Tuesday, December 1, 2009

09 A personal view...

You may or may not yet have noticed that there is something special developing here. What you are witnessing is in fact the confrontation of my personal philosophical views with the theories of ethics.

One thing that emerges clearly is my personal rejection of subjectivism in ethics (as well as in other areas like epistemology).

An other thing that becomes clear is, that since Hume we make a strict distinction between "feelings" and "sensory experiences", which is closely related to "subjective" and "objective".

When you look at the order of subjects on the board behind me you also see a road from subjectivism to objectivism. That order is not my personal creation.

It is from "Ethics: Contemporary Readings" a Routledge publication form 2004. After a global survey of the book I thought its setup would be a nice roadmap and to me it is a revealing adventure.

Sofar it has shown us that the quintessential question in modern ethics is: Is (rational) justification of moral values possible or not. Or stated more popular, can we transcend the"Well, that is your opinion ..... but this is my opinion!" deadlock?

You may have noticed that it is my conviction that we can. Yes, we can ...who said that before? This means that we once and for all have to get rid of that simplistic dichotomy "subjective - objective"

In everyday conversation they are mutually exclusive. "Subjective" means private "mental" stuff: sensations, beliefs, feelings, emotions, opinions, etc.

"Objective" means public "physical" stuff: publicly-observable things, events, knowledge, facts.

But this is just a way we, as thinking beings, have interpreted our world, our experiences. We love simplicity, however the philosopher John Searle showed that we have to be less simplistic in this case.

Metaphysics consists of arguments and counterarguments about what we should call "real" or what we should say "is" or "has being". "Is free will real?" is a metaphysical question.

In metaphysics, something exists objectively if its existence does not depend on its being experienced. A claim is epistemologically objective if there are generally recognized methods for deciding whether the claim is true or false.

Now we make the following distinction. We should distinguish two kinds of objectivity:
1. metaphysical objectivity, and
2. epistemological objectivity.

We also should distinguish two kinds of subjectivity:
1. metaphysical subjectivity, and
2. epistemological subjectivity.

Your toothache is metaphysically subjective. It is your pain. Noone else can feel it. Impossible to know if my toothache would feel the same for you. So, when you say "It hurts!" is this just your personal opinion, about which I can't say a thing?

On the contrary. Your toothache is also metaphysically objective. First there is your public statement "It hurts!". Then there is the dentist who describes the bad condition of your tooth, the infection, etc.

Your toothache is a private experience. Only you know what you feel. What knowledge does the dentist have about it about this metaphysically subjective matter.

In epistemology, a statement (claim, assertion, proposition) is epistemologically objective if its truth value can be determined intersubjectively by generally-agreed methods or procedures.

To say a statement is epistemologically objective is not to say the statement is true; it's just to say we could figure out a public method for determining whether or not the statement is true.

As you may understand, the dentist has access to the metaphysically objective properties of the toothache. He can examine your tooth and together with you observe its specific condition.

In other words, what seems to be a subjective matter, your pain, can be objectively assessed as well. Your pain is not just a matter of opinion.

Okay — are ethical statements mere matters of opinion or expressions of personal attitudes or emotions?

A moral subjectivist says in effect that moral judgments are either subjective or objective in the ordinary (over-simplified) sense.

The subjectivist then assumes that if you feel a certain way about X, you can’t then be objective about X, since feelings are subjective and "subjective" and "objective" are supposed to be opposites. And if you can’t be objective, you can’t use math or logic, i.e., you can’t reason.

When you take into account the more nuanced view of John Searle, you can see the shortcomings of the subjectivist's reasoning .

An example: "Abortion is wrong." If this is only a pure metaphysically subjective feeling, how should we then discuss this matter? It is indeed your opinion, just that.

However, whether you are for or against abortion, I guess everybody would agree that it is wrong to take innocent human life.

And then the debate on ethics will start and we can only reason our way to consensus, based on metaphysically objective facts.

In other words, the way people generally think in terms of subjective/objective is a simplification and a cause of many unnecessary disagreements.

Finally let me show you something on the board behind me. The scheme is a development from R. M. Hare’s A Taxonomy of Ethical Theories (1997) and then the test.

Read it carefully and then answer the question: where do you think, I stand in this taxonomy?

