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Are moral values objectively real?

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Are moral values objectively real?
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ExogenPosts: 109Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 5:23 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Thank you Sparhafoc for that elaboration.

Sparhafoc wrote:Ok, sure.

For clarity, from my perspective I took no offense or anything at all from the 'you misunderstand' or anything like that. At no point was I provoked, or insulted, or agitated or any other emotional reaction.


Ok, so that's another misunderstanding. I thought, based on some of the language that you indeed did. No worries.

Sparhafoc wrote:What I took exception to was imposing, without real justification, the rules and tactics of a debate format such as appealing to fallacies, or using language that apparently strategically demotes other peoples' responses to being a misunderstanding on their part.

Debates work very differently to discussions.

Discussions are about consensus, finding pathways towards a shared outcome of understanding.

Debates are about beating people in a match.


Ah ok, that clarifies things. So I saw some of your comments as being judgemental and intellectually unfair, hence my later comment about charity. I thought, based on my perception of your understanding of what I had been saying (in retrospect caused by my misreading of your posts) that you were basically writing me off and falling back of ad hominem-sort of 'tactics' you might say, albeit subtle. I thought you were basically dismissing me without giving me a chance, hence why I later emphasized psikhrangkur and thanked him for 'giving me a fair shake.' So I indeed did resort to as you would say 'debate tactics' because I felt I was being unfairly forced into that via a lack of charity. Now I recognize at this point the counterpoints you were trying to bring to the table. But because I misread you, I didn't see you in that light, but I can understand your perspective at this point.


Sparhafoc wrote:The language you took to be personal (even though it wasn't actually very personal at all) was my response to your apparent attempt to employ the rules and remit of a debate style exchange, and part of that is putting your interlocutor off their game.

If it was a debate, then me forcing you to repeatedly defend yourself or talk about what you like or don't like means I am scoring points. From the perspective of a debate, you started losing ground at that point, and it wasn't by accident. I even alluded to this via Goldenmane's 3rd Rule, and there are endless numbers of treatises on tactical responses in debate scenarios in terms of counter-punching, and defeating certain styles or tones through employing other strategies. I opted for these.


Ok, I'm not familiar with formal debate settings and tactics, but moreso with how people redirect focus away from the issues and onto the person. There are certain tactics that I don't think are appropriate even in a 'discussion' except among friends who know each other very well and are just messing around of course and breaking balls.

Sparhafoc wrote:However, I had previously said that I don't need to go into debate mode, and I was asking you to acknowledge that we were at an impasse, where the proposition you'd offered was genuinely untenable for me for the reasons I'd given. There we could have gone more towards discussion, but as you opted for your litany of fallacies approach, which I saw as a debate strategy (because it is), a rhetorical tactic employed to start scoring points, and particularly when you then failed to produce any example of alleged fallacies on my part, so I joined in 'the game'.


Ok I see. Yeah, see I wasn't looking at it like that even though I was employing what you called 'debate tactics.' Rather, I thought you were unfairly dismissing me.

Sparhafoc wrote:If it's just a discussion, then I am happy to be there looking to see what comes out. If you identify a flaw in reasoning, it's not a label of a fallacy that matters, it's exposition about what the problem such reasoning induces.


The funny thing is I asked a buddy, the one who had invited me to come here, as to what I should do because from my perspective you guys were not getting what I was saying. He told me that maybe listing the fallacies I saw would help. He was trying to help as was I, so I was very surprised to hear about this 'fallacy game.'

Sparhafoc wrote:Finally, I do also always take umbrage to being collectivized with other people who may just happen to share a single opinion with me; I take pains to ensure I expound my ideas clearly and think it only elementary civility to have my ideas addressed directly, not by proxy. I can accept if this was done in an innocent manner on your part, but I always take steps to nip off such notions before they can bloom, again because it's useful to a debating interlocutor to repaint scenarios to suit their own argument, thus I wouldn't allow that to occur uncontested.


