Sunday, November 22, 2009

08 Emotivism

Hume’s argument for subjectivism is a disjunctive syllogism, so it’s valid (its logic is correct):
Premise 1:
Moral judgments originate either in sensation (impressions with external origin) or feelings (impressions with internal origin).

Premise 2:
They don’t originate in sensation ("Is" does not imply "ought").
Conclusion: Therefore, they originate in feelings.

To this we ad a bit of Alfred Ayer (1910 – 1989):
- begin quote -
Logical positivism proposed that only two types of statements make genuine truth claims (claims that are true or false).

First, there are empirical statements (like “It is snowing outside”); these can in principle be shown by our sense experience to be true, or at least highly probable.

Second, there are analytic statements (like “All bachelors are single”); these are true because of the meaning of words.

Since moral judgments do not fit in either category, they cannot be true or false. Instead of being truth claims, they only express emotions. “This is bad” is much like “Boo on this!”
- quote end -

For logical reasoning we need statements, that are either true or false. Knowledge claims are based on statements being true or false. Now look at our situation regarding moral judgements.

Let's put some more oil on the fire . Ayer: "Moral judgments do not say anything. They are pure expressions of feeling and do not come under the category of truth and falsehood."

How in the world is there any rational debate on moral judgements possible? John says: "Homosexuality is wrong!" and the Gay Activist says: "Homosexuality is morally acceptable!"

According to Ayer this should be translated in "Homosexuality! Yuck!" or "Homosexuality! Hurray!" or as prescriptive expressions like "Don’t be homosexual." or "Homosexuality: go for it."

As expressions of emotions there is no truth claim here. The speakers are expressing different attitudes toward it, or urging different actions.

Does that mean that we are stuck in opposing opinions? It is my feelings against yours and as we saw already, logic and reason don't apply to feelings.

Ayer: "Ethical philosophy consists simply in saying that ethical concepts are pseudo-concepts and therefore unanalyzable. The further task of describing the different feelings that ethical terms express, and the different reactions that they provoke, is a task for the psychologist.

There cannot be an ethical science, if by ethical science one means the elaboration of a “true” system of morals. As ethical judgments are mere expressions of feeling, there can be no way of determining the validity of any ethical system and no sense in asking whether any such system is true. - quote end -

So a genuine moral disagreement would be something like you feel "Do it!" while I feel "Don't do it!" and there it stops. We seem to be with our back agains the wall.

For, suppose you say : "Homosexuality is wrong even if the Gay Activist expresses approval for it or advocates it." that would mean "Homosexuality! Yuck! /Don’t do it! – even if the Gay Activist expresses approval for it or advocates it."

But that would make little sense, because there is a clear difference of opinion and such an argument would not be acceptable at all for the Gay Activist.

Here again we are victim of that indestructible urge of the human mind to think binary. Emotivism assumes that if a moral judgment expresses my feeling, it can’t also be supported by reason.

either my moral judgment expresses my attitudes OR it is the outcome of a reasoning process, but not both. But why not both?

Suppose you go the your doctor because you have a terrible headache. That is what you feel at least, and you say to the doctor "I have a headache!" The doctor says: " I don't think you have a headache. That is how I feel about it."

Fortunately your doctor wont react in that way. If he would have you would be stunned. You would say something like "Are you out of your mind?"

And all this is created by the initial assumption of Hume and Ayer, that a a statement expresses EITHER a feeling which cant have a truth value OR an empirical fact which is true or false.

What your doctor will do is examining you, in other words examining the factual content of the 'feeling' I have a headache.

And in that sense have moral judgements also a factual content together with an emotional content. So I think that this semantical interpretation of moral judgements is more acceptable than the emotivist point of view.

