Is there anything objective about morality?

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morriswalters
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:10 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:When determining how fair something is, how is the cod weighed against the human? Is there an objective way to do that?
Since I don't believe in the concept of fair, that question is meaningless to me. Contrary to my daughters opinion it isn't possible to divide the world up so that she always gets a fair amount of peas. The concept of fairness assumes that the scales can be balanced. They can't. What you really mean by fair, is what she meant by fair, that she should get as much as her brother, without taking into account all those other people. Who were conveniently invisible to her.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby elasto » Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:49 pm UTC

Which harks back to gm's excellent point earlier about how the heck do you decide how fast your 'proximity function' falls off?

Ok, so it's relatively easy to say that far-away-in-space humans are as important as nearby ones (even though noone actually uses that function in the real world - case in point your daughter), but how do you decide how important far-away-in-time humans are compared to nearby ones? And how do you decide how important far-away-in-self-consciousness animals are compared to nearby ones?

A subjectivist would argue there is no single correct answer to these questions.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:19 pm UTC

Cres wrote:
ucim wrote:
Cradarc wrote:Instead of looking for the ultimate "goal" to pursue, we should look for the ultimate "way of thinking" to adhere to.
Well put.
And would you agree that this way of thinking would look something like reflective equilibrium?
Glancing quickly at that page, it looks to me that it's a reasonable way to come up with and justify an individual moral decision (that is, determining whether it really is consistent with the framework under which you think you're working), and it helps keep your own framework self-consistent. However, it does not ensure that your resulting framework is the one you'd like to be working under. That's really a different question, and the impact of reflective equilibrium on it would depend on just what questions you ask yourself.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:20 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Which harks back to gm's excellent point earlier about how the heck do you decide how fast your 'proximity function' falls off?
To which I have no good answer. To throw natural selection back into the ring, consider it as a fitness test. If you can work out the answer then the human race can continue, and if you don't, than at some point in time, and probably not to far off, the human race goes down as a failed experiment in intelligence. In a lot of respects people who espouse the Singularity and the super intelligent AI, recognize our inability to think globally in these terms. And espouse a savior who doesn't share our weakness. We get lost in questions about morality locally, when the system is global.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 06, 2015 5:03 pm UTC

You can't use the word "fair" in your own post and then avoid answering my question by saying you don't believe in it.

And the evolution answer isn't a real answer to the question of temporal proximity. How far into the future should we care about the species? How long will it be the "same" species in a moral sense? If some humans upload to computers and others don't, are both populations still human? Should they be given equal weight in any present moral "calculations"?

You're answering that you don't know, but we're saying there is no objective answer at all.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:32 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Which harks back to gm's excellent point earlier about how the heck do you decide how fast your 'proximity function' falls off?


I suspect that everyone already has a proximity function. We need not look at it solely as something to be decided, but also as something to be studied.

Maybe proximity functions are very similar, save for a few outliers. Maybe that person who is a sociopath has a very, very different proximity function indeed. In fact, we would expect such a thing by definition.

With sufficient information from such a study, no doubt one could indeed objectively say that a given proximity function is generally more desirable in terms of outcomes.

Geographical vs temporal proximity may operate off the same function, or they might well have an entirely distinct one*. An interesting potential field of study, sure.

*I would expect them to not be entirely identical, but to have strong correlation. Not that I'm a biologist or anything, but it seems that in many respects, the distance of association due to time and space are both due to distance of social connection, which I would expect to behave similarly.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:35 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:And the evolution answer isn't a real answer to the question of temporal proximity. How far into the future should we care about the species? How long will it be the "same" species in a moral sense? If some humans upload to computers and others don't, are both populations still human? Should they be given equal weight in any present moral "calculations"?

