back to the beginning: morality

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:57 pm

promethean75 wrote:Only Biggs would still be doing philosophy during a global pandemic. But it's times like these that an existential nihilist thrives the most and rolls his sleeves up.

Notice at this very moment none of you could care less whether descartes or leibniz was right regarding primary qualities. Like that's the LAST thing on your minds. And the only reason it ever was on your mind is because nothing important was going on to draw your attention.

Philosophers could use a good crisis once in a while to bring them back to reality, eh Biggs?


Exactly.

Well, sort of.

After all, given the things that are of interest to me philosophically -- morality here and now, immortality there and then -- the pandemic is a perfect example of how, at the existential juncture of identity, value judgments and political power, philosophers either have something substantive to say or they don't.

It's just that however substantive that something might turn out to be, I am no less likely to be fractured and fragmented.

But then no one said that waiting for godot would be easy.

Let alone, that it should be.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:15 pm

An Amoral Manifesto Part II
A special extended column from our (erstwhile) Moral Moments columnist Joel Marks.

Out of the frying pan of egoism, therefore, and into the fire of relativism? For if there are only desires that are responsive to the environment, won’t desires vary according to different environments? Yes indeed.

However, there are still two ways to parry this possibility. The first is to point out that human environments, whether natural or cultural, are both like and unlike. So we can count on there being uniformities across all boundaries as well as diversity. And it is surely the same with morality: for while it may be universal that, let us say, one should never torture a child, it is also respectably moral to permit or even require, say, killing human beings in some circumstances (such as to protect a child from being tortured) and to prohibit it in others.


All human beings share the same biological hardware that precipitated the existence of desire in the first place. And while there are indeed any number of historical and cultural and experiential contexts, there are also any number of continuities that revolve first and foremost around all that we must do as a species merely to subsist itself.

Instead, the complications begin to arise in acknowledging just how many different social, political and economic permutations that there are in a world that never stops unfolding in what, from time to time, can be a tidal wave of contingency chance and change. Isn't that basically the case right now with the coronavirus? There are factors we all share in common in dealing with it along with all of the different -- at times vastly different -- sets of circumstances in which we were, are or will be experiencing it.

And if morality revolves around the practical necessity to devise rules of behavior for interacting in these considerably more perilous times, what can't change are the distinctions made between what we believe is true about it and what we can demonstrate is in fact true about it.

This and recognizing that, in addressing it, we are always confronted "for all practical purposes" with intertwining public policies rooted more or less in one or another combination of might makes right, right makes might or moderation, negotiation and compromise.

Ah, but here is an "amoralist" who argues that "it may be universal that, let us say, one should never torture a child..."

On the other hand, this becomes universal for him only in asserting that it is true. Whereas I have no way in which to think myself into believing it myself. On the contrary, given the perspective of a moral nihilist, I am not able myself to encompass an argument that makes...

"In the absense of God, all things are permitted".

...go away.

Now, I have never tortured a child. And I could never imagine myself ever doing something like that. In fact, my own existential self is embodied in a frame of mind that reflects fury at anyone who ever harms a child.

But since I recognize my frame of mind here as an existential contraption rooted in dasein, I can only presume that had my life been very, very different there is no way I can say that would ever have been the case.

And I have no categorical and imperative arguments in which to confront the sociopaths that do abuse children because the experiences embedded in their own lives predisposed them to want to. And they are able to rationalize this by arguing that, in a No God world, their own understanding of morality revolves solely around fulfilling their own wants and needs.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Apr 06, 2020 6:02 pm

An Amoral Manifesto Part II
A special extended column from our (erstwhile) Moral Moments columnist Joel Marks.

My denial of moral relativism, however, rests mainly on the unintelligibility of the charge. ‘Moral relativism’ seems to me an oxymoron; for morality in its very concept and essence is supposed to be universal and absolute.


That can get tricky. If you argue that morality is relative to particular historical and cultural contexts, you are suggesting that in any particular such context it does in fact exist. On the other hand, who is kidding whom? It's not like historical and cultural communities exist wholly apart and separate from each other. Instead, over time new social and economic interactions invariably beget new moral and political narratives. As though morality in primitive cultures did not evolve into the modern industrial state. As though norms that prevailed in feudal interactions are not going to be profoundly uprooted with the advance of mercantile and capitalist political economies.

So, while recognizing that morality is in fact relative to a particular community in a particular time and place, that's not to argue that morality itself becomes grounded in an objective font for those who wish to be thought of as rational and virtuous in that particular community. In regard to what the rules of behavior must be for all citizens.

Unless, of course, that is precisely what is argued. But if that is the case how is this established when conflicting goods do come into contact in regard to particular sets of behaviors. What gets rewarded and what gets punished given that the modern world is profoundly embedded in all manner of increasingly intertwined historical and cultural agendas.

Many of course will still make that leap from the need for rules of behavior to the assumption that their own rules of behavior reflect the most reasonable assumptions about human interactions -- regardless of historical and cultural variables. Here in either a God or a No Gid world.

Thus, even in the example I just gave regarding killing, morality’s defenders would say that a single imperative underlies the differences due to circumstances, namely, “Thou shalt not kill the innocent” or something of that sort. Moral relativism, therefore, is a strawperson to begin with. But it is downright question-begging as an objection to amorality, since it assumes what the position denies, namely, morality. Amorality cannot be guilty of moral relativism any more than your neighbor could be a goblin. That there are differences of desire, however, is a commonplace.


Exactly: One individual's "strawperson" becomes another individual's objectivist font!

And what never changes is that however you make the intellectual/philosophical distinction between objective morality, moral relativism or amorality, when you bring it out into a particular context in a particular world actual behaviors will either be more or less tolerated. Rewards and punishments never go away.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Apr 14, 2020 5:22 pm

Nietzsche and Morality
Roger Caldwell responds to an analysis of Nietzsche’s morality.

For many, Nietzsche and morality make an unlikely conjunction. Certainly, for all his challenging views – or perhaps because they proved all too challenging – he was until recently absent from traditional philosophy courses on ethics. To those who ask ‘what is the nature of good?’ he has little to say, except that they’re asking the wrong question. He’s an anti-realist about values: that is, for Nietzsche there are no moral facts, and there is nothing in nature that has value in itself.


So, in making a distinction between the masters and the slaves [in a No God world] it's not that the masters are morally superior. On the other hand, they deserve to be the masters because they are seen by him to be superior in some other way.


But what is that all connected too? It does not appear to be derived from the conviction that might makes right. Instead, it seems more applicable to the notion that right makes might. They sustain their power not because, circumstantially, they happen to be in power, but because how they think and what they do actually warrants their superior positions.

And then of course you have individual Nietzscheans who historically connect the dots here to factors like race or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation.

Until, once again, you bring these disputes out into the world of actual human interactions and try to defend that which you as an individual subscribe to as behaviors worthy of the Übermensch. The part in other words where [here] you bump into the components of my own moral narrative. A narrative that suggest these "superior" traits are no less the embodiment of daseins confronting conflicting goods.

Rather, to speak of good or evil is to speak of human illusions, of lies according to which we find it necessary to live.


Yes, but only in the sense that right and wrong are predicated on moral and political prejudices that emanate historically, culturally and experientially. At least relating to any particular community of men and women confronting their own unique demographics at any existing point in time in any particular place.

In other words, there do not appear to be essential truths here. But that doesn't make the absolute necessity to devise rules of behavior go away. And here there are facts that can be ascertained and reasonable arguments all along the political spectrum to back conflicting interpretations of these facts. That was as true back when Nietzsche was around as it still is for us today.

He tells us that “man needs to supplement reality by an ideal world of his own creation.” That is, we are compelled by our biological natures to see the world through moral lenses, judging it in terms of good and bad, although the world is neither in itself.


