Wednesday, February 24, 2010

234: The Ideal State, an intruduction

A new project! This time not as technical and abstract as epistemology, but nearer to home. Our project on Modern Theories of Ethics focused on the individual and his responsibilities as a social being.

A next step will be to look how all these individuals in their social setting and with their individual ideas of ethics try to live together in a group, a society, a nation. And so we enter the field of political philosophy.

We can define political philosophy as philosophical reflection on how best to arrange our collective life - our political institutions and our social practices, such as our economic system, related to the concept of property for instance.

The title of this project is THE IDEAL STATE, but we must be careful, because the state is already a well defined concept, while we also could focus on a more general term than we use in our title: the collective life of mankind.

Well…. here we are already in the middle of a debate, if we ask whether the collectivity of mankind is necessarily divided into states. Some areas are for instance divided into tribes for instance.

This immediate jump into a debate points at another aspect of political philosophy. Some political philosophers seek to establish basic principles.

Principles that will, for instance, justify a particular form of state, show that individuals have certain inalienable rights, or tell us how a society's material resources should be shared among its members.

This usually involves analysing and interpreting ideas like freedom, justice, authority and democracy and then applying them in a critical way to the social and political institutions that currently exist.

Others chose a completely different approach. They ignored the actual state of affairs and have painted pictures of an ideal state or an ideal social world that is very different from anything we have so far experienced.

Especially this second group of philosophers demands a normative or prescriptive status for political philosophy, but like their theories were often utopian, this claimed status certainly is.

This leads immediately to the question whether the principles that political philosophers establish are to be regarded as having universal validity, or whether they should be seen as expressing the assumptions and the values of a particular political community.

And this leads us back to the the question about human nature. In order to justify a set of collective arrangements, a political philosophy must say something about the nature of human beings, about their needs, their capacities, about whether they are mainly selfish or mainly altruistic, and so forth,

which leads us back to the fundamental questions of ethics, which directly relate to our theory of knowledge, which at its turn presupposes an ontology.

This course on Political Philosophy will integrate all these elements of philosophy. The backbone will be the historical route from Plato to Popper.

And while en route we may stop and dwell at some conceptual places, enjoying the view of an analysis of concepts like justice, democracy, freedom and so on.

So, as the captain of this ship I would say to you ….


The Discussion

[13:16] Gemma Cleanslate: oh oh
[13:16] Abraxas Nagy: yar
[13:16] Justine Rhapsody: lol
[13:16] ZANICIA Chau: hehehe
[13:16] Repose Lionheart: ad astra
[13:16] Abraxas Nagy: mr Sulu warp 4
[13:16] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:16] herman Bergson: yes Repose but it is Per aspera ad astra
[13:16] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:16] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:17] herman Bergson: which means …to the stars through difficulties
[13:17] ZANICIA Chau: Surely the appraisal cannot pos be just universal-that would encompass too much as generalisation
[13:17] Repose Lionheart: starts?
[13:18] herman Bergson: stars...sorry
[13:18] herman Bergson: which appraisal Zanicia?
[13:18] ZANICIA Chau: Evaluation in general terms.
[13:19] herman Bergson: About political systems you mean?
[13:19] ZANICIA Chau: Help me out , people!
[13:19] ZANICIA Chau: Yes
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: i am not sure what you mean tho
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: zanicia
[13:19] herman Bergson: Well when I understand you correctly you refer to the problem we already ran into several times
[13:20] ZANICIA Chau: Well you referred initially to the collective
[13:20] herman Bergson: It concerns the validity of theories
[13:20] herman Bergson: yes..
[13:20] herman Bergson: In ethic we had the same problem..
[13:20] ZANICIA Chau: yes are we just treading old ground or did I puty it badly?
[13:21] ZANICIA Chau: put
[13:21] herman Bergson: are ethical rules and theories universal, or only related to a culture
[13:21] Qwark Allen: ;-)
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: ah yes
[13:21] ZANICIA Chau: Indeed
[13:21] Repose Lionheart: they need to claim universality to be internally consistent, perhaps
[13:21] herman Bergson: In political philosophy we have to deal with the same problem
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: i think that problem occurs in every project we have been through
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: from the beginning
[13:22] herman Bergson: Are the ideas of Plato related to the greek culture only or can they be applied universally?
[13:22] ZANICIA Chau: true
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Gemmma, well observed..
[13:22] herman Bergson: and it boils down to a fundamental problem of our days..
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: he claims they can be applied universally, but so does everyone else with a universal
[13:23] herman Bergson: the balance between relativism and skepticism and more objective knowledge
[13:23] ZANICIA Chau: skepticism?
[13:24] herman Bergson: YEs Zanicia...the idea that there is absolutely nothing certain
[13:24] ZANICIA Chau: oh I see
[13:25] herman Bergson: while relativism would claim that certain things are at least certain relative to a given context
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: I think all the philosophers we will discuss will admit that too
[13:25] herman Bergson: I think that in our Ethics project we succeeded in putting a real distance between our ideas an the relativist/skeptic view
[13:26] herman Bergson: Well Gemma, there always is that drive to find at least an indicaiton of some universality
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:27] herman Bergson: And since we just had the Darwin year, we are more aware of some universality from an evolutionary point of view
[13:28] herman Bergson: An interesting research project is in this context forinstance the DNA research
[13:28] herman Bergson: an attempt to trace our roots back to where we came from
[13:28] herman Bergson: as a species
[13:29] herman Bergson: so while this DNA is at the bottom of all of it, the collective life we life may be called on top of everything
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: Why is there growing concern ,do you think, professor, that DNA research is fundamentally flawed?
[13:30] herman Bergson: Is that so?
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: Sorry, meant to say that last time!
[13:31] ZANICIA Chau: A growing concern
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: i read it is not as perfect as they thought
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: so far
[13:31] herman Bergson whispers: In what sense?
[13:31] ZANICIA Chau: generally ha ha
[13:31] herman Bergson: I see...then we have to look into that
[13:32] herman Bergson: well...the collective life will not depend on our knowledge of DNA fortunately
[13:32] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:32] herman Bergson: We'll start a journey through history and see how philosophers thought about the collectivity
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: interesting that it doesn't
[13:33] herman Bergson: and it will be interesting to keep the question in mind: in what respects do all these philosophers agree
[13:33] herman Bergson: or mdid not agree at all...
[13:34] herman Bergson: We'll look fromour perspective at their ideas and can wonder how valid they (still) are
[13:34] herman Bergson: So Plato will be as always our first guest
[13:35] herman Bergson: Check him out...his book Politeia, often translated as Teh Republic
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: oh yes
[13:35] herman Bergson: Your homework for next Thursday ^_^
[13:35] Repose Lionheart:
[13:35] Zinzi Serevi: :)
[13:35] Zinzi's translator: :)
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: \o/
[13:35] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:36] herman Bergson: There is tons of info on this subject on the Internet
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: good
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: yes there is
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: wiki has alot
[13:36] herman Bergson: Oh yes... the complete text of the Politeia is available too
[[13:37] herman Bergson: two good sources are http:// www.
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: yep
[13:37] herman Bergson: and the other one I know is Adeleide university Australia
[13:38] herman Bergson: Adelaide it is I think
[13:38] herman Bergson: You have to google the name..easy to find
[13:38] herman Bergson: A lot of the philosophers we'll discuss have their texts online ^_^
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: good
[13:39] herman Bergson: Any questions left unanswered?
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: now all we need is the time to read it all
[13:39] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:39] CONNIE Eichel: nope
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well ,,,then I hope to see you next Thursday when we'll discuss Plato's ideas about the ideal state
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[13:40] herman Bergson: Thank you for your attention
[13:40] Jeb Larkham: thanks Herman see you Thursday
[13:40] Abraxas Nagy: ty professor
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: bye
[13:40] CONNIE Eichel: thanks professor :)
[13:40] herman Bergson: Sorry Plato today..:)
[13:40] ZANICIA Chau: Enlightening and stimulating as always, thankyou
[13:40] Zinzi Serevi: dank u
[13:40] Zinzi's translator: merci
[13:40] Adriana Jinn: thank you all
[13:41] Abraxas Nagy: see you guys next time :D
[13:41] Adriana Jinn: see you on thursday
[13:41] ZANICIA Chau: Bye
[13:41] herman Bergson: Bye all
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: it was really interesting even if i dont discuss
[13:42] herman Bergson: I hope you will enjoy it Adriana
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: it is really difficult for me but i want to go on to learn and listen
[13:42] CONNIE Eichel: bye all :)
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: surely i will
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: no pb
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: bye bye for now
[13:43] herman Bergson: dont forget the blog
[13:43] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[13:43] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:43] Adriana Jinn: yes i will
[13:43] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:43] herman Bergson: you always can review the texts
[13:43] Qwark Allen: ;-)))
[13:43] oola Neruda: Adriana.. that is where i am at
[13:44] herman Bergson: we still have to play chess Qwark
[13:44] Qwark Allen: ah
[13:44] Qwark Allen: yes
[13:44] Qwark Allen: will be fun