You're answering that you don't know, but we're saying there is no objective answer at all.
And I'm not going to know at any point in the future. I'm asserting there is an answer to your questions. Not that we will find them. I will also assert that your proximity function assures that the word, fair, will never represent anything more than a local function(that is, subjective). As an outcome of that, we end up in wars. Either over land or resources. That's because inevitably, resources don't care about fair either. They have an ugly habit of being in your neighbors yard. Speaking spatially they are outside your proximity function.

And not to be rude to anybody in this fora, but I have a hard time taking things seriously when the phrase "uploaded to a computer" turns up. This strikes me as a fifty virgins type of thing, or the land of milk and honey. Why don't we call a spade a spade. Call the uploaded data a soul and the computer heaven. And call the AI who stays behind to run it and keep it functioning, God or Jehovah. Because this is effectively how it is understood.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:53 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:With sufficient information from such a study, no doubt one could indeed objectively say that a given proximity function is generally more desirable in terms of outcomes.
So, average desirability across humans is your metric for evaluating outcomes? Do you include all humans? What about any nonhumans? Do you suppose there's an objective measure of how strongly a mind can desire something that corresponds roughly to complexity of that mind, so there's a natural weighting of desires across all sentient beings?

morriswalters wrote:And not to be rude to anybody in this fora, but I have a hard time taking things seriously when the phrase "uploaded to a computer" turns up. This strikes me as a fifty virgins type of thing, or the land of milk and honey. Why don't we call a spade a spade. Call the uploaded data a soul and the computer heaven. And call the AI who stays behind to run it and keep it functioning, God or Jehovah. Because this is effectively how it is understood.
Then call it one population that is increasingly cybernetic. They don't need to be completely converted to AI, they just need to be sufficiently different from biological humans for it to be an interesting question whether they're the same species.

Or really, any kind of speciation event. It just seems like a technological one is far more likely to happen before a purely genetic one.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 06, 2015 10:25 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:With sufficient information from such a study, no doubt one could indeed objectively say that a given proximity function is generally more desirable in terms of outcomes.
So, average desirability across humans is your metric for evaluating outcomes? Do you include all humans? What about any nonhumans? Do you suppose there's an objective measure of how strongly a mind can desire something that corresponds roughly to complexity of that mind, so there's a natural weighting of desires across all sentient beings?


Perhaps. I lack sufficient data to guarantee such a solution, but it does seem pleasingly concise, if it exists. However, it may well be the case that strength of desire is correlated to something else entirely.

In terms of desirability, one would generally expect past performance to have some predictive power, and of course, minds more similar to yours(say, a human vs an ant) are going to be of much more value in terms of predictive value. In theory, if multiple minds are identical, it should be possible to get particularly precise data, but this would require cloning of sort of a sci-fi nature, where full adult brains are replicated. If you had that, though, you could do nifty A-B testing on a whole pile of things.

Of course, some might bring up ethical concerns with regards to such tests, but...if you genuinely don't which of two ethical valuations is better, and you have otherwise identical humans, and would otherwise select ethical valuations at random otherwise...it seems like you'd have strictly superior results if you conducted such tests.

morriswalters wrote:And not to be rude to anybody in this fora, but I have a hard time taking things seriously when the phrase "uploaded to a computer" turns up. This strikes me as a fifty virgins type of thing, or the land of milk and honey. Why don't we call a spade a spade. Call the uploaded data a soul and the computer heaven. And call the AI who stays behind to run it and keep it functioning, God or Jehovah. Because this is effectively how it is understood.
Then call it one population that is increasingly cybernetic. They don't need to be completely converted to AI, they just need to be sufficiently different from biological humans for it to be an interesting question whether they're the same species.

Or really, any kind of speciation event. It just seems like a technological one is far more likely to happen before a purely genetic one.


Technological development does seem to be greatly outpacing biological development at present. Of course, this is something that is inherently kind of a broad term, and is therefore somewhat imprecise. Still, we interbreed sufficiently that biological speciation does not seem very likely. Technological divergence is quite possible, and will most likely represent a mostly gradual change. I don't think it'll be two distinct populations, but rather a spectrum of possible additions, perhaps correlated by economic well being or some similar metric. Even now, some prosthetics are superior, but very expensive(say, leg replacements for above the knee removals) to others.

