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Old 9th August 2019, 12:07 AM   #281
David Mo
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
That is tribalistic. For example, there's no reason to exclude non-human animals from consideration that doesn't amount to tribalism.

But empathy is quite bad at the job of turning our concern to other men. Instead, we feel a great deal of empathy for people who are socially proximate, and very little for some poor beggar on the other side of the world. It's almost like it's something we developed when we were living in small kinship groups.


Well, yes, but you will then be saying very different things.

There are a million and one necessary conditions for engaging in moral reasoning. For example, the universe has to exist. And you have to be alive. But it would be foolish to say "The universe is the basis of morality" or "Being alive is the basis of morality." You are intentionally conflating different ideas in order to try to rescue a failed argument.


Neither is empathy. Earlier you intimated that we might be too empathic or not empathic enough. In what terms would you make that argument? What is the good you seek in hoping we will be ideally empathic? The answer can't be "Empathy!" which means there is some more fundamental value at work here, and empathy is therefore not the basis of your morality. Or you can keep insisting that it is, and flail around in the dark forever.


What you need is a normative basis that will make sense out of any of this. You can say "Empathy! Science! Serial killers!" but none of that does or can amount to morality.


No, you don't. You're still failing to appreciate what Hume means. You need an ought before you can get anywhere. Feelings are not normative. If I feel someone else's pain, that's just a declarative fact about the world. It does not imply that I ought to feel their pain.


This is gobbledygook. Hume does not present a solution to the is-ought problem.


This is you disingenuously retreating from what you initially claimed to a triviality (without even doing any work to establish that it's true).

There are a million of conditions of the fall of the Roman Empire. Without the formation of the solar system, the Roman Empire would not have fallen. But no one says that the formation of the solar system "generated" (your word) the fall of the Roman Empire. We are talking about specific conditions.

Empathy is the capacity to understand and feel what another person is experiencing. If directed toward a limited group (tribalism), to the humankind (humanism) or is extended to animals (animalism) would be decided by reasoning and learning. I have not said that empathy is the only condition for morality. I have said that is the only one that entails action and moral feelings and that it is the only one that surpasses the test of Hume's guillotine.

What follows is a summary of an encyclopedia of philosophy. I hope it's clear.

Quote:
Hume argues against moral rationalism by observing that the ordinary way of reasoning, makes an unremarked transition from premises whose parts are linked only by “is” to conclusions whose parts are linked by “ought” — a deduction that seems to Hume “altogether inconceivable” (T3.1.1.27). This implies “that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason” (ibid.).

Our moral evaluations of persons and their character traits, on Hume’s positive view, arise from our sentiments. The virtues and vices are those traits the disinterested contemplation of which produces approval and disapproval. These moral sentiments are emotions (in the present-day sense). The moral sentiments are produced by sympathy with those affected by a trait or action. Such sympathetically-acquired feelings are distinct from our self-interested responses, and an individual of discernment learns to distinguish her moral sentiments from the pleasure or uneasiness she may feel when responding to a trait with reference to her “particular interest”.
"It ought to be" is a different way of saying "this is good" and "being good" is nothing but the positive emotion that a disinterested action awakes in me. With this translation I can undertake all moral reasoning without falling into the undue leap from being to ought. With this explanation Hume has surpassed the guillotine.

Whether this is a subjectivism or not, is another question we can discuss if you want. But don't tell me that Hume doesn't give a solution to the guillotine problem because this is wrong. Another thing is that you don't like that solution.
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Old 9th August 2019, 05:49 AM   #282
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Again I think the terms "objective" and "subjective" are really, really making this discussion a lot harder then it has to be.

Designing a bridge without stopping to "Define the exact essence of what a bridge is and proving outside of context that bridge building is a good thing and designing some ultimate perfect bridge that works in every scenario and working backwards from that" isn't a question of subjectivity vs objectivity.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:01 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
But there is an answer. It's just not an objective one. It's different for everyone.
Not for me. "Ethics and morality" are only about how we interact with each other. Put someone on a desert island by himself and there's no such thing as morality or ethics.
ISTM that's a classic example of you reasoning from a personal set of principles. Fundamentalist Christians could think of lots of immoral things you could do on your own on a desert island. Buddhists could probably think of a completely different set. That ethics and morality relate only to interpersonal interactions is one of your principles, but it's by no means a universal one.


Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
"Ethics and morality that's different for everyone" is paradoxical, again within my mental framework.
If your mental framework includes a principle that ethics and morality are the same for everyone, then that's to be expected. However, nor is that a universally accepted principle.

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Old 9th August 2019, 06:08 AM   #284
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And again I get you can "And then?" everything into reductionist absurdity.

I just don't see the point.

At a certain point this "Everything you say is just your principles and values" reductionism removes all context and this stops being a discussion with any intellectual framework and just turns into a shared creative writing exercise.

It's the "Everything is philosophy, therefore you aren't allowed to negatively comment on any philosophy because you're doing philosophy" tune just with a bass line.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:13 AM   #285
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And again I get you can "And then?" everything into reductionist absurdity.

I just don't see the point.
I don't see that it's reductionist absurdity to say that some people think certain things are grossly immoral, while others think they are morally acceptable; nor that there isn't any definite way to determine who's right.

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Tony Szamboti: That is right
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:25 AM   #286
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I don't see that it's reductionist absurdity to say that some people think certain things are grossly immoral, while others think they are morally acceptable; nor that there isn't any definite way to determine who's right.

Dave

Only true if there is no such thing as a universal morality.


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Old 9th August 2019, 06:35 AM   #287
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You build four bridges. Three stay up and one falls down.

Without begging the question down further if you say "Well we found three good ways to build a bridge and one bad way" you are not declaring that there is a "Universal bridge building standard."

In every other topic we simply add knowledge to what we know, refining our knowledge to work better without vague accusations of trying to declare our self arbitrators of truth.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:39 AM   #288
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
You build four bridges. Three stay up and one falls down.

Without begging the question down further if you say "Well we found three good ways to build a bridge and one bad way" you are not declaring that there is a "Universal bridge building standard."
What would be the equivalent, in terms of a system of morals and ethics, of the bridge staying up?

Dave

ETA: And I'd say there is at least one universal bridge building principle: the bridge should stay up under reasonable conditions.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:40 AM   #289
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But there is a theoretical 'best bridge' optimized for it's function using the available materials and methods of construction.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:43 AM   #290
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
What would be the equivalent, in terms of a system of morals and ethics, of the bridge staying up?
A question we don't bother asking!

Anyone could walk up to a bridge building operation and put on a big showy contrarian act of going "Yah know... you haven't objectively defined why it's good to build bridges yet... just saying."

The fact that people generally don't do that raises questions we should be asking ourselves.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:43 AM   #291
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Do you really think you would be awful to others if you didn't believe in a God? That the only thing stopping you from raping, stealing, lying and killing is a belief in a god?

You don't think you would have learned the golden rule without being taught it in Catechism class?



Do you seriously believe I am without morals because I'm an atheist?
The only thing I seriously believe right now is that this is a non sequitur. It's like you skipped ahead several steps in a game nobody is even playing.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:48 AM   #292
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
ISTM that's a classic example of you reasoning from a personal set of principles. Fundamentalist Christians could think of lots of immoral things you could do on your own on a desert island. Buddhists could probably think of a completely different set. That ethics and morality relate only to interpersonal interactions is one of your principles, but it's by no means a universal one.




If your mental framework includes a principle that ethics and morality are the same for everyone, then that's to be expected. However, nor is that a universally accepted principle.

Dave
Even from a completely secular viewpoint: I don't see myself as fundamentally different from any other conscious entity, and so I consider treating myself well to be as much a moral obligation as treating other conscious entities well. So that's another conflicting viewpoint about how to behave on the island.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:50 AM   #293
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
But there is a theoretical 'best bridge' optimized for it's function using the available materials and methods of construction.
Right, so once you've defined that function, you are all set to go...
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:56 AM   #294
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If you put someone's Queen in check and their response is not to move their bishop into space to protect it but step back and ask you to prove why their Queen is even worth saving in the first place, you have to accept you just aren't playing the same game.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:57 AM   #295
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
A question we don't bother asking!
But I've asked it.

Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Anyone could walk up to a bridge building operation and put on a big showy contrarian act of going "Yah know... you haven't objectively defined why it's good to build bridges yet... just saying."

The fact that people generally don't do that raises questions we should be asking ourselves.
I'm perfectly happy to agree that bridges are useful, and that good ones remain standing for a long time, connect places that people want to travel between, and permit traffic to flow between them. I'm also perfectly happy to agree that systems of morality are useful, and that good ones [insert something here].

What goes in place of [insert something here]?

Dave
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:57 AM   #296
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Again I think the terms "objective" and "subjective" are really, really making this discussion a lot harder then it has to be.
They usually do, mainly because telling the two apart is often hard.
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Old 9th August 2019, 06:58 AM   #297
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
But there is a theoretical 'best bridge' optimized for it's function using the available materials and methods of construction.
Which, of course, vary according to time and place.

Dave
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Tony Szamboti: That is right
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:00 AM   #298
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
A question we don't bother asking!

Anyone could walk up to a bridge building operation and put on a big showy contrarian act of going "Yah know... you haven't objectively defined why it's good to build bridges yet... just saying."

The fact that people generally don't do that raises questions we should be asking ourselves.
Yeah but physical things are inherently different from thoughts. You can't appeal to facts about bridges to say that we shouldn't discuss the issues with morality. If you did, it would give the impression that you expect -- presumably -- your moral values to be the real, unquestionable standard.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:02 AM   #299
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
But I've asked it.
So? Why do people think this has so much power?

What would the color blue pay the bishop to rent his motorcycle?

Why do plums levitate?

I didn't magically make any of those concepts valid by phrasing the questions. None of those questions have answers and not because "our cold hard science just can't answer them" or whatever.

Quote:
I'm perfectly happy to agree that bridges are useful, and that good ones remain standing for a long time, connect places that people want to travel between, and permit traffic to flow between them. I'm also perfectly happy to agree that systems of morality are useful, and that good ones [insert something here].
And yet you're not happy to just start at "Pain, suffering, and similar concept are bad and should be reduced."

"Suffering is bad" is a LOT more self evidence then "Bridges are useful."

Quote:
What goes in place of [insert something here]?
What possible answer can I give you, even hypothetically, that won't be "and then"-ed?
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:04 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
If you put someone's Queen in check and their response is not to move their bishop into space to protect it but step back and ask you to prove why their Queen is even worth saving in the first place, you have to accept you just aren't playing the same game.
I'm not sure what game you are playing, but in chess you can't put someone's queen in check. And the difference is that, to someone new to the game, it can be an entirely valid question why the queen would be worth saving - a question which has an objective answer, namely that the queen is the "most powerful" piece because it attacks the most squares.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:08 AM   #301
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Yeah but physical things are inherently different from thoughts. You can't appeal to facts about bridges to say that we shouldn't discuss the issues with morality. If you did, it would give the impression that you expect -- presumably -- your moral values to be the real, unquestionable standard.
They've changed the word to "useful" (in terms of getting bridges to not collapse, for which an objective solution exists) but they're just begging the question since it's still entirely subjective whether you choose to consider a bridge "useful" if it keeps standing or if it falls down. For example, someone who doesn't use bridges but really likes to watch them collapse would consider the collapsing ones more "useful" than the standing ones.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:14 AM   #302
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
And yet you're not happy to just start at "Pain, suffering, and similar concept are bad and should be reduced."

"Suffering is bad" is a LOT more self evidence then "Bridges are useful."
I think masochists would disagree.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:18 AM   #303
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"But what about masochists who are sexually aroused by bridges burning down..."


You can always find an exception. I don't see what that changes or proves.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:31 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
"But what about masochists who are sexually aroused by bridges burning down..."


You can always find an exception. I don't see what that changes or proves.
It proves that neither of your claims ("suffering is bad" nor "bridges are useful") is self-evident.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:31 AM   #305
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Right, so once you've defined that function, you are all set to go...

I have, from first principles.
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:33 AM   #306
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Which, of course, vary according to time and place.
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post

Dave

Don't get lost in the analogy.


