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Moral Relativism. It may be right but it must be wrong.

 
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2013 09:35 pm
@Thomas,
Sure, but we have found a set of axioms for mathematics that have proven to be extremely useful (to the point of being a core piece of the technology you are using right now). And we haven't found any equally useful set of axioms that aren's mapped directly to the one's we have.

If there were an alternative set of mathematical axioms that described our universe but contradicted the axioms we already have, then this alternative mathematics would be equally correct. So yes, in that sense, I guess I am a mathematical relativist.

Unlike mathematics, there are multiple sets of moral values that are all equal in any objectively testable way (none of them are being used to build airplanes).
aristotelian
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Jun, 2013 10:52 pm
@maxdancona,
These responses are turning into sophism.

The idea of the Matrix is that it is a computer. Reality is a larger category than a computer. A computer sits inside reality. You see these aren't synonymous yes? So the issue is: Is what you perceive the product of a computer (which sits inside reality) or is what you perceive not the product of a computer?

Are you familiar with Virtual Reality? When people put on a VR helmet, what they perceive is not reality. It's a computer generated image. So there's the real world..... and then there's the virtual world...... Yeah? 2 different things.

Well, the idea of the Matrix is just a highly detailed VR world. It simulates more than just sight. It simulates everything. But you realize that there is what we call the VR world and what we call the real world... yes? 2 different things.

Children understand this idea. I know you do too. You're trying desperately to argue around this. But you and I and everyone else knows the difference between a VR reality and an actual reality.
aristotelian
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 12:26 am
@maxdancona,
Let me just drive this concept home.

How do you respond to this?

Image = what you perceive everyday
Real Earth = an actual planet
Fake Earth = a computer generated planet
Matrix = Advanced computer that creates Fake Earth

Is the image that you see a reflection of the real Earth?
Or is the image that you see a reflection of the fake Earth?
------------------------

Finally, how do you respond to these:

Facts: Dr. Robotnic creates the most realistic VR machinery of all time. When you enter it, the experience feels 100% real. It is in fact an illusion. And the VR location is Mario Land. But you can't tell it's an illusion. You can play it at the mall.


Hypo 1:
You go to the mall and watch TV for 1 hour. On the TV show is Mario Land.
Which of the following is true:
(A) The mall is reality and Mario Land is not.
(B) Mario Land is reality and the mall is not.
(C) Both the mall and Mario Land are reality.

Hypo 2:
You go to the mall and play the VR game for 1 hour.
Which of the following is true:
(A) The mall is reality and Mario Land is not
(B) Mario Land is reality and the mall is not
(C) Both the mall and Mario Land are reality

Hypo 3:
You go to the mall and play the VR game for 5 years.
Which of the following is true:
(A) The mall is reality and Mario Land is not
(B) Mario Land is reality and the mall is not
(C) Both the mall and Mario Land are reality

Hypo 4:
The second you are born, your mom places you in the VR machine and you spend your whole life there.
Which of the following is true:
(A) The mall is reality and Mario Land is not
(B) Mario Land is reality and the mall is not
(C) Both the mall and Mario Land are reality
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 05:36 am
@aristotelian,
In all accounts of the problem I take always the both hypothesis...as much tempting one is to assume a prior order description is more real then a 2 category description we are incurring in a mistake...phenomena or effects are just as real as causes...one last small observation corresponds to questioning the nature of the computer that many naively will assume is material...it needs not be. So I rather take the wording "Program" substantiated on software n I say "program" for lack of better wording once this program if being reality couldn't be programmed by anyone as there was no before once time did not existed...anything we might want to refer to, pseudo Gods and powerful agents included are generated by its functions...obviously and equally there is no outside. At best if true infinity exists there is an infinite number of virtual reality's generating each other in an infinite chain...on the other hand if infinity is just a full self enclosed loop then the Program with is content is all there is...
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 05:49 am
@aristotelian,
Aristotelian, your argument is making less and less sense.

