back to the beginning: morality

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back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu May 05, 2011 7:11 pm

I believe what many would construe to be two seemingly conflicting [even contradictory] things:

1] that aborting a human fetus is the killing of an innocent human being
2] that women should be afforded full legal rights to choose abortion

As a result, the first thing many point out is that, regarding this issue, I am insisting women should be permitted legally to kill innocent human beings. And that doing so is in this particular context not immoral.

To which I respond:

"Yes, but..."

But:

Just because I construe the fetus to be an innocent human being does not necessarily [objectively] make it so. On the contrary, there are reasonable arguments prooffered by those who see the fetus as truly human only at birth or at the point of "viability".

And even if everyone agreed the fetus was an innocent human being from the point of copnception, I would still not construe the killing of it as necessarily immoral. Why? Because out in the world we live in there can be no such thing as true "gender equality" if we forced women to give birth against their wishes.

Abortion then is a human tragedy in my view precisely because, like so many other moral conflagrations, it necessarily involves a conflict of legitimate rights.

Consider:

William Barrett from Irrational Man:

For the choice in...human [moral conflicts] is almost never between a good and an evil, where both are plainly marked as such and the choice therefore made in all the certitude of reason; rather it is between rival goods, where one is bound to do some evil either way, and where the the ultimate outcome and even---or most of all---our own motives are unclear to us. The terror of confronting oneself in such a situation is so great that most people panic and try to take cover under any universal rules that will apply, if only to save them from the task of choosing themselves.

[emphasis my own]

In my view, moral dogmas are basically interchangable when expressed as sets of essential [universal] convictions. And that is so because we do not interact socially, politcially or economically in an essential manner; only in an existential manner. Which is to say that our behaviors bear consequences that are perceived differently by different people in different sets of circumstances.

That's the world we have to live in and not the ones we put together seamlessly in our heads.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun May 08, 2011 7:28 pm

From Henry Staten's, Nietzsche's Voice:

Our moral beliefs did not fall from heaven and neither are there credentials we can flash like a badge to establish our moral probity. Consider all the rest of human history, including most of the planet at the present moment. What are we to say about this overwhelming spectacle of cruelity, stupidity and suffering? What stance is there for us to adopt with respect to history, what judgment can we pass on it?...Christianity attempted to recuperate the suffering of history by projecting a devine plan that assigns it a reason in the here and now and a recompense later, but liberalism is too humane to endorse this explanation. There is no explanation, only the brute fact. But the brute fact we are left with is even harder to stomach than the old explanation. So left liberalism packages it in a new narrative, a moral narrative according to which all those lives gound up in the machinery of history are assigned an intelligble role as victums of oppression and injustice...Only very recently is it possible for someone like Schutte [Ofelia Schutte, who in her book Beyond Nihilism: Nietzsche Without Masks castigates Nietzsche for his authoritarianism.] to write as she does, with so much confidence that the valuations she assumes will be received as a matter of course by an academic audience, just as much as a Christian homilist writing for an audience of the pious. And only within the protective enclosure of this community of belief can there be any satisfaction in the performance of this speech act, any sense that anything worthwhile has been accomplished by this recitation. When this moral community by means of this recitation reassures itself of its belief, it comes aglow as the repository of the meaning of history, as the locus that one may occupy in order to view history and pass judgment on it without merely despairing and covering one's eyes and ears. There may not be any plan behind history, nor any way to make up their losses to the dead, but we can draw an invisible line of rectitude through history and in this way take power over it. Against the awesome 'Thus it was' of history we set an overawing majesty of 'Thus it ought to have been'.

But our liberalism is something that sprang up yesterday and could be gone tomorrow. The day before yesterday the Founding Fathers kept black slaves. What little sliver of light is this we occupy that despite its contingency, the fraility of its existence, enables us to illuminate all the past and perhaps the future as well? For we want to say that even though our community of belief may cease to exist, this would not effect the validity of those beliefs. The line of rectitude would still traverse history.


