Materialism of the Gaps sub-discussion: the morality debate

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(2019-01-09, 06:37 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Can’t explain morality, meaning, value, or purpose for life?
Have they ever been demonstrated? Because every attempt I've ever seen boils down to someone trying to assert their personal likes and dislikes as objective fact.
"The cure for bad information is more information."
(This post was last modified: 2019-01-14, 04:19 AM by Ninshub.)
(2019-01-10, 01:06 AM)Mediochre Wrote: Have they ever been demonstrated? Because every attempt I've ever seen boils down to someone trying to assert their personal likes and dislikes as objective fact.

Doesn't this same issue come in when we ask for the Ground of Logic/Reason? It seems to turn on the same instinctual knowing we make for morality?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2019-01-10, 01:06 AM)Mediochre Wrote: Have they ever been demonstrated? Because every attempt I've ever seen boils down to someone trying to assert their personal likes and dislikes as objective fact.

Some things in human mental life have a nonsubjective "real" quality to their nature even though this can't be experimentally demonstrated any more than it can be demonstrated that pi or number theory or mathematics in general have a transcendental Platonic reality that has been discovered by humans rather than their just being mere human constructs. Many or most mathematicians are reported to strongly feel, to have some sort of inner knowing of this. 

For example let's take the issue of whether morality and evil exist as immaterial but still real things or transcendentals, or are merely subjective opinions arising from culture, upbringing and neurological evolution.  

To get specific on the stakes here, for instance is it wrong and evil to torture an infant to death for personal pleasure? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. This implies that you are acknowledging that there is indeed some sort of absolute principle here. My impression is that you might still say this answer and its rightness are just personal opinion, that what is "morally right" is purely subjective. That perhaps the feeling of "rightness" is a neurologically caused illusion created by some sort of hypothetical evolutionary psychology mechanism. 

I think this "rightness' is not purely a neurologically based subjective instinctive personal reaction due to an evolved sense of empathy (basically merely personal opinion), but it is a sensing of an undeniable self-evident moral truth that has some sort of real Platonic though immaterial existence. 

This relates to the thread on whether qualities or properties like beauty and truth are transcendentals.
(This post was last modified: 2019-01-10, 09:38 AM by nbtruthman.)
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(2019-01-10, 05:46 AM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Doesn't this same issue come in when we ask for the Ground of Logic/Reason?

Well yeah, that's the point. That's why it can't be objective.

Quote:It seems to turn on the same instinctual knowing we make for morality?

That you make for morality maybe. I do my best to understand my own reasoning for things. Right down to understanding that my reason for wanting anything at all is based on the circular logic of "good feelings feel good". Anyone can claim that they just "know" something is true deep down. But it means nothing.
"The cure for bad information is more information."
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(2019-01-10, 03:11 PM)Mediochre Wrote: That you make for morality maybe. I do my best to understand my own reasoning for things. Right down to understanding that my reason for wanting anything at all is based on the circular logic of "good feelings feel good". Anyone can claim that they just "know" something is true deep down. But it means nothing.

I quite agree ~ all of our ethics and morality are inherently subjective. We may well be justified in some of our beliefs and opinions, to the point we can easily state that they are a fact. No argument there.

But, what doesn't change are those people who truly believe that their actions are correct, even if most others disagree completely ~ like a psychopathic murderer feeling its completely okay to cause immense suffering to their victims before they die. To them, their opinions are quite correct.

To the rest of us ~ complete opposite, in part because because we can empathize, whereas a psychopath cannot.

The subjective cannot be objective. They're different categories with very different qualities. Even if they occasionally intersect.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~ Carl Jung


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(2019-01-10, 09:18 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: Some things in human mental life have a nonsubjective "real" quality to their nature even though this can't be experimentally demonstrated any more than it can be demonstrated that pi or number theory or mathematics in general have a transcendental Platonic reality that has been discovered by humans rather than their just being mere human constructs. Many or most mathematicians are reported to strongly feel, to have some sort of inner knowing of this. 

