The Objectivity of Morality

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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:28 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:Well, some of them were statements about me. Surely I'm more of an expert on me than you are. Surely I get to make unsupported claims about myself that you do not get to make. If you, for example, tell me that I like anal sex, and I say I do not, then without evidence from you my word is held above yours.
The rest of them were unsupported by you and not very likely in the first place, or clearly nonsequiturs, and I think our beloved judge saw that in the way that I did.

The args you called nonsequiturs were the 2 best args I provided for cultural relativism. Thats funny.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:50 pm

You know, I've been trying the whole time to figure out which arguments you keep on saying that about. You keep saying that I was arguing against some argument that was for relativism, but...man, I can't find which one it was.

Here are the arguments I responded to:

P1. You experience that pain is irreducibly bad.
(In other words, pain itself isn’t bad because of something else; it’s simply bad.)
P2. Pain is real.
P3. If pain is bad, and real, then there is at least one thing intrinsically disvaluable.
C. Therefore, pain is intrinsically disvaluable.

Sounds like it's for your objective morality

P1. You think moral sentences are sometimes true.
P2. A sentence is true only if the truth-making relation holds between it and the thing that makes it true.
P3. Thus, true moral sentences are true only because there holds the truth-making relation between them and the things that make them true.
C. The things that make some moral sentences true must exist.

C sounds like it's for your objective morality

P1. You talk, think, and act as if morality were real.
P2. Common-sense would tell you there are things you should do and things you shouldn’t.
P3. The best explanation of common-sense, and how you talk/think/act is that there are moral facts.
P4. The best explanation is the one we consider true.
C. Moral facts exist.

Again

P1. If you attempt to describe a (im)moral act (e.g., rape), then your description refers to cognitive beliefs about objective (mind-independent) facts in the world. (E.g., the pain caused, the autonomy denied, the agreement broken, etc…).
P2. Your description of the (im)moral act will not make reference to your subjective mental phenomena (i.e., desires, wishes, past history).
P3. Therefore, (from P1 and P2) the simpler explanation of "morality" will make reference only to cognitive beliefs about objective (mind-independent) facts.
P4. The simpler explanation is the better one. (Ockham’s razor)
C. Therefore, morality is objective.

Obviously not for subjectivism here

P1. Morality is either objective or it's not (i.e., it's relative somehow).
P2. The best arguments for relativism are wrong.
C. Therefore, morality is objective.

Again

P1. Different cultures agree about most moral norms.
C. Therefore, the truth of most moral norms is universal.

This argument you posted explicitly against cultural relativism, so it can't be that one.

P1. Morality is either objective or its not.
P2. If it is objective, then we can consistently have productive discussions with other people/cultures and speak meaningfully (without talking past each other). We can even criticize each other, legitimately. We can do things we should be able to do, like reflect on our past, claim to have grown, etc. In fact, we do these things anyways.
C. Therefore, morality is objective.

C is clearly not for relativism.

P1. If cultural relativism is true, then genocide was moral in Nazi Germany.
P2. Genocide was not moral then. (This would be question begging, I suppose... except it's true under any moral theory ever talked about)
C. Therefore, cultural relativism is false.

Again, clearly not for relativism.

I can't find which argument you're saying was for relativism that I argued against. I just went through each one, one by one. Nearly all of them explicitly had a conclusion that was the direct opposite of relativism.

Also, for the record, all of those ones I responded to were in blue. You said the blue was the stuff that I "needed to address". I assumed that meant it was your arguments for your case, no?

I think you're just pulling my leg. That, or you're really very confused.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:41 am

FJ, are you denying that the sum total of your response to each argument was roughly one line each, just stating that you disagreed with some premise, but not stating why? Because if you are, I'll be happy to quote you. And if you're not, then recognize that that's no reason to agree with anything you've said.

The main area of discussion you wanted to focus on was about the distinction between prudence and morality. That's fine, but those arguments work whether you think there's an essential distinction or not.