This is more or less the way it is, right? Every day we are confronted with each new numbing rendition of the Human Condition: cruelity, stupidity and suffering. And out in the world are all of these hundreds and hundreds of "moral communities" trying to make sense of it all...trying to put it all in perspective...trying to rationalize it all away in Meaning...in God...in Ideolgy...in Truth. In The Way. Theirs. That they all hopelessly conflict and contradict each other does not mean many, many additional refrains won't be joining the chorus of "rectitude" in the years to come. Long after we are all gone.

I like the honesty of Staten's words above. I like the way he refuses to pretend human interaction can be portrayed [realistically] in any other way. It is, after all, something we are not supposed to dwell on. This: that there is no more or less authentic way in which to live. There is only history unfolding in all of its brute naked facticity. A cauldron of cacaphonous contingency. It simply is. And each of us, one by one, will die and then for eternity it will be as though we had never been born at all.

Unless, of course, Staten's "line of rectitude" above is merely one more self-delusion. But then how in the world would we go about determining that? How would we even begin to do this when we have no real way of figuring out the legitimacy of our own line?

Perhaps, when all is said and done, Schopenhauer wasn't pessimistic enough.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Sun May 08, 2011 7:43 pm

I think for a certain amount of time the foetus should be classified not as an individual but as part of a woman's body and she should have the choice to abort it. However, I would move the abortion time limit back much further. Have you ever seen a 23 week old aborted foetus? I feel that that is wrong. And that should not be allowed in civilized society. Notice I use the word 'feel' not think. It is a purely emotional response. I don't think a response should be discredited because it is based only on emotion.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Ascolo Parodites » Sun May 08, 2011 7:47 pm

equal2u wrote:I think for a certain amount of time the foetus should be classified not as an individual but as part of a woman's body and she should have the choice to abort it. However, I would move the abortion time limit back much further. Have you ever seen a 23 week old aborted foetus? I feel that that is wrong. And that should not be allowed in civilized society. Notice I use the word 'feel' not think. It is a purely emotional response. I don't think a response should be discredited because it is based only on emotion.


Well my emotional reaction to your emotional reaction is that your emotional reaction is fucking stupid.
Also known as Vanitas.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Sun May 08, 2011 7:49 pm

Ascolo Parodites wrote:
Well my emotional reaction to your emotional reaction is that your emotional reaction is fucking stupid.


That's fine. We all have a right to our emotions.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 09, 2011 12:34 am

equal2u wrote:I think for a certain amount of time the foetus should be classified not as an individual but as part of a woman's body and she should have the choice to abort it. However, I would move the abortion time limit back much further. Have you ever seen a 23 week old aborted foetus? I feel that that is wrong. And that should not be allowed in civilized society. Notice I use the word 'feel' not think. It is a purely emotional response. I don't think a response should be discredited because it is based only on emotion.


Yes, that is the opinion you subscribe to here and now. I have my own. And next week or next month your circumstances might change or you might encounter a new point of view and change your mind. As have I.

But that's my point. Value judgments such as these are embedded in dasein. And dasein is situated out in a particular world. There is no right or wrong point of view about the morality of abortion---only different ones.

Same with all other value judgments.

What I look for is an argument that might make me change my mind about this. Or, perhaps, at the very least, an argument that allows me to grasp how human emotional and psychological reactions can be divorced from such judgments.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Mon May 09, 2011 1:27 am

iambiguous wrote:

There is no right or wrong point of view about the morality of abortion---only different ones.

Same with all other value judgments.



You're a relativist. I'm a universalist. I think there is only one view about the morality of abortion that is the right one. And countless ones that are wrong.

Same with all other value judgements.

I view relativism with absolute contempt. I despise relativism as intensely as it is possible for a human being to despise anything.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Sean » Mon May 09, 2011 1:38 am

Iambiguous,
You say all we have are different points of view.

i.e. You say women should be afforded full legal rights to abortion. Sam says abortion should be illegal.

You disagree.

Are you and Sam disagreeing about the morality of abortion or the morality of each other's points of view.

