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Moral Realism

 
 
Lichtung
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 09:18 am
@igm,
Quote:
Water is only water if there is something that is not water to compare it with. Same problem same answer i.e. if all is water then what?


No. Water is water in itself. You are imposing meaning on "water" by negating its essence conceptually. Metaphysically, water is governed by physical law. Those laws are universal and independent from your mind. One instance of water is not more or less water than any other instance. Similarly, with the colour indigo, it doesn't matter how many different instances of indigo you point to, we're still dealing with the same universal property; It is invariant.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 09:27 am
@Lichtung,
Lichtung wrote:

Quote:
Water is only water if there is something that is not water to compare it with. Same problem same answer i.e. if all is water then what?


No. Water is water in itself. You are imposing meaning on "water" by negating its essence conceptually. Metaphysically, water is governed by physical law. Those laws are universal and independent from your mind. One instance of water is not more or less water than any other instance. Similarly, with the colour indigo, it doesn't matter how many different instances of indigo you point to, we're still dealing with the same universal property; It is invariant.

You are saying water exists 'in itself' separate from the perceiver. I don't agree and so in order to differentiate phenomena I must have at least two things to differentiate so if all is one color I can't do that. It is not a thing in itself unless there is another thing to differentiate it. That is a prerequisite requirement.
Lichtung
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 09:49 am
@igm,
Quote:
You are saying water exists 'in itself' separate from the perceiver. I don't agree and so in order to differentiate phenomena I must have at least two things to differentiate so if all is one color I can't do that. It is not a thing in itself unless there is another thing to differentiate it. That is a prerequisite requirement.


I'm not sure if you're holding an absurd position or not. Are you saying the world spontaneously comes into existence the moment it makes contact with your mind? Or do you accept that there is an independent reality? If you accept the later then your point about differentiation is a subjective, conceptual distinction rather than an objective or metaphysical reality.

You have yet to provide any reasons for doubting self-enclosed universals. The original question concerned the dynamic and relative context of values; which presumes that all values must be anchored in their totality in order to derive their objective worth. I rejected that through an example to the effect that the totality of values is not an unbounded system. It contains particular instantiations of itself. Indigo is equivalent to indigo no matter where you go. Certain moral values have a comparable status. So long as we're speaking of values from the perspective of human nature as such this is a true statement. I never said this would apply to ALL value, in the absolute or comprehensive sense of the practical Good. I've already said this defied analysis. The point to be realized is that there are various species of intrinsic or objective value. I believe you are concentrating on only one example of it; one that requires very different methods than the ones discussed so far in this thread.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 10:08 am
@Lichtung,
Lichtung wrote:

Quote:
It does depend on another colour that isn't indigo though. A single colour i.e. everything being indigo wouldn't work. So are you sure your statement is correct?


This changes nothing. The colour spectrum is a universal; It can be instantiated in many different concrete instances. They can be considered self-enclosed universals with respect to specific cases. For example, water has the same molecular composition whether I find it Africa or in my kitchen sink. It is universally particular. Hopefully that clarifies the issue.


...and nobody is denying that, the problem rather is what you can know on water...although itself must have a finite information string.

...was it the case that you were an alien species with more "wetness" then water and water would fill "dry" to you...there´s a relation in place that won´t allow you to firmly establish with certainty any property of water on its own string of information...although it is true that its own string of information firmly delimits what you can know upon it, just as you do.

...what you have to talk about when you are speaking of "water" is not water but your own experience with it...some will say its a construct I rather prefer its a necessary ongoing algorithm...
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 10:10 am
@Lichtung,
Lichtung wrote:

Are you saying the world spontaneously comes into existence the moment it makes contact with your mind? Or do you accept that there is an independent reality? If you accept the later then your point about differentiation is a subjective, conceptual distinction rather than an objective or metaphysical reality.

