Justin Green

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« Reply #60 on: January 20, 2011, 11:39:46 pm »

saibomb wrote: I'm no trained philosopher either, but I don't think 4a necessarily follows from 4b.


I'm not sure about that myself.  This leap appears in related arguments dealing with other laws (physics, logic, etc.) and I need to do a bit more research.  I'm sure I've seen this logical leap made in some philosophical papers, and perhaps I'm missing a step or it could be that it simply doesn't follow.

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John Quin

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« Reply #61 on: January 21, 2011, 05:44:12 am »
wonderer wrote:
Quote from: JohnQuin
On its own it [the moral argument] won't have much force unless you are very committed to the idea that objective morality actually does exist in the same way that the universe exists.


From my perspective, this seems an odd way of phrasing things.  It seems unreasonable to me to be "committed" to an idea/belief.  It seems much more reasonable to believe things on the basis of reasons to consider the belief true.  Saying that one is "committed" to a belief, suggests to me that the person will ignore all evidence and arguments that contradict the belief and that doesn't seem very consistent with having intellectual integrity to me.

Now I understand being committed to an ideal (such as having intellectual integrity) as a basis for having self respect.  However that seems to me to be a different sort of thing.


I don't think you need a philosophical argument in order to believe in right and wrong any more than you need an argument that the external world is real.
Both could be an illusion but you can trust your own intuitions on reality.
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wonderer

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« Reply #62 on: January 21, 2011, 06:13:40 am »
JohnQuin wrote: I don't think you need a philosophical argument in order to believe in right and wrong any more than you need an argument that the external world is real.
Both could be an illusion but you can trust your own intuitions on reality.

   

   Well, I certainly agree that people don't need a logical argument to believe in objective moral rights and wrongs.  However, if you've followed the things I've said in the intuition thread, perhaps you can understand why I think it is naïve to believe such an intuition to be true, without serious consideration of evidence and arguments contradictory to such an intuition.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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John Quin

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« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2011, 06:33:13 am »
wonderer wrote:
Quote from: JohnQuin
I don't think you need a philosophical argument in order to believe in right and wrong any more than you need an argument that the external world is real.
Both could be an illusion but you can trust your own intuitions on reality.


Well, I certainly agree that people don't need a logical argument to believe in objective moral rights and wrongs.  However, if you've followed the things I've said in the intuition thread, perhaps you can understand why I think it is naïve to believe such an intuition to be true, without serious consideration of evidence and arguments contradictory to such an intuition.


Well no I haven't read the intuition thread. I'll take a look.
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« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2011, 07:01:53 am »
I had a look, the thread had half a dozen excellent posts and the rest was complete rubbish.
You don't need to be a genius to work out which posts were excellent and which were rubbish.

I thought it was interesting. I would love to hear someone from an opposing side talk to these points.

My intuition tells me that there seems to be an element of bringing the whole edifice down on everyone, as minds in general seem unreliable. (Irony intentional)
It sounds a bit like memes or any of the universal commentaries on truth claims that nietzsche and others had. They apply their theory to everyone but themselves as though they are some how immune to their own theory.

I get the impression you feel that verificationism is a way out of this predicament?

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wonderer

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« Reply #65 on: January 26, 2011, 01:51:52 pm »

JohnQuin wrote: I had a look, the thread had half a dozen excellent posts and the rest was complete rubbish.
You don't need to be a genius to work out which posts were excellent and which were rubbish.

I thought it was interesting. I would love to hear someone from an opposing side talk to these points.

I'd (cautiously) agree that I'd like to hear someone from an opposing side talk to these points as well.  However, people who want to believe their intuitions to be magical in origin don't tend to have put much thought into a physical basis for intuition, and therefore don't tend to be in a position to present any sort of substantive criticism.  (I'm not much interested in taking a lot of time to point out unsupported assertions for what they are.)