I feel like you have to say one of these things to Sam:

"Sam, I have a different point of view from yours concerning abortion, and:

1) your point of view is wrong, and abortion is right." (Realism)
2) we are each correct to say the others' point of view is wrong, but abortion is right." (Naive Idealism)
3) neither of our points of view is right or wrong, and abortion itself is not right or wrong." (Relativism)
4) each of us thinks the other's point of view is wrong, and abortion is neither right nor wrong." (Skeptical Idealism)
5) Your point of view could not be wrong, because our point of views are irrelevant, only allegiance to God's words" (Divine Authority)
6) I do not believe either of our points of view are right or wrong, and abortion is neither right nor wrong, but I will use the words "right" and "wrong" in order to try and convince you to join my side. (Instrumentalism)
7) play it again Sam. (Cosmopolitanism)


If you don't espouse any of those (I imagine any one of them would be an oversimplification of your views), then at least explain whether you think it is our points of view which are neither right nor wrong or abortion itself which is neither right nor wrong.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby WW_III_ANGRY » Mon May 09, 2011 1:55 am

iambiguous wrote:I believe what many would construe to be two seemingly conflicting [even contradictory] things:

1] that aborting a human fetus is the killing of an innocent human being
2] that women should be afforded full legal rights to choose abortion

As a result, the first thing many point out is that, regarding this issue, I am insisting women should be permitted legally to kill innocent human beings. And that doing so is in this particular context not immoral.

To which I respond:

"Yes, but..."

But:

Just because I construe the fetus to be an innocent human being does not necessarily [objectively] make it so. On the contrary, there are reasonable arguments prooffered by those who see the fetus as truly human only at birth or at the point of "viability".

And even if everyone agreed the fetus was an innocent human being from the point of copnception, I would still not construe the killing of it as necessarily immoral. Why? Because out in the world we live in there can be no such thing as true "gender equality" if we forced women to give birth against their wishes.

Abortion then is a human tragedy in my view precisely because, like so many other moral conflagrations, it necessarily involves a conflict of legitimate rights.

Consider:

William Barrett from Irrational Man:

For the choice in...human [moral conflicts] is almost never between a good and an evil, where both are plainly marked as such and the choice therefore made in all the certitude of reason; rather it is between rival goods, where one is bound to do some evil either way, and where the the ultimate outcome and even---or most of all---our own motives are unclear to us. The terror of confronting oneself in such a situation is so great that most people panic and try to take cover under any universal rules that will apply, if only to save them from the task of choosing themselves.

[emphasis my own]

In my view, moral dogmas are basically interchangable when expressed as sets of essential [universal] convictions. And that is so because we do not interact socially, politcially or economically in an essential manner; only in an existential manner. Which is to say that our behaviors bear consequences that are perceived differently by different people in different sets of circumstances.

That's the world we have to live in and not the ones we put together seamlessly in our heads.


I follow you up to here: "Abortion then is a human tragedy in my view precisely because, like so many other moral conflagrations, it necessarily involves a conflict of legitimate rights." Legitimate right? Any right is just proclaimed to be some moral persuasion, saying it's legitimate doesn't give it any more power. Rights are only provided through law.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Only_Humean » Mon May 09, 2011 8:40 am

equal2u wrote:You're a relativist. I'm a universalist. I think there is only one view about the morality of abortion that is the right one. And countless ones that are wrong.


Since it's an emotional issue, you'd therefore hold that your emotional response to the matter is the only correct one to have? Or that it's most likely wrong?
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Mon May 09, 2011 11:36 am

Only_Humean wrote:
equal2u wrote:You're a relativist. I'm a universalist. I think there is only one view about the morality of abortion that is the right one. And countless ones that are wrong.


Since it's an emotional issue, you'd therefore hold that your emotional response to the matter is the only correct one to have? Or that it's most likely wrong?


I think feeling can lead to the truth as well as thought and that my views are correct.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Only_Humean » Mon May 09, 2011 11:44 am

equal2u wrote:
Only_Humean wrote:
equal2u wrote:You're a relativist. I'm a universalist. I think there is only one view about the morality of abortion that is the right one. And countless ones that are wrong.