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: So much on emotivism ㋡
[13:20] herman Bergson: If you have a remark or question...go ahead ㋡
[13:20] BrainCrave OHare: so is it your contention that logic and reasoning don't apply to feelings?
[13:20] herman Bergson: Not mine but that of the emotivist
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate whispers: that must have caused a lot of backlash no?
[13:21] BrainCrave OHare: so you would agree that feelings are both logical and rational, and have a basis as such?
[13:21] herman Bergson: what is 'backlash'?
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: many arguments against their ideas
[13:22] herman Bergson: Well Brain ..not exactly in that way...
[13:22] BrainCrave OHare: somewhere in the gray? :)
[13:23] herman Bergson: The problem begins with the dichotomy of feelings - sensations
[13:23] herman Bergson: the ratio controls feelings while feelings influence the cant cut them apart
[13:23] Myriam Brianna shakes her head, re-reads a part of herman's text
[13:23] oola Neruda: sometimes decisions must be made... for example the passing of a law... and people argue rational reasons.. but do not agree... and end up deciding according to their feelings... how does this fit
[13:24] herman Bergson: My text even influences a head to shake
[13:24] herman Bergson: why so Myriam
[13:25] Myriam Brianna: because I have the feeling of running up against a wall. Not seeing the sense in the "in that sense" ;)
[13:25] herman Bergson: At this moment an emotivist approach of moral judgements is still alive in the philosophical debate of today
[13:25] Myriam Brianna: there's a leap, but I'm not yet sure where exactly
[13:25] oola Neruda: or perhaps you did explain it... if i apply your comments properly
[13:25] Yejiba Severine: But how does one get away from emotivism, especially in terms of governing. It is used in a sort of propaganda way to get persons on their side on an issue. In fact, is seems to be used in a wide variety of situations including news. (nods to oola)
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: very much so
[13:26] oola Neruda: i agree
[13:26] herman Bergson: The main characteristic is that it puts you in a situation of Opinion against Opinion
[13:27] herman Bergson: and no way to say which opinion is right
[13:27] Yejiba Severine nods.
[13:27] BrainCrave OHare: when you have no standards, what do you expect will happen?
[13:27] herman Bergson: in fact it is a kind of subjectivism
[13:27] BrainCrave OHare: agree
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: there you go that is right
[13:27] Yejiba Severine nods.
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: standards
[13:27] herman Bergson: What I say become a supporter of subjectivism
[13:28] BrainCrave OHare: don't count on it
[13:28] BrainCrave OHare: (couldn't be further from the truth)
[13:28] herman Bergson smiles
[13:28] BrainCrave OHare: :)
[13:28] Myriam Brianna: the factual content of moral judgements you have pointed to, Herman, is - as I see it - them being represented as a cognitive state. Which is something no one doubts. The doctor examining you tries to ascertain if you are feeling what you claim you are feeling ... *scratches at the base of her scalp*
[13:28] herman Bergson: I agree Brain
[13:29] herman Bergson: yes Myriam, but that doctor will never see you pain
[13:29] Myriam Brianna: that's to say: I think the simile limps
[13:29] oola Neruda: are you saying the standards are arbitrary.. depending upon whom has the upper hand in the discussion
[13:29] herman Bergson: He might see a high blood pressure ...things like that
[13:29] BrainCrave OHare: there can be no upper hand without standards oola
[13:30] BrainCrave OHare: by definition
[13:30] oola Neruda: stronger personality is perhaps what i should have said
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is the whole point
[13:30] Myriam Brianna: yes, but I also do not "see" the position of someone on, say, homosexuality
[13:31] herman Bergson: No....but when you say Homosexuality is wrong you arent debating about homosexuality
[13:31] BrainCrave OHare: i have a hard time understanding where the challenge is in separating moral standards from personal preferences
[13:31] herman Bergson: You are talking about your feelings
[13:31] Myriam Brianna: yes, exactly
[13:32] Myriam Brianna: and that I have some feeling on (x) no one doubts
[13:32] herman Bergson: That makes it impossible to say "Homosexuality is wrong even when you approve it."
[13:32] oola Neruda: in the creation of the standards... WHO says this is the standard and why... barbie doll has, in it's own way, been a standard
[13:32] herman Bergson: You only can say that when the concept of homosexuality is something factual
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes oola.....who says so...
[13:33] BrainCrave OHare: reason
[13:33] herman Bergson: That is decided on the factual content of moral judgements
[13:33] herman Bergson: Indeed Brain...decided by reason and good argument
[13:34] oola Neruda: in a perfect world... but i guess philosophy does aim at the ideal?
[13:34] herman Bergson: You may observe that worldwide some moral standards are used everywhere
[13:34] BrainCrave OHare: is that the purpose of philosophy? to pursue the ideal? i don't think so
[13:34] herman Bergson: that cant be a coincidence
[13:35] herman Bergson: No...the purpose of philosophy is to clarify
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: but it does not seem to :-)
[13:35] Yejiba Severine: Clarify different states of perception?
[13:35] BrainCrave OHare: i think the purpose of philosophy is to help us live
[13:36] herman Bergson: As Bertrand Russell said: The goal of philosophy is to learn us to live with uncertainty.
[13:36] Yejiba Severine: I thought that was religion.
[13:36] BrainCrave OHare: <-- doesn't agree with bertrand
[13:37] herman Bergson: Religion is certainty, I would say
[13:37] Myriam Brianna: unjustified certainty
[13:37] herman Bergson: indeed Myriam, therfore it is called belief
[13:37] Yejiba Severine: I think it is a cover for uncertainty. Put things is a framework so we are not frightened.
[13:38] BrainCrave OHare: certainty = fact
[13:38] herman Bergson: But the quintessence of the current debate is whether everything we experience, know, feel etc depends solely on the mind, or not everything is mind-dependent.
[13:39] BrainCrave OHare: try to experience something without using the mind
[13:39] herman Bergson: That means....does my computer still exist when I dont see it and I am in another room
[13:39] Abraxas Nagy: impossible
[13:39] herman Bergson: This is not the point Brain
[13:40] herman Bergson: The point is does the mind create our reality (idealism) or is there an interaction between the mind and an external world
[13:40] herman Bergson: which however we only experience with our senses
[13:41] Abraxas Nagy: it must have something to sense tho
[13:41] BrainCrave OHare: reality exists, whether we choose to perceive it or not (i.e., regardless of whether we choose to use our minds)
[13:41] herman Bergson: Ok Brain....
[13:41] BrainCrave OHare: your computer exists regardless of whether you think of it, doesn't it?
[13:41] herman Bergson: So it also exists in moral judgements
[13:42] herman Bergson: a moral judgement is in such a context not just my personal feeling
[13:42] BrainCrave OHare: a moral judgment is based on reality, not personal preference, if that's what you're getting at
[13:42] herman Bergson: the judgement is also related with factual things , with parts of reality which is not my mind
[13:42] BrainCrave OHare: or, rather, it should be
[13:43] herman Bergson: the emotivist believes it is a personal thing
[13:43] Daruma Boa: oh must go. sorry.
[13:43] BrainCrave OHare: so the emotivist is wrong
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: daruma
[13:43] Daruma Boa: bye and see u next week
[13:43] BrainCrave OHare: would anyone here disagree?
[13:43] oola Neruda: yes
[13:44] Abraxas Nagy: bye Daruma
[13:44] herman Bergson: As you may have noticed...I do not agree with the emotivist point of view ㋡
[13:44] oola Neruda: because you cannot prove the side you take
[13:44] Gemma Cleanslate: i think it probably is wrong :-)
[13:44] Myriam Brianna: wait, wait - in what way do you think the actual, factual existence of an objective world is of importance to ethics?
[13:44] herman Bergson: especially because I dont agree with the basic assumption that you have feelings on the one hand and sensations (true /false statements) on the other hand
[13:45] BrainCrave OHare: let's put it this way - if you have ethics not based on truth (e.g., facts), what would happen? one opinion against another
[13:45] oola Neruda: i think that is exactly the problem
[13:46] herman Bergson: The objective external world is important to ethics because we live in it...what is happening there affects matters of life and death for instance
[13:46] oola Neruda: just opinion
[13:46] Myriam Brianna: okay, let's put it in another way. I do also assume that there's an objective world. I do think that my judgements relate to actual occurrences in space-time, not to figments of my imagination. But my judgements would be the same in a wholly illusionary environment
[13:46] herman Bergson: Indeed oola, if everything were just opinion, why then not assume that the earth is still flat for instance
[13:47] oola Neruda: probably some people do
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: i am not sure anyone ever did
[13:48] oola Neruda: i had the impression we were separating empiricism and emotivism
[13:48] herman Bergson: You may have a point there Gemma
[13:48] Myriam Brianna: yes, that's the whole point. Ethical questions are on another level than questions about, e.g., the shape of the world or even the existence of it
[13:48] BrainCrave OHare: i disagree with that myriam - truth is truth... A is A
[13:48] Myriam Brianna: you were not attacking emotivism, but an effigy of it
[13:49] oola Neruda: A is A is binary
[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes is because they are a combination of different aspects of being..feelings, emotions AND empirical experiences
[13:49] BrainCrave OHare: i know - i read the blog - this class doesn't seem to like binary :)
[13:50] herman Bergson: No Brain..only my computer does ㋡
[13:50] BrainCrave OHare: lol
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: liking has little to do with it
[13:50] herman Bergson: No Gemma you are right, I have arguments for that
[13:50] herman Bergson: rational arguments
[13:51] BrainCrave OHare: rational arguments for subjectivism?
[13:51] herman Bergson: and today is a nice example...I simply say "I dont like emotivis" and I tried to give some arguments for that
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:52] herman Bergson: Subjectivism doesn work either Brain
[13:52] BrainCrave OHare: :)
[13:52] BrainCrave OHare: where's ayn rand when you need her? rofl
[13:52] oola Neruda: would you call instinct emotive?
[13:53] herman Bergson: When you study a subject use google and just type "against emotivism"
[13:53] Myriam Brianna: the wrong ones, I think
[13:53] herman Bergson: or things like that
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: ah good idea
[13:53] herman Bergson: Works on whole statements..
[13:54] herman Bergson: Is instinct emotive?
[13:54] oola Neruda: is it?
[13:54] herman Bergson: I would say no
[13:55] herman Bergson: Instinct is an innate pattern in the nature of an organism, that is not what is meant with emotive
[13:55] herman Bergson: Instinct is not equal to emotion
[13:55] oola Neruda: for example, a fear reaction ..
[13:56] oola Neruda: to falling for example
[13:56] herman Bergson: Instinct reaction amy cause emotions
[13:56] herman Bergson: may
[13:56] oola Neruda: nods... that makes sense
[13:57] Myriam Brianna: what was the url again, for the blog?
[13:57] herman Bergson:
[13:57] Myriam Brianna:
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: hahaha bye berg
[13:57] Myriam Brianna: ah, yes
[13:57] Myriam Brianna: cya Bergfrau
[13:57] herman Bergson: Well...this was not a simple discussion.....
[13:58] BrainCrave OHare: depends on your perspective :)
[13:58] herman Bergson: The more questions you have left the more succesfull we were today ㋡
[13:59] herman Bergson: Yes Brain...some have that lucky perspective....I am the more troublesome kind ㋡
[13:59] BrainCrave OHare: luck favors the prepared? :)
[13:59] BrainCrave OHare: (sorry)
[13:59] BrainCrave OHare: (meant only in jest, of course)
[13:59] herman Bergson smiles
[14:00] oola Neruda: as a teacher...that is part of why i assigned homework
[14:00] herman Bergson: I thank you for you participation again ...
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[14:00] BrainCrave OHare: thank you herman
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to go now
[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ... ㋡

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

07 Moral anti-realism / Moral Realism

Slowly but surely, the contours of the contemporary debate on ethics become clearer. Because I awoke from a philosophical hibernation of almost 20 years, it is more or less new to me.