I suppose that if we extend this to a far reaching difference, with some sort of sci-fi brain in a vat controlling a robot body or similar at one extreme, then yes, there will exist some significant difference between humans in terms of similarity, and this will likely translate to the difference we see now between different species, even if no clear speciation divide exists. If we get to brains in vats, is, of course, a question I can't really answer, as that's pretty far out there, but it at least makes for an interesting question to ponder.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:15 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:hen call it one population that is increasingly cybernetic. They don't need to be completely converted to AI, they just need to be sufficiently different from biological humans for it to be an interesting question whether they're the same species.

Or really, any kind of speciation event. It just seems like a technological one is far more likely to happen before a purely genetic one.
Unless and until they start growing babies on tomato vines I'm not seeing any differentiation in terms of technology. Human is still human. And if proto superman comes along, what homo sap thinks about it won't matter. If your looking for some outcome that consists of some activity other than playing for time, I'm all out. No Godlike purpose or plan. I'm looking at maximizing human life, not in preserving it forever. Forever isn't a reachable goal. On that basis, an objective morality is one that maximizes the span that humans, as we know them, will exist. Longer is better.
Tyndmyr wrote:If we get to brains in vats
We are a brain in a vat. :lol:
gmalivuk wrote:SDo you suppose there's an objective measure of how strongly a mind can desire something that corresponds roughly to complexity of that mind, so there's a natural weighting of desires across all sentient beings?
Bog, I hope not. Not in the way you seem to mean it. Try it the other way around. Can complexity of the mind create desires that would otherwise not exist. Life wants to live. That is pretty strong. Cod don't desire McMansions, they desire to eat, defecate and breed. The reindeer on St. Matthew Island didn't have any existential discussions, and then in a fugue walk off into the water and drown themselves. They ate everything in sight and died out because they couldn't limit the population to one the island could support.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:26 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:On that basis, an objective morality is one that maximizes the span that humans, as we know them, will exist.
So it's moral to discourage any change that might eventually result in something other than humans as we know them? And still, "as we know them" begs the question. Humans with brain implants for cognition aren't humans as we know them today, in the strictest sense.

You say, "Human is human," but that's just your way of avoiding the question by pretending there isn't one.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:15 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:On that basis, an objective morality is one that maximizes the span that humans, as we know them, will exist.
So it's moral to discourage any change that might eventually result in something other than humans as we know them? And still, "as we know them" begs the question. Humans with brain implants for cognition aren't humans as we know them today, in the strictest sense.

You say, "Human is human," but that's just your way of avoiding the question by pretending there isn't one.
I wrote a rather long post that essentially made fun of this fascination about drawing science fiction memes to compare moral statements against. It was a waste. There isn't any particular timeline that has to be met that is moral, or any particular form of humankind, that is more or less moral than any other. However if you don't survive long enough to get to the point where those type of things may be possible, then from the point of view of humankind, I call that immoral, which is where I started from.

interesting side note, my spell checker correctly capitalizes the term Borg.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:37 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:SDo you suppose there's an objective measure of how strongly a mind can desire something that corresponds roughly to complexity of that mind, so there's a natural weighting of desires across all sentient beings?
Bog, I hope not. Not in the way you seem to mean it. Try it the other way around. Can complexity of the mind create desires that would otherwise not exist. Life wants to live. That is pretty strong. Cod don't desire McMansions, they desire to eat, defecate and breed. The reindeer on St. Matthew Island didn't have any existential discussions, and then in a fugue walk off into the water and drown themselves. They ate everything in sight and died out because they couldn't limit the population to one the island could support.


Complexity of mind allows one to understand desires with more nuance. That is not entirely the same thing as strength of desire.