Since it's an emotional issue, you'd therefore hold that your emotional response to the matter is the only correct one to have? Or that it's most likely wrong?


I think feeling can lead to the truth as well as thought and that my views are correct.


So if someone else feels differently about abortion, they are "feeling wrong"? How do you defend your feeling being closer to the truth than theirs? You both "feel" that you're right, after all. Maybe due to a lack of self-awareness they even feel it more strongly than you do.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Mon May 09, 2011 12:01 pm

Only_Humean wrote:
So if someone else feels differently about abortion, they are "feeling wrong"? How do you defend your feeling being closer to the truth than theirs? You both "feel" that you're right, after all. Maybe due to a lack of self-awareness they even feel it more strongly than you do.


Feelings can never be right or wrong. Beliefs are always right or wrong. My feelings about 23 week old aborted foetuses result in the correct belief that it is wrong to kill them.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Only_Humean » Mon May 09, 2011 12:11 pm

equal2u wrote:Feelings can never be right or wrong. Beliefs are always right or wrong. My feelings about 23 week old aborted foetuses result in the correct belief that it is wrong to kill them.


And the correctness of that belief is evidenced by your subjective feelings, and not by any objective measure?
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby equal2u » Mon May 09, 2011 12:25 pm

Only_Humean wrote:
equal2u wrote:Feelings can never be right or wrong. Beliefs are always right or wrong. My feelings about 23 week old aborted foetuses result in the correct belief that it is wrong to kill them.


And the correctness of that belief is evidenced by your subjective feelings, and not by any objective measure?


There is no objective measure to decide when it is and when it isn't acceptable to perform an abortion. There are objective measures to find out when the foetus is viable outside the womb and when the foetus becomes conscious of pain, but how much we take these things into account is up to us as human beings to decide. I think the abortion time limit should be 13 weeks. I know that a 13 week old foetus cannot feel pain and is not viable outside the womb, but looking at one makes me feel it is something too human to kill. It has a face. If we allow those organisms to be killed what does that make us? Killing a clump of cells is unfortunate, but different. I arrive at these beliefs through feeling alone. I don't think beliefs should be dismissed because they are arrived at purely through feeling. I think if humans do that then we are undervaluing our feelings which are a precious resource.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Only_Humean » Mon May 09, 2011 12:32 pm

equal2u wrote:I don't think beliefs should be dismissed because they are arrived at purely through feeling. I think if humans do that then we are undervaluing our feelings which are a precious resource.


I'm not talking about dismissing beliefs. You said you were a universalist and not a relativist, I'm just trying to work out what that means in the context of feeling-based belief.

As far as I can tell, you mean that you think that what you believe to be true really is true; which is really just an obvious detail of what it is to hold a belief as true.

Edit: in addition, you call people fucking idiots for arriving at conclusions about the existence of God based on feelings rather than evidence. Which seems a little hypocritical, if that is your argument.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby WW_III_ANGRY » Mon May 09, 2011 12:33 pm

equal2u wrote:
Only_Humean wrote:
equal2u wrote:Feelings can never be right or wrong. Beliefs are always right or wrong. My feelings about 23 week old aborted foetuses result in the correct belief that it is wrong to kill them.


And the correctness of that belief is evidenced by your subjective feelings, and not by any objective measure?


There is no objective measure to decide when it is and when it isn't acceptable to perform an abortion. There are objective measures to find out when the foetus is viable outside the womb and when the foetus becomes conscious of pain, but how much we take these things into account is up to us as human beings to decide. I think the abortion time limit should be 13 weeks. I know that a 13 week old foetus cannot feel pain and is not viable outside the womb, but looking at one makes me feel it is something too human to kill. It has a face. If we allow those organisms to be killed what does that make us? Killing a clump of cells is unfortunate, but different. I arrive at these beliefs through feeling alone. I don't think beliefs should be dismissed because they are arrived at purely through feeling. I think if humans do that then we are undervaluing our feelings which are a precious resource.