You focused also on the case of masochism, and how that must be reason to think causing pain has nothing to do with morality, or something. That's been addressed, and anyone can look at it. No masochist values pain, they value the psychological pleasure that only comes from physical pain. And if some masochist values pain----then that's a subjective moral fact, and you can no longer claim not to know what a moral fact is.

You still seem to think moral facts must be something like facts with an offical stamp on them, a metaphysical name-tag, or a little halo around their molecules. And perhaps you think it'd be clever to pipe up and say there are no such things. Moral facts are ordinary everyday facts that furnish you with a reason to act one way rather than another. Do you want to throw your child off a bridge? You don't, do you. That desire that you have is a fact----and it gives you a reason not to throw your child off a bridge, hence it is a moral fact. That's very likely a subjective fact. But that's fine---because you're not even sure what a moral fact is. A moral fact is just a fact that gives you a reason to act one way or another. That an action causes pain---that's a fact, it's also a moral fact because it usually furnishes you with a reason not to commit that action. That's moral fact. It's really fucking simple. No, it doesn't have a fucking metaphysical postcard on it... but what the fuck do you think we're talking about?
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:56 am

Mo_ wrote:FJ, are you denying that the sum total of your response to each argument was roughly one line each, just stating that you disagreed with some premise, but not stating why? Because if you are, I'll be happy to quote you. And if you're not, then recognize that that's no reason to agree with anything you've said.

Jesus Christ, I said what I was denying. You lost track of the conversation after 1 post?

Here, let me summarize it for you:
Mo: "The arguments you called non-sequiturs were actually for relativism, lol" (this is the second time you've said this)
Me: "No, they're not. [lists arguments and explains why they're certainly not for relativism]."
Mo: "Are you saying that you didn't give one word responses?"

The fuck? I didn't say ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING ANYTHING
about the length of my response. I said that they weren't for relativism. It doesn't take a doctorate in English Literature to figure out what my point was.

But, I think you're smart enough to have known what my point was. You were just a bit too embarrassed to actually say, "Yes, sorry, you're right, those weren't arguments for relativism."

Either that, or you really aren't smart enough.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:01 am

Listen, dude, if your reading comprehension skills are such that when I say "These arguments aren't for relativism" you think I'm saying something about the lengths of my response... #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o #-o

You're done.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:06 am

When I look back, it's hard to know what you were calling a non-sequitur. But you stated that you didn't respond to some arguments that were clear non-sequiturs,
FJ wrote:None of your arguments worked. I demolished them one by one. The only two I didn't were the obvious non-sequiturs that don't really deserve that level of attention.
and the only two arguments you didn't offer a thoughtless one-liner to were the relativism args. Apologies if I'm wrong about this.

There's a few things in my last post you might really want to think about. Don't be lazy.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:16 am

I was only talking about the arguments that I quoted. The blue ones.

The two that I was calling nonsequiturs were the ones I responded to with "I don't even need to say what's wrong with this." and then "Ditto". I wasn't talking about any argument I hadn't quoted.

Moral facts are ordinary everyday facts that furnish you with a reason to act one way rather than another

My alarm clock is ringing. That furnishes me with a reason to get up rather than stay in bed.
By the above description of what moral facts are, the ringing of my alarm clock is a moral fact.

I don't think you'd have a very easy time finding someone who agrees that an alarm clock ringing is a moral fact.

And this has been a problem in your arguments: your definitions are so broad that they end up including a lot of things that they really shouldn't include.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:10 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:My alarm clock is ringing. That furnishes me with a reason to get up rather than stay in bed.
By the above description of what moral facts are, the ringing of my alarm clock is a moral fact.

I don't think you'd have a very easy time finding someone who agrees that an alarm clock ringing is a moral fact.

And this has been a problem in your arguments: your definitions are so broad that they end up including a lot of things that they really shouldn't include.


That your alarm clock is ringing is no reason to get up, any more than it is to shut it off and sleep. But if you have to go to work, to pay bills, to eat, to not suffer... then your alarm clock ringing is absolutely a fact about the world with relevance to how you ought to act.