Oh sure, fair enough. I take no issue.

Sparhafoc wrote:So in summary, while I may have made you feel uncomfortable, it wasn't done in a gratifying or excessive way, it was done very carefully for a very particular reason. Don't mistake me - I am a bit of a cunt when it comes to arguing the toss, but I am perfectly capable of civilized discussion assuming that's matched by the other side. Although I will note that even in a professional, academic setting, nothing I said was anywhere near as robust an exchange as you might become used to.


Ok,.

Sparhafoc wrote:I won't accept your apology because there's nothing you need to apologize for. All fair do's to me! :)


I will acknowledge a mea culpa though. I have a tendency towards reductio ad absurdum - it just always hits the right spot for me. A 2 word rebuttal often provides a note of humour too, at least for my sense of humour anyway, and I could easily have expanded more on why this example jellyfish caused problems with that analogy to Biology, and I admit I do like making people work a little too sometimes! :lol:


Oh ok, I understand. Yeah, I didn't know what that meant. Over the internet on top of everything else, one person's humor can be perceived totally differently, especially if one doesn't follow what is actually being said.



Sparhafoc wrote:
I genuinely think one needs to consider what it is one is quantifying. Are we quantifying something that exists, or are we expressing a quantity of the way we think about how something exists? For me, this is much of philosophy. Are we discussing the thing itself, or are we discussing the cognitive model of the thing. Thus my repeated references to spherical cows in vacuums.



That in itself is an interesting discussion to me, as I take much issue with the representationalist model of the mind, and I think the nuances of that discussion certainly have epistemic implications.


Sparhafoc wrote:
I expect my style of discourse doesn't play well into that either. It will be hard for me to change because, I have to be honest, a large part of the reason I am on a discussion forum in the first place is that I live in a country where I rarely get to use my native language, and I positively revel in expressing myself in ways I find amusing. I would suggest that when you find something I say confusing, just ask for clarification because it appears that some of my abstract interjections are somewhat opaque when it comes to interpreting their intent. I can't say I won't write in a confusing way (when it's fun to write like that) but I promise I'll always unpack and expand if requested.


Ok, I appreciate, thanks.


Sparhafoc wrote:
Honestly, at least when it comes to me, I don't care if you are personal - it's water off a duck's back for me. I've been grilled, roasted, hung-out-to-dry, belittled, scorned, and generally abused so many times that I barely even read such language (unless it's nicely written) to never worry about it. I'd rather you succinctly called me a bloody idiot when it's justified than spend eighteen hundred words carefully stepping round that brutal honesty.


I actually am quite brutally honest, but I also try to question my own judgements sometimes, least by be hypocritical, as misunderstandings are of course a thing. But I do certainly share the sentiment about not tiptoeing around, its just I think sometimes there are reasons to give people the benefit of the doubt, or, if not that, then at least what is fair.



Sparhafoc wrote:
It's ok, I possess sufficient hubris to assume that when I don't understand you, it's because you're not being comprehensible rather than me being dopey! :D


Not always true, I know when I am being dopey, but I think you can see what I mean about enjoying writing things for fun! ;)



lol ok, I think I'm starting to see a glimmer of your brand of humor. I think there really may be a bit of a disconnect here, not sure if its personality-related or cultural or what have you.




Sparhafoc wrote:
All I can say Exogen is that you'd have to work bloody hard to cause me offense - I'm a robust enough chap to take a bit of back and forth. The only time I'd abandon a discussion is when the interlocutor proves so intractable, obnoxious, and self-pleasuring that partaking further seems to be an exercise only in feeding their ego.


Ok right. Also, on that note, I felt you and the others were unfairly accusing me of being hypocritical with respect to Monistic's behavior and that I was acting like he was, which I see as totally false. But I can see the disconnect more clearly now as to how I may have been coming off.



Sparhafoc wrote:
Pfff you guys measure away; I'm quietly comfortable and assured with my e-penile length! :)


As am I, or I should so more accurately, my women is quite assured. That's just my way of saying I prefer ciliziled but also friendly discussion.