I don't actually see the point of any analogies, why not just talk about morals and ethics straight up?
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Old 9th August 2019, 07:38 AM   #307
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
It proves that neither of your claims ("suffering is bad" nor "bridges are useful") is self-evident.
Neither is "Water is Wet" by the standards of this discussion.

You can't demand answers to questions in the exact same 1:1 ratio that you demand that everyone agree the questions don't have answers.

Again if the only acceptable answer is "There is no answer" WHAT... ARE... WE... DOING?
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:08 AM   #308
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Neither is "Water is Wet" by the standards of this discussion.
Sure it is, that's an objective question - water is in the liquid state at room temperature and pressure, it's physics. Whether something is "bad" or "useful" is, on the other hand, not an objective question.

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You can't demand answers to questions in the exact same 1:1 ratio that you demand that everyone agree the questions don't have answers.
I didn't demand answers to any question, I disputed your assertion that your claims were self-evident.

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Again if the only acceptable answer is "There is no answer" WHAT... ARE... WE... DOING?
No idea what you're doing, but I'm mostly having some fun.
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:12 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
No idea what you're doing, but I'm mostly having some fun.
Oh okay. I guess we'll get working on reducing the pain and misery in the world once we stop having our fun.
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:24 AM   #310
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Oh okay. I guess we'll get working on reducing the pain and misery in the world once we stop having our fun.
I'm sure you're under no illusion that any of us, yourself included, were working to reduce the pain and misery in the world via a forum discussion. Let's not pretend that this thread is more important than it really is.
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:30 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'm sure you're under no illusion that any of us, yourself included, were working to reduce the pain and misery in the world via a forum discussion. Let's not pretend that this thread is more important than it really is.
But this exact same kind of hair splitting is what stalls out real world discussions as well.
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:52 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Or does it?

What if religion is one of the ways that some people express their moral intuition?

It's not like everyone's moral intuitions are always in agreement with each other's. It's not like everyone's moral intuitions are properly calibrated.*

* Properly calibrated to what, though? That's the heart of the debate.
Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Do you really think you would be awful to others if you didn't believe in a God? That the only thing stopping you from raping, stealing, lying and killing is a belief in a god?
You don't think you would have learned the golden rule without being taught it in Catechism class?

Do you seriously believe I am without morals because I'm an atheist?
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The only thing I seriously believe right now is that this is a non sequitur. It's like you skipped ahead several steps in a game nobody is even playing.
I probably misread this. I thought you were suggesting that morality should be derived from religion. My mistake.
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Old 9th August 2019, 08:54 AM   #313
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
But this exact same kind of hair splitting is what stalls out real world discussions as well.
I don't think answering "what should morals be?" with "depends on the group" is hair-plitting. In fact, I think it cuts right to the fundamental problem with discussing morality in the first place.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:00 AM   #314
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
If you put someone's Queen in check and their response is not to move their bishop into space to protect it but step back and ask you to prove why their Queen is even worth saving in the first place, you have to accept you just aren't playing the same game.
I've played chess with people who didn't care about the results of the game. I find particularly children tend to be pretty unconcerned with arbitrary rules of games that I may want them to play and just start following their own. Sometimes they even end up having more fun that way.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:05 AM   #315
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I've played chess with people who didn't care about the results of the game. I find particularly children tend to be pretty unconcerned with arbitrary rules of games that I may want them to play and just start following their own. Sometimes they even end up having more fun that way.
I might be an oddball here but following stricts rules is a lot of fun.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:07 AM   #316
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't think answering "what should morals be?" with "depends on the group" is hair-plitting. In fact, I think it cuts right to the fundamental problem with discussing morality in the first place.
The problem I have with morality being a social contract is that it doesn't actually fit the definition of morality that I have in my head. It's becomes a sort of game theoretic optimization strategy where what I'm really interested in is my own best outcome but in order to achieve that I'm best off negotiating with and cooperating with other players, particularly over the long term.

That's fine and it all makes sense, but it's not what I think I mean when I'm talking about morality. It's not "what should I do to maximize my own enlightened self-interest", it's "what should I do, period."