The number of leaves on a tree could be a fact about the world that makes a difference to how you ought to act, in some bizarre hypothetical the particulars of which I'm not creative enough to imagine.

Are you having trouble getting over the fact that nobody is waving a wand or tapping their heals revealing a tiny halo over a particle? What you are doing is bullshit... "yo, explain to me what a moral fact is..." and then, "no, no, that's totally not what it is, you're wrong... but try again because I don't know what a moral fact is... oh, but they also don't exist". You've gotta be shitting me.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:43 am

I'm totally not shitting you. If it's a fact that masturbating with my left hand feels better than masturbating with my right hand, then that furnishes me with a reason to masturbate one way rather than another. So then, by your definition of moral facts, the statement "masturbating with my left hand feels better than masturbating with my right hand". I don't think it's incorrect to point out that such things being called "moral facts" is a gross debasing of the word "morality." Basically everything can become a moral fact with such a paradigm.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:04 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:I'm totally not shitting you. If it's a fact that masturbating with my left hand feels better than masturbating with my right hand, then that furnishes me with a reason to masturbate one way rather than another. So then, by your definition of moral facts, the statement "masturbating with my left hand feels better than masturbating with my right hand". I don't think it's incorrect to point out that such things being called "moral facts" is a gross debasing of the word "morality." Basically everything can become a moral fact with such a paradigm.


Wake up---it's not open to you to say that you don't know what 'morality' means but also that such-and-such is a gross debasing of it. That's a straightforward inconsistency. And even if it wasn't, you'd be comically wrong... if you read anything in the history of moral philosophy, you'll find the notion that pleasure (or "feeling good") gives you a reason to act one way rather than another is a pretty common idea. --Probably the most common. Some people call it Utilitarianism, of one strip or another. Anything of the form: "X feels good" is likely a moral fact. And you're just giggling like a school-girl because someone said the word "masturbating", right?

I'm not sure why this thread is continuing. You haven't given a single reason to think any of the arguments false. You've just denied something about them. Lemme say that again: You haven't given a single reason to think any of the arguments false.






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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:37 pm

When I say that I don't know what it means, what I'm actually doing is leaving it up to you to say what it means. That doesn't, however, give you free reign to make up any ol' meaning. When I'm arguing with a theist about the existence of God, I let them define god, but they're not free to define it HOWEVER they want. They are free to define it within reasonable parameters, and one of those parameters is that it must at least vaguely correspond to popular usage. That's why "Payless" isn't a good definition of God.

Now, here's an interesting fact about popular usage of morality, and the word "should" or "ought":
You are liable, if you go out, to overhear someone saying "You should see such-and-such movie." (or "You ought to see it," less frequently)
So, one guy says, "I like superhero movies," and the other guy says, "Oh, you should go see the new Batman."
And then, what you can do, is you can poke your head in and say, "Oh, you think he's morally obliged to go see the new Batman?"
Unless you've run into the biggest batman fan ever (and even then he'll be being facetious, hyperbolic), the answer will pretty much always be, "No, of course I'm not saying that."

So, when you so broadly say, "Morality is the topic about how you ought to act," and you refuse to actually narrow it down to a subset of statements about how you ought to act, then that tells me that you think any statement about what one should do or ought to do is a moral statement to you.

So how is it that all of these people are making statements about what other people ought to do / should do, but they're convinced they're not making moral statements? Oh, I know why, probably because the definitions you're using are much to broad to even vaguely correspond to popular usage. It's admittedly not as far off the mark as "Payless" for God, but it's the same sort of mistake.

Yes, people have preferences. Yes, common usage of the word "should" leads one to conclude that statements like "You should do this because you'd like it" make sense. No, common usage of the word "morality" does NOT lead one to conclude that statements like "You're morally obliged to do this because you'd like it" make sense. One may like raping children, adultery, swearing, pre-marital sex and taking drugs, and the people who say that those things are immoral wouldn't say, "Oh, you like it, it must be ok then." That's just now what morality means.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:19 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:When I say that I don't know what it means, what I'm actually doing is leaving it up to you to say what it means. That doesn't, however, give you free reign to make up any ol' meaning. When I'm arguing with a theist about the existence of God, I let them define god, but they're not free to define it HOWEVER they want. They are free to define it within reasonable parameters, and one of those parameters is that it must at least vaguely correspond to popular usage. That's why "Payless" isn't a good definition of God.