And what is this but not the realization that genes and memes are always going to be intertwined in any actual political agenda. It just comes down to where as an individual you come to land on that spectrum which runs from objectivism on one end to dog eat dog "what's in it for me" nihilism on the other.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Apr 21, 2020 4:39 pm

Nietzsche and Morality
Roger Caldwell responds to an analysis of Nietzsche’s morality.

...like Spinoza before him, Nietzsche is a naturalist and a determinist. Human beings are not privileged over other animals – rather, like them, we are part of “a causal web that comprises the whole universe.” Where other writers speak of the freedom of the human will, Nietzsche tells us that the will is neither free nor unfree, but rather strong or weak.


Here we go again. A determinist who argues that human beings are part of "a causul web that comprises the whole universe" and then reconfigures that into a will that is either strong or weak.

Morality aside, if one's will is entirely shaped by the laws of matter compelling the brain to embody either a weak or a strong will in any particular individual what difference does that make when manifested in human interactions if those interactions could only be what nature compels?

What the hell do I keep missing here...if I actually do have the capacity to not miss it?

For Simon Blackburn he was the first philosopher to try to assimilate Darwinism. Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals is an exercise in ‘animal psychology’, studying (in Nietzsche’s own words) “the physiology and evolutionary history of organisms and concepts.” In a number of other central works Nietzsche embraces science as providing access to what he sees as ‘the real world of nature’ – whereas our religious, moral and aesthetic sentiments belong only to the surface of things.


Same thing. Making a distinction between grasping the surface of things and grasping things in depth in a world where both are a necessary/inherent component of nature's immutable laws is for all practical purposes to make no distinction at all. Or so it still seems to me.

Through our need to see the universe as existing for the sake of human beings, in effect we create a merely apparent world, which for Nietzsche is “the value-laden world as error.” To what degree we can live in truth not error is another matter, of course: in some moods Nietzsche praises the value of art precisely as that it protects us from reality. He dares us to be superficial. But it is nonetheless a central intention in his writings precisely to strip us of our illusions – not least the fundamental illusion that we are rational creatures.


Same thing. In a wholly determined universe how could anything that we think, feel, say and do not be rational if by rational we mean wholly in sync with the laws of matter?

This is something I come back to time and again because the only way morality can have any real substantive meaning in our lives is if in some way that we may or may not come to understand we are in fact free to choose behaviors other than the ones that we do.

Right?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Apr 27, 2020 5:31 pm

Nietzsche and Morality
Roger Caldwell responds to an analysis of Nietzsche’s morality.

...Nietzsche denies that we can be rational deliberators in the way demanded by such philosophers as Kant. Kant sees us as choosing to act on the basis of reasons. Being the determinist he is, and taking the viewpoint on human nature he does, Nietzsche can have no truck with this. We are not for the most part conscious deliberators: rather, he tells us, “by far the greatest part of our spirit’s activity remains unconscious and unfelt.” (The Gay Science, p333.)


This in and of itself is a fascinating mystery. Most of us will acknowledge that the conscious mind is always in interaction with the subconscious and unconscious mind. And that mind itself is embedded further in the fascinating mystery that revolves around the limbic system: the id, instinct, libido, stem functions. Intertwined finally in the biological imperatives relating to our internal organs and our senses.

But [then] don't many basically just shrug that part off when they are asked to defend their moral narratives? Suddenly "I" becomes this Kantian entity fully capable of zeroing right in on the most rational frame of mind enabling us to pursue the most rational behaviors.

Come on, how idiotic is this?

Yet in acknowledging this labyrinthian infusion of genetic and memetic variables, the moral objectivists among us still insist that, unless you share their own value judgments, you are necessarily and inherently wrong.

Just in terms of common sense how preposterous is that?

Knobe and Leiter take the unusual step of seeing to what degree recent experimental findings in psychology support either Nietzsche or Kant. They have little difficulty in showing that Nietzsche is largely vindicated. For the most part we are not rational doers: the view that we choose our actions from a standpoint of deliberative detachment seems to be a Kantian myth.


It would be interesting to imagine how Kant himself might react to this accusation. Any Kantians here care to take a crack at it?

But: because rational assessments are available to us given human interactions in the either/or world, some will just take the leap to the is/ought world in turn. In other words, as I often noted with Mr. Reasonable by way of an example, taking that leap from rational behavior in regard to playing the stock market [measured objectively in money made or lost] to our reactions to this behavior itself: moral or immoral?

There appears to be no general accordance between our attitudes and beliefs, and our actions – in effect, we say one thing, but do another. Rather than acting for reasons, we tend to act, and invent reasons afterwards. In Nietzschean terms, the body acts, and, filled as it is with “phantoms and will-o’-the-wisps,” the mind then falsely appropriates that action for its own justificatory purposes. Generally speaking, Nietzsche takes delight in showing us how we deceive ourselves.


Maybe? Maybe not? Again [as usual] what we are lacking here is an actual context in which particular behaviors are chosen and we attempt to explore our personal reactions to those behaviors given the intertwining of the conscious, rational mind, and all the other components embedded in the human brain.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 05, 2020 5:10 pm

Nietzsche and Morality
Roger Caldwell responds to an analysis of Nietzsche’s morality.

For Nietzsche we act like other animals, primarily by our instincts. By contrast, the gift of reason is a late addition to those instincts, and by comparison only weakly efficacious. Nietzsche presents us with a fractured self: each of us is a site of competing biological drives without a controller in overall charge.


A fractured self. That sounds familiar. Only here the emphasis is more on the biological components of "I". The reasoning mind is ever intertwined in what must be at times a profoundly problematic symbiosis/synthesis with brain functions that revolve around emotion, drives, instinct. Sometimes grappled with consciously but other times subconsciously or unconsciously.

Me, I just take this further [in the is/ought world] by introducing all of the many ways in which memes can precipitate a "fracturing" as well. After all, if the fragmented biological "I" was confronted with human interactions that never changed historically, culturally or experientially, we could focus on conflicting goods given a much narrower set of circumstances. But put both the genetic and the memetic splintering together and my own perspective regarding "I" becomes that much more coherent.

Again, if "I" do say so myself.

Then the part that focuses in on "human psychology" here:

Freud – a reader and admirer of Nietzsche – similarly presents the human being as a sort of battlefield between the ego, the superego and the id.

Then the contributions of folks like Jung and Reich and Skinner and Rogers and Milgram and Fromm.

More radically, Daniel Dennett, drawing on the findings of neuroscience, presents us with a ‘pandemonium’ view of the human psyche, where the self emerges from what he sees as so many ‘multiple drafts’ of reality as a sort of ‘fiction’. Dennett’s ‘fictional self’ is very much in accordance with Nietzsche’s views, as Dennett acknowledges. But even a ‘fictional’ self is still a choosing self, and not a merely passive receptor of experience. Here Nietzsche’s admonitions to “live dangerously” or to “multiply perspectives” seem adventitious. There is a tension in his work between his deconstruction of morality and his readiness to prescribe for us how we are to live.


This tension can never go away because however you construe the "self" in human interactions, there is simply no getting around the absolute necessity to prescribe and proscribe behaviors through one or another communal incarnation of rewards and punishments.

I merely suggest that the deeper you go into the is/ought world, the more likely that "I" is, if not "fictional", an "existential fabrication" rooted in daseins confronting conflicting goods out in a particular world where some have more power to actually enforce sets of laws that allow the community to [hopefully] sustain the least dysfunctional interactions.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed May 06, 2020 7:42 pm

Here is an interesting [and timely] take on the moral philosophy that revolves around utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism: the doctrine that an action is right insofar as it promotes happiness, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct.

From the New York Times op/ed pages: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/opin ... e=Homepage

'So what is the greatest good or the greatest harm? Mr. Biden, and the Democrats he may carry with him into government, are likely to do more good for women and the nation than his competition, the worst president in the history of the Republic. Compared with the good Mr. Biden can do, the cost of dismissing Tara Reade — and, worse, weakening the voices of future survivors — is worth it. And don’t call me an amoral realist. Utilitarianism is not a moral abdication; it is a moral stance.