Take your time.. ㋡
Well ....any suggestions?

The Discussion

[13:27] oola Neruda: is it necessary to go through a step...or can you skip to the next one
[13:27] Dudda Susa ist offline
[13:28] herman Bergson: oh sorry....this is the wrong board
[13:28] Daruma Boa: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: ah
[13:28] BrainCrave OHare: i was wondering about that
[13:28] Cailleach Shan: He he
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: me to
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: aah
[13:28] George Taurog ist offline
[13:28] herman Bergson: that was a real test ㋡
[13:28] itsme Frederix: mm I just wanted to answer 0 step
[13:28] herman Bergson: slow rezzing here
[13:29] herman Bergson: ah..there is comes
[13:30] herman Bergson: can anyone read it?
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:30] itsme Frederix: np
[13:30] herman Bergson: still a little blurred for me
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:30] Cailleach Shan: Yep.
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: might be good on a notecard
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: mmm yes
[13:30] itsme Frederix: So we have to understand the board and you for an answer, tuff
[13:30] BrainCrave OHare: i had to get up to read it
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: i am using my cam
[13:31] herman Bergson: It should have been up much earlier so it had time to rezz..
[13:31] Abraxas Nagy: I use my camara controls
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: but would be BETTER ON A NOTECARD
[13:31] Abraxas Nagy: here here
[13:31] Cailleach Shan: I took a snapshot.
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: if we are going to refer to it again after today
[13:31] herman Bergson: Next time on a notecard Gemma ㋡
[13:31] Abraxas Nagy: good tip ty
[13:32] Cailleach Shan: mmmmm.. I seem to have a foot in all 10 camps!
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: don't we all
[13:32] herman Bergson: Oh my Cailleach...
[13:33] herman Bergson: The question was...where do you think I stand in this taxonomy?
[13:33] itsme Frederix: Herman if you were putting a pistol agains my head, I would say ... 6 You probably would shoot ;)
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: 8
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: I would say 9 Herman
[13:34] Repose Lionheart: yes, 8
[13:34] Kayle Matzerath ist online
[13:34] herman Bergson: I see I have still a lot of explaining to do
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:34] oola Neruda: i go with 6
[13:34] Duda Poulot ist online
[13:34] Cailleach Shan: Hahahahahaha
[13:34] Apmel Ibbetson: I say 10
[13:34] BrainCrave OHare: based on the little i've seen, i'd say 3
[13:34] herman Bergson: No other bids?
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: Aren't we inevitably projecting our own views here Herman?
[13:35] oola Neruda: 10 is a good one Apmel
[13:35] itsme Frederix: Well how objective is your answer, or may it be subjectieve (epistomological & methaphysical)
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well when I take the answers in account I would say Yes Cailleach ㋡
[13:36] herman Bergson: Like the subjects of this project this taxonomy runs from
[13:36] herman Bergson: objective to subjective
[13:36] itsme Frederix: Calliebach right you are, is it possible to judge Herman on his own ... by us?
[13:36] herman Bergson: this means that my views belong to the area from 3 up to 1
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:37] herman Bergson: As I said today...it is possible to ratioanlly discuss moral judgements
[13:37] Apmel Ibbetson: well i don´t agree I think the three first ones are extremly subjective:)
[13:37] Daruma Boa: you standing in my camera brain^^
[13:37] Daruma Boa: ^^
[13:37] BrainCrave OHare: i'm very sorry
[13:37] BrainCrave OHare: i think i need glasses
[13:37] Daruma Boa: no problem^^
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:38] Daruma Boa: *GIGGLES* :)~~~~
[13:38] herman Bergson: Is the board upside down for you Apmel:) ?
[13:38] Apmel Ibbetson: the tenth one seems to be openminded ..:9
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: do you know how to use your camera??
[13:38] Apmel Ibbetson: no herman I just don´t agree with you :)
[13:38] Apmel Ibbetson: on what is subjective
[13:38] herman Bergson: ok....
[13:38] BrainCrave OHare: yes, but it didn't seem to come in close enough
[13:38] Jester Fizzle ist offline
[13:38] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:39] Apmel Ibbetson: the tenth one seem more objective to me than any of the other
[13:39] herman Bergson: subjective is when something is only private to the mind, not accessible for any outside verification or so and ceases to exist when the state of mind disappears
[13:40] itsme Frederix: Is this Hegelian logic (more or less adverse) you are using Apmel?
[13:40] Apmel Ibbetson: no herman..I don´t agree
[13:40] oola Neruda: your example of free will for example
[13:40] Apmel Ibbetson: there is NOTHING private to the " mind"'

