. What I mean by "account" is really, "How do physicalists translate the idea of rationality into physical terms?"

    So physicalist is a philisophical term?

    Unknown is a really good term, I like that.

    True/False/Unknown.
    Physicalism is the position that when one has described everything physical in the universe completely then one has described the universe completely; all the information in the universe is physical information.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Your objection to the appeal to exclusion opens up a whole extra can of worms. To start: what is the physicalist's definition of rational thought? In fact, what is the physicalist's account of rationality?

    As I recall, you are an idealist, and you don't think there is any reasonable physicalist account of rationality. However, fortunately for me, I can bypass that issue by using a less loaded example. Recall that I was trying to show that the existence of law-like generalizations governing human behavior at a social level does not exclude the possibility of human behavior also being (at least sometimes) governed by rational thought or investigation at an individual level. Previously, I showed that by using the example of physics: all of our behaviors are governed by the laws of physics at a base level, and yet are still the product of rational thought. Hence being governed by laws at some non-human level does not exclude being governed by human concerns at a human level.

    But we can show this another way, without having to involve troublesome assumptions about free will and physicalism. Take the case of Kepler's laws. Kepler's laws consist of a set of generalizations about the movement of planets. From Kepler's laws, we can derive certain conclusions about, say, the movement of Mars. And from knowing that Mars will have moved such-and-such distance down its arc, we can derive certain conclusions about the movement of a boulder situated on the surface of Mars--for instance, that it's somewhere in the region of space of Mars' new location. It is necessary that the boulder be there for Kepler's laws to have accurately predicted the planet's motion, and they do. So we can say that the truth of Kepler's laws necessitates the boulder's movement to that new location. However, does that mean that on the scale of the boulder, it is not governed by the Newtonian mechanics we all know and love? Or that on the atomic scale, it does not behave in ways necessitated by laws of electricity and bonding and such? The fact that it is obeying Kepler's laws does not preclude it from also obeying these other sets of laws.

    In general, we say that in such a situation Kepler's laws are reducible to Newtonian laws: that is, in this case the higher level action of planets is entirely caused and predictable by the lower-level actions of its constituent parts. People make similar claims about biology being reducible to chemistry, chemistry being reducible to quantum mechanics, and so on. Those claims are considered controversial, however, let us glaze over that for now. If you do believe in this sort of reduction, then you should also be tempted to consider sociology to be reducible to psychology: that is, sociology just deals with the law-like generalizations that happen to emerge out of the actions of the innumerable individuals who compose large groups. If that's the case, then the fact that the laws of sociology predict individual behavior in a law-like way absolutely does not show that we are controlled by our culture in a problematic way, since those law-like generalizations are simply descriptions of the way that we tend to act as individuals and how those interactions combine on a larger scale. The causal force on this picture originates at the individual level, not the social one.

    This is not to say that culture can't ever have any sort of coercive effect on an individual--when exactly we describe that as happening is it's own difficult question. It's merely establishing that the existence of law-like generalizations about social behavior does not prohibit us from also being autonomous individuals.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Problem with that? You need to explain the Philosophy of Icenjucar, from the ground up, everytime you want to talk about something.

    And you don't.

    So you come off as confused. Be a good idea to put forth the axioms and definitions you stand by and use if you want to take that stance, as some people that might otherwise have useful information to share might not take you seriously.

    I only come off confused when I use words that have different meanings to different people, such as "nihilism."

    Linguistic baggage is a bitch.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Your example is actually quite bad; all those laws, from the Planck scale on up, are necessary for there to be a boulder in that region of space. You need an example of two sufficient conditions that might both be said to be the cause of an event. And that is physically impossible if a situation is described with sufficient precision.

    The issue of the physicalist account of rationality is in fact critical. If rationality is reducible to physical states, then of course there is no conflict between morality as the product of rationality and morality as the product of evolution; a proper account of both these terms will find that rationality is a physical process produced by evolution. But I kind of doubt you're going to embrace this view, because it is ultimately indistinguishable from moral nihilism.