'Utilitarian morality requires that I turn my face away from the people I propose to sell out: Monica Lewinsky, Tara Reade. This is agonizingly hard for me to do. Pretending not to believe the complainants — which is what is taking place with Ms. Reade — or that they’re loose nobodies, which is what much of the media did to Ms. Lewinsky, is just an escape from the hard work of moral analysis.

'Today, the Trump-Pence ticket looks even worse. Mr. Trump, credibly accused of rape and a confessed grabber of women’s genitalia, and Mr. Pence, who will not dine alone with a woman other than his wife (whom he calls “Mother”), combine both Mr. Starr’s and Mr. Clinton’s belief systems, offering voters in one ticket the full spectrum of misogyny. Mr. Biden, that relic of the good-old-boy Senate years, seems positively benign by comparison.'


And...

'Once again, philosophy offers an answer to my quest for justice. Philosophers for at least three centuries have known that there can be no call to justice in a situation of extreme scarcity. David Hume, who originated the analysis, suggested that nobody can be expected to behave justly when trying to survive a shipwreck. The great modern philosopher John Rawls called moderate scarcity, or the absence of extreme scarcity, one of the “circumstances of justice.”

'The Trump administration, and the Republican Party that he represents, are unassailably the political equivalent of Hume’s shipwreck. Offering only hatred, rejecting facts, refusing accountability, they represent the wreckage of the American ship of state. We knew that before 70,000 Americans died of Covid-19 in a spectacle of villainy and incompetence, but when you are faced with a distasteful moral choice, it can be useful to be reminded of the immensity of the stakes in making that choice.

'It may not be just, but I’m swimming away from Mr. Trump’s sinking ship as hard as I can. If I have to, I’ll vote for Mr. Biden. I hope I’m not going to drown anyway.'


It doesn't work for me, but if I could think myself out of believing in moral nihilism, this would probably be the agenda I'd pick.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 12, 2020 4:57 pm

Making An Effort To Understand
David Wong illustrates moral relativism with some telling examples.

Is it wrong to open gunfire on a crowd of innocent people? Unfortunately we know that not everyone in the world has the same answer to that question. But there is another kind of question that can be asked, no matter which answer is given to the first question. Psychologists Geoffrey Goodwin and John Darley have investigated everyday attitudes about the objectivity of moral judgment. Participants in the studies were laypeople who don’t philosophize for a living and therefore don’t have big theoretical axes to grind. When presented with a moral belief such as that opening gunfire on a crowd is morally wrong, they were asked whether they thought there was a correct answer – in other words, whether the belief was either true or false – and whether another person who disagreed with them would be mistaken. Most (68%) thought that there was a correct answer, and that a person who disagreed with their own position would be mistaken. But there was a substantial minority who did not regard such a seemingly straightforward moral belief as objective in the first place.


Over and over and over again, I pursue the same "larger question". Less what is right or wrong in any particular context, and more is this something that philosophers/ethicists are even able to determine given the tools at their disposal.

I conclude that in a No God world, they cannot. Or, rather, that I have not come upon an argument of late that convinces me that this is possible. Which explains the reaction of many to me here. It is one thing to go mind to mind in a fierce exchange over the morality of abortion or the rights of animals or homosexuality. With most, they can at least fall back on the assumption that good and evil are within our grasp here. But when someone like me suggests that [at least philosophically] this does not seem like a reasonable conclusion at all, it can perturb more than just a few to no end.

And if there is a "substantial minority" not inclined toward objectivity, not a whole lot of them come into philosophy venues online. At least given my own experiences.

Goodwin and Darley also found that people tend to vary their estimations of whether moral beliefs are objective in accordance with the subject matter of the belief. While a fairly large majority was willing to say of the belief that it is wrong to open gunfire on a crowd, that it is true or false, far fewer people were willing to say so of beliefs about the morality of stem cell research (only 2%), assisted death (8%), or abortion (2%)


This is another factor that gives me pause regarding my own philosophy. It's one thing to focus on issues in which there is no broad [let alone overwhelming] moral consensus: capital punishment, gun laws, homosexuality...along with the conflicts noted above.

But what about things like the rape of children or torturing animals or genocide? Do I really believe -- like deep down -- that moral nihilism is applicable here too? A part of me is always considerably less confident about it. In part because I -- or "I" -- simply cannot imagine my doing things like this myself. I can't imagine encountering new experiences or new sets of circumstances that might trigger a change of this magnitude.

But how do I demonstrate that it is completely out of the question? Philosophically or otherwise.

So, admittedly, when I focus on "situational ethics" the situations will almost always involve those conflicting goods that are not among the extremities of human behavior.

That and, in my view, the most troubling frame of mind of all: the sociopath. He or she simply rationalizes every and any behavior on the grounds that, in a No God world, all things are permitted...if you are able to think yourself into believing that it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that your our personal gratification is, morally, the center of the universe.

If there is a definitive philosophical argument able to pin that to the mat, I haven't come across it for years now.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri May 15, 2020 10:16 am

re: your post here....
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... w#p2766084
about my post here...
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... w#p2766020
This post of mine explains how I deal with problems that for most would be framed in moral terms and I frame in practical terms and my preferences.
It was on topic in the thread and also a response to
Again, and again and again: note a particular context in which you and I can explore our respective reactions to behaviors in conflict over moral narratives and political agendas at the existential juncture of identity, value judgments and political economy.

I think people tend not to want to look at certain things, I try to make it hard for them to dismiss them. I think this gives a better chance for the world to be more as I would like it. If people are more willing to entertain the liklihood that power will be abused in ways most people's intuitions decide only happens somewhere or somewhen else. There is tremendous moral judgment of anyone who thinks major evil acts are not being revealed by the mass of media. I think this group is sometimes right and that post explains a bit how I deal, practically with achieving my wants. It is one specific type of reaction to what behaviors related to political agendas.
It offers no miracle solution to that or conficting moral narratives. But it is an example, a concrete one, of how I deal with one situation, of how I deal with political agendas as distorted, I think, by psychological agendas.
You have also expressed that you cannot understand why I am not F & F like you. I think our differing approaches are related to my being less F & F. We both seem to think I am less F&F. Of course such things are very hard to tell over the internet and even in person. But my sense is that since you are looking for utterly compelling universal and objective moral arguments, this gives you extra burdens.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat May 16, 2020 7:24 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... w#p2766020
This post of mine explains how I deal with problems that for most would be framed in moral terms and I frame in practical terms and my preferences.
It was on topic in the thread and also a response to
Again, and again and again: note a particular context in which you and I can explore our respective reactions to behaviors in conflict over moral narratives and political agendas at the existential juncture of identity, value judgments and political economy.


Would a panopticon Brave New World society be objectively wrong?

Not what I am saying. I’d hate it. And actually, I find much of it present to already hate.


My point of course is embedded more in the manner in which your hatred here either is or is not what I construe to be an "existential contraption" rooted in this:

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.

Or, instead, using the tools of philosophy [or science] is it possible to determine if all rational and virtuous men and women are obligated to feel hatred for it.

After all, given this Brave New World, any number of individuals might support it if for no other reason than that "for all practical purposes" they greatly benefit from it. Or they have managed to think themselves into actually believing in an ideological justification for it. Or they are sociopaths who go along with it on the surface because they are able to sustain a life that furthers their own selfish interests.

Same with the coronavirus/vaccination arguments. There are those who insist that their collection of facts attached to their own objectivist moral and political font precludes anyone not sharing their own conclusions from being rational and virtuous in turn. Whereas "I" see how both sides -- many sides --can cherry pick particular sets of facts that allow them to reconfigure the debate such that it merely reinforces their own existential predispositions and political prejudices. Predispositions and prejudices that, in my view, are embedded subjectively/subjunctively in dasein.

"I" myself here am more "fractured and fragmented" than you are because I construe the meaning of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy [in my signature threads] differently from how you do. Though I am certainly not suggesting that my assessment here is more reasonable than yours. At least not necessarily.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:It seems to me your recent posts imply that if people were more like you - non-objectivist - things would be better.