Morality - the topic concerning how you ought to act.
moral fact - a fact about how you ought to act

Is this complicated or something?

Now, here's an interesting fact about popular usage of morality, and the word "should" or "ought":
You are liable, if you go out, to overhear someone saying "You should see such-and-such movie." (or "You ought to see it," less frequently)
So, one guy says, "I like superhero movies," and the other guy says, "Oh, you should go see the new Batman."
And then, what you can do, is you can poke your head in and say, "Oh, you think he's morally obliged to go see the new Batman?"
Unless you've run into the biggest batman fan ever (and even then he'll be being facetious, hyperbolic), the answer will pretty much always be, "No, of course I'm not saying that."


If you're "morally obliged" to do someting it means at least that it would be a serious moral error not to go to Batman. And no matter how much liking Batman gives a subjective moral reason to go see Batman---I'm not sure why you think it's an obligation.

I won't repeat myself again, after this. In english, there are differences of degree in some of our words that don't mean essentially different things---this helps with clarity, meaning, etc. The difference between child and adult is a difference of degree, for example---degress of maturity, you could say. There's no essential difference there, just one of degrees. And for communication, when we speak, we use the term best fitting what we mean. The difference between morality and prudence is also a difference of degree. And likewise, we use the word that best fits what we mean. That's why calling Batman a moral whatever you said sounds odd. But you can't keep saying, "I don't know what morality is, but aha, that isn't it!" ...Especially when you've no reason to think it's not, it's how the term is used in the history of philosophy, and it fits with ordinary attitudes about oughtness.

So how is it that all of these people are making statements about what other people ought to do / should do, but they're convinced they're not making moral statements?


Who do you continue to supposedly speak for? When people say, "You ought to do something", and they mean something that matters, they absolutely do mean something moral. When they say, "You ought to do something", and it's a technical thing, like turning a screw one way rather than another, that's just less in degree of significance, then they mean something prudent. This is a difference of degree, and the moment you admit of degrees of objectivity in 'prudent' matters, they'll blend over to 'moral' ones.

This is the third time I have responded to this same point of yours. It's probably best for you to come back to this post and read it over a few times.

No, common usage of the word "morality" does NOT lead one to conclude that statements like "You're morally obliged to do this because you'd like it" make sense.

There's an entire preference-satisfaction brand of Utilitarianism... I mean, one central moral theory is just the theory that you should maximize the preference-satisfaction of as many people as possible. That's a central moral theory. Whatever you think "common usage" is... stop inserting your bullshit view that a moral fact has to be on a postcard from god, or with a metaphysical sticker on it, stop inserting that into "common usage", in order to say ridiculous things like, "nobody actually thinks you should minimize pain!".
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:05 pm

Ah, so morality is not just the topic about how you ought to act. As I said way earlier in the conversation, it's more specific than that. It's a subset of the topic of how you ought to act. So, just saying "it's the topic of how you ought to act" is a bit misleading. It's a specific subset of that topic, and you would describe that subset as the subset pertaining to things that really matter.

Preferences are subjective.
"What really matters" is subjective.
So, if there's a scale of ought-questions, and on the left side of the scale is stuff that doesn't matter that much, and on the right side of the scale is the stuff that matters, the left side is the prudential side and the right side is the moral side, yeah? And so, since what matters is subjective, the line between prudence and morality is subjective.

There sure is a lot of subjectivity in your objective morality.

When I say, "I like ice cream," that's an objective fact.
About my subjective opinion.
So, since your morality is just on the right side of the subjectively-determined scale of actions that, as you keep insisting, should be judged as good or bad based on their utility, hedonistic value, and other such subjective values...this morality of yours seems mostly subjective. It's not any more objective than ice cream preferences.