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, February 12, 2010

24 Ethics and Pragmatism: a conclusion

Let me position myself as a philosophical naturalist, one for whom the human journey is constitutive of its own meaning and is not to be rescued by any transcendent explanations, principles of accountability, or posthumous salvation.

Like Dewey stay close to nature and interpret knowledge as the product of the interaction between organism and environment, and knowledge as having practical instrumentality in the guidance and control of that interaction.

The organism interacts with the world through self-guided activity that coordinates and integrates sensory and motor responses.

The implication for the theory of knowledge is clear: the world is not passively perceived and thereby known; active manipulation of the environment is involved integrally in the process of learning from the start.

This means that knowledge is not a static given but a process and that any proposition accepted as an item of knowledge has this status only provisionally, in other worlds...just a coincidence that it works. It soon can be replaced by an better proposition.

These fundamental ideas we can also apply to moral behavior. In order to understand Dewey’s moral philosophy, we must again focus on his concept of the situation.

Man is a creature who by nature has values. There are things,states of affairs, and activities that he directly enjoys, prizes, or values.

Moral choices and decisions arise only in those situations in which there are competing desires or a conflict of values.

The problem that a man then confronts is to decide what he really wants and what course of action he ought to pursue. He cannot appeal to his immediate values to resolve the situation;

he must evaluate or appraise the situation and the different courses of action open to him. This process of deliberation that culminates in a decision to act is what Dewey calls “valuation.” But how do we engage in this process of valuation?

For this we need to accept a few basic assumptions. The first one is that as a species humans are basically the same all world with regard to physiology and neurobiology.

The second assumption is that the quality of life is achieved by reason and intelligence, These qualities give us the power of rationality, which means that education is essential and learning a lifetime activity.

The third assumption is what we find in virtue ethics which presupposes reasonable , positive qualities in man based on finding the mean between extremes, the virtue, or what Dewey would describe as the interaction of the organism with his environment.

In this interaction, which has an evolutionary origin, we learn to live together and are able to realize all virtues in ourselves.

I don't mean to say that we eventually will become all Saints, but this interaction with our environment began when man discovered himself.

And I think that we are maybe still at the beginning of this process, but if we are willing to accept that the human being is a learning and adaptive organism we will follow our virtues, guided by reason more and more to improve the human condition.