And by the way, I don't mind if you want to intellectually grill me on my arguments. Not at all, I just don't like things to get personal, just so we are clear, but I do realize that sometimes things aren't so serious in other people's minds.



Sparhafoc wrote:Of course I am. Branch accepted and hands vigorously shaken. As much as I take no offense, I don't really mean it either. For me, the tussle can be fun too - not in a trolling way; I'm not looking to upset people - but a frank, robust exchange of ideas is better, in my opinion, than a pleasurable circle-jerk of compliments.


I totally hear you on this, and also find that far more preferable than said circle jerk of compliments. With that said, rehortically speaking, "would you like to play a nice game of chess?"

Ok, so on the teleology subject.

If you wouldn't mind, could you recapitulate what you think is the central idea I'm trying to push here, and how you think it fails or is problematic more generally? I see how the acorn analogy has failed to be a universal representation of the idea I think Aristotle is driving at, but I don't think the idea has no merrit. One word on stubbornness btw. I want to be clear, that sometimes I can appear to be stubborn, but understand that this is me 'sticking to my guns' so as not to abandon a point prematurely when I do not see clear refutation present. Also, I do find value at times with repeating myself. It isn't that, of course, I want to be intentionally obtuse or ignore other people, but when I think the point isn't being seen, I have seen in the past that this can be fruitful. So everyone else understands, a friend of mine and I whom I have much respect for intellectually at times would stubbornly cling to points, almost to the point where at times I would consider this absolutely ridiculous and question what I was doing, only to be surprised that it turned out one of us misunderstood, or both of us did as something which was previously unseen was unconcealed. I see it like butting heads to the point where a new idea comes loose. But again, all of that is more of a method to advance the discussion, though it might seem like being intentionally obtuse.
Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:48 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Ok, so on the teleology subject.

If you wouldn't mind, could you recapitulate what you think is the central idea I'm trying to push here, and how you think it fails or is problematic more generally?



Prior to the acorn?

Well, you entered the conversation and thread titled 'Are moral values objectively real' in order to take the affirmative.

You argued that nature is manifestly riddled with purpose essentially to underpin your consequentialist position on ethics being objectively derived from nature, particularly when looking at nature across longer periods of time and then went on to describe purpose as being the realization of something's potential.

The problems for me are: having studied nature with the scientific method all my life, nature is manifestly not riddled with purpose; quite the contrary. It's a long outdated notion that simply has not stood up to the rigours of time and experimentation. Rather, what we see is blind contingency driven by naturally selective survival. As the environment (including inter and intra-specific competition) defines the 'target', and as the environmental conditions change all the time, there is no future destination to which any species is traveling, only points of departure. The language and psychology we employ to talk about nature is purposeful and teleological, but that's an artifact of our cognition - the map, not the terrain.

Secondly, to me you have basically conflated 'purpose' with the outcome of a process that happens, thereby subsuming development and growth within an essentialist framework that arbitrarily assigns starts and ends, then declares the self-defined 'end' as being the purpose of the organism, as in, through attaining its potential - what you call 'actuality'. To me, this is confused, contrived and a very poor representation of the natural world, and I offered a number of reductio ad absurdums to test how well this actually works out, i.e. water molecules' 'purpose' to make waves.

As I pointed out before, I employ the concept of utility of statements because, in my experience, claims about nature which are false tend to offer zero explanatory utility - as in, they don't present predictions that can be made which would evidence and confirm said claims, and they are not fertile in the sense that they offer no deeper or broader purview of ideas to engage.

So I would say that your position is wrong when it comes to nature, and wrong when it comes to talking about how nature works. However, this doesn't mean you can't still be right about morality being teleological - I have no problems with human activities and behaviors being teleological as that principle has been amply evidenced. We are teleological beings, invoking causal purposes even into inanimate objects; our latent animism seems to reflect this psychological quantity. Gods, I think, are a perfect example of humanity projecting their teleological inclinations onto the universe.