There are no objective measures to decide when it is and isn't acceptable to kill anyone or not kill anyone, for any reason whatsoever.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 09, 2011 6:40 pm

equal2u wrote:You're a relativist. I'm a universalist. I think there is only one view about the morality of abortion that is the right one. And countless ones that are wrong.

Same with all other value judgements.

I view relativism with absolute contempt. I despise relativism as intensely as it is possible for a human being to despise anything.


Okay, tell us the one and only truly rational way in which to view abortion morally.

And I suspect you despise relativism contemptuously because "universalism" is a point of view that allows you to approach everything in an "either/or" frame of mind. In other words, this point of view is, in my opinion, little more than a psychological defense mechanism.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 09, 2011 7:13 pm

Sean wrote: Iambiguous,
You say all we have are different points of view.

i.e. You say women should be afforded full legal rights to abortion. Sam says abortion should be illegal.

You disagree.

Are you and Sam disagreeing about the morality of abortion or the morality of each other's points of view.


First of all, being illegal is, in one respect, very different from being immoral. Regarding the law, a particular behavior either is or is not legal. That can be denoted. In America, for example, abortion is legal under particular sets of circumstances. In other sets of circumstances, however, it is not.

Secondly, some insist that behaviors deemed immoral should be deemed illegal in turn. Often this is predicated on a particular religious or ideological agenda.

Thirdly, however, there is no way in which to demonstrate objectively why one set of moral values regarding abortion is necessarily more rational or ethical than any other.

For instance, Ayn Rand insisted her own moral values here were metaphysically rational. She believed that, objectively, the fetus was only a potential human life. Like an acorn is only a potential oak tree.

That might seem reasonable to some but it is also reasonable to insist that not a single oak tree has ever existed without first having been an acorn. Just as not a single human being has ever been born without first having been a fetus.

In other words, you have two reasonable arguments that come to conflicting conclusions. How do we determine the most reasonable argument? In my view, we can't.


Sean wrote:I feel like you have to say one of these things to Sam:

"Sam, I have a different point of view from yours concerning abortion, and:

1) your point of view is wrong, and abortion is right." (Realism)
2) we are each correct to say the others' point of view is wrong, but abortion is right." (Naive Idealism)
3) neither of our points of view is right or wrong, and abortion itself is not right or wrong." (Relativism)
4) each of us thinks the other's point of view is wrong, and abortion is neither right nor wrong." (Skeptical Idealism)
5) Your point of view could not be wrong, because our point of views are irrelevant, only allegiance to God's words" (Divine Authority)
6) I do not believe either of our points of view are right or wrong, and abortion is neither right nor wrong, but I will use the words "right" and "wrong" in order to try and convince you to join my side. (Instrumentalism)
7) play it again Sam. (Cosmopolitanism)


What I say is this:

The point of view we embrace regarding the morality of abortion is rooted in dasein. In other words, it is rooted in the life we've lived. It is rooted in our indoctrination as children [which is rooted, in turn, in ever evolving historical and cultural contexts], in our experiences, in our relationships with others, in the ideas we come into contact with etc..

So the question then becomes:

If this is true to what extent can we engage philosophy here in order to transcend dasein? Can philosophy enable us to determine whether abortion is in fact moral?

No, I don't think so. It will be useful in enabling us to think more clearly about the issue. But inevitably we will reach junctures where reasonable thinking that is pro-choice collides with reasonable thinking that is anti-choice. Then what? Then we muddle through as best we can.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon May 09, 2011 7:24 pm

WW_III_ANGRY wrote:I follow you up to here: "Abortion then is a human tragedy in my view precisely because, like so many other moral conflagrations, it necessarily involves a conflict of legitimate rights." Legitimate right? Any right is just proclaimed to be some moral persuasion, saying it's legitimate doesn't give it any more power. Rights are only provided through law.


Here we get into the distinctions that are made between something being right, moral, ethical, politically correct, virtuous, legitimate, appropriate etc..

The tragedy of abortion in my view is that from both sides of the issue these words can used interchangably. This is what disturbs equal2u, in my view.