On the contrary, over and again I point out that, so far in the 21st Century, the "show me the money" nihilists who own and operate the global economy inflict at least as much if not far more human pain and suffering around the globe.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:Demonstrate that so all rational people will agree. And if you can't demonstrate that to all rational people, why do you allow yourself to do it?


Again, over and over I note that my own assessment here is no less an existential contraption rooted in dasein. That in fact I am not able to demonstrate that what I argue seems reasonable to me here and now ought to be reasonable to others.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:And yes, I know, you are not saying that everyone should do what you do: but here's the rub: you have strongly implied that there is no reason for you to try things unless someone can convince you that every rational person should. Well, who did this to you about posting online? How did you manage to convince yourself?


Bullshit. I have noted time and again that my actual options are limited insofar as being able to go out into the world and try new things. And I argue less that others are obligated to convince me that all rational people are obligated to try new things...and more that they try to convince me that they are able to demonstrate the worth of their own arguments here.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I think people tend not to want to look at certain things, I try to make it hard for them to dismiss them. I think this gives a better chance for the world to be more as I would like it. If people are more willing to entertain the likelihood that power will be abused in ways most people's intuitions decide only happens somewhere or somewhen else.


Okay, but given what context? And how is what someone likes not a manifestation of how I construe that as the embodiment of dasein? And "intuitions" in regard to what situation? How much closer are intuitions to objective morality than to the subjective parameters I ascribe to dasein?

Karpel Tunnel wrote:There is tremendous moral judgment of anyone who thinks major evil acts are not being revealed by the mass of media. I think this group is sometimes right and that post explains a bit how I deal, practically with achieving my wants. It is one specific type of reaction to what behaviors related to political agendas.


The mass media is no less an existential contraption rooted historically, culturally and experientially out in a particular world given particular political prejudices. And, given the capitalist political economy, dollars and cents. And all I know for sure about the MSM is they take in an enormous amount of income each year from, among others, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical industrial complex, the big banks, the Wall Street community.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:You have also expressed that you cannot understand why I am not F & F like you. I think our differing approaches are related to my being less F & F. We both seem to think I am less F&F. Of course such things are very hard to tell over the internet and even in person. But my sense is that since you are looking for utterly compelling universal and objective moral arguments, this gives you extra burdens.


My best guess is that this is rooted in the sheer complexity of any particular human personality. All of variables that go into the making of my own psychological reaction to human interactions involving identity, value judgments, and political economy, as opposed to yours and others.

But here in a philosophy venue it seems reasonable to argue that given my own understanding of these components, not being fractured and fragmented just doesn't make sense. It's only a matter of how "broken" one feels with regard to any set of circumstances.

Also, I'm not looking for objective moral arguments so much as exploring the arguments of those who say that they exist. And, in turn, noting the consequences of those who insist that their own political agenda is rooted in them...and, subsequently, have acquired the power to force their own agenda on others.

Finally, as I note time and again, moral nihilism creates and then sustains an existential reality whereby one is not anchored to a rigid, dogmatic font -- God or No God -- requiring one to always do the right thing. Or else.

Nihilists always have considerably more options when choosing behaviors.

For better or for worse.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Sun May 17, 2020 9:36 am

iambiguous wrote:
My point of course is embedded more in the manner in which your hatred here either is or is not what I construe to be an "existential contraption" rooted in this:
This seems unnecessarily complicating it. I'm a social mammal. If you had a wolf in a zoo for a while. Then put her out with her pack in the wild, then captured her to put her back in the zoo, she'd probably hate it. To call something like that an existential contraptoin - as a rule like you do - is up in the clouds if anything is.

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.
I addressed this.

Or, instead, using the tools of philosophy [or science] is it possible to determine if all rational and virtuous men and women are obligated to feel hatred for it.
I've made it clear that I don't think all people are obligated. This is one of the things that made people angry at you. It's as if you get triggered and say things you say to anyone and then often on your own, as if it applies, which it does not, in the individual case. And as if we haven't already addressed the issue.

After all, given this Brave New World, any number of individuals might support it if for no other reason than that "for all practical purposes" they greatly benefit from it.
Of course. Though I was not rejecting, remotely, all of current society. But of course. How could you possibly think I don't know this? What could possibly have led you to believe I did know that people have this attitude.

Same with the coronavirus/vaccination arguments. There are those who insist that their collection of facts attached to their own objectivist moral and political font precludes anyone not sharing their own conclusions from being rational and virtuous in turn. Whereas "I" see how both sides -- many sides --can cherry pick particular sets of facts that allow them to reconfigure the debate such that it merely reinforces their own existential predispositions and political prejudices. Predispositions and prejudices that, in my view, are embedded subjectively/subjunctively in dasein.
Which is, of course, quite possible without objectivism. You can have people who have different conclusions and these are based on cherry picking, etc., and this is not caused by political positions or moral positions. This happens in many fields and contexts all the time. Of course morals and objectivists stances can come in and often do. But you seem to think rationality cannot be undermined if you are a nihilist. Guess again.

"I" myself here am more "fractured and fragmented" than you are because I construe the meaning of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy [in my signature threads] differently from how you do.
Nope. You haven't demonstrated that in the least. You told me a bunch of stuff as if I needed to know it, then based on this, said we have a different view on those things.

And you have never demonstrated, for example, that you are not more F&F because of trauma, particular suffering you went through, perhaps not going to therapists or not finding the right ones, or for giving yourself extra burdens, like finding perfect arguments.

You have never demonstrated any of that. You just repeat a conclusion based on something dasein based.


Though I am certainly not suggesting that my assessment here is more reasonable than yours. At least not necessarily.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:It seems to me your recent posts imply that if people were more like you - non-objectivist - things would be better.


On the contrary, over and again I point out that, so far in the 21st Century, the "show me the money" nihilists who own and operate the global economy inflict at least as much if not far more human pain and suffering around the globe.
Yes, I've noticed that and commented on that dozens of times. But they are not like you. I know that.

I tried in good faith to answer your questions. I don't have a conclusion about why you may be more F&F which you do not address. You do not address why you eliminate dasein based reasons you might have more F&F, as listed a bit here and in the other posts.

You repeat your conclusion as if somehow you had reasoned somewhere why it couldn't be something as simple as some facet of my parenting led me to suffer this less than you.

Yes, you make a disclaimer that you might be wrong. But you never take the effort to actually address the dasein based possibilities. The contigent factors in our lives - both experiential and genetic - that might predispose someone to focus and suffer somethign more than another.

For whatever reasons, you simply cannot do this. Even though it fits your philosophy to a T.

And perhaps you could do it, find a good argument for what it cannot be these things, but you don't even try. For yourself, you don't even try.
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue May 19, 2020 6:30 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
iambiguous wrote:
My point of course is embedded more in the manner in which your hatred here either is or is not what I construe to be an "existential contraption" rooted in this:


This seems unnecessarily complicating it.


Indeed, and to the extent that objectivists can "simplify" it by insisting the hatred that they feel here and now regarding this or that is in sync with the "real me" ready, willing and able to embody "the right thing to do", takes so much of those "complications" away.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: I'm a social mammal. If you had a wolf in a zoo for a while. Then put her out with her pack in the wild, then captured her to put her back in the zoo, she'd probably hate it. To call something like that an existential contraption - as a rule like you do - is up in the clouds if anything is.


The hatred that wolves feel is almost entirely subsumed genetically in instinct. I would never ascribe their behavior to dasein. And to the extent that human hatred is explored contextually at intersection of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy, is the extent to which it becomes anything but up in the clouds.

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: I addressed this.


So you keep telling me. But not in the manner in which I addressed it myself on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382

If I do say so myself.

Go back and review our own exchange on this thread. We construe "I" here in different ways.