[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Apmel, your dont agree is an example of a subjective state
[13:41] Apmel Ibbetson: hahaha..sure
[13:41] herman Bergson: so it cant be discussed
[13:41] itsme Frederix: and your judgement also Herman
[13:41] herman Bergson: no...
[13:42] itsme Frederix: no why?
[13:42] BrainCrave OHare: to me, #2 seems out of order - or, at minimum, a contradiction
[13:42] herman Bergson: First of all I have given arguments and explanations of metaphysical and epistemological subjectivity and objectivity
[13:42] herman Bergson: I have shown how something can be metphysically subjective and objective at the same time
[13:43] herman Bergson: reread the lecture ㋡
[13:43] oola Neruda: but that does not mean it covers ALL instances
[13:43] Apmel Ibbetson: I was Imming at the time..sorry:9
[13:43] Apmel Ibbetson: i will read it afterwards
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:43] oola Neruda: like in science.. you experiment to find the exception
[13:44] herman Bergson: that is not the point
[13:44] Repose Lionheart: i didn't see the taxonomical arrangement at first, but it is ordered across the elements of the list...
[13:44] herman Bergson: what this is about is about the semantics of moral judgements

13:45] herman Bergson: it is about the question: can moral judgements be true or false, or dont thet have a truth value
[13:45] Lovey Dayafter: whose moral judgements?
[13:45] herman Bergson: anybody's
[13:46] herman Bergson: and is a suggested in my lecture of today...moral judgements can have factual content
[13:46] Apmel Ibbetson: is there a moral above surviving?
[13:46] BrainCrave OHare: thinking apmel
[13:46] herman Bergson: the dichotomy feelings/ sensory experiences is artificial
[13:46] Apmel Ibbetson: come on!!
[13:46] itsme Frederix: are moral judgement not like a "law", doesn't matter if true (a law is most certain neither true or false)
[13:47] herman Bergson: Yes Itsme that is one approach ..duty ethics
[13:47] herman Bergson: or the Golden Rule
[13:47] itsme Frederix: give me another approach please
[13:48] herman Bergson: prescriptivism assumes that moral judgements are a kind of prescriptions (laws to act upon) too
[13:48] itsme Frederix: thats about the same
13:49] herman Bergson: But who justifies and how to justify your laws Itsme?
[13:49] itsme Frederix: the one obeying is justifying
[13:49] herman Bergson: but give him a reason to obey
[13:50] Cailleach Shan: Fear
[13:50] BrainCrave OHare: life
[13:50] itsme Frederix: turns out well, pragmatism
[13:50] Abraxas Nagy: wealth
[13:50] Ninoo Vita ist online
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: love, kindness
[13:50] herman Bergson: ok...there you come in the realm of factual statements related to moral judgements
[13:50] Apmel Ibbetson: the last time was here herman .said someting on the line of being an evolutionist.. moral has to do with what´s good for the species..NOW he say she is somewhere from 1 to t´3 on the board..those three are about syntax..come on!!'
[13:51] itsme Frederix: at last there is always faction (presumed)
[13:51] herman Bergson: here we go in the direction of utilitarianism