Legality, on the other hand, is more readily demonstrated. And, ultimately, it comes down to who has the power to enforce a particular agenda.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Sean » Mon May 09, 2011 9:26 pm

iambiguous wrote:What I say is this:

The point of view we embrace regarding the morality of abortion is rooted in dasein. In other words, it is rooted in the life we've lived. It is rooted in our indoctrination as children [which is rooted, in turn, in ever evolving historical and cultural contexts], in our experiences, in our relationships with others, in the ideas we come into contact with etc..

So the question then becomes:

If this is true to what extent can we engage philosophy here in order to transcend dasein? Can philosophy enable us to determine whether abortion is in fact moral?

No, I don't think so. It will be useful in enabling us to think more clearly about the issue. But inevitably we will reach junctures where reasonable thinking that is pro-choice collides with reasonable thinking that is anti-choice. Then what? Then we muddle through as best we can.


1) Not everyone who does philosophy is engaging philosophy to transcend dasein.
2) Not everything who uses language is using language to transcend dasein.
3) You don't have to transcend dasein to have a moral belief.

That's Faust's objection, and now it's my objection too.

Iambiguous wrote:Can philosophy enable us to determine whether abortion is in fact moral?


This is where we are talking past each other. You are saying that the only way we could have a moral belief about abortion is a belief about whether abortion is "in fact" moral. Then you define "in fact" as "independent of dasein" or "having transcended dasein." Of course there are no moral facts if we cannot transcend dasein and a moral fact is a result of transcending dasein. Obviously!

Iambiguous wrote:The point of view we embrace regarding the morality of abortion is rooted in dasein.


I agree. I also agree that the point of view we embrace includes a moral belief. Maybe when YOU SPECIFICALLY think about this moral dilemma, YOU decline to posit a moral fact (because of your philosophical training or whatever), but what should matter for an existentialist, and ESPECIALLY a Heideggerian is whether we do this in AVERAGE EVERYDAYNESS.

You've just said that points of view are rooted in dasein. We don't have to transcend dasein in order to have a point of view. Thus, we don't have to transcend dasein in order to posit a moral fact. People constantly posit moral facts in everyday life. Just because you think the existence of moral facts is ultimately indefensible on some heady philosophical level doesn't change the existentiale of people positing moral facts.

You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to avoid rationality by claiming to be concerned with the real world ("moral facts are not proven by rational arguments"), and you want to avoid the real world by claiming to be concerned with philosophy ("if a moral "in fact" exists we would have to transcend dasein in order to see it").
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Sean wrote: 1) Not everyone who does philosophy is engaging philosophy to transcend dasein.
2) Not everything who uses language is using language to transcend dasein.


Yes, this is true. I understand that. But over and again I note what my approach to philosophy is: to use it as a way [a tool] to make the distinction between knowledge that transcends dasein and mere opinions that reflect the subjective and subjunctive agenda of each uniquely existential man and woman.

And this is certainly applicable to discussions that revolve around morality. If, however, you wish to use philosophy for other purposes, fine. I have no objection to that. What I am looking for are those who do use it for other pursuits and can then integrate their own discoveries into a constructive critique of mine.

Sean wrote: 3) You don't have to transcend dasein to have a moral belief.


Yes, but there are those who insist you can. They invent Gods and ideologies. They obviate moral ambiguity and uncertainty by subsuming the moral agent in duty and obligation.

William Barrett from Irrational Man:

...in a good many cases there is no such universal rule or receipe available, and the individual can do nothing but muddle through on his own and decide for himself. Life seems to have intended it this way, for no moral blueprint has ever been drawn up that covers all the situations for us beforehand so that we can be absolutely certain under which rule the situation comes. Such is the concreteness of existence that a situation may come under several rules at once, forcing us to choose outside any rule and from inside oursleves.

Ah, but if you can convince yourself this is not the case, that a "moral blueprint" can be found [in God, in Reason] you take the weight that is "the agony of choice in the face of uncertainty" off your shoulder and live in certitude.