Or, instead, using the tools of philosophy [or science] is it possible to determine if all rational and virtuous men and women are obligated to feel hatred for it.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: I've made it clear that I don't think all people are obligated. This is one of the things that made people angry at you. It's as if you get triggered and say things you say to anyone and then often on your own, as if it applies, which it does not, in the individual case. And as if we haven't already addressed the issue.


For me, the focus on what all people are obligated to feel, comes after an exploration into why different people feel conflicting things about the same set of circumstances. Aside from the genetic components of "I", how does this biological self come to embody particular behaviors in particular contexts given all of the variables [historical, cultural and experiential] embedded in human social, political and economic interactions. Are these memetic factors merely there to be subsumed in Satyr's assessment of nature? Re, among other things, race and gender and sexual orientation. Culminating [at Know Thyself] in the Übermensch?

Come on, just because someone insists that they have "addressed" another's issue here, doesn't mean that it has been addressed to the other's satisfaction. You do get that part, don't you?

After all, given this Brave New World, any number of individuals might support it if for no other reason than that "for all practical purposes" they greatly benefit from it.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: Of course. Though I was not rejecting, remotely, all of current society. But of course. How could you possibly think I don't know this? What could possibly have led you to believe I did know that people have this attitude.


Because the perspectives of the realists, pragmatists, sociopaths and narcissists [however one might come to understand them] are no less embedded in dasein from my point of view. They can just shrug off morality in a No God world and be content to embody ethics from the perspective -- philosophical perspective? -- of "in the absence of God, all things are permitted".

But, again, why do some come to think about the world this way while others do not? How is this not a powerful example of how dasein manifests itself from individual to individual?

Same with the coronavirus/vaccination arguments. There are those who insist that their collection of facts attached to their own objectivist moral and political font precludes anyone not sharing their own conclusions from being rational and virtuous in turn. Whereas "I" see how both sides -- many sides --can cherry pick particular sets of facts that allow them to reconfigure the debate such that it merely reinforces their own existential predispositions and political prejudices. Predispositions and prejudices that, in my view, are embedded subjectively/subjunctively in dasein.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: Which is, of course, quite possible without objectivism. You can have people who have different conclusions and these are based on cherry picking, etc., and this is not caused by political positions or moral positions. This happens in many fields and contexts all the time. Of course morals and objectivists stances can come in and often do. But you seem to think rationality cannot be undermined if you are a nihilist. Guess again.


Again, we would need to assess the facts provided by each side in the covid-19/vaccination debates. Which immediately puts us in touch with the gap between our facts, their facts and all of the facts there are that actually can be known. Then the part that Barrett explored re "rival goods". Then two of my own components: dasein, political economy.

You don't have to be a nihilist to note the manner in which rational assessments can cancel each other out.

"I" myself here am more "fractured and fragmented" than you are because I construe the meaning of dasein, conflicting goods and political economy [in my signature threads] differently from how you do.


Karpel Tunnel wrote: Nope. You haven't demonstrated that in the least. You told me a bunch of stuff as if I needed to know it, then based on this, said we have a different view on those things.


So, I haven't demonstrated it to you and that settles it. But you haven't demonstrated to me how, given particular contexts, your view is different from mine. Instead, you only insist that you have.

Now, we can either try and try again given different sets of circumstances or just leave it at that.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: And you have never demonstrated, for example, that you are not more F&F because of trauma, particular suffering you went through, perhaps not going to therapists or not finding the right ones, or for giving yourself extra burdens, like finding perfect arguments.


What if something like that is not able to be demonstrated conclusively in the manner in which we demonstrate such things in the either/or world? Again, the existential/psychological variables are so complex here, we can only struggle to communicate to the best of our ability why we think, feel, say and do things one way rather than another.

"I" feel fractured and fragmented in my interactions with others in the is/ought world. And considerably less so in my interactions with others in the either/or world. I explore why in my signature threads. Others either are or not interested in reading them. If they are and do, they will react in a particular way.

Then all we can do here at ILP is to exchange assessments of these relationships given our reaction to particular situations.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed May 20, 2020 4:24 pm

Making An Effort To Understand
David Wong illustrates moral relativism with some telling examples.

Many moral philosophers may feel disconcerted by Goodwin and Darley’s findings. They tend to assume that laypeople are typically objectivist in their attitudes about morality. [Objectivism is the belief that ideas are true or false regardless of anyone’s belief about their truth or falsity.]


Here though, accepting this assessment of objectivism, I make a distinction between two types of objectivist thinkers. The first get their thinking from and through others. They are indoctrinated as children to view morality in a particular way and they basically take this with them to the grave. Usually in conjunction with one or another religious dogma, or one or another political ideology.

The key factor being this: that they spend little or no time actually questioning what others have provided for them in the way of living a virtuous life. With religion, this often begins at early age. With ideology it can begin later in life. But, once having anchored "I" to the objectivist font, it's almost never really questioned in depth.

Others though [for whatever personal reasons] do challenge what they are told by authority figures. They wonder if they can, in fact, "think it all through" and come up with a moral assessment "on their own". You find these folks all the time in places like this. They concoct these truly elaborate "philosophies of life". Intellectual contraptions bursting at the seams with all manner of deontological assumptions. Some rooted in God and religion, others in more secular components. But everything gets all tied together in their own rendition of the "Ontological/Teleological Analysis."

Furthermore, most moral philosophers assume that the objectivity of morality stands or falls in wholesale fashion: that there are correct answers on the truth or falsity of every moral belief (or virtually every, for those who want to admit to a few outliers) and that in all (or virtually all) moral disagreements at least one side must be mistaken. Those who believe that moral objectivity stands or falls in such wholesale fashion believe in a single true morality, or they believe that all morality is false or is neither true nor false. The former are objectivists. The latter are moral skeptics. Those like me, who deny that moral objectivity stands or falls in wholesale fashion, are relativists.


Here however there is a further distinction that can be made. Some objectivists argue that not only is there a clear cut right and a clear cut wrong with regard to conflicting goods, but that right and wrong here are universally applicable to/in all contexts. Thus abortion is always immoral -- historically, culturally, experientially.

Others however argue that while there is either the right or the wrong thing to do, it depends on a rational understanding of any particular set of circumstances. Thus here abortion may be objectively moral, while there it is not.

Which then becomes more improbable to demonstrate?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed May 27, 2020 6:21 pm

Making An Effort To Understand
David Wong illustrates moral relativism with some telling examples.

Objectivist philosophers should also feel challenged by Goodwin and Darley’s findings on what sort of thinking accompanies more or less objectivist stances. They found that those less likely to take an objectivist stance showed a disposition to try to explain why there is disagreement over an ethical issue in terms of the parties holding different values, while those who tended to take the objectivist stance were less interested in explaining disagreement and tended either to disbelieve that someone else could disagree with them or to put the disagreement down to some moral defect of the other.


This revolves basically around William Barrett's contention that moral and political conflicts often revolve around "rival goods":

"For the choice in...human [moral conflicts] is almost never between a good and an evil, where both are plainly marked as such and the choice therefore made in all the certitude of reason; rather it is between rival goods, where one is bound to do some evil either way, and where the ultimate outcome and even---or most of all---our own motives are unclear to us. The terror of confronting oneself in such a situation is so great that most people panic and try to take cover under any universal rules that will apply, if only to save them from the task of choosing themselves."

What I refer to as "conflicting goods". Here though [from my frame of mind] both "good" and "evil" are rooted existentially in dasein...and not in anything approaching a Kantian deontological obligation.

Then the position taken by the sociopath: What's in it for me? That becoming the only consideration.

The crucial assumption here being that both sides can raise points that the other side's arguments can't make go away. Thus those who support the right of private citizens to arm themselves argue there may be any number of contexts in which having a gun might save your life. While those opposed note there may be any number contexts in which, in the heat of passion, having a gun results in the unnecessary death of others.

Here there are endless sets of circumstance in which it would seem to be more reasonable to have or to not have a gun.