    At the bottom, your issue is that moral realism is irreconcilable with physicalism. Moral facts are by definition not physical facts, nor can they be derived purely from physical facts. If you want there to be such things as moral laws, you have to allow purely mental facts into the universe.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Just so everyone is clear, I'm just waiting for someone to show me how "morals" aren't just the ethics brand of Invisible Pink Unicorn.

    Once someone has shown that evidence, I will then ask why anyone should give a crap.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Your example is actually quite bad

    Actually, it was just fine. Regardless of whether physicalism is true, the existence of law-like generalizations about social behavior does not preclude individual autonomy. For instance, if those law-like generalizations are true by virtue of being reducible to individual choices.

    Your issue seems to be that you think that physicalism is incompatible with the existence of individual choices. That is a separate issue, and one that I did not and do not plan to address.

  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Your example is actually quite bad

    Actually, it was just fine. Regardless of whether physicalism is true, the existence of law-like generalizations about social behavior does not preclude individual autonomy. For instance, if those law-like generalizations are true by virtue of being reducible to individual choices.

    Your issue seems to be that you think that physicalism is incompatible with the existence of individual choices. That is a separate issue, and one that I did not and do not plan to address.

    No, that is not my issue here. I think I articulated it pretty clearly:
    Moral facts are by definition not physical facts, nor can they be derived purely from physical facts. If you want there to be such things as moral laws, you have to allow purely mental facts into the universe.

    EDIT: Also, you're shifting your ground so that you no longer address the evolutionary concern. The concern is that the moral choices of individuals are the product of social and genetic conditioning. But if social and genetic conditioning are sufficient to explain moral choices, then there are only two possibilities: 1) define "moral" in such a way that it simply means "determined by social and genetic conditioning in accordance with evolutionary paradigms," or 2) accept that apparently moral choices are not in fact moral at all. 1 is simply another way of accepting nihilism, and 2 makes any hypothetical moral facts completely inaccessible to us.

    The only way out of this trap is to posit that one event can have two logically distinct sufficient causes. Your first example is, as I said, problematic to say the least, and your second example is a list of necessary causes. The reason you can't come up with a good example is that it is impossible.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    Problem with that? You need to explain the Philosophy of Icenjucar, from the ground up, everytime you want to talk about something.

    And you don't.

    So you come off as confused. Be a good idea to put forth the axioms and definitions you stand by and use if you want to take that stance, as some people that might otherwise have useful information to share might not take you seriously.

    I only come off confused when I use words that have different meanings to different people, such as "nihilism."

    Linguistic baggage is a bitch.

    We just said the same thing.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Also, you're shifting your ground so that you no longer address the evolutionary concern. The concern is that the moral choices of individuals are the product of social and genetic conditioning. But if social and genetic conditioning are sufficient to explain moral choices,

    We need to separate explanation and prediction here. There may one day be law-like generalizations in the social sciences that are sufficient to accurately predict the uptake of moral ideas across societies. These social science laws may be analogous to law-like generalizations in evolutionary biology about shifting allele distributions. However, does that, on its own, explain the uptake of moral ideas across societies? Not necessarily.

    And I think my example of Kepler's laws is quite pertinent here. Kepler's laws are able to predict a great deal about the motion of the planets. But that does not mean that they explain the movement of the planets, or that they isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that movement. Similarly, the law-like generalizations provided regarding the behavior of large social groups do not necessarily explain that same behavior, nor do they necessarily isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that behavior. Social science laws could just as well be tracking the cumulative effects of large groups of people making autonomous and individual decisions in predictable ways.
    then there are only two possibilities: 1) define "moral" in such a way that it simply means "determined by social and genetic conditioning in accordance with evolutionary paradigms,"

    Why would we have to define what morality is that way? Presumably, we have obtained (perhaps through evolution) the ability to track certain facts in the world. Why could moral facts not be among those facts? The argument from queerness gives us one reason to suppose that they could not be, however, the argument from social evolution does not.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    One can be a nihilist about lots of different things. In the context of this thread, I think it's obvious that Incenjucar meant moral nihilism, which is a perfectly coherent position.
    Depends on how loose you want to be with coherency. We could get into a long drawn-out argument over whether or not it truly is a coherent stance.