To both questions the answer is no, those are not the only alternatives. But I don't believe that human knowledge about things can be explained without reference to something that is not the thing being referred to. You won't get me to make a positive statement about this subject because I'm using philosophy to deconstruct this philosophical view not maintain or construct an alternative.

Lichtung wrote:

…I've already said this defied analysis…

I agree but if you want a working alternative that is better than the current one then that’s ok but that’s not why I’m posting here.
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 10:12 am
@Lichtung,
...there is no "your" mind or de "I" more then there is "outside" and "inside" world...water is a relational string of information itself descriptively dependent on the whole just as the perceived "I" in you is similarly a processed effect within the whole itself...and this is objective as a totality...although I cannot describe or compute what the totality is to the full. "I" am a smaller part or sub-set of the system that I am trying to compute thus I cannot have a complete description on the system nor on any of its constituents which similarly depend on the whole to contextually mean or present specific and yet variable value from point to point or nod to nod in time/space...
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 11:44 am
@igm,
Quote:
If someone has only ever experienced pain (mild) and only ever seen others apparently experiencing in the same way, then how could that person ‘know’ that pain is bad. That person does things throughout their life but pain is the only sensation they feel and it is seems the same for others that, that person interacts with. How can this person know that pain is intrinsically bad?


Two things: first, does their pain hurt? Is it something they want to avoid? With our knowledge of pain and how bad it feels, if we were to alleviate this persons pain so that they could feel a sense of comfort, and that comfort made their life intrinsiclly better, wouldn't the person in principle be able to know that pain is bad and worth avoiding? So it is not like he is logically excluded from knowing how bad pain feels at all.

Second, this person might suffer from a dull ache constantly, or perhaps something akin to a terminal illness, but even so, it is not like this person can't feel different degrees of pain. If this person was lit on fire, or had ever burnt themselves severely, they would know how bad pain feels. Pain inflicts us in a variety of ways, and this is sufficient knowledge for us to deem pain feels bad.

Think about pain and the evolutionary function it has served us. There is a good reason why we and even other animals avoid pain for the most part, it feels bad.

Quote:
If you never experienced lack of pain then you can’t know that pain is bad and your argument stands or falls on whether pain is bad per se. You could argue this doesn’t reflect the real world but it could be, it’s not unreasonable and in my view shows that your argument is fundamentally untenable.


We could indeed imagine a world where no one feels pain at all. Logically then, pain wouldn't feel bad at all because the feeling of pain does not exist. Would this show that intrinsic values don't exist at all? No, because I am only arguing for one intrinsic value in particular, and that is pain. Others might exist as well. Further I could simply accept your point, and say in such a world, if we lived in it, the value of pain wouldn't be an issue and I agree it wouldn't. I would be interested in what life would be like in such a world, morally speaking, but then again it is imaginary.

But fundamentally speaking, I can flip it back on you and ask whether your thesis is tenable? How accurately does it reflect reality? If it is going to be a rational thesis, shouldn't it? Arn't trying to explain the nature of morality within this reality? Are you going to ignore real cases of suffering?

If better alternatives exist then so be it, I'm not absolutely committed to this position. However, I do think pain is morally relevant, and I do think there are good reasons for thinking that ethics is objective in nature. The well being of others matters beyond myself and my community. Do you think pain is morally relevant? If so, why?
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 12:15 pm
@Lichtung,
Thanks for the pointed response, I do appreciatte it.

Quote:
(3) that pleasure/pain are moral properties.


Keeping this in mind:

Quote:

First, value or disvalue does not on its own make something moral or immoral. As you well know, food, water, shelter, education, friends, safety, material resources, political liberty, virtue, and so on, are all things people value. If you're going to arbitrarily label pleasure or pain as moral properties you need to explain why these other intrinsic values are not moral also. You can't simply reduce these other goods to pleasure and pain. We're dealing with "qualitatively different" types of values in these cases.