And what of those who own guns used for hunting. Same thing. The hunters have their arguments predicated on their assumptions and the animal rights folks have another set of arguments predicated on their own assumptions. So, what is the optimal argument that cancels out all of the objections?

In other words...

Objectivist philosophers should also feel challenged by Goodwin and Darley’s findings on what sort of thinking accompanies more or less objectivist stances. They found that those less likely to take an objectivist stance showed a disposition to try to explain why there is disagreement over an ethical issue in terms of the parties holding different values, while those who tended to take the objectivist stance were less interested in explaining disagreement and tended either to disbelieve that someone else could disagree with them or to put the disagreement down to some moral defect of the other.


This, in my view, embodies what I call the "psychology of objectivism". In other words, the objectivists may well actually be less concerned -- subconsciously perhaps? -- with the arguments they make and more emphatic that there is an argument that one can make to settle it. That it is their own argument which allows them to sustain what those like me construe to be the psychological illusion that there is indeed a "real me" able to be in sync with the right thing to do.

It's more about the feeling of certainty itself than whatever it is one claims to feel certain about. It's the certainty that provides the anchor for "I". And it is this anchor that some then attach to God and religion to sustain this certainty on into the afterlife in turn.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:24 pm

Making An Effort To Understand
David Wong illustrates moral relativism with some telling examples.

In Confucianism, to be a person is to connect with others by acting in relationship with them. Participation in ceremonial rituals helps one to cultivate the ethically-appropriate emotional attitudes towards others as they instantiate certain roles, as when one pours wine for the elder villagers in the order of their seniority in the village drinking ceremony.


Clearly, down through the ages morality has revolved around the crucial relationship between how the individual is perceived in relationship to others. To the family. To the community. To the larger state. And this in turn is often predicated on political economy. It's not for nothing that throughout most of human history the emphasis was always placed on the social interactions revolving around a particular village. "We" was far more potent in establishing rules of behavior. The proper place for everyone and everyone in their proper place. Only with the advent of mercantilism and capitalism has that all shifted increasingly in the direction of "I".

And, given the far more complex options available to the "modern world"/"postmodern world" individual in increasingly varied contexts, morality itself was bound to become all that more fractured. Especially given the extent to which God and religion become more splintered in turn.

Consider the Chinese character for ren, which stands for one of the central Confucian virtues and is variously translated as goodness, caring, and human-heartedness. It is composed of the characters for person and for the number two, and is often taken to convey the idea that there is no person until there are two. The striking similarity in theme between rich and intellectually-sophisticated cultures in India and China should give pause to anyone who thinks to lightly dismiss moralities oriented towards relationship and community.


Which of course makes it all the more unlikely that most in the West are able to truly grapple with and grasp what can be a very dissimilar foundation for human interactions in countries where the actual existential relationship between "I" and "we" are understood differently.

Also, imagine the changes that have unfolded in nations like China where this more traditional sense of social interaction reconfigures into truly dramatic political ramifications embedded in an increasingly capitalistic economy. What of "I" and "we" then? When the rules of behavior once predicated largely on "we", become more and more in sync with a "show me the money" mentality more applicable to "I" in the West, right and wrong behaviors are no doubt twisted into some truly problematic frames of mind.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jun 09, 2020 5:51 pm

Making An Effort To Understand
David Wong illustrates moral relativism with some telling examples.

It is important to note that relativists do not need to say that moral judgment is an uncritical and unreflective application of the norms adopted by one’s group or by oneself as an individual. Relativists can acknowledge, as well as anyone else, that criticism of accepted norms is a regular part of moral discourse. It’s just that relativists dispute that the second-order norms by which the accepted norms are criticized are universal (most of them clearly reflect the values of the cultures from which they arise). In other words, relativists deny that when pressed for justification of one’s position, one can get to a stopping point where every reasonable person agrees. Rather, the stopping points are in the area of the fundamental moral differences mentioned earlier.


This is the part that, in particular, becomes difficult to convey to others unless the discussion revolves around an examination of conflicting behaviors derived from conflicting value judgments.

No doubt many who have embraced moral narratives up and down the political spectrum have invested considerable time and effort in "thinking through" an issue in order to come up with what they construe to be the most reasonable [and thus virtuous] frame of mind. A perspective they then use to pursue political policies reconfigured into laws. Laws, in other words, that, once enforced, get down to the nitty gritty of human interactions: actually rewarding and punishing people for the behaviors they choose. Thus precipitating consequences that never crop up in discussions like these. Some here may even acknowledge that those opposed to their own values are able to convey their own intelligent arguments.

The difference between them and me, however, is that, even when the exchange does focus in on particular contexts, I become entangled in this...

"If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values 'I' can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then 'I' begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically."

...in a way that they do not.

That's the part I am rarely able to "get across" to others. They still seem convinced themselves there is in fact a "real me" embodied in their extant Self and that as a consequence they are able to align this Self with the argument that they believe encompasses "the right thing to do".

Instead, my own frame of mind here is inclined more towards what Richard Rorty called "ironism":

"She has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered;

"She realizes that argument phrased in her present vocabulary can neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts;

"Insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with a power not herself. "


Only [of course] in exploring this intellectual contraption itself by taking it out into the world of actual conflicting goods in actual existential contexts only precipitates the same gap between words and worlds.

Then I'm back to more words still in my signature threads which in turn are rarely understood by others.

So, sure, I've got to conclude that this failure to communicate is derived from the fact that my arguments are just less reasonable than theirs. Instead, I cling stubbornly to the conviction -- mere assumption? -- that my arguments are rejected because the objectivists recognize what is at stake for them if "I" am in fact closer to whatever the truth may finally be.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:29 pm

Why Should I Care About Morality?
Arnold Zuboff keeps asking a dangerous question – whether anyone has any real reason to act morally. He thinks it has led him to a new basis for ethics.

Let’s inquire into the nature of morality – and, more particularly, into the authority that it seems to have in the judgments of most of us. I think a certain story can help us in raising the question of where it gets that authority.

Imagine that someone we shall call Gyges, after the character similarly used by Plato in a basically similar story, is seated at a table. Just before him on the table is a small console with a single button on it. Let’s say he knows that if he pushed that button a distant stranger, who would otherwise be fine, would be killed. Gyges also knows that if he pushed that lethal button, he, Gyges, would be given £10 that he otherwise would not have. We are going to look into whether Gyges has any reason based purely on morality not to push the button.


Here we go again.

Another hypothetical examination of morality in a "thought experiment".

A distant stranger? £10 [$12.50]? How about it being someone you love? How about it being £799,400 [$1,000,000]?

There are [out in the real world] countless numbers of actual different people whose lives might be traded for countless numbers of different sums.

And then there's your own situation. How badly do you need money at the time the proposition is presented to you? What do you construe to be the source of morality given the behaviors you choose? Do you believe in God and Judgment Day? Are you a sociopathic nihilist? Is it ever and always about the money to you?

"Based purely on morality"? Is that even something that philosophers/ethicists can pin down with any degree of objectivity?

It's like the "trolley problem", but with no money involved. One set of lives traded for another set. But what is the precise set of circumstances. Who are these people? Do you know them? Does one outcome sit better with you even if it means a greater loss of life?

Instead, the "situation" is often confined solely to an intellectual contraption:

It is vital that we rule out of our story, if it is to be useful to our questioning of the authority of morality, any possibility that Gyges be punished if he pushes the button or that he in some way be rewarded if he doesn’t push it. For if we give him the fear of punishment or the hope of reward as reasons not to push the button, we have not then clearly isolated whether he has a reason not to push the button in its being morally wrong to do so. We are wanting to know whether morality in itself has an authority here for him, but his own punishment or reward carries only the authority of the sort of obvious self-interest that is often distinguished from moral motivation. Therefore we shall say something like Gyges can be sure that the death he might choose to cause would have the perfect appearance of an accident having nothing to do with Gyges. So Gyges would be perfectly safe. Let us add that the remoteness of the stranger insures that there would be no other possibilities of personal loss or gain for Gyges in either the stranger’s death or his continued life.