So, if what you're saying when you say morality is objective is just something along the lines of "We can say objective facts about peoples' subjective preferences," then yeah, obviously. Do you not have a more substantial form of objectivity in mind? Or is that really it?
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:24 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:Ah, so morality is not just the topic about how you ought to act. As I said way earlier in the conversation, it's more specific than that. It's a subset of the topic of how you ought to act. So, just saying "it's the topic of how you ought to act" is a bit misleading. It's a specific subset of that topic, and you would describe that subset as the subset pertaining to things that really matter.


Is this a joke?

Mo_ wrote:No doubt, someone will at this point object, and say, “Yo, then what’s prudence?” To that, I will accuse my objector of operating with a phantom distinction—a distinction without a difference. In what follows, it’ll become clear that to say the prudent course of action is objectively determinable, but not so for morality, is like to object to the claim that you are a professional whore, but concede that you’ll sleep with whomever, for money.

There was no distinction betwixt prudence and morality for the ancient Greeks. The distinction arose in the religious Dark Ages, where superstition carried the day. And the distinction was essentially between that which is good for you in this world (prudence), versus that which is good for you in the world to come—i.e., God’s world (morality). Ladies and gentlemen, we are not in the Dark Ages, and we needn’t carry with us the distinctions of a more superstitious era, particularly when they cause so many needless confusions. Clearly, if one thinks there is an important distinction to be had betwixt prudence and morality, then it is incumbent on the person thinking so to argue on behalf of it.

While I think there is no essential distinction between prudence and morality—both concern how you ought to act—I do think there is a difference of degree. We can say that morality concerns how you ought to act when how you ought to act matters most to you. In other words, we use the term ‘moral’ when the stakes really matter.


I believe that was from my very first post.

Preferences are subjective.
"What really matters" is subjective.
So, if there's a scale of ought-questions, and on the left side of the scale is stuff that doesn't matter that much, and on the right side of the scale is the stuff that matters, the left side is the prudential side and the right side is the moral side, yeah? And so, since what matters is subjective, the line between prudence and morality is subjective.

There sure is a lot of subjectivity in your objective morality.


Well, it took all this time, but you've finally moved beyond feigning ignorance about what morality is, to now claiming that it's subjective. Great. Now you have to actually read my arguments to the conclusion that it's objective... it'll take more than repeating "what matters is subjective", because that's straightforwardly false.


When I say, "I like ice cream," that's an objective fact.
About my subjective opinion.
So, since your morality is just on the right side of the subjectively-determined scale of actions that, as you keep insisting, should be judged as good or bad based on their utility, hedonistic value, and other such subjective values...this morality of yours seems mostly subjective. It's not any more objective than ice cream preferences.


I didn't say morality had anything to do with preference-satisfaction. I just said that's a common theory in the history of philosophy. I've specifically argued that what you have preferences for can be bad for you---and thus, you ought not always follow them. They don't exhaust the breadth of moral reasons. You need to read my first post again. I am not arguing for Kantianism, Social Contract theory, Virtue Ethics, any kind of Utilitarianism, or whatever else.... if you read my arguments, you can recognize that they apply regardless of theory.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:50 pm

I don't think I'm arguing that morality is subjective. Rather, I'm arguing that the morality YOU'RE espousing is subjective. There's a difference.

Every step of the way, you've talked about morality in the context of preferences and goals. You've compared it to prudence -- what is prudent depends on ones' preferences and goals. You've talked about utilitarianism, hedonism, and maybe some other isms. They've ALL been preference-oriented visions of morality.

So, when you tell me you never said morality had anything to do with preference satisfaction...I have a hard time seeing how you didn't say that.

And yes, what matters is subjective. I don't see how that's "straight-forwardly false." I see it as pretty obviously true. If you're going to rant about how I didn't even provide arguments against your claims, the least you could do is provide an argument against mine. How is what matters objective? I can think of countless examples where someone made a big deal about something that I didn't think was important. I have never seen any objective criteria for determining what's important. So, what is it? What's the objective criteria?
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:42 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:Every step of the way, you've talked about morality in the context of preferences and goals. You've compared it to prudence -- what is prudent depends on ones' preferences and goals. You've talked about utilitarianism, hedonism, and maybe some other isms. They've ALL been preference-oriented visions of morality.