The Discussion

[13:22] herman Bergson: Thus I conclude the project on Modern Theories of Ethics
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: very good some of it was very tough
[13:23] herman Bergson: I can hear you think..
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:23] Repose Lionheart: i agree
[13:23] ZANICIA Chau: hehe
[13:23] Iboya Cortes: Can we comment?
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: the cat chasing its tail
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes please feel free.
[13:23] Iboya Cortes: or ask?
[13:23] herman Bergson: sure
[13:24] herman Bergson smiles
[13:24] CONNIE Eichel: thanks :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: wb CONNIE
[13:24] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:24] herman Bergson: feel free to ask or make comments
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:25] ZANICIA Chau: I so thoroughly agree that it is difficult to add anything
[13:25] Repose Lionheart: yes, me too
[13:25] Iboya Cortes: well, im reading it again smiles
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes...that can happen
[13:25] Iboya Cortes: because during this I did wonder bout a few things
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: i have a different take on "nature" maybe, but that's beside the point here
[13:26] herman Bergson: When I started the project I didnt have a clear view on the outcome
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: it was amazingly productive
[13:26] oola Neruda: within the context of all this... is there a justification for war
[13:26] herman Bergson: I agree Repose
[13:26] Abraxas Nagy: never
[13:26] herman Bergson: That is the best answer I guess
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: i agree but there are those who can justify it
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: by their own insight
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: to their ethics
[13:27] Iboya Cortes: For this we need to accept a few basic assumptions. The first one is that as a species humans are basically the same all world with regard to physiology and neurobiology.
[13:27] Iboya Cortes: this part
[13:27] herman Bergson: Oh it is a special chapter in political philosophy.... the Justied war....nice for our next project!
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: ah yes
[13:27] Iboya Cortes: in the world people seem to evolve at a different pase
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: :_)
[13:27] herman Bergson: good question oola
[13:27] Iboya Cortes: different speed almost
[13:28] Iboya Cortes: why is that?
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: are they?
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: oh, yes, just war is
[13:28] herman Bergson: There are differences indeed...
[13:28] herman Bergson: But I think they mainly are caused by nutrition…
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: and education
[13:29] herman Bergson: Japanese are not tall, but that isnt a fixed fact...
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: and culture
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: true
[13:29] herman Bergson: in the middle ages average length in Europe was 1.50 or 1.60m
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:29] Abraxas Nagy: that big?
[13:29] herman Bergson: better food changes the population
[13:29] oola Neruda: i can see a lot of individuals having their values... in a case like war, how can a political entity justifiably impose a set of values
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: that's why the doors always look so small in photos „ã°
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: ha-bloody-ha
[13:30] herman Bergson: yes Repose...we bump our head there
[13:30] Abraxas Nagy: oops
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:30] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:30] ZANICIA Chau: others retard their own growth
[13:31] herman Bergson: I think you are running ahead of us already in the next project oola
[13:31] oola Neruda: smiles... well i will consider it a carrot for myself to follow then until you begin
[13:31] herman Bergson: Your question contains a lot of other questions which have to answered first
[13:31] herman Bergson smiles
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: carrots are tasty
[13:32] herman Bergson: and healthy too
[13:32] herman Bergson: Well it is somewhat amazing that a whole group more or less agrees with me
[13:32] oola Neruda: micro / macro
[13:32] Abraxas Nagy: o.O Alarice crashed
[13:32] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: seems to be the case, though
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: still some problems
[13:33] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:33] Abraxas Nagy: what else is new
[13:33] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:33] Christianadreetje Dench: :)
[13:33] ZANICIA Chau: perhaps- as you mentioned- the word 'nature' may be questionable
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:33] herman Bergson: My idea of nature...human nature is very basic
[13:34] herman Bergson: I see human nature as the functioning of the organism caused by the central nervous system
[13:34] herman Bergson: in that respect we dont differ from other primates for instance
[13:35] ZANICIA Chau: why do you think it seems that people do not wish to refine or reavaulate themselves these days?
[13:35] herman Bergson: However, we must conclude that we differ from other primates yet
[13:35] herman Bergson: do you think that that is the case Zanicia?
[13:36] ZANICIA Chau: certainly
[13:36] herman Bergson: You mean that people do not want to get educated and civilized?
[13:36] ZANICIA Chau: it seems to be worldwide as well
[13:36] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:37] oola Neruda: or cannot ... cannot is different from not wanting to
[13:37] ZANICIA Chau: there is so much complacency
[13:37] herman Bergson: The problem with such observations is that these are could call them even hypotheses
[13:38] herman Bergson: The difficulty is did this generalisation came into existence
[13:38] ZANICIA Chau: we see- we naturally judge
[13:38] herman Bergson: what data confirm the hypothesis
[13:38] Iboya Cortes: but that was a good point - not wanting to or cannot
[13:38] Christianadreetje Dench: thank you all, sorry have to leave early ! Cu **
[13:38] ZANICIA Chau: if the evidence was not there -we would not see
[13:38] Abraxas Nagy: bye Chris
[13:39] Repose Lionheart: Bye, Christian
[13:39] herman Bergson: Thnx for coming Christi
[13:39] herman Bergson: Well Zanicia this is a difficult subject.....
[13:40] oola Neruda: many people have lost hope that there is a good future
[13:40] Iboya Cortes: As Herman said, we keep evolving, that includes values too
[13:40] herman Bergson: You could say it is the tension between general public observation and scientific research and data gathering
[13:40] oola Neruda: some other people somehow find a way to believe and strive for their future
[13:40] herman Bergson: yes oola....
[13:40] herman Bergson: Just look at our behavior....
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: it is reasoned
[13:41] herman Bergson: many of use at least in the Netherlands dont dump garbage in one trashcan... anymore
[13:41] Iboya Cortes: accepting a virtual world is shifting values, just a small example
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: oh, here too
[13:41] herman Bergson: we seperate paper, plastic, graden trash and the remainder in our homes before it is collected
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes, sl does shift values!
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: here too
[13:42] herman Bergson: This means, that if it shows that we are willing to do so, we have learnt to care for our environment
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:42] herman Bergson: in a way we deal better with our world in this respect than 50 years ago for instance
[13:43] herman Bergson: We still litter the world with our trash but nevertheless
[13:43] herman Bergson: the way we think about plants, rain forests , animals has changed into respect for nature
[13:44] herman Bergson: the insight of our mutual dependency
[13:44] herman Bergson: We also make better bombs and rockets and tanks...true
[13:44] ZANICIA Chau: better?
[13:44] herman Bergson: But if it is about human nature....this conflict is quintessential , part of human nature
[13:45] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:45] herman Bergson: oh yes Zanicia...much more effective bombs
[13:45] herman Bergson: Not that I am happy with that, but we do
[13:46] ZANICIA Chau: that entirely depends on one's viewpoint
[13:46] herman Bergson: smiles
[13:46] herman Bergson: of course
[13:46] herman Bergson: but in Aristotelian sense...if it is the function of a bomb to kill human beings , Aristotle would agree that we now have better bombs
[13:47] herman Bergson: in the sense of more effective
[13:47] ZANICIA Chau: -which brings us back to 'valuation'
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: yes lol
[13:47] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:47] oola Neruda: and circumstances and opportunity
[13:47] herman Bergson: it brings us back to our interaction with our environment
[13:48] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:48] herman Bergson: and creating bombs is not contribution to the improvement of human wellfare
[13:48] ZANICIA Chau: -concur!
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: for sure
[13:48] herman Bergson: But as I said....
[13:49] herman Bergson: we tend to look at ourselves as completed products of evolution....we are complete....full grown
[13:49] Iboya Cortes: and we are not you say?
[13:50] ZANICIA Chau: people need to understand that we are yet babies
[13:50] herman Bergson: But how much time has past in this evolution in respect to the 4 billion years earth exists
[13:50] Iboya Cortes: I agree yes
[13:50] herman Bergson: Yes , maybe we are
[13:50] Gemma Cleanslate: slo going
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:50] herman Bergson: At least we often stell tend to play with the wrong toys for instance „ã°
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:51] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:51] herman Bergson: So if you look at mankind from a time perspective.... we are babies indeed
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:52] herman Bergson: When you look at science....hardly a day old in relation to earth history...
[13:52] Iboya Cortes: I think evaluation will never stop in us humans, in the same sense we might be wiped out within a splitsecond
[13:52] herman Bergson: irt only began iaround 1650
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: yes, lots to discover
[13:52] herman Bergson: I would never have believed it of myself, but I dare to say there still is hope for mankind ^_^
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: :-)
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: agree!
[13:53] Iboya Cortes: I:-)
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: have to get going
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: ‚ô• Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ‚ô•
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: Bye, Gemma „ã°
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: class tuesday?
[13:53] Iboya Cortes: yes, im gonna let this sink in for a bit too :-)
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yesterday I watch the 24th century....
[13:53] Abraxas Nagy: sure
[13:53] herman Bergson: I can tell you things looked a little better there
[13:53] Iboya Cortes: Thank you everyone, Herman
[13:54] CONNIE Eichel: great class :)
[13:54] herman Bergson: One announcement left: NEXT WEEK I AM ON VACATION IN RL!!!
[13:54] Iboya Cortes: yes it was great
[13:54] Iboya Cortes: hahahhaaa
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: ahhhhhhaaaa glad i waited!!!!!
[13:54] Repose Lionheart: oh, nice „ã°
[13:54] Iboya Cortes: carnaval in holland
[13:54] CONNIE Eichel: woo hooo, proferssor
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: good
[13:54] herman Bergson: Thank you CONNIE, Iboya
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: enjoy
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: dat is waar
[13:54] ZANICIA Chau: thank you for today, professor
[13:55] Iboya Cortes: :-)))
[13:55] herman Bergson: My pleasure Zanicia
[13:55] Iboya Cortes: bye for now take care all :-)
[13:55] Justine Rhapsody: Thanks Professor :)
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: I am going to friends.... thanks again herman
[13:55] ZANICIA Chau: have good holiday!!!!
[13:55] herman Bergson: After the vacation the new project!!
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: good
[13:55] Abraxas Nagy: w0oh0o!
[13:55] herman Bergson: Then oola gets all her questions aswered „ã°
[13:55] oola Neruda: :-)
[13:55] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[13:56] Hello: bergfrau Apfelbaum donated L$50. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:56] CONNIE Eichel: jazz time for me, have a nice holidays professor :)
[13:56] CONNIE Eichel: bye everyone :)
[13:56] herman Bergson: And an applause for Bergie who became today manager of 13 sims ...
[13:56] herman Bergson: /////// APPLAUSE /////[13:56] Repose Lionheart: oh, wow
[13:56] CONNIE Eichel: wow, hard work, hehe
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: applause!!!!
[13:56] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: danke herman!! für deine tolle arbeit!! es war wieder interessant und tiefgr√ºndig:-) sch√∂nes thema
[13:57] oola Neruda: wow bergie
[13:57] ZANICIA Chau: weel done
[13:57] bergfrau Apfelbaum: oola :-))
[13:57] CONNIE Eichel: :)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

23 Virtue Ethics continued

In the former lecture I said : The big difference of approach in theories of ethics here is clear: “What is the right action?” is a significantly different question to ask from “How should I live?

What kind of person should I be?” , referring to consequentialist and deontological theories on the on hand, and virtue ethics on the other hand.

Such a question presupposes an explicit philosophy of psychology, an answer to the question: how is the inner person "constructed".

You only can do psychological research in moral behavior if you for instance assume that a person has a knowledge of good and evil.

Although Aristotle In the first book of the Ethica Nicomachea warns us that the study of ethics is imprecise, he has a clear and precise idea about the base of our ability to moral behavior.

He assumed, that the function of man is reason and the life that is distinctive of humans is the life in accordance with reason. If the function of man is reason, then the good man is the man who reasons well.