Presto! No punishment! Though, sure, there are actual "real life" circumstances in which someone might be confronted with a dilemma of this sort knowing that no matter what she chooses she will never be caught or punished.

Also, doesn't this really come down to the intellectual contraption concocted by Kant: a categorical and imperative obligation to do the right thing?

It has nothing to do with rewards and punishments. Instead, it has everything to do with "reasoning" oneself to virtue.

But there's a catch of course: that "transcending font". A God, the God up there or out there somewhere able to finally judge Gyges. Take that away and what on earth is available to the Kantians or those among us here who might attempt to judge his choice.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:19 pm

Irrefutable Ethics
Richard Taylor on the intractable beliefs people hold about how we should behave.

Given the certitude with which people proclaim a certain class of beliefs one would think that these must rest upon incontestable fact and evidence. In truth, they rest upon no evidence at all and are usually incompatible with fact. I shall call such beliefs ‘intractables.’

The clearest examples are religious beliefs, which, the more far-fetched they are, the more tenaciously they are held. Indeed, it is worse than this, for the very evidence that would seem to discredit them is thought instead to authenticate them. Thus, in the face of catastrophe, such as an earthquake, people rush to their temples and churches, reaffirming their trust in a divine Providence.


How to explain this if not as a manifestation of the "psychology of objectivism". And what could possibly encompass objectivsm more broadly than God and religion?

And "the people" still flock to it by the millions because what could possibly be more irrefutable than something that you merely have to believe is true in your head? This and the fact that in the face of catastrophe what else is there?

With God all bases are covered. It provides one with a moral narrative on this side of the grave along with the claim that in following it "religiously" you are certain to attain immortality and salvation -- in paradise no less -- for all the rest of eternity.

Is there really any other way -- a better way -- in which to explain its appeal?

Ethical judgements...are of the same character, and it is no accident that ethical and religious beliefs are intertwined. Non-believers, it is thought, cannot be truly moral. They have nothing to rest morality on.



That's always been my own argument basically. No God, no omniscient/omnipotent foundation from which to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad behavior. After all, how else to explain the moral and political conflicts that have afflicted the human species now for thousands of years. If the Humanists weren't able to to concoct objective "rules of behavior" after all that time, how confident can we be that they ever will. Instead, you have philosopnhical contraptions derived almost entirely from worlds of words, the truth of which being predicated on conflicting sets of assumptions and definitions. Either that or one or another political ideology. And look at the devastating consequences they have wrought down through the ages.

Believers, on the other hand, are presumed to be good and honorable, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. If a man clothes himself in religion then it is assumed that he is well motivated, no matter what he does. Nor is it necessary to be a believer in fact. It is enough to appear as such – something every successful politician quickly learns.


Of course this gets trickier in the modern world. Especially when religious denominations come into conflict. After all, which God exactly is this motivation derived from -- the right one [ours] or the wrong one [theirs]? But given the likes of politicians like Donald Trump, there's is little doubt that right and wrong itself can still be anchored to God by any particular officials of the government. All it takes here are flocks of sheep and election booths.

But, then, historically, look at the No God alternatives -- Communism? Fascism? Or whatever North Korea is?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Meno_ » Tue Jun 23, 2020 5:49 pm

iambiguous wrote:Irrefutable Ethics
Richard Taylor on the intractable beliefs people hold about how we should behave.



Given the certitude with which people proclaim a certain class of beliefs one would think that these must rest upon incontestable fact and evidence. In truth, they rest upon no evidence at all and are usually incompatible with fact. I shall call such beliefs ‘intractables.’

The clearest examples are religious beliefs, which, the more far-fetched they are, the more tenaciously they are held. Indeed, it is worse than this, for the very evidence that would seem to discredit them is thought instead to authenticate them. Thus, in the face of catastrophe, such as an earthquake, people rush to their temples and churches, reaffirming their trust in a divine Providence.


How to explain this if not as a manifestation of the "psychology of objectivism". And what could possibly encompass objectivsm more broadly than God and religion?

And "the people" still flock to it by the millions because what could possibly be more irrefutable than something that you merely have to believe is true in your head? This and the fact that in the face of catastrophe what else is there?

With God all bases are covered. It provides one with a moral narrative on this side of the grave along with the claim that in following it "religiously" you are certain to attain immortality and salvation -- in paradise no less -- for all the rest of eternity.

Is there really any other way -- a better way -- in which to explain its appeal?

Ethical judgements...are of the same character, and it is no accident that ethical and religious beliefs are intertwined. Non-believers, it is thought, cannot be truly moral. They have nothing to rest morality on.



That's always been my own argument basically. No God, no omniscient/omnipotent foundation from which to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad behavior. After all, how else to explain the moral and political conflicts that have afflicted the human species now for thousands of years. If the Humanists weren't able to to concoct objective "rules of behavior" after all that time, how confident can we be that they ever will. Instead, you have philosopnhical contraptions derived almost entirely from worlds of words, the truth of which being predicated on conflicting sets of assumptions and definitions. Either that or one or another political ideology. And look at the devastating consequences they have wrought down through the ages.

Believers, on the other hand, are presumed to be good and honorable, even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. If a man clothes himself in religion then it is assumed that he is well motivated, no matter what he does. Nor is it necessary to be a believer in fact. It is enough to appear as such – something every successful politician quickly learns.


Of course this gets trickier in the modern world. Especially when religious denominations come into conflict. After all, which God exactly is this motivation derived from -- the right one [ours] or the wrong one [theirs]? But given the likes of politicians like Donald Trump, there's is little doubt that right and wrong itself can still be anchored to God by any particular officials of the government. All it takes here are flocks of sheep and election booths.

But, then, historically, look at the No God alternatives -- Communism? Fascism? Or whatever North Korea is?




And Marxism, which derives from well meant intentions..
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 03, 2020 7:26 pm

Ethics Without Morals by Joel Marks
Bill Meacham finds Ethics Without Morals easy enough to live with.

As philosophers, we need to get clear on our concepts. What is morality? Marks’ answer: morality is a set of absolute and universal imperatives and prohibitions – a set of rules which everyone is obliged to obey. This set of imperatives is supposed to apply to all human beings at all times and places. The moral rules trump all other rules, and manifest in our feelings as spontaneous intuitions or impulses to obey or enforce them. The essence of morality is its universal, unchanging, and absolute authority in matters of human behavior. Following Kant, Marks calls moral imperatives ‘categorical’, meaning that they apply unconditionally, and independently of how we feel about them. In brief, morality is a set of obligations that we are all supposed to obey. This is what we mean by the term ‘morality’, by and large, in common language. And morality in this sense does not actually exist, says Marks.


So, is this what morality means to you? Technically? Epistemologically? Does an assessment of this sort pin it down? Or is that just with respect to "common language"...the way in which many think about right and wrong behavior. In other words, without really thinking about it much at all.

Or maybe in terms of "common sense" this is the case. After all, if we can't differentiate moral from immoral behavior universally, objectively, essentially, then it would seem to come down to different people concluding it means different things in different places and at different times.

Which is why I have come to conclude that the whole point of morality revolves more around a psychological agenda. It's not who is behaving morally or immorally but that it has to be either one or the other.

Morality embodied by the objectivists in one or another subjective/subjunctive rendition of this:

Here, in my view, is one particular rendition of what I construe to be the "psychology of objectivism". Applicable to either Religion or to Reason.

1] For one reason or another [rooted largely in dasein], you are taught or come into contact with [through your upbringing, a friend, a book, an experience etc.] a worldview, a philosophy of life.

2] Over time, you become convinced that this perspective expresses and encompasses the most rational and objective truth. This truth then becomes increasingly more vital, more essential to you as a foundation, a justification, a celebration of all that is moral as opposed to immoral, rational as opposed to irrational.

3] Eventually, for some, they begin to bump into others who feel the same way; they may even begin to actively seek out folks similarly inclined to view the world in a particular way.