I mean I lectured 10 years on philosophy professionally in RL and then moved on to teaching computer classes at an Academy of fine Arts.

Philosophy never leaves you, but reading the complicated and detailed argumentations again, it feels like updating my Operating system, somehow like updating Windows 3.1 straight to Windows Vista.

But the contours of the current philosophical discourse on ethics become clear now. I obtained the insight with help of reading Ayer on his Emotivism and The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

In the superb article "Moral Anti-Realism", which is related to Ayer and his emotivism, I found a paragraph which in fact describes what I said in my lecture "04 Moral subjectivism( and your own Philosophical Program" . For your information: today is lecture 07 of this project.

Or said in other words, this paragraph put my personal position, I then explained, in the wider perspective of the current philosophical debate on ethics.

- quote begin -
In short, attempts to establish the burden of proof are as slippery and indecisive in the debate between the moral realist and the moral anti-realist as they tend to be generally in philosophy.

The matter is complicated by the fact that there are two kinds of burden-of-proof case that can be pressed, and here they tend to pull against each other.

On the one hand, moral realists face a cluster of explanatory challenges concerning the nature of moral facts (how they relate to naturalistic facts, how we have access to them, why they have practical importance)—challenges that simply don't arise for either the noncognitivist or the error theorist.

On the other hand, it is widely assumed that intuitions strongly favor the moral realist. This tension between what is considered to be the intuitive position and what is considered to be the empirically, metaphysically, and epistemologically defensible position, motivates and animates much of the debate between the moral realist and moral anti-realist.
- quote end -

What struck me in this paragraph was "that intuitions strongly favor the moral realist". It made me think of my words in relation to your own personal philosophical program:

-quote begin -
"To define you personal philosophical program, your way of philosophical dealing with for instance moral judgements, you may discover that you feel more attracted to certain arguments and more in disagreement with other arguments, even tho you may not yet have a good explanation for your preferences."
- quote end -

In other words, take a stand and don't ask "why do I support these axioms, basic ideas, point of view?", but put them to the test. Join the debate and use rational argumentation and logic as your tools.

The second thing that excited me in this paragraph was the observation that "moral realists face a cluster of explanatory challenges concerning the nature of moral facts…"

That is my philosophical challenge for the next 10 years indeed. This is The Philosophy Class in Second Life. A real class not only for you, but absolutely also for me. We are exploring new sims here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I appreciate your motivating support and participation.