Reason is the human quality that shows us how true virtue requires choice, understanding, and knowledge. Virtue is a settled and purposive disposition.

So when someone has the virtue of compassionate it means, that he will act accordingly, since having the virtuous inner dispositions will also involve being moved to act in accordance with them.

Moral education and development are a major part of virtue ethics. There are a number of factors that may affect one’s character development,

such as one’s parents, teachers, peer group, role-models, the degree of encouragement and attention one receives, and exposure to different situations.

Our natural tendencies, the raw material we are born with, are shaped and developed through a long and gradual process of education and habituation.

Thus moral standards by education. Yet moral relativism one could say. However these standards are related to our natural tendencies. Compassion could be regarded as a general human trait, but the resulting moral action will depend on the given cultural context.

But if the morality of a person is so closely connected with his education of character, we have to face a serious problem, for not everyone is in the lucky position of receiving a good education, for instance.

Do we then have to conclude that not everyone is equally morally responsible for his actions? That is counterintuitive.

When you have killed someone on purpose, you are a murderer, even though your moral education wasn't that good.

Thus we can get trapped between intuition and fact. The intuition is that luck must not make moral differences. Whether you studied at a university or only 'graduated' from primary school can not affect what a person is morally responsible of.

However, the fact is that luck does seem to make moral differences. You were lucky to be born in a wealthy and educated family. The other person wasn't and that was out of his control.

I won't resolve this problem here, but just refer to what we can experience very day and then ask yourself what you would decide.

It is a fact that verdicts in Court often take into account the background (-lack of- education e.g) to decide on the punishment. Just think about it.

This is the present landscape of modern theories of ethics: deontology, consequentialism and virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is closest to the psychology of the person.

As it was clear from the beginning, there is no such thing as THE definite theory of ethics. Each of us has to find his way through this landscape and weigh all arguments.

Final lecture of this project will be on Ethics and Pragmatism. Will it bring us new insights?

The Discussion

[13:18] herman Bergson: thank you
[13:18] herman Bergson: if you have a question or remark..feel free...
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: i am glad to hear it is closest to our psychology
[13:19] herman Bergson: yes...
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: rather then the other two
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: sounds better too lol
[13:19] herman Bergson: the other theories do hardly take the person into account
[13:19] oola Neruda: i have been amazed in this world how sometimes the poorest of people can be the most moral... unlike what Weil and Brecht emphasize
[13:19] herman Bergson: there are just rules...
[13:19] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:19] herman Bergson: or consequences...whether we are machines, robots or human beings
[13:20] Repose Lionheart: agree, oola
[13:20] herman Bergson: If the apply to us they apply to us
[13:20] oola Neruda: adversity often results in learning compassion
[13:20] herman Bergson: Well...that is a point...
[13:21] herman Bergson: morality is based on character acoording to virtue ethics..
[13:21] herman Bergson: doesnt matter what or who you are
[13:21] oola Neruda: right
[13:21] Alarice Beaumont: yes
[13:21] herman Bergson: you need the insight and the wisdom and experience of life
[13:22] Repose Lionheart: wonder if adversity is necessary for full moral development
[13:22] herman Bergson: these are closely connected with this theory of ethics
[13:22] Alarice Beaumont: what about a person to look up to?
[13:22] herman Bergson: adversity?
[13:22] Repose Lionheart: oh, what oola said above got me thinking
[13:22] herman Bergson: a role model Alarice?
[13:23] Alarice Beaumont: that would be something..
[13:23] herman Bergson: ah...adversoity...bad times...
[13:23] herman Bergson: I child I sometimes heard adults say, when they observed immoral behavior, it should be wartime again...
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: oh!
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: i rather meant a person who really is - in most eyes - good.. and little one try to be like this one
[13:24] Repose Lionheart: hmmmm....
[13:24] Alarice Beaumont: oh
[13:24] herman Bergson: yes..the idea that adversity brings a man back to his basics
[13:25] herman Bergson: yes Alarice...that is one of the learning ideas of virtue ethics
[13:25] herman Bergson: To say something more...
[13:25] herman Bergson: Margaret Anscombe was a zealous defender of catholicism
[13:26] herman Bergson: and a christian idea is that the perosn of Jesus is THE role model of a virtuous man
[13:26] herman Bergson: so there is not only the link with Aristotelian thinking
[13:26] Repose Lionheart: interesting, yes, an ax to grind
[13:27] herman Bergson: for what do you want to use that ax Repose?
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:27] Repose Lionheart: not sure, Prof
[13:27] herman Bergson smiles
[13:27] herman Bergson: I already got a bit nervous
[13:27] Abraxas Nagy: haaaahaaaahaaaahaaaahaaa
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: oh, I'm harmless
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: really
[13:28] Abraxas Nagy: ah but an ax is not
[13:28] herman Bergson: ah...good
[13:28] Alarice Beaumont: ^^
[13:28] herman Bergson: anyway....
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: she started a revolution in ethics, sounds like
[13:28] herman Bergson: Next lecture I want to look into Pragmatism....
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: people like that often have strong commitments
[13:29] herman Bergson: and I still have an intuition that we should look up Frankena too again
[13:29] herman Bergson: pieces of a puzzle
[13:29] herman Bergson: You find the lecture on Frankena in the blog
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:30] Zinzi Serevi: ok
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: !
[13:30] herman Bergson: I have a feeling that a combination of Frankena, virtue ethics and pragmatism might lead to some coherent theory
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: oh, be interesting to see...
[13:31] herman Bergson: Dont know what you all think about it, but that is my feeling
[13:31] herman Bergson: You are rather quiet today
[13:31] Zinzi Serevi: its new for me
[13:32] herman Bergson: Ah Gemma found my present
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: very nice
[13:32] Zinzi Serevi: so i want to listen the first time..:)
[13:32] herman Bergson: Outside you can see it in action...
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: yes lol
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: it is lovely
[13:32] herman Bergson: you are free to take a copy....and cheer up your place with spring flowers
[13:33] Zinzi Serevi: thanks
[13:33] : Repose Lionheart raises hand
[13:33] herman Bergson: when you rezz it...just put it in edit mode and follow the instructions of the blue menu
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: is it many prims?
[13:34] herman Bergson: keepin mind that you have no greater distance between pooint than 10m
[[13:34] herman Bergson: one little prim Gemma
[13:34] Abraxas Nagy: yep
[13:34] Abraxas Nagy: wow
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: oh good
[13:35] herman Bergson: the llSetPos() instruction only supports movements shorter than 10m
[13:35] Alarice Beaumont: thanks very much Herman :-))
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: ah yes it does
[13:35] herman Bergson: My pleasure
[13:35] herman Bergson: Repose?
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: idea why my hand is up
[13:35] herman Bergson: A question?
[13:35] Zinzi Serevi: lol
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: lol
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: good thing it's not the one with the ax init
[13:35] herman Bergson: press shift arrow
[13:35] Abraxas Nagy: shift arrow
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:36] herman Bergson: instructions are on the wall behind you
[13:36] herman Bergson: shift right arrow
[13:36] Abraxas Nagy: o A o!
[13:36] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation again
[13:36] Qwark Allen: thank you herman´
[13:36] Abraxas Nagy: thank YOU professor
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:37] Zinzi Serevi: thanks Herman
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday then

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday, February 6, 2010

22 On Virtue Ethics

Virtue theory is the view that the foundation of morality is the development of good character traits, or virtues. A person is good, then, if he has virtues and lacks vices.

It is interesting to see that historically, virtue theory is the oldest normative tradition in Western philosophy, having its roots in ancient Greek civilization.

Aristotle is the man who in his Ethica Nicomachea gives an extensive account of what a virtue is. There he argues that moral virtues are desire-regulating character traits which are at a mean between more extreme character traits (or vices).