Ok, what are the equations for morality, meaning, purpose, and value then?

Quote:For example let's take the issue of whether morality and evil exist as immaterial but still real things or transcendentals, or are merely subjective opinions arising from culture, upbringing and neurological evolution.  

To get specific on the stakes here, for instance is it wrong and evil to torture an infant to death for personal pleasure? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. 

It's hard not to laugh at this. Ok... so... before I even start you've already disproven your own point. Your example has the possibility of a guy having fun with it, clearly they wouldn't think it's immoral. Ergo, not objective.

Besides, you built your conclusion into the question rather than demonstrating your conclusion with logic. I can do that too:

Is it wrong and evil to [Eat vanilla icecream]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question.

Is it wrong and evil to [Walk your dog on Sunday]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. 

Is it wrong and evil to [rape a child]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question.

Is it wrong and evil to [Drive on the left side of the road]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. 

Is it wrong and evil to [do drugs]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. 

Is it wrong and evil to [Be an atheist]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question.

Is it wrong and evil to [Not be an atheist]? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question.

Yet another example of the attempt boiling down to someone trying to assert their personal opinion as fact.
Quote:This implies that you are acknowledging that there is indeed some sort of absolute principle here. My impression is that you might still say this answer and its rightness are just personal opinion, that what is "morally right" is purely subjective. That perhaps the feeling of "rightness" is a neurologically caused illusion created by some sort of hypothetical evolutionary psychology mechanism. 

I think this "rightness' is not purely a neurologically based subjective instinctive personal reaction due to an evolved sense of empathy (basically merely personal opinion), but it is a sensing of an undeniable self-evident moral truth that has some sort of real Platonic though immaterial existence. 

This relates to the thread on whether qualities or properties like beauty and truth are transcendentals.

It's great that you think that it's not that way, but that really doesn't matter. All of these things can be far more easily explained via self interest rather than any sort of transcendental whatever. The very fact that I disagree with you disproves that it's objective, especially since you think it's self evident. Well, you're wrong because it ain't self evident to me.
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(This post was last modified: 2019-01-10, 06:48 PM by Mediochre.)
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(2019-01-10, 03:11 PM)Mediochre Wrote: Well yeah, that's the point. That's why it can't be objective.


That you make for morality maybe. I do my best to understand my own reasoning for things. Right down to understanding that my reason for wanting anything at all is based on the circular logic of "good feelings feel good". Anyone can claim that they just "know" something is true deep down. But it means nothing.

Are you saying you don't think logic is objective? That would also make mathematics lack objectivity, since the proofs come from logic.

As for your second paragraph, our reasoning of our actions wouldn't preclude moral instinct. After all once can ask why some good feelings feel good and not others?

This isn't to say that one can find commandments for every situation written into the fabric of reality. But I'm not sure morality needs to have a perfect ordering of actions with Good Place type point totals to be considered objective in at least some sense.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(2019-01-10, 09:18 AM)nbtruthman Wrote: To get specific on the stakes here, for instance is it wrong and evil to torture an infant to death for personal pleasure? If you answer Yes, you know what is the "right" answer to a moral question. This implies that you are acknowledging that there is indeed some sort of absolute principle here. My impression is that you might still say this answer and its rightness are just personal opinion, that what is "morally right" is purely subjective. That perhaps the feeling of "rightness" is a neurologically caused illusion created by some sort of hypothetical evolutionary psychology mechanism. 

I think this "rightness' is not purely a neurologically based subjective instinctive personal reaction due to an evolved sense of empathy (basically merely personal opinion), but it is a sensing of an undeniable self-evident moral truth that has some sort of real Platonic though immaterial existence. 

This relates to the thread on whether qualities or properties like beauty and truth are transcendentals.

I think the interesting aspect of morality comes when we try to understand why we see some things as immoral or moral. Clearly there's an Is-Ought gap, we cannot go from descriptions of what reality is like toward moral direction. There does seem to be a similar issue for the "groundless Ground" of Reason, where we have a shared gnosis for the Universals of Math/Logic.