4] Some begin to share this philosophy with family, friends, colleagues, associates, Internet denizens; increasingly it becomes more and more a part of their life. It becomes, in other words, more intertwined in their personal relationships with others...it begins to bind them emotionally and psychologically.

5] As yet more time passes, they start to feel increasingly compelled not only to share their Truth with others but, in turn, to vigorously defend it against any and all detractors as well.

6] For some, it can reach the point where they are no longer able to realistically construe an argument that disputes their own as merely a difference of opinion; they see it instead as, for all intents and purposes, an attack on their intellectual integrity....on their very Self.

7] Finally, a stage is reached [again for some] where the original philosophical quest for truth, for wisdom has become so profoundly integrated into their self-identity [professionally, socially, psychologically, emotionally] defending it has less and less to do with philosophy at all. And certainly less and less to do with "logic".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:32 pm

Ethics Without Morals by Joel Marks
Bill Meacham finds Ethics Without Morals easy enough to live with.

Marks argues that there are several possible explanations for our belief in morality, and that the one that does not assume that morality exists makes a lot more sense than the others.


I've never understood this frame of mind. Of course morality exists. It is simply a word that the human species has invented in order to encompass the fundamental human need for rules of behavior. With other species that revolves almost entirely around biological imperatives: genes, instincts, drives. With us comes the reality of memes. Social, political and economic constructs that flow from the objective fact that over the course of human evolution wants and needs come into conflict. In regard to both means and ends.

Some things we all want, must have. Other things are more subjective, elective, individual. But clearly conflicts break out over and over and over again in regard to who gets what, when and where. And how. The stuff that folks like Marx and Freud and Reich and Jung delved into. The stuff we encounter on the news day in and day out.

The first possible explanation for belief in morality is that God legislates it and gave us a conscience so we would know right from wrong. The second is that morality is a built-in feature of the universe, much like gravity, and we have developed an intuition to perceive it. The third is that the belief in morality was a useful evolutionary adaptation that lingers on even though it is no longer helpful.


Here, you know me. I am considerably less interested in the particular font that any particular individual embraces/embodies, and more intrigued by how, given the manner in which I construe the meaning of dasein here, "I" comes to choose one rather than another. And then their capacity to demonstrate why the path that they have chosen is the one that all rational men and women are then obligated to choose in turn.

Given a particular context revolving around particular behaviors revolving around particular sets of conflicting goods. God or No God.

The evolutionary explanation makes the best sense, according to Marks. Development of a sense of morals was evolutionarily adaptive for early humans because it enabled them to live cooperatively in groups.

We evolved to believe in morality because we have to live with others in order to survive, and moral rules regulate how we get along together. A shared sense of morals makes for group cohesion, and those who live in cohesive groups survive and reproduce better than those who don’t. As primatologist Frans de Waal has noted, human societies are support systems within which temporary weakness does not automatically spell death


Yes, that makes the most sense to me too. Here and now. For reasons we do not fully understand going all the way back to what we do not fully understand about existence itself, "humanity" on planet Earth is part of the evolution of biological life. The "culmination" of it so far apparently. But unlike all other lifeforms, the theory and practice of "morality" exists for us. Based on the assumption that human autonomy exists in turn.

I merely suggest that there does not appear to be a philosophical assessment that allows us to grasp either the optimal human behaviors in any particular context or, deontologically, the only possible rational behaviors. And that the objectivists among us who claim otherwise -- God or No God -- are acting out what I construe to be the "psychology of objectivism".

But I am no more able demonstrate this myself. Instead it reflects the culmination of all the variables in my life -- nature/nurture -- that, existentially, predispose me "here and now" to think like this.

I then extrapolate from this the assumption that it is true for you as well.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 17, 2020 6:51 pm

Ethics Without Morals by Joel Marks
Bill Meacham finds Ethics Without Morals easy enough to live with.

Marks is so eager to divest himself of anything that sounds like morality that he says there’s nothing we should do (because there are no moral ‘shoulds’), only what we want to do – a view of human nature that he calls ‘desirism’. All we ever do is what we want to do, he says. So the goal of his work is to convince us to desire amoralism.


Sure, that's one way to approach it in a No God/No Good world. But then we are likely to come face to face with those who choose to embody it by embracing a "might makes right" world. The brute facticity of power itself prevails and that's that.

And, given those who now own and operate the global economy, isn't that basically how it all does unfold. It's not a question of the deep state existing but of acknowledging there are now three of them competing to divide up the world: the United States, Russia and China. Still, in America things tends to become more convoluted. Political economy prevails here but there is more opportunity for those on various sides of the social, political and economic divides to actually have at least some measure of input in sustaining one rather than another public policy. This is especially the case when you include most European nations as well in pursuing "moderation, negotiation and compromise" within their various communities.

His chapter entitled ‘Might Amorality Be Preferable?’ includes an excellent rant against the defects of our typical sense of morality: morality makes us angry; it promotes hypocrisy; it encourages arrogance; it’s arbitrary, because there is no final justification for saying anything is right or wrong; it is imprudent, leading us to do things that have obviously bad consequences; it makes us intransigent, fueling endless strife; it is useless as a guide to life; and it leads philosophers to waste time on silly puzzles.


So, Mr. Moral and Political Objectivist, defend yourself against these allegations. Aren't each and every one of them applicable to any number of contexts most here are familiar with? And might the reason many are willing to put up with them be that the manner in which I construe the "psychology of objectivism" is the main focus anyway?

On the other hand, it all comes down to how, "for all practical purposes", any particular individual construes the meaning of "amoral" given his or her own chosen behaviors. It will either be closer to "might makes right" or to "democracy and the rule of law".

Then made applicable to an endless string of new and ever evolving contexts day in and day out.

By contrast, amorality is free of guilt, tolerant, interesting, explanatory and compassionate (when the blinders of blame are removed, we are free to consider others with an open heart), not to mention true. The upshot is that amorality is far more preferable. If you read only this chapter, you will have gained a lot.


Okay, but let's put this to the test too. Choose to be an amoralist and go about the business of interacting with others week in and week out. How does being "free of guilt, tolerant, interesting, explanatory and compassionate" work for you when others still confront your behaviors with the behaviors that they choose as a moral objectivist?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:15 pm

Ethics Without Morals by Joel Marks
Bill Meacham finds Ethics Without Morals easy enough to live with.

Marks is...making a meta-ethical claim – a claim about the status of ethics – which claim I like to explain in terms of the language used to express it. That is, throughout the history of philosophy there have been two competing domains of discourse regarding ethics and morals, the Right and the Good. The Right pertains to duty and obligation: it refers to an obligation to obey moral rules; laws that are taken to be applicable universally and independent of one’s own preferences. The Good pertains to benefits and harms: it refers to consequences of actions that may be good or bad for the agent or others.


Again, discussions of this sort can go on and on and on as long as the distinctions being made are encompassed only in "world of words" "intellectual contraptions".

But what of making this distinction in regard to actual human interactions in which the "Right thing to do" precipitates consequences which may be perceived as Good by some and Bad by others?

In fact, if you can convince yourself that you are obligated to do the Right thing, that becomes a way in which to rationalize away any consequences perceived to be Bad. For you or for others. You did the Right thing. That's all that matters. Of course for these deontological philosophers down through the ages, doing the Right thing was invariably intertwined with one or another transcending font: God.

You did the Right thing and it resulted in consequences that were anything but Good for yourself or others, but it was all squared with God. The Bad things would eventually dissolve into immortality and salvation.

Back again to religion in a nutshell.

But what of those who make a secular distinction being Right and Wrong? They can think themselves into believing they did the Right thing as a Communist or a Nazi or a Humanist, but when it results in Bad things for themselves and others, there is no immortality and salvation awaiting them on the other side.

In other words, here these distinctions would seem to become considerably more problematic.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby sacrosanct » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:25 pm

i never did understood the written philosophies of a forum however i do love reading and writing it to the utmost of my experiences
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