The virtue of courage thus is the mean between cowardice and rashness. He concludes that it is difficult to live the virtuous life primarily because it is often difficult to find the mean between the extremes.

By the late Middle Ages Aristotle's virtue theory was the definitive account of morality, especially insofar as it was endorsed by medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas.

With the waning of the Middle Ages and the rise of the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment thought, the influence of Aristotle's virtue ethics declined.

So it was in the time that religion lost its leading position to science, that the theory of virtue was seriously criticized in particular by a Dutch philosopher, Hugo Grotius (1583 - 1645)

He was that man, who escaped from imprisonment in a castle by hiding himself in a bookcase. He was one of the supporters of the natural law theory. Like they discovered natural laws of physics, philosophers developed ideas regarding natural laws of morality.

For Grotius, morality involves conforming one's actions to moral laws which are fixed in nature and which even God cannot change. Grotius rejects the role of virtue assigned by Aristotle, and directly criticizes Aristotle's theory on three accounts.

First, Aristotle's doctrine of the mean fails to adequately explain basic moral concepts such as truthfulness and justice. A mean of what should such concepts be?

Second, in the case of justice, the person's particular motive does not matter. All that matters is following proper reason with respect to the rights of others. We'll get to this, when I'll discuss agent-based versus action-based ethics.

Third, contrary to Aristotle, the moral person does not have special moral insight simply because he is virtuous. Instead, morality is fixed in natural laws which can be rationally perceived by all.

Here you see how the virtue theory almost disappeared in the ethical discourse, on the one hand because of this natural law idea and the power of the ratio, which can obtain insight in these natural laws.

Of course you may see here the close link with Kantian philosophy and the deontological ethics. The Categorical Imperative, as Kant called it, was known by rational insight.

And on the other hand if you give primacy to the senses instead of the ratio you look at the effects of your actions and thus arrive at utilitarianism.

Here you see the quintessential meaning of virtue ethics. It is a critique of those theories of ethics, which leave out the "agent", as the acting person in ethical theory is usually called.

I am afraid, that you already have seen it coming. Grotius had a point: in matters of justice we don't judge a person by taking into account his virtuousness. We judge a person by his actions.

In the former lecture I mentioned Robert Loudon as the writer of the article on virtue ethics in the MacMillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

In 1984 he published a book with the funny title "On Some Vices of Virtue Ethics". The content wasn't meant to be funny. It was one of the most systematic attacks on contemporary virtue theory.

Loudon has a long list of critiques of virtue ethics. To mention a few.: virtue theory is not designed to offer precise guidelines of obligation,

or the observation that character traits change, and unless we stay in practice, we risk losing our proficiency in these areas. This suggests a need for a more character-free way of assessing our conduct.

More serious questions are for instance : How do you determine who is virtuous? It does not help to look for some external criterion such as visible indications in the agent's action.

This all means that our next step will be an interesting one: what can be said in defense of virtue ethics. We are morally judged by our actions. Do we need virtue to decide whether something is right or bad?

How do we get to a moral judgement at all when we over-emphasize virtue? Is intention the link between virtue and action?

The big difference of approach in theories of ethics here is clear: “What is the right action?” is a significantly different question to ask from “How should I live? What kind of person should I be?” That is what it is all about.

If you have time, try to find out yourself how virtue ethics comes to a moral judgement. Next Tuesday we'll investigate what theory of ethics should prevail: agent- based or action-based theory. Or a combination maybe?