However, prioritization need not happen based solely on strength of desire. Even if the cod desires to live as much as I, I will prioritize my life over its, and others will generally do the same. This is true for animals as well as people.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Bad Hair Man » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:11 am UTC

Morality is related to fairness, certainly. Giving Bob a grape in exchange for a token, and then giving Carol two grapes in exchange for a token feels offensive because it is unfair for different rewards to result from paying the same cost.

But morality is also related to harm. If someone's flying fist hits me in the nose, that would hurt and I would likely feel outraged and angry and want to punch that person in the nose right back. In fact returning the punch would be FAIR, since each of us punching the other in the nose is a more equal outcome than only one of us having to suffer that kind of pain. But if after hitting me the person apologizes profusely, saying it was an accident, emoting feelings of strong guilt, and offering to make it up to me, some witnesses might think I was behaving immorally if I threw a punch back anyway, even though by doing so I was making us even, making us fair, because I would also be causing unnecessary harm.

And morality is also related to purity. This is why some people will feel disturbed when offered the opportunity to wear one of Hitler's old sweaters. That sweater is tainted by association, though there may be nothing at all physically wrong with or dangerous about it. Also why some people feel sex before marriage is immoral, if they think that sex is "dirty" and engaging in it costs a person their purity. And lack of purity explains why some people feel guilty and in need of redemption if they've been convinced that "original sin" is a real thing (i.e. the idea that people are born spiritually tainted, just by virtue of being human), even if they themselves have done nothing particularly wrong.

Furthermore, morality is related to honor. This is why some people once thought challenging someone to a duel was the right and proper response to a grave insult. Offending a person's honor could feel very offensive indeed, and honor can only be restored through serious, consequential action. Likewise honor killings, if one member of a tightly bound family does something that brings shame and dishonor upon themselves, the honor of the entire family is damaged, and they share in the guilt unless they do what is "necessary" to separate themselves from the source of that dishonor.

And (probably not lastly) morality is related to loyalty. Think of national pride, and the "love it or leave it" attitude some have toward those who don't share it. Rabid sports fans who will say only good things about their own team and only bad things about opposing teams, no matter how bad or good those teams may objectively be, respectively. People who are so powerfully offended that they feel violence is an appropriate response to flag burning, or to speaking ill of their prophet. And the feeling that "snitching" is immoral, even when the person who is refusing to snitch agrees that the act that they are refusing to report was itself immoral.

Morality is related to a number of things. Subjective morality is, anyway. Though perhaps instead of starting with various moral foundations, the idea of moral emotions (like guilt, pride, and sympathy) would be even more fundamental to the experience of morality.

That said though, I still haven't wrapped my head around how one could even hope to figure out which, if any, of the above the hypothesized "objective morality" is related to or about, and in what proportions it balances each of its various aspects (if has more than just one aspect). Personally, I wouldn't mind ditching purity, honor, and loyalty from a proposed potential ideal morality, but I couldn't accept leaving out either harm or fairness as considerations, even though those two alone can easily conflict and create moral dilemmas. (Stealing is unfair, starving is harmful, whether stealing to prevent starving is moral is a dilemma. Boxing (like dueling) is harmful, using force to prevent consenting adults from engaging in a violence-against-one-another contest is unfair, whether outlawing boxing (or dueling) is moral is a dilemma.)
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cradarc » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:40 am UTC

I would argue that morality is not equivalent to feeling bad about something. Your Hitler sweater example is equivalent to feeling bad about casual cursing. The guilty feeling you acquire is due to the social background you grew up in. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about the particular action, because despite what Hitler did, he was as human as your grandma. Hitler having worn that sweater is as arbitrary as your grandma wearing that sweater. Likewise, profanities are just like any other word. The crucial element is motive behind the action.
Of course, just because something is not immoral doesn't mean you should do it. There's always a practical side to things.