But it seems to me that there is a difference in the transcendental nature of logic, which gets into specific syllogisms and fallacies, vs morality which seems to turn on a kind of final cause pointing toward what we usually think of as the Virtues without enumerating every context.

That might help explain both the great commonalities in recognizing the Virtues (with some differences in what these Virtues are) versus the answers people give in different situations. The best suggestion I've heard is that morality turns on Love as the final causation, though this is a nascent idea and not developed.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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(2019-01-10, 09:08 PM)Mediochre Wrote: I'm not sure. You can start with a blank slate and then start adding whatever sort of statements and relationships you want. So long as the internal logic is sound it's fine.meaning you can actually creating a foundation of logic that creates entirely different systems of mathematics by defining the base components and generating the rest. Whether that means logic is subjective or not I don't know.

But the underlying basics would, if they are to be consistent, have to utilize some prior conception of rationality? Is there a system that is internally sound but negates any of the syllogisms rules of inference yet is still considered to be rational?


Quote:Yes you can analyse why some feelings feel good and others don't but that doesn't change that they feel good at all and that their goodness is what's driving you. Meaning the fact that they feel good is actually irrelevant, it's just the return value of some internal equation. I.e self interest not some deep inner knowing.


I think this reduces "feeling good" to some base level where all feelings of positivity are equivalent in kind. Yet we can make decisions that feel good morally but are horrible either for us or for society - for example confessions of deception make part of us feel good but lead to consequences where we feel very bad.

We can both feel bad and feel good about moral decisions - defenses of free speech would be an example where we feel bad about enabling certain kinds of speech but feel good about supporting what we see as a major principle.

As for "internal equations" I don't think one can mathematically model the deliberation one makes when acting morally (or really acting from mental causes at all).


Quote:If you can't find morality in the fabric of reality that by definition makes it not objective. since it's no longer a neutral thing that exists in a certain static state regardless of belief.

I think there's a difference between morality for the infinite contextual variables in every situation being in some Platonic realm versus the idea that the objective aspect of morality is a tendency toward certain actions over others. So morality's objective side could be dispositions rather than necessities.

It seems to me that morality either being completely subjective or completely objective is a false dilemma?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2019-01-10, 09:34 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
(2019-01-10, 06:19 PM)Mediochre Wrote: ....All of these things can be far more easily explained via self interest rather than any sort of transcendental whatever.
Oh well, it looks like reductionist materialist evolutionary psychology may be rearing its ugly head here. From an editorial in the leading science journal Nature:  

"With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside." In other words, like Laplace they are saying that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. The true meaning of their editorial statement is really "the ideas of any and all spiritual belief systems and other belief systems that deny materialism can surely be put aside". 

and the editorial goes on to claim

"…the idea that human minds are the product of evolution is not atheistic theology. It is unassailable fact." 

Of course this is the gospel of Darwinism. Evolutionary psychologists have analyzed many aspects of human culture and thought, from altruism, to adultery, autism, rape, jealousy, monogamy, and of course, quite prominently, religion. Traditional views of human nature and culture have been assailed by evolutionary psychologists, who are never at a loss for theories as to how our values and traditions have been caused by Darwinian mechanisms–the struggle for survival of bipedal hominids on the savannah. In reality these hypotheses are mostly Darwinian just-so stories and ingenious speculation. A question comes to mind: what is the evolutionary psychologists’ explanation for evolutionary psychology? More broadly, what is the evolutionary explanation for athiestic materialism? 

Of course, if evolutionary psychology is right, all spiritual belief systems are fantasy, NDEers need to go in for serious mental therapy, all the parapsychologists need to find new careers, and all the proponents on Psience Quest need to find other forums where they can get real and concentrate their minds on some other more productive subjects.
(This post was last modified: 2019-01-10, 11:49 PM by nbtruthman.)
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