The Discussion

[13:21] herman Bergson: Thank you ㋡
[13:22] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks..feel free
[13:22] herman Bergson: So good to see you thinking ㋡
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: there are many challenges to maintain a philosophy
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: a personal one i mean
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma, and I formulated mine ;)
[13:23] oola Neruda: i am having a problem with there seeming to be a need for a yes/no .. either/or answer... and yet, i feel it is really shades of grey
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: good :-)
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: i agree oola
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: from the first i have felt that way
[13:23] herman Bergson: It is not about a yes or no oola....
[13:24] herman Bergson: it is that you take a stand....and then put it to the test
[13:24] oola Neruda: they seem to defend positions so strongly... look at it THIS WAY
[13:24] herman Bergson: that doesnt mean your ideas are confirmed or rejected...
[13:24] herman Bergson: it means that you begin a development...
[13:25] herman Bergson: ideas change, are modified...and so on
[13:25] herman Bergson: A number of times I have pointed at that binary is a fallacy..
[13:26] Myriam Brianna: btw, not everything can be shades of grey. Either Mohammed was a historical person, an actual human, or he was not. What in-between can there be?
[13:26] herman Bergson: Like the "You are with me or against me" stand
[13:26] herman Bergson: I agree Myriam....
[13:26] oola Neruda: true Myriam
[13:27] herman Bergson: That is why I refered to rational arguments and logic as your tools
[13:27] Myriam Brianna sighs - gotta go again. Cya, all
[13:27] herman Bergson: Like in our present discourse...
[13:27] Daruma Boa: bye myriam
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:28] oola Neruda: baiee
[13:29] herman Bergson: Next lecture you'll meet Alfred Ayer...
[13:29] Daruma Boa: who is that
[13:29] herman Bergson: a man of great influence philosophically who declares moral concepts as meaningless
[13:29] Abraxas Nagy: ah
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: did we not discuss him in the first session??
[13:29] herman Bergson: A British philosopher..declared logical positivist..
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: year + age?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Book: Languege Truth and Logic ...1936
[13:30] herman Bergson: Then he was 24!
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: wow
[13:30] Daruma Boa: oh thats young
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes but the book had a major impact
[13:31] Daruma Boa: well some r young, but their mind is old^^
[13:32] herman Bergson: our most important question is are moral judgements factual statements which can be true or false or are they not facual statements
[13:32] herman Bergson: if they are factual then there is something mind-independent that can be observed
[13:32] Frederick Hansome: Doesn't it depend on the situation?
[13:33] herman Bergson: if they are not factual..then you cant deduce empirical statements from a moral judgement...
[13:33] herman Bergson: No Frederick...
[13:33] Frederick Hansome: Read a book years ago called "Situational Ethics"
[13:33] herman Bergson: this is really a fundamental issue...
[13:34] herman Bergson: no grey area here...
[13:34] Frederick Hansome: that is puzzling to me
[13:35] herman Bergson: At the end of this project you may have a clear understanding of the meaning of this 'choice'
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Frederick, I agree...
[13:35] Frederick Hansome: between....??
[13:36] herman Bergson: But the point morality as it were incorporated in reality as an independent property of being
[13:36] herman Bergson: or is it just something we make up in our mind
[13:36] herman Bergson: for instance....
[13:37] herman Bergson: is morality...the capacity to know the difference between good and bad innate in our DNA or is it just our mind that cooks such a thing up
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: good question
[13:38] herman Bergson: do we 'create' morality...ethics..or do we gradually discover ethics?
[13:38] oola Neruda: i think i mentioned instinct last time... motherhood for examples... even animals have that need to care for the young
[13:39] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: interesting, have animals also ethics?
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: that has been part of the discussion too reise
[13:39] herman Bergson: No..animals have no ethics....that is the whole point...
[13:39] herman Bergson: The instincts oola refers to control the behavior of animals..
[13:40] herman Bergson: we as conscious beings, can choose to be a good or a bad mother
[13:40] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: really, whats about the ape groups, that support each other
[13:40] herman Bergson: That is the whole point Reise....
[13:41] herman Bergson: In all social animals we see traits which we recognize as social even altruistic behavior, but it is controled by instinct
[13:41] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: i think we can not know this really today
[13:41] herman Bergson: due to our consciousness our position is way more complex
[13:41] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: dolphins are also a example
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: oh but science has proven that i think
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: at least to my mind
[13:42] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: they support a dying dolphin. is this only instinct?
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: yes actually
[13:43] herman Bergson: yes....because animals work on a stimulus response model
[13:43] herman Bergson: we however can choose...
[13:44] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: thats the science now. ok, i accept it. ;-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: An animal is not aware of evil
[13:44] herman Bergson: we are
[13:45] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: how good :-)
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: interesting tho reise that spain has passed an animal rights law
[13:45] herman Bergson: an animal is aware of danger...
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: putting apes on par with humans almost
[13:46] herman Bergson: we are aware of evil....and have to explain it, justify it...
[13:46] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: But i remember, that i have read somewhere, that apes can reflect themselves
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes...even en elephant seems to have so kind of self awareness
[13:47] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: i am sorry, i forgot, where the research was...
[13:47] herman Bergson: recognizes itself as individual in a mirror
[13:47] herman Bergson: but the situation is almost biblical...
[13:48] herman Bergson: mankind became aware of evil, wrong doing......
[13:48] herman Bergson: That was Adam and Eve
[13:48] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: May be also apes in history *smile*
[13:48] herman Bergson: From the very beginning we have been aware of our situatioon...
[13:49] Frederick Hansome: would you agree that
[13:49] Frederick Hansome: morality is a behavior
[13:49] Frederick Hansome: which requires conscious thought
[13:49] SOLOGO Hoxley: you were comparing animals and humans - i would like to know if there is an opposite in morals between human and avatars
[13:50] herman Bergson smiles
[13:50] Frederick Hansome: thererfore it must be constructed in the mind, and not hardwired
[13:50] herman Bergson: Good question SOLOGO
[13:50] herman Bergson: My answer is YES...
[13:50] SOLOGO Hoxley: herman explain a little
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: GOSH I think it is similar
[13:50] herman Bergson: Avatars have other moral standards than humans...not all but a lot have
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:50] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: avatars are real humans, but they can be here be incognito. Thats a difference
[13:51] Daruma Boa: yes its a human on the keys
[13:51] Daruma Boa: but its a part of yourself
[13:51] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: Incognito they make things, which they will never do in real
[13:51] herman Bergson: the ladies in this class can confirm that I guess, regarding male avatars
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:51] Violette McMinnar: lol
[13:51] oola Neruda: hmmmm yes
[13:52] Daruma Boa: but beeing incognito is also a part of yourself. i am, the one u r incognito^^
[13:52] herman Bergson: In the years passed by I have learnt to qualify a number of mainly male avatars as two pixel brains for instance.
[13:52] Daruma Boa: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~
[13:52] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: its not easy to be a female avatar on some sims. I studied it also with another avatar
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:52] herman Bergson: in pixel one you find "WANNA" and in pixel two you find "FUCK"
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:52] Daruma Boa: well, being a female is never easy..
[13:53] herman Bergson: is a typical moral incompletenes of the avatar...
[13:53] Violette McMinnar: I have no problem to ay F off to a wanna ****
[13:53] herman Bergson: not of all, but a reasonable number it seems
[13:53] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: May be some men in SL think, they can do all here
[13:53] Daruma Boa: yes
[13:53] Daruma Boa: aloha rod
[13:53] herman Bergson: I think that that is the simple case indeed...
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: Hi Daruma
[13:54] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: But there are also some women like this...
[13:54] herman Bergson: Welcome are in time today ㋡
[13:54] Daruma Boa: hihi
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:54] Rodney Handrick: Hi Herman
[13:54] SOLOGO Hoxley: so the discussion now is about good and bad
[13:54] herman Bergson: So yes..SOLOGO ..there is a difference in ethics between humans and avatars
[13:55] Daruma Boa: but most ppl learn, that this digital world isnt so easy and "making dreams come true" as they think.
[13:55] Daruma Boa: it has its own rules
[13:55] Violette McMinnar: but doing it all in SL shows the need in men to be like that, don't you think, so it is good they can try t here in sl and see how it works
[13:55] herman Bergson: Oh my Violette....
[13:55] herman Bergson: I wouldnt hope so...
[13:55] Violette McMinnar: lol yes?
[13:56] Violette McMinnar: why not
[13:56] SOLOGO Hoxley: violette, doing what? trying to be free? do avatars have the chance to make a choice
[13:56] Violette McMinnar: a negative or bad experience is still an experience, still teaches something
[13:56] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: and there is a avatar development
[13:57] herman Bergson: When some people behave in RL as they behave in SL because it worked there..I would be worried
[13:57] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: Reisekaufmann is my second avatar. The first was for fun and playing. I dont use him now
[13:57] Violette McMinnar: so they will burn their finger and understand
[13:57] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: Reisekaufmann is more my real self
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: an alter ego reis?
[13:57] herman Bergson: I think it is the other way around Violette...
[13:57] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: i have 4 alts. hahaha
[13:58] Rodney Handrick: wow....
[13:58] Violette McMinnar: mmm then they will burn their finger over and over if they are that stupid
[13:58] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: but also for research, i made a asian avatar to explore asian mentality
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: ahha
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: saw you lol
[13:59] Rodney Handrick: Hi Gemma
[13:59] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: thats secret, hahaha
[13:59] herman Bergson: Ok....
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: rodney
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: hihi
[13:59] herman Bergson: I think we are drifting away from the subject
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: well time
[13:59] herman Bergson: so ..let's refocus
[13:59] Daruma Boa: its intersting to see here how avatars are styled. cause thats the fanatsy of the "owner";-))
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:59] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: take us back, Herman
[14:00] SOLOGO Hoxley: question about moral other way round: does the experience as an avatar change moral in rl?
[14:00] Daruma Boa: guess no.
[14:00] Violette McMinnar: it can
[14:00] SOLOGO Hoxley: which way?
[14:00] herman Bergson: Wait...!
[14:00] Violette McMinnar: both ways;p
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: have to go
[14:00] Daruma Boa: well most get tired of this world here
[14:00] herman Bergson: I think we have to make a difference here...
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[14:00] Daruma Boa: and the ones who stay, understand after a while
[14:00] SOLOGO Hoxley: bye
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: c y Gemma
[14:01] Rodney Handrick: Bye Gemma
[14:01] herman Bergson: SOLOGO is more refering to a psychological change than to a philosophical issue
[14:01] Daruma Boa: bye gemma
[14:01] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: nein, derjenige lebt seine fantasien nur damit aus. Sologo. Aber daf├╝r ist eine virtuelle Welt unter anderem auch da.
[14:01] SOLOGO Hoxley: no - i am talking of moral
[14:01] herman Bergson: SL is used for behavior modification
[14:01] Violette McMinnar: my sl xperiences influenced my rl in several areas
[14:01] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: This happens also in other virtual worlds
[14:01] Daruma Boa: yes also good 2 talk about your probs with that incognito face
[14:02] herman Bergson: Yes but that is in the realm of psychology
[14:02] Daruma Boa: for some
[14:02] herman Bergson: Philosophically we only dela with justification of moral judgements for instance, or the meaning of concepts..
[14:02] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: look at twinity or others
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: I have to go... see you all next time :D
[14:03] Frederick Hansome: Philosophy is impoverished without psychology
[14:03] Daruma Boa: bye abraxas
[14:03] herman Bergson: bye Abraxas
[14:03] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[14:03] Rodney Handrick: Bye Abraxas
[14:03] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: ciao
[14:03] Violette McMinnar: time to go fo me, thanks and see you all next time\
[14:03] Frederick Hansome: good evenitn, all
[14:03] herman Bergson: We are overdue even.....time to dismiss class
[14:03] Reisekaufmann Zehetbauer: But Sologos questions were interesting
[14:04] Daruma Boa: pffft
[14:04] herman Bergson: and a late welcome to Yejiba.. :-)
[14:04] Rodney Handrick: Bye Violette
[14:04] herman Bergson: Dint see you come in Yejiba ㋡
[14:04] Daruma Boa: hey brain
[14:04] Daruma Boa: so, i have to go;-))
[14:04] BrainCrave OHare: hello - very sorry to have missed this

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Friday, November 13, 2009

06 Emerging intuitionism in ethics

In my former lecture it was quite clear that I am inclined to plead for a naturalistic interpretation of ethical terms.