Also, your notion of symmetry needs to be adjusted. If someone accidentally punches you, it is not symmetric to purposely punch them back.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:07 pm UTC

Bad Hair Man wrote:And morality is also related to purity. This is why some people will feel disturbed when offered the opportunity to wear one of Hitler's old sweaters. That sweater is tainted by association, though there may be nothing at all physically wrong with or dangerous about it. Also why some people feel sex before marriage is immoral, if they think that sex is "dirty" and engaging in it costs a person their purity. And lack of purity explains why some people feel guilty and in need of redemption if they've been convinced that "original sin" is a real thing (i.e. the idea that people are born spiritually tainted, just by virtue of being human), even if they themselves have done nothing particularly wrong.


I'm not sure that purity is the right word for this. Purity is appropriate as a constrast to actual contamination, but it makes less sense for arbitrary associations. This seems more as if it's simply folks getting a bit overactive in making associations and drawing conclusions from that in a not very logical fashion.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:22 pm UTC

Cradarc wrote:Hitler having worn that sweater is as arbitrary as your grandma wearing that sweater.
Wearing something is subtly different. When you wear something you are proclaiming to the world, in the same sense that wearing a t-shirt with a slogan does. OTOH, if you use a shovel that Hitler used, this is not so.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:53 pm UTC

Bad Hair Man wrote:Morality is related to fairness, certainly. Giving Bob a grape in exchange for a token, and then giving Carol two grapes in exchange for a token feels offensive because it is unfair for different rewards to result from paying the same cost.
Morality on personal level is based on any number of things. But fairness as you just illustrated can't work for sufficiently large groups. Objective morality, as I see it, is an attempt to suggest there is a way to untie that particular knot. Such that, if it existed, the relationship between Bob and Carol would be as fair as it could be in the context of the needs of humanity.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Bad Hair Man » Sun Jul 12, 2015 3:29 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I'm not sure that purity is the right word for this. Purity is appropriate as a constrast to actual contamination, but it makes less sense for arbitrary associations. This seems more as if it's simply folks getting a bit overactive in making associations and drawing conclusions from that in a not very logical fashion.

"Actual contamination"? I disagree. I think a major part of the instinct to be concerned for purity/contamination arises from the fact that germs and poisons can be both very dangerous and completely invisible. But evolution discovered a way to help protect creatures like us from such invisible dangers by developing an emotional aversion not just to obviously sick individuals and dangerous substances, but to things that those individuals and substances have touched as well, even if they leave no noticeable trace afterward. The touched thing still feels tainted, precisely because it might be, and it is in our genes' best interests if we feel a need to treat it as dangerous, whether or not it possesses "actual contamination."

And I also expect this instinctive defense mechanism evolved long before the part of the brain that is good at reasoning or being logical got layered on on top of it. And now, in spite of the fact that we are now also logical creatures, the still useful underlying emotional (and irrational) desire for purity remains in us as well. Even if it's not so good at distinguishing contagious diseases from non-contagious ones.

And it makes sense for this particular instinct to be bundled in with the other "moral" instincts as well, because a person who disregards their own "purity" puts not only themselves at risk, but their entire community potentially at risk as well. It actually makes moral sense to shun or shame or otherwise punish and discourage someone who plays with corpses, or has unsafe sex with lots of sailors, for examples.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 13, 2015 4:32 pm UTC

Bad Hair Man wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I'm not sure that purity is the right word for this. Purity is appropriate as a constrast to actual contamination, but it makes less sense for arbitrary associations. This seems more as if it's simply folks getting a bit overactive in making associations and drawing conclusions from that in a not very logical fashion.