And if that is not basically a psychological defense mechanism what is it?

iambiguous wrote:

Can philosophy enable us to determine whether abortion is in fact moral?

Sean wrote:This is where we are talking past each other. You are saying that the only way we could have a moral belief about abortion is a belief about whether abortion is "in fact" moral. Then you define "in fact" as "independent of dasein" or "having transcended dasein." Of course there are no moral facts if we cannot transcend dasein and a moral fact is a result of transcending dasein. Obviously!


I emphasize the expression "in fact" here because the facts regarding abortion are all on the side of the doctors who perform them. They are medical facts built into the evolution of life on earth...of human biology.

But there are folks who insist that we can "in fact" know whether abortion is moral or immoral with the same sort of certainty. But, in fact, we cannot. The facts embedded in performing an abortion as a medical procedure are applicable to all daseins. These facts transcend mere points of view. But the sense of certainty embraced by each side in defending or defaming abortion morally can only---ultimately---be opinions, not facts.

Sean wrote:I [believe] the point of view we embrace includes a moral belief. Maybe when YOU SPECIFICALLY think about this moral dilemma, YOU decline to posit a moral fact (because of your philosophical training or whatever), but what should matter for an existentialist, and ESPECIALLY a Heideggerian is whether we do this in AVERAGE EVERYDAYNESS.


Not sure what exactly you are suggesting here. I suggest a moral belief is just a point of view. There may be any number of actual facts embedded in the arguments from both sides. But you can't add the facts [embedded in premises] up such that one conclusion is said to in fact be true. Instead, you reach the point where the logic embedded in the facts from both arguments breaks down and the irresistable force that is one argument meets the immovable object that is the other. That's the limitation of language [of philosophy] even in an exchange of moral arguments that contain facts. That's Barrett's point.

Sean wrote:You've just said that points of view are rooted in dasein. We don't have to transcend dasein in order to have a point of view. Thus, we don't have to transcend dasein in order to posit a moral fact.


I don't believe we can transcend dasein---however many actual facts are accumulated in our arguments.

For example, you could argue it is a fact that aborting a fetus that is well beyond the "point of viability" is qualitatively different from aborting an embryo that is just a clump of cells. Yes, that is, in fact, true. But it doesn't change the point I made in the OP. My point revolved around another fact instead: That, in forcing women to give birth against their will, you are denying them the possibility of gender equality. Why? Because only women can become pregnant and forcing them to give birth would certainly impact their lives grieviously. How, for example, could they attend the best colleges or acquire the best jobs if they are forced to have babies against their will? Then we are, once again, back to Barrett.

Sean wrote:You want to have your cake and eat it too. You want to avoid rationality by claiming to be concerned with the real world ("moral facts are not proven by rational arguments"), and you want to avoid the real world by claiming to be concerned with philosophy ("if a moral "in fact" exists we would have to transcend dasein in order to see it").


No, I want to situate "rationality" out in the world of actual human interaction by exposing its limitations regarding human moral conflicts. I want to explore the relationship between philosophy and human behaviors that come into conflict. But not just in the world of words.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:51 pm

George Bernard Shaw on The Golden Rule in, Maxims for Revolutionists


Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.

Never resist temptation: prove all things: hold fast that which is good.

Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an impertinence: if on bad, an injury.

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:50 pm

Sander Lee on Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors:

...Allen's investigation of the moral decline of society had been limited to acts which, while clearly immoral, were rarely illegal. In Crimes and Misdemeanors....the main character, Judah Rosenthal, comes to 'see' that in a world devoid of divine presence, all acts are permissible, even murder.

The apparent philosophical despair of this film, in which the most moral individual, Ben, is shown gradually going blind, has been taken by many to symbolize Allen's ultimate sense of hopelessness. All of the supposedly virtuous characters are shown wearing glasses because of their inability to see the true nature of the world. As the film progresses, one character, Halley, is apparently able to discard her glasses only after she has also discarded her values by agreeing to marry an arrogant, pompous but successful TV producer Lester. Allen's character, Cliff Stern, is punished for his commitment to his beliefs as we see him lose everything he cared for: his love, his work, and even his spiritual mentor, the philosophy professor Louis Levy who, like Primo Levi, survived the Holocaust but responds to the petty immoralities of everyday life by killing himself.