That is, I suggest that there are relations between these terms and evolution theory, behavior, neurophysiology and biology.

I explicitly say 'inclined to', because this inclination is still based on incomplete knowledge and information. But nevertheless it is what I recently called my personal philosophical program.

That means, that you adopt a number of theories or arguments and regard them as yours. Your philosophical program is to put these theories and arguments as much as possible to the test.

And in this process we are confronted with the arguments of a philosopher who had a great influence on the meta-ethical discourse till the 60s of the 20th century: G.E. Moore.

G.E. Moore coined the expression "naturalistic fallacy" for how I am inclined to define ethical terms. However, what I plan to commit is not a fallacy at all.

As Frankena (1939) also nicely pointed out, it cannot be assumed at the outset that what Moore calls the naturalistic fallacy really is a mistake of any kind.

The naturalist proposes a certain kind of definition of some moral term and the non-naturalist then simply asserts that anyone who thinks such definitions are possible is mistaken.

Let Moore makes his point: "How “good” is to be defined is the most fundamental question in Ethics. If I am asked “How is good to be defined?” my answer is that it cannot be defined. (…)

“Good” is a simple notion, just as “yellow” is; as you cannot explain to one who does not already know it what yellow is, so you cannot explain what good is. (…)

“Good” is incapable of definition, in the most important sense. The most important sense of “definition” is that in which a definition states what parts invariably compose a certain whole; and in this sense “good” has no definition because it is simple and has no parts. "
- end quote -

When it is about moral statements like "It is good to do X", Moore says: "When I call such propositions “Intuitions,” I mean that they are incapable of evidence; I imply nothing as to our cognition of them."

And all this in a situation where I am focusing my philosophical analysis on a naturalistic semantical interpretation of the concept "good".

Moore says, when you say "Some action is good, because it generates pleasure (for the largest number of people)", I still can ask the question "Is pleasure really good?" This question makes sense and must mean something else than "Is pleasure really pleasure?"

He has a point there, but he leaves me with a lot of questions I have not yet proper answers to. That doesn't worry me too much, because there already exists a lot of philosophical literature on this issue.

This saves me from inventing the philosophical wheel again. However, saying that "good' is a special concept, a non-naturalistic one, while e.g. pleasure is a naturalistic one, is my first hurdle to take.

To say that 'good" is indefinable, that it is a simple concept, to some extend I understand what he means, but isn't here an other semantical interpretation possible?

And finally the claim that a concept is self-evident, that understanding is based on intuition, is unsatisfactory to me. Do we all have that intuition? Does it work the same in every human being.

In other words, still a lot of work to do ( ^_^ )
But yet as The Philosophy Class, which is not primarily intended to give all answers, but to get acquainted with real philosophical questions and discourse, we touch home.

The Discussion

[13:28] herman Bergson: So much for a start on intuitionism
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: a start
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: my apologies, something has come up, got to run
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: a ari
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:29] Paula Dix: bye Ari
[13:29] herman Bergson: what a pitty Aristotle...see you next time
[13:29] Abraxas Nagy: bye Ari
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: gone already
[13:29] herman Bergson: Yes a start, Gemma...
[13:29] herman Bergson: Moore's idea influenced ethics for more than 50 years
[13:30] herman Bergson: and there were more who didn't like his handling of the concept of good, but yet kept to is non-naturalistic approach
[13:30] oola Neruda: may i ask what the main results or outcomes of this domination had... in society as a whole..
[13:30] herman Bergson: like Ross, Ayer and Hare...We'll meet them soon
[13:30] oola Neruda: If it did
[13:31] oola Neruda: how it affects us
[13:31] herman Bergson: Hard to say oola....
[13:32] herman Bergson: but it is a reflection of the development that not all truth comes from above anymore
[13:32] herman Bergson: It would need research to really answer your question
[13:33] oola Neruda: thank you... you have pointed me in the right direction for searching
[13:33] herman Bergson: It says something on how to interpret moral standards in society..that is for sure
[13:34] herman Bergson: so I guess that in educational theory you could find influences
[13:34] oola Neruda: do you know why his ideas lost favor then?
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: did they with everyone??? or just some philosophers
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well....not yet in detail,, but philosophers like Anscombe and Philippa Foot had a great influence
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: Why does saying that good is intuitional not end the ethical argument right there?
[13:36] herman Bergson: Foot for instance argued that value terms had empirical content next to a non empirical one
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: but not Moore
[13:36] herman Bergson: The concept of rude for instance is in a way a judgemental word...expressing an attitude, but also refers to certain empirical data
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: I agree, but would Moore?
[13:37] herman Bergson: The main problem I have with Moore is his interpretation of 'good'
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: I think his argument may be untenable
[13:37] herman Bergson: no..Moore would never agree with Foot
[13:37] herman Bergson: But Moore is a common sense philosopher...
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: So he raised the "naturalistic fallacy" to protect his concept of good?
[13:38] herman Bergson: so his simple concept of good....when we say this or that is good...the understanding of good is based on common sense it seems
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: ahhh
[13:39] BrainCrave OHare: and how is common sense defined?
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: that's what he means by intuition
[13:39] herman Bergson: In the first place the word fallacy refers to a faulty argumentation....
[13:39] herman Bergson: but what a naturalist claims is not a fallacy but another way of defining concepts
[13:40] herman Bergson: Yes repose...intuition is another term that makes me nervous as an epistemological concept
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: yes, emergent phenomena would be fallacious on Moore's terms
[13:40] herman Bergson: you never can falsify a claim based on someones intuition
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: and I see that as a serious problem
[13:41] herman Bergson: in a philosophical debate
[13:42] herman Bergson: But in the next lectures we'll dig in somewhat deeper in Moore's position and how others followed and modified his ideas
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to go back and read the lecture on moore tooo i guess
[13:43] herman Bergson: is always a good thing to reread a lecture....
[13:44] herman Bergson: So ...the main point of today is that according to Moore you can not define the concept of good in naturalistic terms
[13:44] herman Bergson: good means pleasure...or good means util to others
[13:45] herman Bergson: good is according to him a kind of stand alone quality which we know by intuition
[13:45] herman Bergson: like we know the meaning of yellow but cant define is a likewise simple term
[13:45] herman Bergson: we know it as he says 'by acquaintance'
[13:46] herman Bergson: Regarding 'yellow' I can understand, but regarding 'good' iI dont
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: so -- the "naturalistic fallacy" was a way of defending his notion of good...
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: it is partly rhetorical?
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes. it is a logical consequence of his notion of good
[13:47] Paula Dix: I dont know... we can use some instruments and find the exact wave lenght for yellow
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: weakens his position
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: claiming it as a fallacy was overstated
[13:48] herman Bergson: Yes Paula, that is what Moore says too, but before you can do that you first must have 'acquaintance' with yellow
[13:48] BrainCrave OHare: agree paula
[13:48] Paula Dix: yes, but not similar thing to do with "good"
[13:48] herman Bergson: `Yes Repose, you could say that
[13:48] oola Neruda: I have worked with many blind people... and to discuss color with one who was born blind... is very interesting...
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: i would guess so
[13:49] Paula Dix: oola that should be fascinating!
[13:49] herman Bergson: Exactly Paula....the analogy isnt waterprooof
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: interesting, oola
[13:49] oola Neruda: but, as an artist... i can see the difficulties in their ... thoughts
[13:50] herman Bergson: So in the coming lectures one of the main jobs is to get clear the status of Moore's GOOD
[13:50] Paula Dix: nice :))
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: do you think we will?
[13:50] herman Bergson: and how others interpreted his ideas defending or rejecting them
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: Oh yes Gemma...we'll get that clear
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:51] Paula Dix: even nicier! :))
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:52] herman Bergson: If I have to keep a solid ground under my own philosophical ideas I HAVE to show that Moore's idea cant be kept alive
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: o A o!
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: ahha
[13:52] herman Bergson: At this moment I am only scratching the surface :-)
[13:53] Cailleach Shan: Blimey.... I need a little lie down.
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: klololol
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: pull his lynch pins, I say
[13:53] BrainCrave OHare: I would suggest that "good" is a measure of standard by each individual, as good can only be an individual perspective. That does not discount that what is good for one person might be good or bad for another. Let's take stealing as an example: it is "good" in economic terms (in a warped way) because the thief is the beneficiary, while "bad" for the victim. Why cannot good be defined objectively from an individualistic perspective - i.e, that which is earned and supports life without harming others? As Paula said, "yellow" can be defined objectively as well - it can be defined based on wavelength. Though a blind person may not be able to visualize yellow, that doesn't mean it cannot be defined objectively. How many people can visualize a wavelength - does that mean they cannot understand the term yellow? To me, I keep coming back to standards. How can you discuss ethics without standards as a tenet?
[13:53] herman Bergson: I am sorry I came down so hard on you Cailleach...
[13:53] BrainCrave OHare: (sorry so long)
[13:53] BrainCrave OHare: (i've been holding back)
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: OMG
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: way too long evidently
[13:54] herman Bergson: IS against class rules BrainCarve :-)
[13:54] BrainCrave OHare: oh
[13:54] BrainCrave OHare: sorry
[13:54] BrainCrave OHare: :)
[13:54] herman Bergson: I'll put the rules up, you are excused, you didnt know
[13:54] BrainCrave OHare: i will not make the mistake again
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: no prob
[13:55] herman Bergson: indeed no problem at all
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: @ Brian... interesting line though.
[13:55] BrainCrave OHare: ty
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: yep
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: mmm yes
[13:55] BrainCrave OHare: it is the same problem i had last class
[13:55] BrainCrave OHare: to discuss ethics without standards is to.... what?
[13:56] BrainCrave OHare: have no purpose (IMO)
[13:56] herman Bergson: Ok...Brain....I wont respond to your words now, but I'll get to them in next lectures
[13:56] BrainCrave OHare: ty
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: should be interesting
[13:57] herman Bergson: Think so too
[13:58] oola Neruda: i cannot help but wonder... WHOSE standards... seems it could change or evolve or... whatever
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: very true oola
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: for ever
[13:58] herman Bergson: that is what it is all about get that (a little) clear(er)
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: "without harming others" opens onto the social, I think
[13:59] herman Bergson: yes..and the Golden RUle is an interesting subject too
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: we are social beings
[13:59] herman Bergson: Evolutionary or ethological ideas are too
[13:59] BrainCrave OHare: i think it is important to go back to the tenets for life
[13:59] herman Bergson: But at this stage we are just at the beginning
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: even the words we use today are social constructs
[14:00] BrainCrave OHare: man's survival
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: can't escape the "group"
[14:00] BrainCrave OHare: that which is against life is bad
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: @ Herman... yes, I would love to hear a discussion on The Golden Rule sometime Herman.
[14:00] BrainCrave OHare: it is not necessary to escape anything - only to respect that which brings life
[14:00] herman Bergson: Is in the list Cailleach
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: :D
[14:00] BrainCrave OHare: and, what brings life to each individual is different
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: ok, agree
[14:01] herman Bergson: Well....I think we have ploughed our brains enough for today....course is laid in ㋡
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[14:01] BrainCrave OHare: ty herman
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: time for a nap cailleach
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: and the sails trimmed
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: mmm interesting as always
[14:02] herman Bergson: So, thank you for your participation....we got work to do ㋡
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: food for thought
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: Thanks you, Professor
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: see you tuesday
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: Thank
[14:02] Gemma Cleanslate: i hope
[14:02] herman Bergson: Thank you...for your attention ㋡
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: thank you herman
[14:03] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[14:03] Gemma Cleanslate: all
[14:03] Abraxas Nagy: :D
[14:03] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman..... Haere Ra everyone.
[14:03] Abraxas Nagy: bye Gemma :D
[14:03] herman Bergson: Hi CONNIE...didnt see you come in ㋡
[14:03] oola Neruda: baieee y'all