Some might argue that because that last question has no answer, all we're left with is the former. Maybe. I'm actually on the moral realist side and think that deriving some sort of morality from first principles may be possible. But beyond that, if all we have is enlightened self-interest, then that just means that we don't have morality, at least not as I conceptualise it. Because if causing suffering in others is only wrong when it's against my personal self-interest, then you're not actually saying that it's wrong, only that it goes against my self-interest.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:08 AM   #317
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I might be an oddball here but following stricts rules is a lot of fun.
I agree, but my problem is that others often don't.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:21 AM   #318
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't think answering "what should morals be?" with "depends on the group" is hair-plitting. In fact, I think it cuts right to the fundamental problem with discussing morality in the first place.
Every discussion could have the same problem if one side wanted it to.

Again we could be having the exact same discussion about building bridges where everything discussion about whether to build a suspension bridge or a truss bridge over the river is intertwined with someone wanting to talk about metaphysical proof of the goodness of bridges... we just don't.

It's the "Talk About God" problem again. "This topic is different so we have to talk about it differently and my proof of this is that I'm demanding we talk about it differently" and then it becomes self feeding, we talk about it differently for so long that we can't get back.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:21 AM   #319
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I probably misread this. I thought you were suggesting that morality should be derived from religion. My mistake.
Ah, cool. Sorry for any confusion. We're actually having a relatively pleasant debate, so I'm glad to clear this up.
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Old 9th August 2019, 09:25 AM   #320
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
There are a million of conditions of the fall of the Roman Empire. Without the formation of the solar system, the Roman Empire would not have fallen. But no one says that the formation of the solar system "generated" (your word) the fall of the Roman Empire. We are talking about specific conditions.
Someone who answers "Why did Rome fall?" with "Because it existed. You see, it was necessary for Rome to exist before it could fall" is just full of ****. That's not what we're asking when we ask "Why did Rome fall?" We are looking for specific causes, not any old necessary condition.

Similarly, someone who answers "What is the basis with morality?" with "Empathy is the basis of morality. You see, without empathy, morality could not exist" is full of ****. When we ask for a basis for morality, we are not asking for any old necessary condition. We are specifically looking for a logical and philosophical foundation.

I have no idea why you keep quoting my words back at me, given that I am trying to make it clear that these are totally different things that you are trying to conflate. I did get a laugh out of "sic", though.

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I have not said that empathy is the only condition for morality. I have said that is the only one that entails action and moral feelings and that it is the only one that surpasses the test of Hume's guillotine.
Well, that's just wrong. Compassion, guilt, shame, etc. are all emotions that can motivate action. You're also trying to smuggle in morality by calling empathy a "moral feeling". What makes it so? And it does not "surpass the test of Hume's guillotine". You need an account for why we ought to be empathetic before you can do that.

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What follows is a summary of an encyclopedia of philosophy. I hope it's clear.
It's clear that you plucked two paragraphs from totally different sections of that entry and dishonestly presented them as if one were an answer to the other.

I am familiar with Hume's ethics. He does not think that empathy does what you think it does.

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"It ought to be" is a different way of saying "this is good" and "being good" is nothing but the positive emotion that a disinterested action awakes in me.
This is not true. Ought implies an obligation, not merely "this is good." When I eat ice cream I might say "this is good", I might feel a positive emotion, but that is not equivalent to saying "I ought to eat ice cream".

In addition to waving in the direction of "positive emotions" as if they were synonymous with morality, you want to say that empathy engenders "disinterested action". If the reason I act is because I am feeling your emotional state, obviously my action is not disinterested, but self-serving. You are elaborating an especially bad version of hedonistic egoism, and at the same time declaring victory over the is-ought problem. If only you knew what you were talking about, you could find this embarrassing (another emotion that can motivate action, action like reading a book).

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But don't tell me that Hume doesn't give a solution to the guillotine problem because this is wrong. Another thing is that you don't like that solution.
He does not give a solution to the is-ought problem.

He does develop an ethics.

To develop an ethics is not to provide a solution to the is-ought problem. To resolve the is-ought problem you need an account of normative truth. You do not need an account of normative truth to develop an ethics.

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