Most ominously, Judah, who bears the name of one of the greatest fighters for traditional Jewish values and heritage, betrays the faith of his father Sol by not only committing a murder, but also renouncing the consequenses of his guilt in a universe which he declares to be indifferent to our actions.


Now, in my view, Woody Allen blinked in this film re the manner in which he rationalized the murder. In two ways:

1] He clearly portrays the murdered mistress, Dolores, as a neurotic demon from hell bent on destroying his marriage by exposing their relationship to Judah's wife. He tries to escape the noose by talking her out of it first....but she won't go along with him.

2] He clearly shows the moral agony Judah endured as he genuinely wrestled with the searing ambivalence of hiring someone to kill the woman.

Suppose, instead, the mistress was nothing like that at all? Suppose she was an enormously appealing woman? Suppose he wanted her dead for a far less weighty reason? He just got tired of her and had her killed so there was never any possibility at all of this wife finding out. And, in turn, suppose he reacted to her death as he might react to a mere inconvenience in his life? Suppose her death didn't bother him at all?

In other words, it is still the same Godless universe in both scenarios...one where all human behaviors are essentially interchangable in the end. That, of course, is something [a point of view] most folks find particularly unnerving, right?

More Lee:

Dialogue from the film Crimes and Misdemeaners:

Judah:

'Our entire adult lives you and I have been having this same converstation in one form or another.

Ben:

'Yes, I know. It's a fundamental difference in how we view the world. You see it as harsh and empty of vaules and pitiless, and I couldn't go on living if I didn't feel it with all my heart a moral structure, with real meaning, and forgivenesss, and some kind of higher power, otherwise there's no basis to know how live!'

When Ben says that they have moved from 'a small infidelity to the meaning of existence', he suggests an interpretation of both the film's title and the interrelationship between its two plotlines. How one acts to deal with 'a small infidelity' determines one's position on the very 'meaning of existence'. The distance between such small misdemeanors and unforgivable crimes is much shorter than normally thought, once one has rejected all notions of values and responsibilty.


This is the way the world actually functions, in my view. Once God is gone, all is permitted. But that does not mean we are not compelled to come up with our own moral compass. We are and most do. It suggests only that whichever one we do come up with is merely an existential reflection of how we choose to live. There is no Right or Wrong way.

And it is, in my opinion, the visercal psychological repugnance that many feel trying to imagine a world like that [the world as it really is] that motivates psychological defense mechanisms to kick in in order to rescue us from an essentially absurd and meaningless world. God thus becomes the mother of all psychological defense mechanisms. We embrace God because, among other things, God stands for the possibility [or the certainty] of Divine Justice.

And, for some who cannot believe in God, they replace Him with Reason. But there is no more or less ratioanl or logical manner in which to differentiate moral from immoral behavior in a Godless universe. How could there be when the vantage point of a mere mortal is inherently existential?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby James L Walker » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:39 pm

Morality and ethics are beliefs. Nothing more.

You can choose to either believe in them or not to.

There is no such thing as universal values.

The universe cares not of morality or ethics where it imposes nothing.

A lot of morality and ethics end up in contradictions which shows their absurd imperfect existence.

One could say that morality and ethics are so entirely relative or subjective that they don't really matter at all.

I shall play the skeptic in this discussion.
"The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime."
-Max Stirner-


"Laws are made by governments and are enforced by violence." - Leo Tolstoy-

"I am a disciple of chaos. I like to watch civilization burn and despair." - By Me

"Propaganda of the deed." - Bonnot Gang 1912

"My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. My son's son will ride a camel just like my father before him."- Arab Peak Oil Proverb

"Civilization is nothing more than a globalized overly worshipped farm where the owners violently and oppressively domesticate other human beings like enslaved cattle enforcing the direction of their labors for their own individual profit."- Random Anarcho Primitivist
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