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

    Medieval Universities.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

    Medieval Universities.

    No. I mean the idea for the theory. People had to be creative enough to think of them. Universities are composed of people Podly. You don't need to be in academia to be a good philosopher. It's just a lot easier that way.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

    Medieval Universities.

    No. I mean the idea for the theory. People had to be creative enough to think of them.

    You want the incorrect answer? ummm...Plato's academy?

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

    Medieval Universities.

    No. I mean the idea for the theory. People had to be creative enough to think of them.

    You want the incorrect answer? ummm...Plato's academy?

    Where did he get his ideas from.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    Podly wrote: »
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    We just said the same thing.

    Your statement implied I should set down the Grand Theory of Incenjucar. An act which would require me to take up philosophy full-time and which would result in the depopulation of philosophy professors. :P

    No it doesn't. That would be using other peoples opinions. You have your own, all you need to do is define it.

    Philosophy isn't just in the reserve of universities, you can learn the structure of arguments and then define your own philosophy. Where do you think philosophy theories they came from in the first place, fairyland?

    Medieval Universities.

    No. I mean the idea for the theory. People had to be creative enough to think of them.

    You want the incorrect answer? ummm...Plato's academy?

    Where did he get his ideas from.

    ohhhhh... you mean Pythagoras' colony on syracuse where everybody worshipped math and animals?

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    So what you are saying is that nobody has ever thought of anything new?

    I really doubt that's what you are saying.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    So what you are saying is that nobody has ever thought of anything new?

    I really doubt that's what you are saying.

    Pretty much. Most philosophy can be boiled down to the difference between parmenides and heraclitus

    Change vs. Unity and the problem of the one and the many. Lots of abstraction and complication has arisen since then, and Descartes introduced subjectivity, but all philosophers are in discussion with eachother over the same questions.

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  • wazillawazilla Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I always though that nihilism was the school of metaethical thought that holds that there is no metaphysical property associated with morality and, furthermore, that we could not have any knowledge of morality. Not like the guys in The Big Lebowski. Please not like the guys in The Big Lebowski...

  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    But would you say the structure of how they argue, present their logic, and define their axioms, that is useful in another context?

    This is what I was suggesting Icenjucar do, not to go and learn philosophy.

    Here, I'll arbitrarily label academic philosophy as Podlyism just for this argument. (I bet you like that :P)

    I want him to learn how to set out, clearly, for a new person, what he believes, using the structure of Podlyism defined above. This would be the philosophy of icenjucar.

    Get it.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    So what you are saying is that nobody has ever thought of anything new?

    I really doubt that's what you are saying.

    Pretty much. Most philosophy can be boiled down to the difference between parmenides and heraclitus

    Change vs. Unity and the problem of the one and the many. Lots of abstraction and complication has arisen since then, and Descartes introduced subjectivity, but all philosophers are in discussion with eachother over the same questions.

    Man, I hate to always be disagreeing with you Poldy, it feels kind of like kicking a well-meaning puppy. However, I pretty much disagree with you on this one. While there are some issues that may have persisted from antiquity, there are absolutely new questions that have arisen, and at the very least old problems have been given significantly new treatments.

    Consider the field of philosophy of science. Back then they simply didn't have the scientific foundation to raise the philosophical questions that we consider today. Or the field of philosophy of mind--our knowledge of the function of animals, the mechanics of the brain, and the possibility of incredible turing machines all have philosophical implications that the ancients had no grasp on.

    This is not to mention the concrete leaps forward made in logic and mathematics. For instance, how Kant's "existence is not a predicate" line pretty much killed the ontological argument entirely.