I don't think I've talked about a single preference-oriented morality. The only thing I've said is that if you desire something, or have a preference for something, then in the absence of any reason to think that thing is bad for you (cough objectively), then that's a reason to get the thing. As a matter of fact, (objective fact, btw), I think that getting none of what you want is objectively bad for a creature (autonomous, independent, free) such as us.


And yes, what matters is subjective. I don't see how that's "straight-forwardly false." I see it as pretty obviously true. If you're going to rant about how I didn't even provide arguments against your claims, the least you could do is provide an argument against mine. How is what matters objective?


Please. You can't just say something (e.g., morality is subjective), give no reason to agree with you, and then demand someone else prove you wrong. That's not how debating works. If you give no reason to agree with you, then people have no reason to agree with you. And I wrote a fucking ton of arguments for thinking that morality is objective... and you just get amnesia and pretend like they don't exist. It's insulting.

You are a physiological creature with certain basic needs, wants and desires that you share with everyone else, because they are grounded in the kind of creature that you are. And you can be wrong about what matters----the same as you can be wrong about thinking you don't need a liver. You can have preferences and desires that make things go worse for you----and if you think that's all there is to morality, then you're committed to saying that someone ought to do what is worse for him. And that's incoherent. It's as incoherent as when you said "pain is good for no other reason than its painfulness" ...which, btw, is just another thing you don't feel the need to respond to.






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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:51 pm

Mo_ wrote:And I wrote a fucking ton of arguments for thinking that morality is objective... and you just get amnesia and pretend like they don't exist. It's insulting.

Talk about memory problems...

I wasn't talking about whether morality is objective, silly goose. The question we were discussing, that you forgot while you were making this post somehow, is whether what matters is objective.

You can't school someone if you can't even remember what you were talking about.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:01 pm

Flannel Jesus wrote:I wasn't talking about whether morality is objective, silly goose. The question we were discussing, that you forgot while you were making this post somehow, is whether what matters is objective.


I just finished giving you a reason to think what matters is objective---the fact that you can be wrong about what matters. It's a very common experience. And all of the arguments for thinking what matters is objective are in all those arguments you haven't responded to. I even put 'mattering' in my definition, in my very first post. What you're saying now is the equivalent of,"yo guys, I wasn't talking about baseball, I was talking about a game where a pitcher throws and you swing a bad and run the bases".

Bottom line: Do you have a single reason for thinking what you do? Or do you have a single response to any of my arguments?

If not, I don't see a reason to continue.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Carleas » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:10 pm

Mo_,
If a person's values are subjective, and thus their actions are moral or immoral for subjective reasons, in what sense is that morality objective?

To the extent that it is objective, how is it distinct from logic? i.e. "if I value something and an action will help me achieve it without having to sacrifice something else I value, then I should do that action" looks a lot like a logical statement about value, rather than a moral statement about action.

Finally, is morality itself not something that motivates you independently of your other motivations? It seems like I could say, "you ought to do X because it is the morally right thing to do." Is that statement tautological? Does that comport with most conceptions of morality?

FJ,
How can a term that hasn't been defined be 'grossly debased'? And if it is grossly debased, aren't you acknowledging that you have a personal understanding of what it means for a statement to be a moral statement that you aren't sharing with us? I understand your Payless argument, but there's a difference between saying, "that definition is simply uninteresting," and saying, "that definition debases what the thing actually is." It's uninteresting to say, "God exists" when by 'God' you mean a Payless. But it can only debase 'God' is there is some grander implied definition.

Is the word 'ought' in the statement, "you ought to see Batman," really the same word as the word 'ought' in the statement, "you ought not kill"? The words are shaped the same, but the sentiments behind the words seem clearly distinct: if you asked the first speaker, "why?" they would likely tell you something about how cool the movie is and how they know you like superhero movies; if you ask the second speaker, "why?" they will tell you something like, "because it's wrong." Aren't we just dealing with homophones here?