But in final, I would say that I personally consider the entire discussion of 'objective/subjective' as pertaining to morality to basically be a category mistake. From a biologist's perspective, morality must-needs be consensus-driven and therefore able to change. I would say that history provides a preponderance of examples supporting this position. I would, however, agree that morality (be it human or animal) is derived from nature in terms of behaviors cultivated in a contingent evolutionary history. I think humans simply codified that morality via their cognitive and linguistic behaviors.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:34 am
ExogenPosts: 109Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 5:23 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Sparhafoc wrote:
Prior to the acorn?


I don't see the central notion being largely different.

Well, you entered the conversation and thread titled 'Are moral values objectively real' in order to take the affirmative.

Sparhafoc wrote:You argued that nature is manifestly riddled with purpose essentially to underpin your consequentialist position on ethics being objectively derived from nature, particularly when looking at nature across longer periods of time and then went on to describe purpose as being the realization of something's potential.


I'm not sure if I would rank it as consequentialist and think that when it comes to teleological ethics both deontological and consequentialist factors would be included. The purpose is, in the objective sense, the realization of something's potential, yes.


Sparhafoc wrote:The problems for me are: having studied nature with the scientific method all my life, nature is manifestly not riddled with purpose; quite the contrary. It's a long outdated notion that simply has not stood up to the rigours of time and experimentation. Rather, what we see is blind contingency driven by naturally selective survival. As the environment (including inter and intra-specific competition) defines the 'target', and as the environmental conditions change all the time, there is no future destination to which any species is traveling, only points of departure. The language and psychology we employ to talk about nature is purposeful and teleological, but that's an artifact of our cognition - the map, not the terrain.


When you say 'contingency' this raises my eyebrow, as I don't see the purpose as being something necessitarian or deterministic, as it would be a phenomenon which is a mix of both necessary as well as sufficient conditions. I also don't see environmental factors contextualizing that purpose mattering much. That is why I do not think this is a case of imposing intentional aspects of non-intentional objects and interpreting nature in that way. Now you seem to see that move on my part as

Sparhafoc wrote:Secondly, to me you have basically conflated 'purpose' with the outcome of a process that happens, thereby subsuming development and growth within an essentialist framework that arbitrarily assigns starts and ends, then declares the self-defined 'end' as being the purpose of the organism, as in, through attaining its potential - what you call 'actuality'. To me, this is confused, contrived and a very poor representation of the natural world, and I offered a number of reductio ad absurdums to test how well this actually works out, i.e. water molecules' 'purpose' to make waves.


The problem I have here is your use of the word 'arbitrary.' The start and the end of the existence of a certain structure are not arbitrary. My existence for instance, 'started' once my first cell was formed. At that point, it isn't subjective to talk about the causal potential in terms of the development of my later structure.

As for essentialism, I don't see the relevance as to why you mention that, as the question as to whether or not forms are universal isn't relevant to particular cases. And as I mentioned earlier in the discussion, taxonomy need not depend on exact universal shared characteristics or necessary clusters of characteristics. Taxonomy is more or less a tautological affair and need not be exact, but can be very general at the aggregate level. It is true that Aristotle did think that there were universal in nature, but the irony is that nothing about taxonomy (which he started) forces one into essentialism.

It should also be noted that one of the major criticisms of teleological causality that I am aware of is that it is 'redundant' hence the focus on efficient causality. And I think that criticism seems to be part of what you are saying, or perhaps a presupposition. My response is in that case, is that I see teleology as nothing but a taxonomy of the form of certain kinds of developmental processes. Looked at in that light, this redundancy doesn't matter, because it is already assumed that the entire process unfolds within efficient causal nexus.