  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    This is not to mention the concrete leaps forward made in logic and mathematics. For instance, how Kant's "existence is not a predicate" line pretty much killed the ontological argument entirely.
    I was not saying that there wasn't process. But most arguments always come back to materiality/idealism, etc, which has its roots in those two.

    Sidenote: The existence is not a predicate, I think, is actually more useful in the development of phenomenology. It basically forces Descartes to interact with actually existing objects. It's one of the places that Husserl lays his foundation.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Huh. I've thought that for years without having done any philosophy.

    I should skim through some Kant I guess. I have enough stuff to read though.

    (Btw I had to look up both predicate and ontological. :P )

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    But would you say the structure of how they argue, present their logic, and define their axioms, that is useful in another context?

    This is what I was suggesting Icenjucar do, not to go and learn philosophy.

    Here, I'll arbitrarily label academic philosophy as Podlyism just for this argument. (I bet you like that :P)

    I want him to learn how to set out, clearly, for a new person, what he believes, using the structure of Podlyism defined above. This would be the philosophy of icenjucar.

    Get it.

    How do I put this... while I am very certain there are a great many diamonds, I do not believe I could gain enough from sifting through the incredibly immense piles of boiling, moist fecal matter it is hidden under to make it worth it. I simply do not have the resources to spare the task of finding the parts of philosophy that aren't goddamn stupid. I mean there's stuff like logic, logic is awesome, and I've heard a few great ideas - though followed up by stupid ideas every damned time, but there is just too much offal before you get to the meat for me to devote my time to it. Maybe if I knew a philosophy student who I trusted to filter the trash out for me I could get into it, but I do not.

    Maybe in a thousand years when philosophy has matured out of it's 90% crap and 9% religion phase. In the mean time, I'm stuck with English. It will have to do.

    --

    I'm still waiting for evidence of morals.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    But would you say the structure of how they argue, present their logic, and define their axioms, that is useful in another context?

    This is what I was suggesting Icenjucar do, not to go and learn philosophy.

    Here, I'll arbitrarily label academic philosophy as Podlyism just for this argument. (I bet you like that :P)

    I want him to learn how to set out, clearly, for a new person, what he believes, using the structure of Podlyism defined above. This would be the philosophy of icenjucar.

    Get it.

    How do I put this... while I am very certain there are a great many diamonds, I do not believe I could gain enough from sifting through the incredibly immense piles of boiling, moist fecal matter it is hidden under to make it worth it. I simply do not have the resources to spare the task of finding the parts of philosophy that aren't goddamn stupid. I mean there's stuff like logic, logic is awesome, and I've heard a few great ideas - though followed up by stupid ideas every damned time, but there is just too much offal before you get to the meat for me to devote my time to it. Maybe if I knew a philosophy student who I trusted to filter the trash out for me I could get into it, but I do not.

    Maybe in a thousand years when philosophy has matured out of it's 90% crap and 9% religion phase. In the mean time, I'm stuck with English. It will have to do.

    --

    I'm still waiting for evidence of morals.

    Right.

    You are conflating your personal opinions of philosophers.
    With the very structure of argumentation that is, for example, posted at the top of this board.

    In addition, a very simple method of letting people know what is going on, is to define your terms.

    This is not something limited to philosophy, science, or any other. Every field does this and you do not. All of these things were derived from philosophy. You do not need to read any philosophy to understand these things, because they are everywhere.

    Not once have I said to you "Go and read Descant". Listen to what I'm saying.

    I only listed them as originating from philosophy because its the truth, if I'd known it would activate blind hatred icenjucar mode I wouldn't have mentioned it at all.

    edit: If this doesn't work, I'm done jewcar. I just thought you might want to learn how to get your point across easier, as I don't think your opinion is one that cannot be explained or understood. I spent some time in another thread weedling what you think out of you, but you assume people have already read this every time you mention it in a new thread. It's not a big issue to me (I talk the same way about everything), so if you still don't understand what I'm getting at just forget about it alright? I wont mention it again.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    Also, you're shifting your ground so that you no longer address the evolutionary concern. The concern is that the moral choices of individuals are the product of social and genetic conditioning. But if social and genetic conditioning are sufficient to explain moral choices,

    We need to separate explanation and prediction here. There may one day be law-like generalizations in the social sciences that are sufficient to accurately predict the uptake of moral ideas across societies. These social science laws may be analogous to law-like generalizations in evolutionary biology about shifting allele distributions. However, does that, on its own, explain the uptake of moral ideas across societies? Not necessarily.