Finally, have you gained ground by moving the definition of morality from "the topic concerning how you ought to act" to "the subset of the topic concerning how you ought to act that concerns things that really matter"? Is one definition better or worse, or closer to your own definition of morality? Is the counterargument to one different from the counterargument to the other? Couldn't "the line between prudence and morality" be subjective while the spectrum itself is objective? Is your goal to reject question the line, or to question the things contained in the set that the line demarcates?
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:13 pm

My reason for thinking what I do:

You can't give an objective criteria for determining morality. All you've given are subjective criteria (preferences, desires, utility).
You can't give an objective criteria for what matters. You've given subjective criteria (you are a physiological creature with certain basic needs, wants and desires).

If what matters is based on what I want or what I desire, then it's subjective.
If what's moral is based on my preferences and desires, then it's subjective.

If you can't give a non-subjective basis for these things, I can only conclude that not even you believe in objective morality.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:17 pm

Carleas wrote:Is the word 'ought' in the statement, "you ought to see Batman," really the same word as the word 'ought' in the statement, "you ought not kill"? The words are shaped the same, but the sentiments behind the words seem clearly distinct: if you asked the first speaker, "why?" they would likely tell you something about how cool the movie is and how they know you like superhero movies; if you ask the second speaker, "why?" they will tell you something like, "because it's wrong."

That was kinda MY point. That was the point I'm making. Moral oughts and prudent oughts (the batman is a prudent one) are NOT the same thing. That's been my point since post 1 or post 2.

Finally, have you gained ground by moving the definition of morality from "the topic concerning how you ought to act" to "the subset of the topic concerning how you ought to act that concerns things that really matter"? Is one definition better or worse, or closer to your own definition of morality? Is the counterargument to one different from the counterargument to the other? Couldn't "the line between prudence and morality" be subjective while the spectrum itself is objective? Is your goal to reject question the line, or to question the things contained in the set that the line demarcates?

I wasn't trying to gain ground for my case, I was actually trying to help him gain ground for his. He refused to refine his definition...his loss.

Yes, there are different relevant counter-arguments. When it's about things that really matter, a counter-argument is that things that really matter are subjective. When it's the entire topic of oughts, a counter-argument is oughts like "you ought to see batman" -- if that's not a moral statement, then clearly morality doesn't encompass the entire topic of oughts.

And I can't see how the spectrum would be objective at all. The statement, "The spectrum is objective while the line is subjective" essentially means that everyone has the same ranking of importance for all things, but some people place "really important" at a different place on the spectrum than other people.
However, it's doubtful that everyone has the same ranking of importance as well (well, it's pretty much patently false), so the spectrum is as subjective as the line.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:09 pm

Carleas wrote:Mo_, If a person's values are subjective, and thus their actions are moral or immoral for subjective reasons, in what sense is that morality objective?

They wouldn't be objective. That's just like saying, "if morality is subjective, then how is it not subjective?". And clearly, I've said nothing like that. Morality is objective in the sense that you can be mistaken about the value of what you happen to value.

It seems like I could say, "you ought to do X because it is the morally right thing to do." Is that statement tautological? Does that comport with most conceptions of morality?


Yes, that statement is tautological. What moral theories do is attempt to give it a content.
E.g.,
"You ought to do X because it maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain" Or,
"You ought to do X because it can consistently be willed as a universal maxim for all people" Or,
"You ought to do X because it exhibits some relevant virtue" Or etc...

That's the job of moral theorizing, which was not the purpose of this debate, and doesn't affect anything to do with my arguments...

FJ wrote:My reason for thinking what I do:

You can't give an objective criteria for determining morality. All you've given are subjective criteria (preferences, desires, utility).
You can't give an objective criteria for what matters. You've given subjective criteria (you are a physiological creature with certain basic needs, wants and desires).

If what matters is based on what I want or what I desire, then it's subjective.
If what's moral is based on my preferences and desires, then it's subjective.

If you can't give a non-subjective basis for these things, I can only conclude that not even you believe in objective morality.