Sparhafoc wrote:As I pointed out before, I employ the concept of utility of statements because, in my experience, claims about nature which are false tend to offer zero explanatory utility - as in, they don't present predictions that can be made which would evidence and confirm said claims, and they are not fertile in the sense that they offer no deeper or broader purview of ideas to engage.


With respect to your first sentence above, false in what sense? If you simply mean factually inaccurate, then I don't see why utility is an issue here. Meaning, if it is true that something either is or isn't the case, factually speaking, then whether or not something has predictive utility isn't necessarily relevant to the reality of that accuracy. In regards to your second, I see this very much as a pragmatic or instrumentalist bias. Not that I have a problem with that. Quite the contrary actually. I would actually argue that science is instrumentalist more or less by design. But then the notion of objectivity as employed in a framework of scientific realism goes out the window beyond its own pragmatic or instrumental value. So if we are talking about whether or not something is or isn't the case, that is neither instrumentalist nor pragmatic. That's just a question of what is. And science may not be able to answer that outside of an instrumentalist construct some may argue, without additional pre-scientific epistemic grounding - so I want to highlight the difference between the usefulness of a process in establishing results that are useful towards the ends of that process vs. what is or isn't the case.

Sparhafoc wrote:
So I would say that your position is wrong when it comes to nature, and wrong when it comes to talking about how nature works. However, this doesn't mean you can't still be right about morality being teleological - I have no problems with human activities and behaviors being teleological as that principle has been amply evidenced. We are teleological beings, invoking causal purposes even into inanimate objects; our latent animism seems to reflect this psychological quantity. Gods, I think, are a perfect example of humanity projecting their teleological inclinations onto the universe.


I agree that morality being teleological may not hinge on nature being teleological, but I think that ethics being teleological needs to have 'some' grounding in nature, something that fixes the context. Consider the notion of Eudaimonia. Given that there are exact and objective answers about what is beneficial or detrimental to certain structures in terms of their flourishing, there is already an objective basis prior to any intentional language being employed with respect to said structures.

Sparhafoc wrote:But in final, I would say that I personally consider the entire discussion of 'objective/subjective' as pertaining to morality to basically be a category mistake. From a biologist's perspective, morality must-needs be consensus-driven and therefore able to change. I would say that history provides a preponderance of examples supporting this position. I would, however, agree that morality (be it human or animal) is derived from nature in terms of behaviors cultivated in a contingent evolutionary history. I think humans simply codified that morality via their cognitive and linguistic behaviors.


But are you speaking descriptively or prescriptively here? I would argue as it pertains to humans or other beings with moral agency, there is a prescriptive basis for morality that emerges i.e. a moral realism. However, this is situated within a descriptive context, naturally.
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:01 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Exogen wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:The problems for me are: having studied nature with the scientific method all my life, nature is manifestly not riddled with purpose; quite the contrary. It's a long outdated notion that simply has not stood up to the rigours of time and experimentation. Rather, what we see is blind contingency driven by naturally selective survival. As the environment (including inter and intra-specific competition) defines the 'target', and as the environmental conditions change all the time, there is no future destination to which any species is traveling, only points of departure. The language and psychology we employ to talk about nature is purposeful and teleological, but that's an artifact of our cognition - the map, not the terrain.


When you say 'contingency' this raises my eyebrow, as I don't see the purpose as being something necessitarian or deterministic, as it would be a phenomenon which is a mix of both necessary as well as sufficient conditions. I also don't see environmental factors contextualizing that purpose mattering much. That is why I do not think this is a case of imposing intentional aspects of non-intentional objects and interpreting nature in that way. Now you seem to see that move on my part as


It's all too frequently overlooked: contingency doesn't offer such a satisfying psychological narrative, but it produces more 'direction' and constraint when looked at retrospectively.



Exogen wrote:
Sparhafoc wrote:Secondly, to me you have basically conflated 'purpose' with the outcome of a process that happens, thereby subsuming development and growth within an essentialist framework that arbitrarily assigns starts and ends, then declares the self-defined 'end' as being the purpose of the organism, as in, through attaining its potential - what you call 'actuality'. To me, this is confused, contrived and a very poor representation of the natural world, and I offered a number of reductio ad absurdums to test how well this actually works out, i.e. water molecules' 'purpose' to make waves.