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

05 Moral Objectivism

Among objectivist theories of morality, the most straightforward version declares that is it an objective fact, for example, that it is wrong to ignore a person in distress if you are able to offer aid.

This sort of theory asserts that the wrongness of such behavior is part of objective reality in the same way that the sun’s being more massive than the earth is part of objective reality.

Both facts would obtain regardless of whether any conscious being ever came to know either of them.

Thus is the claim put forward, that there exist moral facts, that morality is a property of things. Of course we immediately have to face the question "How can we know these moral qualities?"

Our five senses tell us how things are in the world, not how they ought to be. Nor can we reason from the way things are to the way they ought to be, since, as David Hume noted, “is” does not logically imply an “ought.”

Some postulate a special mode of perceiving for moral values, but that is problematic. We have a good understand of how our senses operate, but such a moral sense….what is it, how does it work?

Others see in the fact that there is such a widespread disagreement about moral values a proof of the subjectivity of moral values. However, that is a mistake. Widespread disagreement does not indicate that there is no objective fact to be known.

There has been a period of widespread disagreement about the fact whether the earth is round and rotating around the sun or flat. The disagreement doesn't justify that you can have it both ways. Eventually there are the facts.

If there is widespread disagreement and we claim that morality is a property of our world, then logically we support the assertion that one of the conflicting moral judgements is wrong.

When we accept that morality is a property in our world which not just depends on our mind, like the green color of the grass is a property of that plant independent of whether there is a perceiver or not, we could say ….

Ok…..I see that moral property, for instance of an action, but WHY should I be moral? Even if I am aware of basic moral standards, such as don’t kill and don’t steal, this does not necessarily mean that I will be psychologically compelled to act on them.

Here we have reached the quintessential question of ethics: how can we justify an objective (which means not entirely depended of an individual mind) base for morality.

We can claim that standards of morality are in some sense derived from, or entailed by, the nature of the world and the nature of human beings.

And since human beings are by nature rational beings, it is morally appropriate that they should behave in a way that conforms to their rational nature.

as Bentham once wrote, “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do.

On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne” (Bentham 1832).

If a moral philosopher asks “whence morality,” he is most likely to be concerned with the justification of moral principles or the source and nature of obligation. And this reference to our psychology can be an explanation of such a source.

We can go one step further and think of the claims made over thirty years ago with the emergence of sociobiology, when E.O. Wilson suggested that “the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized” (1975).

There are important potential connections between the scientific explanatory issues and philosophical ones. And one of the primary scientific questions could be: are we the only living being which is capable of normative guidance?

If so, then it would be part of evolved human nature to employ moral judgment in governing human behavior, rather than a mere “cultural veneer” artificially imposed on an amoral human nature.

How neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory might bear on our understanding of ethics or morality is a new chapter in the philosophical discourse on ethics. We'll come to that later.