[13:52] herman Bergson: No Apmel..they are about descriptive statements that can be true or false
[13:52] itsme Frederix: well util... is a way to survive (for what purpose I do not know)
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: only syntax can be true or false
[13:52] itsme Frederix: sorry 2 discussions
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: that is math
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: hmm
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: truth doesn´t exist outside that
[13:52] herman Bergson: No Apmel..
[13:52] Apmel Ibbetson: yes herman
[13:53] Apmel Ibbetson: there is no truth outside of math
[13:53] herman Bergson: what is meant that the staement "John is a man" and "John is honest" have the same syntax
[13:53] herman Bergson: but a different semantics
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: Godel, Apmel
[13:53] Marley Blogfan ist offline
[13:53] Apmel Ibbetson: it is the only syntax where you know what you talk about when you say s´omething is true
[13:54] Apmel Ibbetson: notwithstanding godel
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: no, and on its own terms
[13:54] herman Bergson: And what I am after is analyzing the semantics of moral judgements away from the simplistic subjective/objective dichotomy
[13:54] itsme Frederix: Apmel that is 1900 talk, read Russell and others, they gave up
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: how can you withstand him?
[13:54] Apmel Ibbetson: a lot of math can not tell what is true or not either
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: true
[13:54] Apmel Ibbetson: but some parts can
[13:55] Apmel Ibbetson: änd that is all there is to truth
[13:55] Apmel Ibbetson: no itsme no
[13:55] itsme Frederix: seems an ethical statement about holy mat(h)ers
[13:55] Ninoo Vita ist offline
[13:55] herman Bergson: I think it is a reduction of reality...
[13:55] Apmel Ibbetson: no..i just don´t think that hermans scheme can be defended
[13:56] herman Bergson: a lot of statements arent mathematical but factual
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: truth is partial and partially known -- perhaps
[13:56] Apmel Ibbetson: facts are a whole other game herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: the truth of such statements is based on agreed methods of confirmation or refutation
13:57] herman Bergson: And such statements are not just opinions
[13:57] Apmel Ibbetson: that is science..and science never claim to be true
[13:57] itsme Frederix: practical truth and holy truth
[13:57] Ninoo Vita ist online
[13:57] Apmel Ibbetson: just workable
[13:57] herman Bergson: Sience never claims to be false, you mean
[13:57] itsme Frederix: pragmatism and idealism
[13:57] herman Bergson: Science claims to be (highly) probable at least
[13:57] Apmel Ibbetson: well it works
[13:58] itsme Frederix: I quit, interesting but bedtime for me
[13:58] itsme Frederix: Greetings
[13:58] Daruma Boa: bye
[13:58] herman Bergson: Night Itsme
[13:58] Lovey Dayafter: nite
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: there is what science claims to do and what scientists do...
[13:58] Apmel Ibbetson: NN
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: c ya Its
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: ye slol
[13:58] Abraxas Nagy: poof
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: and i have to go now too
[13:58] Cailleach Shan: Herman... it seems to me if you leave out the "subjective/objective dichotomy... there is nothing left.... to me all moral judgments are based on enculturated data.
[13:58] Daruma Boa: bye gemma
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: alas, me, too
[13:59] Sexyleggs Beliveau ist online
[13:59] Abraxas Nagy: thanks for the amazing lecture
[13:59] Daruma Boa: bye abraxas
[13:59] herman Bergson: You should have a closer look at the metaphysical subjectivity and objectivity distinction of Searle, Cailleach
[13:59] Abraxas Nagy: c u all nexttime :D
[14:00] Apmel Ibbetson: searle is hopelessly confused
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: OK.... I'll give it a whilr.
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: whirl.
[14:00] oola Neruda: if napoleon was killed in a plane crash then napoleon is dead ... napoleon was not killed in a plan crash...therefore napoleon is not dead
[14:00] Apmel Ibbetson: in what world oola?
[14:00] Daruma Boa: ;_)
[14:00] Apmel Ibbetson: we live in a multiverse
[14:01] herman Bergson: I am sorry oola , but that is logically incorrect
[14:01] oola Neruda: my point being that it is still symantics
[14:01] Apmel Ibbetson: and logic has nothing to do with it
[14:01] herman Bergson: when the antecedence is false the consequence cant be true
[14:01] oola Neruda: and in some of the things being said today... i don't feel that the whole picture is being seen
[14:02] Apmel Ibbetson: read up on quantum mechanics herman.:)
[14:02] Cailleach Shan: Are you going to tell us where you are on the list Herman?
[14:02] oola Neruda: which can lead to error
[14:02] herman Bergson: About 3 and 2 and 1 Cailleach
[14:03] herman Bergson: in that order ㋡
[14:03] Cailleach Shan: mmmmm Cal thinks she will take the list and contemplate overnight!
[14:04] Daruma Boa: mh, must leave. bye and see you thursday
[14:04] herman Bergson: Ok, class dismissed ㋡

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