"Actual contamination"? I disagree. I think a major part of the instinct to be concerned for purity/contamination arises from the fact that germs and poisons can be both very dangerous and completely invisible. But evolution discovered a way to help protect creatures like us from such invisible dangers by developing an emotional aversion not just to obviously sick individuals and dangerous substances, but to things that those individuals and substances have touched as well, even if they leave no noticeable trace afterward. The touched thing still feels tainted, precisely because it might be, and it is in our genes' best interests if we feel a need to treat it as dangerous, whether or not it possesses "actual contamination."

And I also expect this instinctive defense mechanism evolved long before the part of the brain that is good at reasoning or being logical got layered on on top of it. And now, in spite of the fact that we are now also logical creatures, the still useful underlying emotional (and irrational) desire for purity remains in us as well. Even if it's not so good at distinguishing contagious diseases from non-contagious ones.

And it makes sense for this particular instinct to be bundled in with the other "moral" instincts as well, because a person who disregards their own "purity" puts not only themselves at risk, but their entire community potentially at risk as well. It actually makes moral sense to shun or shame or otherwise punish and discourage someone who plays with corpses, or has unsafe sex with lots of sailors, for examples.


Sure, but we have emotional aversions to many things...and thus, our reflexive emotional reaction is not necessarily an accurate guide to if something is actually contaminated/impure.

This is particularly true with regards to moral "purity". See also, all the crazy bullshit that's associated with virginity as a kind of purity. Sure, it has an evolutionary purpose...but humans didn't evolve from some sort of perfect logical construct, implying that our cognitive deficiencies are actually superior in terms of survival value. We evolved from less logical creatures. Yeah, gut reactions have some net value overall, but they are often misguided, and we can do much, much better. Yeah, a lot of our instictive reasoning represents an improvement over what came before...but further improvements are possible.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cradarc » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:36 am UTC

ucim wrote:Wearing something is subtly different. When you wear something you are proclaiming to the world, in the same sense that wearing a t-shirt with a slogan does.

I was speaking under the assumption that the sweater does not have "Hitler's sweater" written on it. Clothing's primary purpose is to not to convey a message, but to protect your body. I agree that choosing a shirt with a slogan when shirts without the slogan are available does indicate something about the person's intent, which can be morally evaluated.
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:38 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:...the sweater does not have "Hitler's sweater" written on it...
Well, how would you know what it is then? If you know the sweater is a Hitler sweater, then you are probably making a point of wearing it. (Or it's just really cold and it's the only sweater you have, in which case, it's just a sweater.) If you don't know it's a Hitler sweater, then it's just a sweater.

But to know it's a Hitler sweater takes either some connections, or some work. Either way, that's an affirmative action.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby krogoth » Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:52 am UTC

ucim wrote:
Cradarc wrote:...the sweater does not have "Hitler's sweater" written on it...
Well, how would you know what it is then? If you know the sweater is a Hitler sweater, then you are probably making a point of wearing it. (Or it's just really cold and it's the only sweater you have, in which case, it's just a sweater.) If you don't know it's a Hitler sweater, then it's just a sweater.

But to know it's a Hitler sweater takes either some connections, or some work. Either way, that's an affirmative action.

Jose


Also Before it was Hitlers sweater, it was just a sweater.

Wouldn't Objective morality be timeless? or is that just some mental hold over from "god does it".

Can "It was moral then but isn't moral now" be objective? Sure in some cases, it's moral for me to eat all the fruit on the tree, until someone else comes along and I should share. I know there are some cases I would disagree, owning a slave was never moral.
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:21 am UTC

krogoth wrote:Wouldn't Objective morality be timeless?
If Objective Morality existed, nothing says it can't be a function of time, and as such, timeless (because the function itself is, even as the output is not).

Jose
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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Tue Jul 14, 2015 5:16 am UTC

Moral realists would generally want to distinguish here between an act's being wrong and an act's being blameworthy. Owning slaves is wrong whenever you do it. But it's more blameworthy today because the understanding that slavery is wrong is more widespread (I've already posted in this thread about what I think the mechanism for intellectual progress here is, but it includes: the increasing un-deniability of the fact that slavery is a cruel, inhumane and unjust practice; dismantling of bad arguments justifying slavery; the construction and dissemination of reflective equilibrium arguments against slavery). Ignorance is an not an excuse anymore, where it may once have been a (partial) one.