The Discussion

[13:25] herman Bergson: So much for today....
[13:25] Qwark Allen: ;-))
[13:25] herman Bergson: However, I want to add something to it.
[13:25] herman Bergson: I just stumbled on the problem
[13:26] herman Bergson: Virtue ethics leans heavily on education of character
[13:26] herman Bergson: as you know.....the chances to get a good education may depend on where you were born
[13:26] Corona Anatine: and when
[13:27] herman Bergson: And if this is the case... we get differences in character....differences in virtuousness...
[13:27] herman Bergson: Now we introduce the concept of Moral Luck
[13:28] herman Bergson: I wont say anything more about it, but you have to think about this problem
[13:28] herman Bergson: you find Moral luck as an entry in the IEP
[13:28] Corona Anatine: msiles - i see major problems in diff between agnet and action based
[13:28] herman Bergson: Thomas Nagel has a very clear theory about it
[13:28] Repose Lionheart: virtue results from "education" understood broadly, right?
[13:28] Corona Anatine: no
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes
[13:28] Corona Anatine: disaggree
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: but, yes, "moral luck"
[13:29] herman Bergson: not just school, but also by learning from rolemodels etc
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:29] Repose Lionheart: life
[13:29] Corona Anatine: not viable at least not fully
[13:29] herman Bergson: is about life long learning
[13:29] Corona Anatine: because oftewn
[13:29] Corona Anatine: children rebel agiant parental values
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:30] Corona Anatine: so a child of veggies might take up meat eating
[13:30] oola Neruda: what about the changes in society... what was expected when i was young has changed with the women's movement and other social evolution
[13:30] Repose Lionheart: i've wondered about the Achilles' Heel of philosophers
[13:31] oola Neruda: even in one person ... it gets confusing... let alone a society/culture
[13:31] herman Bergson: Yes oola , a good point
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: they seek greater clarity
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: as much clarity as possible
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: Loudon may be seeking too much
[13:31] Repose Lionheart: only as much clarity as can be achieved can be achieved
[13:32] Corona Anatine: the agent / action thing is problematic because it is possible to envisage a nazi who is kind to chidren
[13:32] herman Bergson: AVirtue ethics began as a protest against ethical theories that claimed that you can explain morality by usinfg one principle... rules
[13:32] herman Bergson: Yes Corona....
[13:32] Corona Anatine: yes because rules have to have something to measure
[13:33] Corona Anatine: it is more like aglebra than arithmetic
[13:33] herman Bergson: That is in fact a kind of comment Loudon gave too....
[13:33] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:33] herman Bergson: are virtues remaining and stable qualities of the person or can they disappear?
[13:34] Corona Anatine: are the personality aspects of anyone unchanging
[13:34] herman Bergson: Rules tell us what to do, independent of our character…
[13:34] herman Bergson: that makes rule based theories so attractive
[13:34] Corona Anatine: yes but the rules come from where?
[13:34] Corona Anatine: peoples virtue
[13:34] Corona Anatine: so
[13:35] herman Bergson: Virtue ethics doesnt primarily look at specific looks at life itself
[13:35] Corona Anatine: vitrue makes for virtue
[13:35] Corona Anatine: it is a large circle
[13:35] herman Bergson: Yes Corona....rules come from where....That is why the rule based theories got criticized
[13:36] herman Bergson: The idea of a transcendental Lawgiver is not acceptable anymore as an explanation or justification
[13:36] herman Bergson: That doubt about that Lawgiver started already around 160
[13:36] herman Bergson: 1600
[13:36] Corona Anatine: and even if such an entity is accepted it is impossible to know if they are virtuous
[13:37] herman Bergson: In fact, virtue ethics goes back to the old Greek ideals
[13:37] Adriana Jinn: yes
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: yes, god is does not necessarily lead to god is good
[13:37] Gemma Cleanslate: has a good basis then
[13:37] Corona Anatine: would it be any better to define what is unvirtuous
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: 2 sides of same coin, maybe
[13:38] herman Bergson: I dont see the difference in defining A or not-A
[13:38] Corona Anatine: which brings in context
[13:38] herman Bergson: they imply each other
[13:39] herman Bergson: One important characteristic of virtue ethics is that it doesnt claim to be one monolithic theory of ethics
[13:40] Corona Anatine: an agent if defined as virtuous by their actions
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: we know something of virtue -- in a way, psychology is a "science" of moral management
[13:40] herman Bergson: moral action is situation-related for instance...
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: but not a "heard" science
[13:40] Repose Lionheart: hard
[13:40] Corona Anatine: or more particular the end results of actions
[13:40] herman Bergson: that means that indeed that ethics is not science
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:41] Paula Dix: btw, why psychology isnt a science? I dont understand that
[13:41] herman Bergson: Nor is it an absolute theory, like a rule based theory can be
[13:41] Corona Anatine: because to be a science the experimental results have to be reproducible
[13:41] herman Bergson: Psychology is a science....
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: it has scientific aspects...
[13:42] Corona Anatine: and can that be said of ethics?
[13:42] herman Bergson: it is accepted
[13:42] herman Bergson: but it is a statistical science....
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:42] Paula Dix: i see
[13:42] herman Bergson: in fact close the ethical theory in that respect...
[13:42] Paula Dix: yes, statistical, i thought that :))))
[13:42] Adriana Jinn: yes
[13:42] Corona Anatine: hmm statistical ethics
[13:42] herman Bergson: unable to come with laws of nature like statements about the human being
[13:42] Corona Anatine: a wonderful term
[13:43] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:43] Paula Dix: lol corona, interesting
[13:43] Adriana Jinn: indeed
[13:43] herman Bergson: you were to quick with your observation Corona
[13:43] herman Bergson: Ethics isnt a statistical science
[13:44] Paula Dix: yes i can see where psychology and ethics are related, very interesting
[13:44] herman Bergson: Ethics is about our judgements of right and wrong
[13:44] Corona Anatine: yes
[13:45] herman Bergson: Although we have empirical material...the moral action , statistics do not apply....
[13:45] herman Bergson: However!
[13:45] Corona Anatine: then it could easily be said that ethics is as fluid as language
[13:45] Paula Dix: yes, ethics itself isnt statistical, but to apply statistics to it surely would give interesting results
[13:45] herman Bergson: Just do a search on MORAL PSYCHOLOGY
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:45] herman Bergson: There is a lot of research on moral behavior....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Remember the Milgram experiments I mentioned before!
[13:46] Corona Anatine: at any momen of time a language works in and of itself
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: 1,620,000 results on Google
[13:46] herman Bergson: WOW
[13:46] Corona Anatine: but over time it becomes incomprehensible
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: yes!
[13:46] herman Bergson: This proofs that ethics IS a subject of psychological research
[13:47] Gemma Cleanslate: OH YES
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:47] herman Bergson: However, you first have to define what your theory of ethics is before you can do the research
[13:47] Adriana Jinn: certainly
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:47] Corona Anatine: one way perhaps would be to study how other social species interact
[13:47] herman Bergson: and here we are again at the beginning of thinking: philosophy
[13:48] Corona Anatine: [thinking mainly of vertebartes here not bees etc]
[13:48] herman Bergson: It may be interesting to investigate whether psychological research assumes deontological or consequentialist concepts
[13:49] herman Bergson: Or does it investigate character, personality traits related to moral actions and judgements
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: :-)
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: will have to watch
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: hmmm...
[13:49] herman Bergson: Always interesting when you read about such research
[13:49] herman Bergson: Milgram tested obedience
[13:50] herman Bergson: in fact he tested how strong the deontological ethics of a person was
[13:50] Adriana Jinn: interesting but not easy because many theories
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:50] herman Bergson: You ought to obey (authority/ rules of the game etc)
[13:51] Corona Anatine: [as an aside -doesnt dawkins god delusion mention some research that was done into morality]
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well....the present landscape of ethical theories is covered by the distinction deontological/consequentialist/virtuous theories
[13:52] herman Bergson: Your task is to think for yourself, where you stand and why
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: good question
[13:52] herman Bergson: May I give you this assignment for the weekend ? ^_^
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: ohoh
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: hehe
[13:53] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:53] Corona Anatine: smiles -not heard those words since i was at uin
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ok
[13:53] Corona Anatine: UNi
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes Corona I am a little old fashioned
[13:53] Paula Dix: lol good to prepare me for next semester starting in 15 days :)))
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: lolol
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: not at all, Prof
[13:53] Corona Anatine: old ways are the best sometimes
[13:54] Gemma Cleanslate: hurry we have to go lol
[13:54] Qwark Allen: eheheheh
[13:54] herman Bergson smiles
[13:54] Qwark Allen: l ☺☺☺ l
[13:54] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:54] herman Bergson: We covered a lot of ground today....
[13:54] Corona Anatine: one thougth comes to me
[13:54] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:54] herman Bergson: Next lecture will be on the defense of Virtue ethics
[13:55] Corona Anatine: before we can define virtuous dont we have to define how such can be measured - what is a theft or a lie
[13:55] herman Bergson: So I think it is a good moment to dismiss class unless you still have questions left
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: what is the assignment
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:55] Gemma Cleanslate: defense??
[13:55] herman Bergson: the assingment is multiple...
[13:56] herman Bergson: check out moral luck
[13:56] Repose Lionheart: ok
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:56] herman Bergson: check out where you stand
[13:56] herman Bergson: check out what is virtue
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: right here lol
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: ok
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye
[13:56] Gemma Cleanslate: all see you tuesday
[13:56] Corona Anatine: did you mean to write moral luck or did you mean moral lack
[13:56] bergfrau Apfelbaum: bye bye Gemma :-))
[13:56] Paula Dix: bye!
[13:56] Adriana Jinn: bye bye
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: you can come to the party
[13:57] herman Bergson: and Yes of the critiques of virtue ethics is: how to measure virtuousness...That was what Loudon already said
[13:57] Corona Anatine: ah ok
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: Luck, i think
[13:57] Gemma Cleanslate: ok how to measure
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: 1,600,00 entries on google
[13:57] Corona Anatine: to be read by tuesday ?
[13:57] herman Bergson: for moral luck, Repose?
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: yes, prof
[13:58] herman Bergson: did you an advanced search....
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: nope
[13:58] herman Bergson: otherwise it hits on luck and on moral equally
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: hmmm...
[13:58] Repose Lionheart: sec
[13:58] herman Bergson: if you do an advanced search it takes the both words as one search key
[13:58] Paula Dix: i guess if you use "" also
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: sorry, 1.600,00 was for moral psychology
[13:59] herman Bergson: in a normal search it takes moral luck, luck and moral as three keys
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: fewer than 200,00 of "moral luck"
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: for
[13:59] herman Bergson: very good repose!
[13:59] Corona Anatine: thinking of virtues /morality
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: put "moral luck" in quotes
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: holds the two words together
[14:00] Corona Anatine: i saw a u tube thing a while ago about south american amazon rtribes
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: oh
[14:00] herman Bergson: Google has an option called advanced search
[14:00] Repose Lionheart: hmmm...will check it out
[14:00] Corona Anatine: in which children are buried alive for the good of the tribes survival
[14:01] Corona Anatine: thast would make for an interesting moral choice
[14:01] herman Bergson: which may be effective indeed: one mouth less to fill
[14:01] Corona Anatine: cant be an esy thing to do tho
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: that should have been 200,000 and 1,600,000 above
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: that
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: buried alive
[14:02] Paula Dix: corona i saw that recently too
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: shudder
[14:02] herman Bergson: I gathered that already
[14:02] Paula Dix: a helper who took a girl who was buried for having some defect
[14:02] Paula Dix: and took her home
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: oh
[14:02] herman Bergson: The romans acted similar....
[14:02] Repose Lionheart: was the helper a member of the tribe?
[14:02] Corona Anatine: it highlights the shifting nature of morality
[14:03] Paula Dix: its totally horrible, they just bury the children alive!
[14:03] Paula Dix: no, helper from city
[14:03] Repose Lionheart: oh
[14:03] herman Bergson: Creepy idea.....
[14:03] Repose Lionheart: yes
[14:04] Paula Dix: could at least kill person first, in a more human way
[14:04] Corona Anatine: inded given they have good poisons
[14:04] Paula Dix: romans also didnt kill, right? just put children there to die?
[14:04] Repose Lionheart: and the Spartans
[14:04] Corona Anatine: but it is their morality
[14:04] herman Bergson: Yes Paula... something like that
[14:04] Repose Lionheart: yeah
[14:04] Paula Dix: funny how to them that probably made it morally right
[14:05] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ...... ich must go:-( .....................thanks, for the interesting lection mr. professor :-) see to YOU all tuesday
[14:05] Corona Anatine: Romans did not see babies as children until about a month old
[14:05] Paula Dix: it wasnt them killing, was gods or something
[14:05] Repose Lionheart: bye, bergfrau
[14:05] herman Bergson: yes... but that is why you have to look at moral issues situation - related
[14:05] Paula Dix: bye berg!
[14:05] herman Bergson: Bye Bergie
[14:05] herman Bergson: Thaank you all for your participation
[14:05] Adriana Jinn: bye and thanks a lot
[14:06] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye herman,paula,oola,repose, adriana and corona :-)
[14:06] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor
[14:06] Corona Anatine: ty Herman - interesting dicussion
[14:06] oola Neruda: baieee
[14:06] Adriana Jinn: bye all
[14:06] Paula Dix: just to add, that helper had a ton of problems because what she did, but is proud of doing it :)
[14:06] oola Neruda: baieeeee
[14:06] Repose Lionheart: oh
[14:06] Corona Anatine: bfn