The problem I have here is your use of the word 'arbitrary.' The start and the end of the existence of a certain structure are not arbitrary.


Maybe not from your perspective, but you don't hold a preferred frame of reference. If we're talking about the little map of reality you've made in your mind, then a tree may well have a 'start' in an acorn, but that's not useful or relevant from a biological perspective, and even less so for the 'end'.


Exogen wrote: My existence for instance, 'started' once my first cell was formed.


I mean, for me that's nonsensical. You are not a cell and your existence cannot be contained in a cell, therefore your existence couldn't possibly have started when 'your' first cell was formed.

That is, of course, joining in with your notion that overlooks the fact that 'your' first cell was actually 2 cells, a gamete and an ovum.


Exogen wrote: At that point, it isn't subjective to talk about the causal potential in terms of the development of my later structure.


From a scientific perspective, it's still hokum. It is nonsensical to talk about a single cell being causally potential with your later structure as per the many rebuttals I've already given.



Exogen wrote:As for essentialism, I don't see the relevance as to why you mention that,...


I've already explained why several times in this thread. It's a lot of the problem with your argument because you are making analogies that reside on essentialist notions that don't really map at all to reality.


Exogen wrote:... as the question as to whether or not forms are universal isn't relevant to particular cases.


They are when appealing to them.



Exogen wrote: And as I mentioned earlier in the discussion, taxonomy need not depend on exact universal shared characteristics or necessary clusters of characteristics. Taxonomy is more or less a tautological affair and need not be exact, but can be very general at the aggregate level.


Not tautological; prescriptive.



Exogen wrote: It is true that Aristotle did think that there were universal in nature, but the irony is that nothing about taxonomy (which he started) forces one into essentialism.


Aristotle assuredly did not start taxonomy. Look up Divine Husbandman's Materia Medica for a taxonomical system that predates Aristotle by 2500+ years.



Exogen wrote:It should also be noted that one of the major criticisms of teleological causality that I am aware of is that it is 'redundant' hence the focus on efficient causality. And I think that criticism seems to be part of what you are saying, or perhaps a presupposition. My response is in that case, is that I see teleology as nothing but a taxonomy of the form of certain kinds of developmental processes. Looked at in that light, this redundancy doesn't matter, because it is already assumed that the entire process unfolds within efficient causal nexus.


You very nearly acknowledge what I've been saying there. It's not 'redundant' so much as it's banal where it even produces anything. Y follows X, therefore Y is the potential of X. All other potentials are ignored in favour of some kind of 'best outcome' projected onto the system as perceived by essentialist conceptual models.

But out of time... hungry people waiting for me to cook.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:12 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 3209Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Greetings,

Regarding the contingency versus determinism debate, here's a recent study on the topic.

Kindest regards,

James
Image
"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:43 pm
SparhafocPosts: 2607Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Are moral values objectively real?

Dragan Glas wrote:Greetings,

Regarding the contingency versus determinism debate, here's a recent study on the topic.




The full paper's linked in the article: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6415/eaam5979

From the article, the final question is:

"What we clearly see is that both convergence and lack of convergence occur a lot in the natural world," Losos said. "It's not useful just to keep adding to the two lists. The real question that people are now turning to is: Why does convergence occur sometimes and not others? That is where research is now headed. That's the question we need to focus on."


I'd say the answer is basically that while physical constraints are ubiquitous, solutions for interacting with those physical constraints are not singular. There may be an easy path to follow that tends to result in convergence under similar physical properties, but rarely a wholly novel mutation will offer a completely different pathway to overcoming or interacting successfully with physics in their environment. This produces convergence a lot of the time - path of least resistance - but doesn't suggest that all forms in the same environment should converge.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:39 am
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