You are proposing two different "earths" (to represent these two realities).

1. Earth 1, is a planet that I interact with every day. From the first moment that I became conscious Earth 1 has provided all of the stimulus (the sights and the sounds) that have shaped my development. The chair I am sitting in, the computer I am typing on are all in Earth 1.

The laws of nature are all rules of Earth 1, from Gravity to how we have evolved to what causes pleasure or pain are all parts of how Earth 1 works.

The country I live in, the people I know and love, my society, the job I go to every day, my accomplishments and failures are all part of Earth 1.

2. Earth 2, is a place I not only have never been, it is impossible for me to ever exist there. The rules of nature may be different in ways I couldn't comprehend (since I didn't grow from infancy there or even have any time there to expirience it). I have no idea if there are people there (or even if humans exist at all there), if there are any beings there... there is zero chance that I will ever interact with them. I certainly have no meaningful connections there. I have no meaning there.

Explain this to me. If there are these two different Earths (realities). why do you think that Earth 2 is the real one?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 05:58 am
@aristotelian,
Reality is the computer you are talking about.

It proceeds according to a set of rules. It provides the environment (the medium) for existence. It provides all of the stimulus to us-- everything we perceive comes from the "VR helment" of realty. It is reality that generates the image we see.

The only difference between reality and a VR reality is that we can interact with things outside of the VR reality (and we can leave it).
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 05:59 am
@maxdancona,
oh man....you are such a naive realist...he was dumbing it down for you...the correct description is that you might be a bunch of dots n not dots (zeros n ones binary code) in a 1 dimension string...Earth 2 is this Earth on which you perceive yourself living...gosh...
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 06:01 am
@maxdancona,
Out of time there is no cause n effect but ensembles...cause n effect are just a convenient description of how things unfold for us beings living inside time...effects are just as real as causes are...so the computer is no more real then its own Virtual Reality...both the computer n Virtual Reality are real !!!
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 06:06 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
No Fil. First of all, the personal insult is not necessary. I have been respectful throughout this discussion.

Second, let's figure this out.

I am sitting at a table typing at a computer. I am breathing air and listening to street sounds. In a few minutes I will be going to work where I will see my co-workers.

The table, computer, chair, air, street sounds and co-workers I experience are all being inserted into my consciousness by Earth 1.

In Aristotlean's example, the "Matrix 2.0" provides all of the sensations I experience every day. That is Earth 1.

And, as I am pointing out, that is reality.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 06:10 am
@maxdancona,
Excuse me but it is not as you must figure in the computer causes n effects are in fact an ensemble...there is no prior moments...Earth 1 and Earth 2 are an ENSEMBLE !
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 06:17 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
What I am trying to say is that "core reality", the computer, is not computing inside time...the computer simulates computing...in the 1 dimension string you only have space not time (Occam Razor) (avoid needing a 2 dimension for time), it describes functions (causes) and phenomena (effects) all in ensemble. It describes the computing itself...If you wondering about infinity as means of proving there cannot be a finite computer and thus that the computer requires time to compute, a 2 dimension, then think time is just a loop inside the simulated computing...you will see infinity differently...its a full loop infinity inside finity !
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 07:03 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil,

In the "Matrix 2.0" hypothetical that Aristotle proposed (and that I am accepting) the chair you are sitting on, as well as your family, your friends as well as the smells you smell in the air you breath are all part of the simulation you describe. They are all entering your consciousness through the "machine".

Assuming this is the case, are all these things real?

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 07:08 am
@maxdancona,
I was just thinking, we are really talking about God here.

When (in the Biblical account) God says "let there be light", it is clear that before that point, the basic laws of the Universe weren't in play. According to this world view, God created the mechanism that is the Universe we live in, programmed reality with a set of laws of nature and set into motion a program that resulted in this conversation we are having right now.