The Discussion

[13:19] herman Bergson: So much on this approach of ethics
[13:20] herman Bergson: If you have questions or remarks...feel free
[13:20] oola Neruda: i think that parenthood ... we and animals have some instinct to protect and nurture our young... and the tribe takes care of the tribe... is it not possible that morals are partially instinct made formal/rational
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes oola that is one of the ideas of sociobiology
[13:20] BrainCrave OHare: i'd like to go back to your comment: "Here we have reached the quintessential question of ethics: how can we justify an objective (which means not entirely depended of an individual mind) base for morality."
[13:21] BrainCrave OHare: for, how can it be moral if not perceived by the mind?
[13:21] oola Neruda: that is what i was getting at
[13:21] oola Neruda: based on instinct
[13:21] Frederick Hansome: Please elaborate on what is meant by a biological basis of morality. I have no idea what that means
[13:21] herman Bergson: I see....
[13:22] herman Bergson: What I mean is the difference created by the mind opposed to perceived by the mind
[13:22] BrainCrave OHare: i'm sorry - i don't see a difference
[13:22] herman Bergson: So morality is a property one can perceive
[13:22] BrainCrave OHare: unless you're getting into freud and subconscious
[13:22] BrainCrave OHare: yes - morality must be perceived
[13:23] herman Bergson: The subjectivist would say that all moral values are his personal idea
[13:23] BrainCrave OHare: that doesn't make it true though
[13:23] herman Bergson: He creates them himself
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: each person you mean??
[13:23] BrainCrave OHare: relativism
[13:23] herman Bergson: no...
[13:23] herman Bergson: but moral judgements do not need to be propositions with truth value
[13:24] BrainCrave OHare: why not?
[13:24] herman Bergson: a number of philosophers hold that view
[13:24] BrainCrave OHare: if it is not truthful, it is not moral - by definition, no?
[13:24] Cailleach Shan: Aren't moral values defined by ethnicity.... i.e. Sharia Law?
[13:24] herman Bergson: the next lectures I'll discuss this group: emotivism and prescriptivism
[13:25] Frederick Hansome: it seems to me that morality is a human construct quite apart from physical facts: i.e., the relative size of the sun and earth
[13:25] herman Bergson: Well Cailleach, that would reduce morality to cultural relativism
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: OMG!!!
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: omg ys
[13:26] BrainCrave OHare: relativism, by definition, means there are no universal standards
[13:26] herman Bergson: a human construct
[13:26] Frederick Hansome: what is the matter with that?
[13:26] Cailleach Shan: Well, to a degree I think that's true.. Each society evolves a moral construct to ensure the survival of the tribe.
[13:26] herman Bergson: depends on how you read that...
[13:26] BrainCrave OHare: but you cannot remove humanity from the definition of morality
[13:26] herman Bergson: Is the construct a product of the mind or a rational conclusion based on observation for instance
[13:27] BrainCrave OHare: i'm sorry - i, again, don't understand the difference
[13:27] Frederick Hansome: can morality be introduced into any other animal or life form?
[13:27] Cailleach Shan: Can't it be both?
[13:27] herman Bergson: yes Cailleach....
[13:28] herman Bergson: some modern philosophers hold the view that it is possible that part of morality is relative while another part is objective
[13:28] BrainCrave OHare: i would see that as a contradiction
[13:29] BrainCrave OHare: and, if you follow Rand's views, contradictions don't exist so one of the premises must be wrong
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: if you do follow her that is
[13:29] BrainCrave OHare: :)
[13:29] Apmel Ibbetson: Rand? OMG
[13:29] herman Bergson: I see no problem in the fact that polygamy is for instance culturally biased while stealing is not
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: they could be simply different, rather than contradictions
[13:30] oola Neruda: biology... maintaining family name and species
[13:30] herman Bergson: One of my lectures on RAnd is missing from the blog :-(
[13:30] Cailleach Shan: One can observe the manifested results of the constructs of the mind.
[13:30] Apmel Ibbetson: i didn´t steal it..promise
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: oh????
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: wow
[13:31] herman Bergson: The most critical one ㋡
[13:31] oola Neruda: one's genetic code... is what i meant
[13:31] BrainCrave OHare: but should culture have anything to do with morality?
[13:31] herman Bergson: One option is indeed to look for a biological explanation of behavior
[13:32] Frederick Hansome: just because stealing is universally condammed (if it is) it can still be culture based.
[13:32] herman Bergson: There is a close relation between culture and moral values
[13:32] Cailleach Shan: Yes, The Golden Rule pops up in most cultures.
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well Frederick....that is what I'd like to find out
[13:32] Paula Dix: i think like Oola, there is a biological base, then each culture builds on it... like language
[13:32] BrainCrave OHare: but that might be considered based on education and experience rather than what is universally right or wrong
[13:33] oola Neruda: perhaps it is not an either/or thing... perhaps it is in a grey area between biology and culture
[13:33] Paula Dix: yes
[13:33] oola Neruda: both at once
[13:33] herman Bergson: I prefer that idea too oola
[13:33] BrainCrave OHare: but does that imply there aren't any standards then?
[13:34] herman Bergson: But at least the claim is now that there is an objective base for moral values
[13:34] Frederick Hansome: if lower animals, say chimps, can be shown to punish oner of their kind for stealing, it might be possible to establish a biological basis for morality.
[13:34] herman Bergson: or said otherwise....we didn't invent it, but discovered it
[13:35] oola Neruda: named it...
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Frederick.....someway along that line of thinking
[13:35] Apmel Ibbetson: to call them lower was a moral statement :)
[13:35] BrainCrave OHare: if a chimp can reason, then a chimp can be moral
[13:35] Frederick Hansome: I think it was objective
[13:36] Paula Dix: there is something like that between chimps. One that lies is put aside, nobody trust him
[13:36] Apmel Ibbetson: should future robots also be called lower when we install morals in them?
[13:36] herman Bergson: My personal opinion is clear on this issue....I focus on moral realism
[13:36] Frederick Hansome: that i want to see... a robot with morals!!!! :)
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: Anthropomorphic?
[13:37] oola Neruda: i think the idea of morals implies self discipline and choice... which a robot would not really have
[13:37] Rando Luckless: A moral is a completely human fallacy.
[13:37] Apmel Ibbetson: well we are biological what is the moral difference
[13:37] Rando Luckless: The idea of 'proper' morals changes from culture to culture
[13:37] Frederick Hansome: no free will, Apmel?
[13:37] herman Bergson: This would bring us back to our discussion on 'Can my computer think?' ㋡
[13:38] Rando Luckless: No
[13:38] Apmel Ibbetson: yes as far as chimps and robots have it
[13:38] Rando Luckless: not creatively at least
[13:38] oola Neruda: nor do they take responsabilitiy for the answers they come up with...
[13:38] Cailleach Shan: Heheheheh...... define 'think'
[13:38] Rando Luckless: The closest to creative thinking that we've come is supercomputers that try random permutations, and test the most efficient design (for cpus)
[13:39] Apmel Ibbetson: I will not continue on this will get off the subject..sorry herman
[13:39] herman Bergson: If my computer could think it would also be able to make moral judgements ㋡
[13:39] oola Neruda: they have no choice in the matter of moral questions... responsibility/self control
[13:39] Rando Luckless: herman, what makes you say that
[13:40] herman Bergson: We are far way from that still
[13:40] Rando Luckless: Thinking and morals have nothing to do with each other
[13:40] BrainCrave OHare: yikes
[13:40] Cailleach Shan: Thank the Universe for that Herman.
[13:40] BrainCrave OHare: i wouldn't agree with that
[13:40] oola Neruda: did you hear me say self discipline Rando?
[13:40] Rando Luckless: You doubt that psychopaths can think?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well Rando, in stead of thinking use the concept of rationality
[13:40] herman Bergson: the fact that we are rational beings
[13:41] Frederick Hansome: how could one exercise morality without thinking?
[13:41] herman Bergson: that we can refrain from actions by choice and judgement
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: a psychopath is the exception that proves only the exception
[13:41] herman Bergson: It is our rationality that makes us moral beings