Value provides grounds for what we ought to do. If certain goals or ends are worth achieving, why those goals or ends are so must be because there are values which ground them. Goals of food, water, shelter etc. are worthy goals but why desire them? I think the common sense answer is that such goods make life intrinsiclly better, and I think you would agree with that. How they make life intrinsiclly better, I think, appeals to values inherent within these goals. Unless they are values in themselves we need to explain why they are common goods, and I'm not quite sure they are values in themselves. One value which could explain these goals (to a certain extent) is the dis value of pain, since failing to provide these goods can lead to pain, and we know pain is worth avoiding because it feels bad. Other intrinsic values could also exist to support these goals, but I'm not sure what those might be. I am only using pain as one particular value which I think we have sufficient reason to believe has intrinsic worth.

Quote:
Second, there are countless forms of moral experience that are not primarily characterized by pleasure or pain. If someone is genuinely honest, it isn't that they are telling the truth to feel good; they are telling the truth for the "simple reason" that it is the right thing to do under the circumstances (i.e., because they value the truth or authenticity). Or take temperance: Are you sincerely willing to claim that someone refrains from pleasure for the sake of pleasure? That's nonsensical. A person is temperate in order to further their other "goals"; those other "values."


First, I am definitely not saying for sure that pain and pleasure encompass all of our moral experience, but I am definitely saying both encompasses part of it (unless experiences of pain/pleasure cease to exist). Honesty and temperence could be explained by other intrinsic values, unless they have intrinsic worth themselves and again I'm not sure that they do. Both seem to be attitudes rather than irreducible elements of our experience. If they are attitudes, then the same logic applies from my post above.

Quote:

Third, you have yet to account for our moral language of praise and blame. Nobody calls another person good because they produced a pleasurable experience for themselves or others. We praise others for their moral character and fine actions: Because they do things for the right reasons or because their intentions are noble. Wouldn't you be suspicious of someone who only respected you for the sake of your pleasure or for the sake of the pleasure they could secure for themselves? To use your own example, if someone is set on fire, it isn't the pain that is morally at stake, it's the "life" and intrinsic worth of the "person." Pleasure and pain can never aspire to be anything more than the bodily consequences of our moral psychology


To be honest, praise and blame to me is a vague concept in our moral thinking, and I think there are still many ways to look at it (and that is something I am still doing). With that said, I wouldn't be necessarily suspicious of someone who alleviated me the pain of being on fire because both of us know (and rationally acknowledge) that pain itself is worth avoiding. The mere fact that such is recognized shows that her/his actions go beyond self interest, that others matter. Whatever other motivations he may have might not even matter, morally speaking. Perhaps what really matters, what is most necessary in our moral thinking is the objective stance, and everything else regarding additional attributions of praise/blame is just icing on the cake, so to speak. The morally righteous person might seem more worthy of praise than the the individual who does the right thing simply because they are obligated to, or the person who does so to reap personal benefit, but in the end, both perform the right action correct? We might say praise is due to those who perform actions with the right reasons in mind, and I think morally speaking, it would be impossible to live in a civilized society unless people did act in a reasonable matter, for the most part. Feuding about who gets praise and who ought to get it seems like a unnecessary attribution.
0 Replies
 
igm
 
  2  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 12:41 pm
@bigstew,
igm wrote:
If you never experienced lack of pain then you can’t know that pain is bad and your argument stands or falls on whether pain is bad per se. You could argue this doesn’t reflect the real world but it could be, it’s not unreasonable and in my view shows that your argument is fundamentally untenable.


bigstew wrote:
We could indeed imagine a world where no one feels pain at all.


I said the opposite i.e. If you never experienced lack of pain. It makes a difference. Before I respond can you check and rebut my position based on what I said not the opposite of what I said. We all make mistakes.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 01:01 pm
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 02:36 pm
@igm,
Quote:
If you never experienced lack of pain then you can’t know that pain is bad and your argument stands or falls on whether pain is bad per se.