(Analogy: lobotomy has always been a terrible way to cure mental illness. But a doctor performing a lobotomy today should come in for a lot more criticism than one doing so in the 1940s due to the more advanced state of medical knowledge).

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby krogoth » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:36 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
krogoth wrote:Wouldn't Objective morality be timeless?
If Objective Morality existed, nothing says it can't be a function of time, and as such, timeless (because the function itself is, even as the output is not).

Jose
right... till morally objective, is defined. I hold reservation. This is just conjecture till then.
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

krogoth wrote:right... till morally objective, is defined. I hold reservation. This is just conjecture till then.
Well, yeah. Unless of course it is written on stone tablets, brought down off a mountain by some crazy old white haired man.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:49 pm UTC

Pretty hard to have a moral discussion without conjecture.

Nobody's really holding that there is a single objective morality that we know in every detail. That'd be...a very, very strong statement. I mean, if anyone knows all truth, by all means, chip in. But....I'm not holding my breath for that.

I have a similar attitude towards a grand unifying theory that explains all physics.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:17 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Nobody's really holding that there is a single objective morality that we know in every detail.
Good thing, because you could fall over it and never know. It isn't a thing, like the Unified Field Theory. Very difficult to argue for. And impossible to prove, assuming it exists.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Cres » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:08 am UTC

krogoth wrote:
ucim wrote:
krogoth wrote:Wouldn't Objective morality be timeless?
If Objective Morality existed, nothing says it can't be a function of time, and as such, timeless (because the function itself is, even as the output is not).

Jose
right... till morally objective, is defined. I hold reservation. This is just conjecture till then.


If only we had a massive academic literature, numerous introductory books and articles, and 14 page forum thread which could help you out with this.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby ucim » Wed Jul 15, 2015 2:04 pm UTC

Cres wrote:If only we had a massive academic literature, numerous introductory books and articles, and 14 page forum thread which could help you out with this.
Studying Harry Potter does not make Hogwarts real.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Heartfelt thanks from addams and from me - you really made a difference.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:47 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Nobody's really holding that there is a single objective morality that we know in every detail.
Good thing, because you could fall over it and never know. It isn't a thing, like the Unified Field Theory. Very difficult to argue for. And impossible to prove, assuming it exists.


Not necessarily impossible. But very, very difficult indeed. Beyond current capability, undoubtably.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:15 pm UTC

ucim wrote:Studying Harry Potter does not make Hogwarts real.
I took him to be speaking to the definition, not its existence.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby krogoth » Wed Jul 15, 2015 11:57 pm UTC

For the definition its easy, the definition of it's realisation is what I was referring to. Define a way to confirm or how it would be used, Define the measuring stick. What priori proof do we have that there is anything objective to morality?
R3sistance - I don't care at all for the ignorance spreading done by many and to the best of my abilities I try to correct this as much as I can, but I know and understand that even I can not be completely honest, truthful and factual all of the time.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:06 am UTC

krogoth wrote:For the definition its easy, the definition of it's realisation is what I was referring to. Define a way to confirm or how it would be used, Define the measuring stick. What priori proof do we have that there is anything objective to morality?
Using the markers that I proposed, than length of time of existence is the point. For any metric you want to use joy, happiness, whatever, the longer mankind exists the more of all those things you will have had. In this realization, individuals aren't as important as the overall corpus of humanity.

This isn't science, this is philosophy. Proof isn't part of the package. If you want proof go to church and wait for Christ to come. If he does you will know. If he doesn't and you wake up in heaven, then again you will know. Otherwise you won't. If on the other hand, a child born 200,000 years from today opens a history book and reads of his family history over that span, then the assumption might be that they have found a moral life, at least of some fashion. Otherwise man wouldn't have survived.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby SDK » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:40 pm UTC

Is choosing to not have children immoral?
The biggest number (63 quintillion googols in debt)

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:07 pm UTC

SDK wrote:Is choosing to not have children immoral?