    And I think my example of Kepler's laws is quite pertinent here. Kepler's laws are able to predict a great deal about the motion of the planets. But that does not mean that they explain the movement of the planets, or that they isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that movement. Similarly, the law-like generalizations provided regarding the behavior of large social groups do not necessarily explain that same behavior, nor do they necessarily isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that behavior. Social science laws could just as well be tracking the cumulative effects of large groups of people making autonomous and individual decisions in predictable ways.

    I wasn't clear. When I say "the moral choices of individuals," I meant the options they perceive themselves to be deciding between. The evolutionary argument is that our very conception of morals is determined by evolution. If this is so, how could such concepts have any categorical claim on us?

    EDIT: and this why the "only one sufficient cause" rule is important. If moral conceptions are determined by evolution, then they cannot also be determined by reason or whatever other faculty unless you define it such that the statements

    Evolution caused our conception of morals

    and

    Reason causes our conception of morals

    have some necessary logical relationship.

    Which, again, is why the physicalist account of rationality is important.
    then there are only two possibilities: 1) define "moral" in such a way that it simply means "determined by social and genetic conditioning in accordance with evolutionary paradigms,"

    Why would we have to define what morality is that way? Presumably, we have obtained (perhaps through evolution) the ability to track certain facts in the world. Why could moral facts not be among those facts? The argument from queerness gives us one reason to suppose that they could not be, however, the argument from social evolution does not.

    Because you can only have one sufficient explanation for an event. If moral behavior is the product of natural selection of societies, then moral behavior cannot be the product of independent moral facts. Then the behavior we call moral is not moral at all (option 2), or morality refers only to contingent imperatives; for example, there is no "you shouldn't murder," there is only "you shouldn't murder if you want X." This is really just moral nihilism.

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  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Yar wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    One can be a nihilist about lots of different things. In the context of this thread, I think it's obvious that Incenjucar meant moral nihilism, which is a perfectly coherent position.
    Depends on how loose you want to be with coherency. We could get into a long drawn-out argument over whether or not it truly is a coherent stance.

    That is, I believe, what this thread is for. And I would be fascinated to hear why you think there might be an argument that it isn't a coherent position.

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  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »

    I'm still waiting for evidence of morals.

    Me too.

    I asked in the first reply to the thread :(

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    edit: If this doesn't work, I'm done jewcar. I just thought you might want to learn how to get your point across easier, as I don't think your opinion is one that cannot be explained or understood.

    I know how to make clear points: avoid using philosophical terms as much as humanly possible because they are loaded with shitty baggage.

    I mean it would be nice if I could say that I'm a morally nihilistic ethical egoist or something but someone would drudge up some crap that makes that mean I rape trees, so it's easier to simply say that I do not believe morals exist as anything but an idea and that the only value in maintaining what can only be called faith in them is not a recognition of reality but instead a convenient way to manipulate the masses who may or may not be able to act in a benevolent manner without external justification for their actions as people have been doing with gods and spirits and karma and other magical BS since before recorded history.

    Now, someone show me that morals are less fictional than Puff the Magic Dragon plzkthx.

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  • PodlyPodly good moleman to youRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    And I think my example of Kepler's laws is quite pertinent here. Kepler's laws are able to predict a great deal about the motion of the planets. But that does not mean that they explain the movement of the planets, or that they isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that movement. Similarly, the law-like generalizations provided regarding the behavior of large social groups do not necessarily explain that same behavior, nor do they necessarily isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that behavior. Social science laws could just as well be tracking the cumulative effects of large groups of people making autonomous and individual decisions in predictable ways.