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

21 On Intention

Before we begin I did an interesting observation. As a student I bought The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, publisher MacMIllan, in 1973. It was the reprint 1992 of the first edition of 1967.

There is no article on Virtue Ethics in the encyclopedia, not even a reference in the index of it. In 2006 was published the 2nd edition of this encyclopedia and it has an article on virtue ethics, written by Robert Loudon (1998)

This is how fast things go in philosophy. It all began in 1958. In 1967 it still wasnt worth a place in the encyclopedia. Forty years later an article was written to be published in the 2nd edition 2006.

There was deontological ethics. There was utilitarianism and consequentialism and then a new theory emerges: virtue ethics. To fully understand it, we have to go back to its roots, its origin.

As a human being we are an endless stream of actions. We act, yet stronger, we are even unable not to act. It is like existing, you cant escape it.

Like the man in the courtyard of the hotel in the novel of Simone de Beauvoir "Tous les hommes sont mortals" (1946) [All men are mortal] tries to do.

Our actions don't come out of the blue. Closely related to them is the concept of "INTENTION". we speak of ‘events in a man’s history’ as intentional actions, of the intention with which an action is performed,

and of the expression of intention, or of the corresponding ‘pure’ intention for the future, which may exist though no action has yet been done with that intention.

Of course not all our actions are intentional, but we could say that an action is intentional when it is subject to a certain form of explanation,

or as Margaret Anscombe puts it , when ‘a certain sense of the question "Why?" has application’ to it.

What we have to figure out is, to which actions this particular "Why?" can be applied. It is obvious, that it doesn't apply to actions we are not aware of. Body language is a great example of such actions.

It also doesn't apply to actions of which you become aware of, all of a sudden. You walk to pace, pondering about a problem, and all of a sudden realize that you are walking your room back and forth now for at least half an hour.

Or I know that I am doing something, although I have no clue why I am doing this. Maybe caused by some external power source or maybe hypnosis. Something that can manipulate your central nervous system.

If a piece of behavior passes these tests, it is an intentional action, unless perhaps it is a case of ‘mental causality’, like a startle response when you hear a sudden sound.

I walk side by side with my friend and I may strike him intentionally, or I could stumble and my hand hits his face unintentionally. These are not two distinct actions of mine.

Actions are thus intentional only ‘under a description’. What is given in answer to the question ‘Why?’ is in fact often a further description of the same action.

A series of such questions will thus reveal an order among many of the descriptions true of an action:

‘Why are you pushing that thing?’ -‘because I am shoveling snow - ‘But why are you shoveling snow?’ - ‘Because I am clearing the pavement in front of my house’.

This chain of questions ‘Why?’ may often be pressed into the future, and thus beyond any description of what is now happening;

the responses will then merely express the intention with which the action mentioned earlier is performed.

An important conclusion it, that this knowledge one has of one's intentional actions is not achieved by empirical observation of these actions.

Ascombe calls this "practical knowledge", where, I suppose, the word practical relates to the greek verb 'prattein', which means 'to act', so what is meant here is "knowledge of our actions".

She famously compares the relation that practical thought bears to action with the relation a shopping list bears to the contents of the shopper’s basket.

The corresponding model of non-practical or ‘speculative’ thought is given by the relationship between the same basket and the list of its contents constructed by the detective who follows its owner.

The difference is in ‘direction of fit’, as it is now called: the detective amends a mismatch between list and basket by altering his list, the shopper by altering the contents of the basket.

These are the basic ideas of Margaret Anscombe in her book "Intention" (1957) and now you can imagine how the story will go on in her famous article "Modern Moral Philosophy" of one year later (1958)

Neither in a deontological ethics or in consequentialism is relevant what a person intends to do. In a deontological ethics a (divine) lawgiver tells what 'ought' to be done and in consequentialism you just look at the effect of actions.

Now it may also be clear why Anscombe pleaded for a real philosophy of psychology, because from her perspective we have to investigate , that what generates his intentions,the psychology of the person.

Again we didn't elucidate the concept of virtue, but had to pay attention to preliminary issues. What is clear now is, that the foundation of ethics is in human action which is closely related with human intentions.

Thus the justification of moral actions comes from within and is based on, as Margaret Anscombe concluded, on very specific human traits, called virtue.

To be continued…….