Now I'm wondering if you even read my arguments... because they hold no matter what content you give morality. But in the process we've given it a bit of content. Pain is bad. If you say pain is good for no other reason than that it's painful---you're incoherent, and that needs to be explained. I've refuted the case of masochists, for whom pain is a means to greater psychological pleasure. As usual, you've said nothing. I was explicit at the beginning that this is not a debate about which moral theory is best----that was the point of the Sufi myth.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:34 pm

Dude, you keep on insisting that value is objective, just insisting and insisting and insisting. Why is value objective?

The examples you've given, if I'm remembering correctly, have been along the lines of, "A person thinks he values such-and-such, but if he followed that value, it would conflict with his other values. Therefore his valuing of such-and-such is objectively wrong." The problem with that is that the values that are conflicting with the value in question are also subjective. They just happen to be valued stronger by him. So, it's not exactly correct to say "He's objectively wrong about his value," but rather, "His subjective values that are in conflict with his other value are stronger -- he thinks he values X, but following value X would conflict with values Z and Y, which are more dear to him, so he would be correct to avoid following value X." I would agree with that last statement. But, again, it's determined by his subjective valuations of X, Z and Y. So sure, there's a correct answer of what he 'should' do, but that correct answer is completely determined by subjective values.

So, again, why is value objective? If your only argument is going to be, "Because someone can be wrong because one value can conflict with his other values," that's not a satisfactory solution. People can have conflicting subjective values. So please avoid giving an argument of that form again. It's not good enough.
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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby von Rivers » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:15 am

Flannel Jesus wrote:Dude, you keep on insisting that value is objective, just insisting and insisting and insisting. Why is value objective?

READ. THE. ARGUMENTS. in my very first post.

The examples you've given, if I'm remembering correctly, have been along the lines of, "A person thinks he values such-and-such, but if he followed that value, it would conflict with his other values. Therefore his valuing of such-and-such is objectively wrong." The problem with that is that the values that are conflicting with the value in question are also subjective.
Nah, that's just wrong. I clearly haven't said that. You need to go back to my first post. I don't think it should be my job to repeat the arguments.

So, again, why is value objective?

There are 5 or 6 arguments in my very first post all to roughly the conclusion that it's more plausible to think morality is objective, (or a conclusion very close to that). Not only have you not responded to them, now you are just asking me to repeat to you what they are. Sorry, but that's not the level I'd like to debate on. The good news is they're still there for you to look at.





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Re: The Objectivity of Morality

Postby Flannel Jesus » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:55 am

Wow, again. First we were talking about if what matters is objective, and then you referred to your poor arguments on why morality is objective.
Now we're talking about value, and you again refer to your arguments on morality.

I'm not talking about morality at this very point in time, I'm talking about value.
The only value you've argued for as objective is that pain is disvaluable. Apart from that, you've not made any argument for the objectivity of value. So, even if pain were objectively disvaluable, that disvaluation only applies to actions that hurt the actor himself (since the actor is choosing actions based on his own values, and only his own pain is inherently disvaluable to him -- he may still value the pain of others).

Furthermore, even if pain is intrinsically disvaluable, the amount of disvaluation is not necessarily the same person-to-person. One person may REALLY hate being in pain, while another doesn't mind so much. Different thresholds, different tolerances, etc. So, it can be intrinsically negative, but the degree may still be subjective.

So, if we assume that pain is intrinsically bad, that badness only applies to a very limited scope -- to actions that hurt the actor himself -- and even then, actions that hurt the actor himself may still have positive expected value, in the ways that you described -- they have other ways of pleasure, even though they also have to endure pain.

But you're not arguing that just pain has intrinsic negative value, you're arguing that ALL values are objective. So...where's the rest of the arguments? Even if we agree in the specific case of pain (and even then, only pain for the actor himself -- he need not disvalue the pain of others), you've not given anything else to support the more general claim. I've actually searched the entire thread for "value" and looked at every occurrence of it, and I've not found these arguments you're saying you've made for objective value, apart from pain.
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