Never experience entails no experience whatsoever. Lack of pain entails "the absence of pain". Logically you are saying pain all the time (never experience an absence of pain), but pain by definition feels bad, it hurts, and if not, one does not know the proper meaning of "pain." Your objection supposes that one can be in pain and aware of the proper definition yet experience something all together different. You do say they are experiencing constant pain all the time right? Unless you can describe pain in non moral terms, then they are by definition experiencing the badness of pain. If what you are saying is different please do clear it up and be explicit. Guessing games don't make for good argumentation.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:42 pm
...if all places around you equally become tall places then you are not any more in a tall place...geography of pain is no different...
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:44 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
Never experience entails no experience whatsoever. Lack of pain entails "the absence of pain". Logically you are saying pain all the time (never experience an absence of pain)


Correct! So I will reiterate and you can rebut now you’ve understood my original post.


This scenario (logically possible scenario) has a person who feels pain (mild) all the time but apart from that has an ordinary life and all the others that this person has contact with report feeling pain (mild) all the time. How can pain feel bad, if this person has never experienced not being in pain and others when explaining how they feel report feeling only pain. So the feeling of pain is experienced but the concept ‘bad’ cannot be added as a characteristic that describes what pain is. It is just pain a feeling that everyone has at all times during a normal lifetime. Since this is not logically impossible it follows that the badness of pain is subjective and arbitrary, added if conditions allow, e.g. if pain and some other feeling e.g. pleasure or lack of pain is experienced. If this isn’t the case then pain will not be associated with feeling bad.

bigstew wrote:
If better alternatives exist then so be it, I'm not absolutely committed to this position. However, I do think pain is morally relevant, and I do think there are good reasons for thinking that ethics is objective in nature. The well being of others matters beyond myself and my community. Do you think pain is morally relevant? If so, why?


Even common sense says no, because so called physical pain is a way of attracting our attention to a situation that requires our attention and if the other senses have not picked up this need then pain can do this. If I have a rotten tooth then a particular pain will be felt and if it needs urgent attention it may be acute, if not it may be a dull ache. You can’t say it is immoral to have a tooth ache or for someone else to have one. I want to respond to the pain and remove it once it has told me I have a tooth ache but is that because of its badness? No. It’s because once I am aware of why I’m in pain then pain is redundant, it’s done its job. Pain is not bad it’s that it heralds something which may have bad consequences if I don’t pay attention and try to rectify the cause of that pain. Mental pain is also not bad for the same reasons.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:47 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...if all places around you equally become tall places then you are not any more in a tall place...geography of pain is no different...

Yep, that was my point too. I think that is the big problem with BigStew's position.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:53 pm
@igm,
...you know what, I have this lasting impression that no one did really get what Einstein meant in relativity...
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:58 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...you know what, I have this lasting impression that no one did really get what Einstein meant in relativity...

Did you say you had a soft spot for Einstein's God?

I'm tempted to ask you what you think he really meant vis- a- vis relativity. Reply if you wish.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 03:59 pm
@igm,
...if I had to choose an God like description on reality Einstein´s conception would fit nicely !
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 04:11 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...if I had to choose an God like description on reality Einstein´s conception would fit nicely !

What's most attractive about it?

Also: I'm tempted to ask you what you think he really meant vis- a- vis relativity. Reply if you wish.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 04:21 pm
@bigstew,
Just to add something positive: I wondering if the words: suffering and aversion might work better than pain and bad? But I'm still not onboard with anything 'intrinsic'.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2011 04:32 pm
@igm,
...matter/energy space and time are not the solely scope for relativity...my understanding of it has being progressively becoming more acute...it is everywhere...when I say people don´t understand him I am saying people cannot fully grasp how things are inter related, or that very few can, he did so first, in a time of no internet, no easy access to information...
...Einstein´s God in a quick note was Order in Nature, beauty and elegance...a mathematical kind of God !
...I fairly empathise with is disliking on quantum uncertainty...it is an sort of half explanation, one that does not satisfy, without the other half to come yet in place...
 

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