The Discussion

[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: i will be very happy not to see this word again
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: consequentialism
[13:31] Abraxas Nagy: oh?
[13:31] herman Bergson: I understand Gemma
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: so is she saying it is almost genetic?
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: or instinctual?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Well...that depends on the analysis of the concept of virtue
[13:32] herman Bergson: to some extend that is a psychological matter
[13:32] herman Bergson: In fact, virtue ethics is the only approach to the moral question that takes human psychology into account
[13:33] herman Bergson: the quintessence is intention
[13:34] ZANICIA Chau: ergo- nothing to do with genetics
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ys
[13:34] herman Bergson: Anscombe judged Truman negatively because the approved the use of nuclear bombs on Japan
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: ah
[13:35] Repose Lionheart: why?
[13:35] Justine Rhapsody: but doesn't genetics have something to do with our ability to have intentions of some kinds/
[13:35] herman Bergson: she saw it as a result of a consequentialist approach of the moral question here
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: probably was
[13:36] ZANICIA Chau: yes
[13:36] Repose Lionheart: little bit i have seen about it
[13:36] herman Bergson: She wrote an article about it..Truman's decree it is called I believe
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: re these books and articles available now?
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: are
[13:37] herman Bergson: The main question is ..where do our intentions come from..
[13:37] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:38] herman Bergson: When you are luck Yes Repose...
[13:38] Repose Lionheart: ㋡
[13:38] herman Bergson: the 1958 article Modern Moral Philosophy for instance is on the Internet
[13:38] herman Bergson: This Truman article might be too...
[13:39] Alarice Beaumont: hmm.. doesn't it come down the what you learned.. what one experiences..... and then on draws a conclusion
[13:39] herman Bergson: where do our intentions come from.. is the question....the answer is from our virtues
[13:39] herman Bergson: That is the point Alarice.....
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: ah yes
[13:40] herman Bergson: what is nature and what is nurture in our behavior
[13:40] herman Bergson: Is the respect for life a product of nurture/education or an innate quality
[13:40] herman Bergson: even if we often ignore this inner quality
[13:41] Repose Lionheart: is it only a virtue if it is innate?
[13:41] ZANICIA Chau: Alarice was covering nuture- we are moulded from birth, surely?
[13:41] herman Bergson: No, not necessarily I would say
[13:41] Alarice Beaumont: not totally I would think
[13:42] herman Bergson: But yet this poses another problem.....cultural differences
[13:42] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: no.. i think not innate...
[13:42] Alarice Beaumont: yes
[13:43] herman Bergson: Well..scientifically we have the fact that all humans have two 'innate' quality...
[13:43] ZANICIA Chau: every culture possesses a fundamental conscience of right and wrong- or how to behave
[13:43] Alarice Beaumont: there are some which are worldwide.. and others depending on culture
[13:43] herman Bergson: humans have a central nervous system....
[13:44] herman Bergson: yes Alarice..but all humans have a central nervous system...
[13:44] herman Bergson: and heroine works on all people allover the world the same
[13:44] herman Bergson: so there must be some universality in the characteristics of the central nervous system
[13:45] Repose Lionheart: movie ET = Christ myth, big seller in Islamic countries too
[13:45] herman Bergson: as the CNS is the power behind out actions.....well...think for yourself :-)
[13:46] Repose Lionheart: well, myth of the dying god...
[13:46] Gemma Cleanslate: very interesting
[13:46] herman Bergson: So innate or nurture....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Where is the border between the two?
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: if nurture works in us, we have an innate capacity for responding to it maybe
[13:47] Repose Lionheart: maybe chicken and egg here?
[13:47] herman Bergson: some virtue innate?
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: I don't know
[13:48] Gemma Cleanslate: yes repose lol
[13:48] herman Bergson: When we get to the analysis of the concept of Virtue we may be able to give some answers here
[13:48] ZANICIA Chau: lol
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: ahhhh
[13:48] herman Bergson: who is the chicken and who the egg repose?
[13:48] Repose Lionheart: :-)
[13:49] Repose Lionheart: nature and nurture
[13:49] herman Bergson: I wouldnt say that....
[13:50] herman Bergson: Nurture only modifies the system of behavior of the individual and learns it new behaviors
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: oh
[13:50] Repose Lionheart: you believe nature is primary?
[13:50] herman Bergson: Behavior based on nature will be there without learning....say instinct for instance
[13:50] herman Bergson: it can be trained...but basicly it is there
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: agree, i think
[13:51] herman Bergson: Yes..nature has to be first before you can have an educator
[13:51] Repose Lionheart: question then is...what are we?
[13:51] herman Bergson: We are a specific realisation of nature, called Mind
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: indeed
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: hmmm
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: everyone of us is formed by nature, ppl, culture
[13:52] herman Bergson: we are the only creatures that have a mind
[13:52] ZANICIA Chau: some of us-------
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: ^^
[13:52] Repose Lionheart: lol
[13:52] Abraxas Nagy: Dolphins maybe
[13:52] herman Bergson: you have small minds and great minds Zanicia ㋡
[13:53] Alarice Beaumont: dolphins are intelligent animals
[13:53] herman Bergson: difficult discussion...for now we gonna fight about what intelligent means....
[13:53] herman Bergson: let's not do that
[13:53] Gemma Cleanslate: lol we did that already
[13:53] Repose Lionheart: yes
[13:54] herman Bergson: We all have our sins...
[13:54] Abraxas Nagy: it means us
[13:54] herman Bergson: Ok....
[13:54] herman Bergson: I think the picture is clear....
[13:55] herman Bergson: Actions are motivated by intentions and intentions are derived from our virtues
[13:55] herman Bergson: the moral question is the Why did you do that question and the justification/description you can give
[13:56] Alarice Beaumont: that's what children ask all the time and never stop
[13:56] Alarice Beaumont: you answer one "why" and get 10 others lol
[13:56] herman Bergson: So our next station is the philosophical and maybe also psychological question: what is virtue?
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: wow
[13:57] Alarice Beaumont: that is going to be difficult
[13:57] Repose Lionheart: cool!
[13:57] Abraxas Nagy: a construct of mind
[13:57] herman Bergson: Yes Alarice.....that is a fascinating phenomenon
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: and again different interpretations too
[13:58] herman Bergson: But that has more to do with understanding the world tha with a moral question at that age
[13:59] herman Bergson: Oh prepaired for the philosophical disappointment that there are theories and counter theories and counter counter theories here too
[13:59] herman Bergson: But we'll find our way through that forrest
[13:59] Gemma Cleanslate: hope so
[13:59] Repose Lionheart: also cool!
[14:00] herman Bergson: We may leave a trail of bread crumbs…
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: oh oh -- we know what happened to Hansel and Gretel
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: time to go
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: :_0
[14:01] herman Bergson: If you have no further questions...?
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: see you thursday!
[14:01] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[14:01] Repose Lionheart: Thank you, Professor!
[14:01] Abraxas Nagy: c ya Gemma :D
[14:01] Qwark Allen: ******* Herman *******
[14:01] Qwark Allen: THANK YOU
[14:02] Qwark Allen: ˜*•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°• Helloooooo! •°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•*˜
[14:02] Qwark Allen: Hey! ABRAXAS
[14:02] Alarice Beaumont: thanks Herman :-))
[14:02] ZANICIA Chau: Thanks very much prof!
[14:02] Justine Rhapsody: Thanks Professor :)
[14:02] Abraxas Nagy: Hey Qwark m8
[14:02] herman Bergson: See you next class then .... class dismissed and thank you for your participation
[14:02] Laila Schuman: baiieeeee to those who are heading out
[14:02] Qwark Allen: PAARTY TIME\o/
[14:02] Alarice Beaumont: bye Qwark... bye Gem :-))
[14:02] Qwark Allen: ♥☺☮☺♥!!!Alarice !!! ♥☺☮☺♥
[14:02] herman Bergson: Rodney is late today
[14:02] Qwark Allen: laila
[14:02] Qwark Allen: l ☺☺☺ l
[14:02] Qwark Allen: lol
[14:02] Qwark Allen: how typical
[14:03] Alarice Beaumont: lol
[14:03] herman Bergson: Did you get may reply Alaricce
[14:03] Alarice Beaumont: yes I did Herman :-)
[14:04] Alarice Beaumont: thx... I really found a Tugenethik
[14:04] herman Bergson: I find the german term Tugendethik very suspicious
[14:04] Alarice Beaumont: but I'm confused with it... wondered if it Moralethik in german
[14:04] herman Bergson: Whenyou read articles on that, Alarice
[14:04] Abraxas Nagy: see you all next time :D
[14:04] herman Bergson: check in the literature references if Margaret Anscome is mentioned
[14:05] herman Bergson: Be wel Abraxas
[14:05] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. i acutally found her name... and aristoteles
[14:05] ZANICIA Chau: Bye - and thanks again
[14:05] herman Bergson: If she is mentioned, you are probably on the right track
[14:05] herman Bergson: Well Ari isnt a 100% guarantee...Anscombe is
[14:06] Alarice Beaumont: ah ok... i wanted to understand the lecture... but somehow and did not get the connection really
[14:06] herman Bergson: Maybe todays lecture helped a little?
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: yes... think so... and i think the next one will even help more
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: ok.. i will read what they say about tugend ethik then
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: thx Herman :-))
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: see you on thursday :-)
[14:08] herman Bergson: good luck Alarice
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: :-)
[14:08] Alarice Beaumont: bye Laila :-)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]