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: oops
[13:41] Cailleach Shan: lol.... Party party Gem.
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: cliked the chimera
[13:42] herman Bergson: I guess you want to party Gemma ㋡
[13:42] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:42] Cailleach Shan: Is it moraly appropriate to dance in a philosophy class?
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:42] Rando Luckless: I disagree. Morals are ambiguous.
[13:42] herman Bergson: Yes it is :-)
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: glad i added to the class
[13:43] Rando Luckless: but we can agree to disagree :P
[13:43] oola Neruda: yes...they are ambiguous...but they nevertheless exist
[13:43] herman Bergson: What do you mean by that Rando?
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: ethics disambiguates them
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: that is all we do in philosohy class
[13:43] Paula Dix: herman there is not some kind of moral between animals also? Like that thing that a lion wont attack a zebra while she is drinking water
[13:43] Rando Luckless: no
[13:44] Rando Luckless: a lion will fucking kill a zebra if it's hungry
[13:44] herman Bergson: I would say that that is a matter of instincts
[13:44] Paula Dix: i see that with the dog and cats here also, sometimes cats go eat dog food and she don't do anything to them, even if she is much bigger
[13:44] herman Bergson: Morality emerges when you can make choices based on observations and judgements
[13:45] Cailleach Shan: Yes, and when morality declines we start killing each other!!
[13:45] Apmel Ibbetson: where does the judgement have to lie.. instinct are judgements to..made by evolution
[13:46] Rando Luckless: Morality does not decline when we start killing eachother. In fact that's when it emerges
[13:46] herman Bergson: instinct behavior is determined behavior
[13:46] Paula Dix: but... some objective basis for morals wont be also something equivalent to instinct?
[13:46] Rando Luckless: There's no good without evil
[13:46] Paula Dix: i mean, without decision?
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: Augustine believed there was no evil...
[13:47] Rando Luckless: Morals are indoctrination from an early age into the social structures that be.
[13:47] Frederick Hansome: it is still to be established that there is any objective basis for morality
[13:47] herman Bergson: That, Paula , is the big question....
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: true
[13:47] herman Bergson: if we regard instinct behavior as determined, responsability disappears
[13:48] BrainCrave OHare: the objective basis for morality must be a rational (i.e., thinking) mind
[13:48] herman Bergson: Everything would only be one big chainreaction
[13:48] Frederick Hansome: instincts, on the other hand, are objectively demonstrabel
[13:48] Apmel Ibbetson: then you have to start defining what constitutes a do you program it ?
[13:49] herman Bergson: yes....and the rational mind can refrain from an insctinct driven animal cant
[13:49] Paula Dix: yes, surely we can act against our instincts... but that ought feel strange :)
[13:49] BrainCrave OHare: agreed
[13:49] Apmel Ibbetson: hmm..that uis not blacj and white the way I see is a matter of drgree
[13:49] herman Bergson: My first reaction would be: a decision is defined by the action it entails
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: seems to me also apmel
[13:50] Paula Dix: yes, so we go back to what oola said, a biological basis upon which we build
[13:50] BrainCrave OHare: if it is gray (i.e., not black or white), by definition, it is not objective as there is no standard
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: ohoh no standard
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: ??
[13:50] herman Bergson: Grey is a standard too, I would say
[13:51] oola Neruda: a complex standard
[13:51] BrainCrave OHare: what is the standard?
[13:51] BrainCrave OHare: how do you define it?
[13:51] oola Neruda: the way art is not just one thing
[13:51] oola Neruda: it is sort of ambiguous also...
[13:51] oola Neruda: not direct
[13:51] herman Bergson: We are stuck in binary thinking.....
[13:51] Apmel Ibbetson: the best standard we have is the standard model in physics :)
[13:51] Rando Luckless: grey is a flexible standard.
[13:51] herman Bergson: it is yes or no....either or
[13:51] BrainCrave OHare: A is A - aristotle - is there gray?
[13:52] herman Bergson: Maybe that is not the only way to answer a question
[13:52] Paula Dix: like it start with a strong standard then it goes vanishing...
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: and, yet, Apmel, where is quantum gravity?
[13:52] Rando Luckless: A is not A. An A in times new roman is not identical to an A in sans serif
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: true repose..
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: just teasing a bit...
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: i said the best..not the final :)
[13:52] Rando Luckless: There's an infinite amount of distinctions to be made in any situation. How does one judge what is relevant?
[13:53] BrainCrave OHare: by one's own self-interest
[13:53] herman Bergson: Ok....
[13:53] Cailleach Shan: Absolutely Brian... total selfishness.
[13:53] oola Neruda: morals/art... standard... need to be flexible for the time and circumstances where it is applied... flexible, as Rando says... is actually a necessity
[13:53] herman Bergson: Future research will focus on finding this objective base, a justification of moral values that not only depend on our mind
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: we better find one
[13:54] Rando Luckless: There will never be one
[13:54] oola Neruda: i believe there are people who speak of an evolution of what/who God is... that it changes with time, place and circumstances
[13:54] herman Bergson: Next few lectures will however deal first with those philosophers who don't regard moral judgements at propositions
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: hmmm...first application I've seen for intensionality/extensionality
[13:55] herman Bergson: May I thank you for this lively discussion ㋡
[13:55] Rando Luckless: Morals in viking times were far from morals as we see them now
[13:55] Cailleach Shan: Excellent..
[13:55] BrainCrave OHare: thank you herman
[13:55] oola Neruda: nods
[13:56] Apmel Ibbetson: thank you herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: Gemma needs to organize her birthday party
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: that is what we are discussing rando
[13:56] Qwark Allen: ty herman
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: oh lol
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: avilion next
[13:56] Abraxas Nagy: o A o!
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: Yay.... can I come?
[13:56] Qwark Allen: Hooooooo!!!!!!! \O/
[13:56] Qwark Allen: |
[13:56] Qwark Allen: / \
[13:56] Qwark Allen: Hoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: no party today
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: sob.
[13:56] Abraxas Nagy: o A o!
[13:56] herman Bergson: ok:-)
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: we just had the big anniversary one
[13:56] herman Bergson: We can wait Gemma
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:56] Qwark Allen: mmm
[13:57] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ㋡
[13:57] oola Neruda: be well all
[13:57] Apmel Ibbetson: have to leave you all and program a moral next time!
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday
[13:57] Cailleach Shan: Bye all. Haere Ra.
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: hahaha free flight
[13:57] Qwark Allen: cya friends later
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: c ya m8
[13:57] Frederick Hansome: Thank you herman, adn all who participated
[13:57] herman Bergson: ok Apmel Good luck with th eproject
[13:57] Violette McMinnar: thank you, great discussion see you all next time
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: bye Violette
[13:57] Rando Luckless: Peace. Thanks for the intelligent conversation everyone.
[13:58] BrainCrave OHare: thank you all
[13:58] bergfrau Apfelbaum: unfortunately I must go:-/ thanks herman! see u thursday, class :-))) Gemma!! wonderful birthday to you!
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: thanks
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:58] Rando Luckless: Herman, Where did you get that pipe?
[13:58] herman Bergson: I made it myself
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: i bet he made it
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:58] Rando Luckless: nice
[13:58] herman Bergson: want one?
[13:59] Rando Luckless: yes!
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:59] herman Bergson: moment
[13:59] Rando Luckless accepted your inventory offer.
[13:59] Rando Luckless accepted your inventory offer.
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