    Isn't this saying that we don't know how cannons work, but we know how to make them hit targets to blow them up?

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Super Moderator, Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2008
    Podly wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    And I think my example of Kepler's laws is quite pertinent here. Kepler's laws are able to predict a great deal about the motion of the planets. But that does not mean that they explain the movement of the planets, or that they isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that movement. Similarly, the law-like generalizations provided regarding the behavior of large social groups do not necessarily explain that same behavior, nor do they necessarily isolate the causally relevant factors which cause that behavior. Social science laws could just as well be tracking the cumulative effects of large groups of people making autonomous and individual decisions in predictable ways.

    Isn't this saying that we don't know how cannons work, but we know how to make them hit targets to blow them up?

    Sort of. Kepler's laws say what the planets do, they don't say why the do them. Sort of like knowing that if you stick a cannonball in a cannon and light the fuse it will fire a projectile, but not understanding it enough to build your own from scratch.

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  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zakkiel wrote: »
    If moral conceptions are determined by evolution, then they cannot also be determined by reason or whatever other faculty unless you define it such that the statements

    Evolution caused our conception of morals

    and

    Reason causes our conception of morals

    have some necessary logical relationship.

    Which, again, is why the physicalist account of rationality is important.

    Nothing you've said here seems unique to our conceptions of morality as opposed to any other concept or idea that we possess. So, it seems to me that you're claiming that physicalism rules out human reason entirely. Again, this is not an argument that I am interested in pursuing in this thread.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Poldy wrote:
    Isn't this saying that we don't know how cannons work, but we know how to make them hit targets to blow them up?

    Sort of. Kepler's laws say what the planets do, they don't say why the do them. Sort of like knowing that if you stick a cannonball in a cannon and light the fuse it will fire a projectile, but not understanding it enough to build your own from scratch.

    Yep. It's kind of like how you can use a barometer to show when a storm's coming, but you certainly can't explain why a storm's coming by saying "because the barometer dropped!" (without also giving some account of the fact that the barometer is measuring atmospheric pressure, and atmospheric pressure interacts with weather systems in such-and-such a way, and etc.)

  • zakkielzakkiel Registered User
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    If moral conceptions are determined by evolution, then they cannot also be determined by reason or whatever other faculty unless you define it such that the statements

    Evolution caused our conception of morals

    and

    Reason causes our conception of morals

    have some necessary logical relationship.

    Which, again, is why the physicalist account of rationality is important.

    Nothing you've said here seems unique to our conceptions of morality as opposed to any other concept or idea that we possess. So, it seems to me that you're claiming that physicalism rules out human reason entirely. Again, this is not an argument that I am interested in pursuing in this thread.

    Then you're not interested in addressing the argument from evolution. Which makes me kind of curious about why you brought it up.

    You also apparently aren't interested in addressing the basic conflict between physicalism and moral realism which is by far the most important question in this thread. That being the case, what aspects of moral realism are you actually prepared to defend?

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Based on what I've learnt, I'd say (this is kind of off the top of my head, intuition if you will, so I'm not claiming it true just throwing it out there: its probably the first time I've put my opinion in on this) this is the way morals probably work if everything I know isn't mistaken or mislearnt. Keep in mind, this is not a 1,2,3 or anything. If anything you'd prolly have multiple causal lines going between each step in a giant flowchart of motherfucking confusing.

    Evolution guides which morals get accepted by the process of those people with favoured moral tendencies having a higher chance of getting to pass on their genes, because they are more likely to attract mates consistently.

    Societal reasoning can guide how one develops morals in childhood, in that you can sit down as an adult and work out what could be a good morale, then teach it to your children. You can also pick up what would be a good moral through social reasoning and social learning. Watching what others do, and repeating it. No critique of the moral in question has to happen for this circumstance. You can teach a child to react correctly to a moral before they can properly reason it through, for example.