Who the hell knows?

There's a lot of factors there, and the actual calculation is going to be more complex than a blanket yes or no. No doubt there are times when one choice or the other is obviously superior, but an obviously simplistic answer is going to be wrong some percentage of the time, and it'd be a bit arrogant of me to think I have the data to judge for every single person.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:08 pm UTC

SDK wrote:Is choosing to not have children immoral?
How would I know? The question itself however, assumes that what any one person might do is moral or immoral to the group as a whole. Millions die daily. And most of them make no perceptible impact. Even people who stand out in history like Einstein, could be replaceable. It isn't unreasonable to assume that had he never been born that someone else would have done what he did. And a great number decide to never have kids. Yet the population increases.

PeteP's question can't be serious. He can't show that the entire population could choose to stop reproducing. The facile assumption is that in the case of reproduction, that we are more capable, than yeast in a jar are, of doing such a thing. The question is of the the same type as, if elephants could fly, would we carry umbrellas? The answer is, that I would, but elephants can't fly.
Last edited by morriswalters on Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:55 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:50 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:You are aware that the set of people who might choose to not have children is not empty, right. Also catastrophes that kill all humans are possible. So it is entirely conceivable that a group of voluntarily childless people would be the last survivors or think they are the last survivors. Maybe they had a giant childless convention in a retrofitted giant bunker and can't be sure if anyone else survived because of bunkers. It doesn't matter how it comes about it is a conceivable situation and if your objective ethics utterly break down when confronted with anything unlikely and can't be extrapolated at all then I doubt they have much substance.

edit
When I got here I was told it was rude to do what you are doing, so I guess I will ignore you.

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Re: Is there anything objective about morality?

Postby PeteP » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:08 pm UTC

Fine I will repost it and keep it there, but please do. I try to avoid replying to post from you and sometimes do anyway like you see from the post I deleted too late. Mutually ignoring the other would help prevent that such slip ups ever turn into dialogs. So I would appreciate it. Edit: That probably sounds a bit harsh but I don't think you could phrase it (a request that somebody ignore you to make it easier for you to ignore them) in a way where it wouldn't be read that way. Or at least I can't.

PeteP wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
SDK wrote:Is choosing to not have children immoral?
How would I know? The question itself however, assumes that what any one person might do is moral or immoral to the group as a whole. Millions die daily. And most of them make no perceptible impact. Even people who stand out in history like Einstein, could be replaceable. It isn't unreasonable to assume that had he never been born that someone else would have done what he did. And a great number decide to never have kids. Yet the population increases.

PeteP's question can't be serious. He can't show that the entire population could choose to stop reproducing. The facile assumption is that in the case of reproduction, that we are more capable, than yeast in a jar are, of doing such a thing. The question is of the the same type as, if elephants could fly, would we carry umbrellas? The answer is, that I would, but elephants can't fly.

I deleted that question because I decided that me finding you or Tyndmyr coping out from giving an answer to any concrete morality question amusing (and you answered like I expected) wasn't reason enough to ask it. (Because if you can't even comment on simplified hypotheticals with perfect knowledge…)

But since you saw it:
You are aware that the set of people who might choose to not have children is not empty, right. Also catastrophes that kill all humans are possible. So it is entirely conceivable that a group of voluntarily childless people would be the last survivors or think they are the last survivors. Maybe they had a giant childless convention in a retrofitted giant bunker and can't be sure if anyone else survived because of bunkers. It doesn't matter how it comes about it is a conceivable situation and if your objective ethics utterly break down when confronted with anything unlikely and can't be extrapolated at all then I doubt they have much substance.


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