If this actually did happen, it doesn't make reality any less real.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 07:22 am
@maxdancona,
Nop...you see the all argument against mind is bedded on my last post...even if computers very much resemble a mind...but as time needs not be a fundamental property the computer is not truly computing/thinking...its a dead thing.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:00 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Unlike mathematics, there are multiple sets of moral values that are all equal in any objectively testable way (none of them are being used to build airplanes).

As I said earlier, the very definition of an ethical value suggests objective tests. An ethical value is something that its proponents want everybody to live by. Consequently, we can rule out every putatively-ethical value if we can show that it's impossible for everybody to live by it. For example, if someone interprets the putative cardinal virtue of parsinomy to mean that you should spend less money than you earn, we can rule that out. Every dollar earned is a dollar spent. It's logically impossible that we all spend fewer dollars than we earn. Therefore, we know objectively that parsinomy is invalid as an ethical value, at least by this definition of "parsinomy". (This is a nontrivial insight. If you follow current debates about fiscal policy, you know that lots of respected pundits who moralize about deficits miss this point.)
I wouldn't be so sure about the airplanes. Some societies invent and build airplanes, some societies don't. The economic systems of societies, and the values and norms sustaining those systems, strongly affect their airplane-building capabilities.

Anyway, about objective tests: The definition of ethics allows us to eliminate values that are logically possible for every human to live by, if no reasonable person would want every human to live by them. For example, here's a scenario you asked me for yesterday: Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World plausibly describes a society in which practically everyone is happy. Consequent Utilitarians should feel compelled to endorse it. But Huxley's society clearly is repulsive to reasonable people, because universal happiness is achieved by practices repulsive to reasonable people. They include: genetic engineering and oxygen-deprivation of fetuses to prevent the birth of too many smart people who might make trouble; brainwashing children from birth into being happy with their pre-assigned future place in society; drugging the grownups into happiness; and the list goes on. If societies like that were actually realistic, I would consider the core value of Utilitarianism at least threatened, if not refuted, depending on my amount of rigor about what's "reasonable".

To be sure, "reasonable", is a slippery concept, making the second paragraph of this more vulnerable than the first. But as joefromchicago pointed out, reason is also the basis of your moral relativism, so I consider it fair to use the concept here. And even if we discarded my second paragraph, the first would be sufficient to make my point. While the test "can everyone logically live by it?" still permits a good deal of ethical diversity, it's also a far cry from "anything goes". It rules out a significant amount of behaviors and values, and it does so by nothing but objective testing and the definition of the word "ethics". Which meets your challenge in my opinion.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:11 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
Furthermore, the definition of ethics allows us to eliminate values that are logically possible for every human to live by, if no reasonable person would want every human to live by them


I don't accept this. Maybe this is at the core of our disagreement.

The claim that we can "eliminate values that are logically [im]possible for every human to live by" falls in the category of an axiom that is not objectively testable.

And there is the problem that I don't accept it.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:20 am
@maxdancona,
Fair enough. Maybe one of us should stop using the word "ethics" for what we're talking about. May I suggest that you use the word "local public opinion" instead?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:22 am
@maxdancona,
PS: Sorry for my continued self-editing. I know it must be irritating for correspondents, but for some reason I keep doing it. It's a bad habit of mine, just as nail-biting used to be.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:27 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
Unlike mathematics, there are multiple sets of moral values that are all equal in any objectively testable way (none of them are being used to build airplanes).

PPS: I wouldn't be so sure about the airplanes. Some societies build airplanes, some don't. The economic systems of societies, and the values and norms sustaining these systems, figure strongly into the difference.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jun, 2013 09:28 am
@Thomas,
I don't know. I don't find arguing over word definitions very interesting.

I am arguing against the idea that there is some set of universal rules I am obligated to live by simply by virtue of my existence. If there is a set of universal rules that you think I have a duty live by, then you should be able to answer the question "why?".

For laws that you are claiming are absolute features of Universe even though humans can't agree on what those laws are, I think the objective testability standard is reasonable.


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