    An example of the power of social learning:
    Spoiler:

    These children, unless they are specifically taught how to reason or why they are being taught the morales, will probably (either initially or unquestioningly in some cases) treat the morale as axiomatic since they've known about it from an early age. Familiarity breeds tradition. Things become accepted after they've been going on for a long period of time.

    If you teach them reasoning, they could learn to deconstruct the morals they automatically engage and, through a process of constant reassociation, relearn different morals. But it's questionable wether the original morals will be replaced or always stay there. I don't know what the evidence says on this. It could be that it depends on how well one deconstructs the moral. It could be that there will be a transitional period. It could depends on how you react to the old moral, if you make sure you keep criticising it it may be replaced with the association of the new one. I haven't gone this deep into learning of cognitive processes so I can't say.

    I will not accept anybody taking what I say and using it as a logical proof, btw. It's pure speculation. Maybe by the end of my degree, if I decide to go into moral reasoning or find out more about it on my own, I could put forth a more concrete opinion. But I'm only halfway through my course, so I'm not prepared to do that. So far at the end of every semester I've found more and more of my previous reasoning and assumptions to be either mistaken, just outright incorrect, or worthless. So who knows.

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  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It's not that difficult for many people to replace moral training. People reject the traditions they're raised in all the time, and many people can actually revise their positions throughout their lives in a very dynamic fashion. I doubt it's particularly difficult for anyone to come up with possible scenarios and traits that lead to either reaction. See: Prop 8 thread.

    Many groups have to police the hell out of their traditions to keep them alive due to how much of a pain in the ass they are.

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  • MoridinMoridin Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    MrMister wrote: »
    zakkiel wrote: »
    If moral conceptions are determined by evolution, then they cannot also be determined by reason or whatever other faculty unless you define it such that the statements

    Evolution caused our conception of morals

    and

    Reason causes our conception of morals

    have some necessary logical relationship.

    Which, again, is why the physicalist account of rationality is important.

    Nothing you've said here seems unique to our conceptions of morality as opposed to any other concept or idea that we possess. So, it seems to me that you're claiming that physicalism rules out human reason entirely. Again, this is not an argument that I am interested in pursuing in this thread.

    More precisely, physicalism rules out our ability to be sure about anything. In the same way that science is based on experimental evidence, and scientific "facts" are not really axioms, but just ideas with lots of experimental evidence, the physicalist's view is that what you would call a moral "truth" is just a social idea that's more conducive to a productive society than the alternative, on average, due to environmental and/or evolutionary factors. There's nothing mystical about it. So, within our domain of understanding cause and effect, doing ____ is defined as a good idea, not a moral law.

    Morals are absolutely a social construct out of convenience. I'm still waiting for evidence otherwise.

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  • MorninglordMorninglord Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Incenjucar wrote: »
    It's not that difficult for many people to replace moral training. People reject the traditions they're raised in all the time, and many people can actually revise their positions throughout their lives in a very dynamic fashion. I doubt it's particularly difficult for anyone to come up with possible scenarios and traits that lead to either reaction. See: Prop 8 thread.

    Many groups have to police the hell out of their traditions to keep them alive due to how much of a pain in the ass they are.

    Yes, it's probably that they're no more difficult to retrain than any other process.

    However, while people do outwardly reject their traditions all the time, in terms of behavior, I wonder how many are still subtly affected by them in less obvious circumstances.

    There is some evidence that a key difference between low prejudice and high prejudice people is the level of censorship they have over the stereotypical responses that are initially generated.
    (not prejudice, but the socially prevelant stereotypes. being socially prevelant has nothing to do with wether it's a good or correct stereotype or not)

    edit: I completely forgot to add, under this idea morals are a process or lynch pin underpinning judgements or decision making so asking for the existence of a moral in that case is similar to asking for a physical manifestation of a decision. So this idea renders the question meaningless in terms of proving a point against the usefulness of morals.

    As for evidence that people make moral decisions or judgements, wether in terms of intuition or reasoning, that's everywhere.

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