My intuition tells me that there seems to be an element of bringing the whole edifice down on everyone, as minds in general seem unreliable. (Irony intentional)


Well yes and no.  If you had an intuition which was erroneous, and from which you often reached incorrect inferences, wouldn't you wish that intuition to be torn down and replaced with an intuition which has a greater correspondence with reality?  As P.Z. Myers discusses today atheists tend to be the sort of people who put greater emphasis on their beliefs being true than on their beliefs being something that makes them happy.  Perhaps it is projection on my part to assume that you want the basis for your beliefs to be a matter of consistency with reality.  You tell me.

I don't see subjecting intuitions to questioning to be the sort of destructive thing which you seem to suggest.  For one thing, as I said in that other thread, intuitions are 'sticky'.  They aren't fragile and easily replaced.  It can be hard to get past an untrustworthy intuition, even when one is consciously aware of the intuition's untrustworthiness.

It sounds a bit like memes or any of the universal commentaries on truth claims that nietzsche and others had. They apply their theory to everyone but themselves as though they are some how immune to their own theory.


Well, I most certainly don't consider myself immune to the sorts of things I've discussed.  As an engineer, I am quite frequently confronted with situations where the reality doesn't match my intuitions, giving me very good reason to question my intuitions.  Over the course of my life I have replaced a lot of unreliable intuitions with more reliable ones, so I am very much talking about weaknesses to human minds that I realize I am quite prone to.

I get the impression you feel that verificationism is a way out of this predicament?


Well, since the "predicament" is one of having a human mind based on a human brain, I don't see there being any sort of ultimate "way out" of the predicament.

That said, I see verificationism, (or more apropos falsificationism) as being an extremely beneficial practice for bringing one's perspective into greater consistency with reality.  For example, as a matter of such practice one could consider the answers to this years edge.org question, "WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?"  I think allowing such answers to challenge one's intuitions would reveal to nearly anyone, that their intuitions are questionable in a lot of ways.
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John Quin

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« Reply #66 on: January 27, 2011, 04:55:39 am »
wonderer wrote:

Quote from: JohnQuin
I had a look, the thread had half a dozen excellent posts and the rest was complete rubbish.
You don't need to be a genius to work out which posts were excellent and which were rubbish.

I thought it was interesting. I would love to hear someone from an opposing side talk to these points.

I'd (cautiously) agree that I'd like to hear someone from an opposing side talk to these points as well.  However, people who want to believe their intuitions to be magical in origin don't tend to have put much thought into a physical basis for intuition, and therefore don't tend to be in a position to present any sort of substantive criticism.  (I'm not much interested in taking a lot of time to point out unsupported assertions for what they are.)


I don't think you need to have a supernatural basis for your intuition regarding the existence of morality. Certainly the atheist philosopher Louise Antony doesn't seem to think so. I think we can be as sure of the existence of good and evil as we are that the external world is real. I think you could make a case that either doesn't exist.


My intuition tells me that there seems to be an element of bringing the whole edifice down on everyone, as minds in general seem unreliable. (Irony intentional)


Well yes and no.  If you had an intuition which was erroneous, and from which you often reached incorrect inferences, wouldn't you wish that intuition to be torn down and replaced with an intuition which has a greater correspondence with reality?  As P.Z. Myers discusses today atheists tend to be the sort of people who put greater emphasis on their beliefs being true than on their beliefs being something that makes them happy.  Perhaps it is projection on my part to assume that you want the basis for your beliefs to be a matter of consistency with reality.  You tell me.

I don't see subjecting intuitions to questioning to be the sort of destructive thing which you seem to suggest.  For one thing, as I said in that other thread, intuitions are 'sticky'.  They aren't fragile and easily replaced.  It can be hard to get past an untrustworthy intuition, even when one is consciously aware of the intuition's untrustworthiness.


Myers is being a bit generous to the 'brights' I think. I could easily say that atheist have a predisposition to believe anything that makes them appear more academically sophisticated. I don't think anyone can claim that their own position is free from bias. Does that bias extend to our properly basic beliefs? I guess we will never know.

I don't think that subjecting intuitions to questioning is destructive. What I mean is that all of us have intuitions that are not verifiable, including intuitions that science is reliable. This is the reason that verificationism failed. It undermined itself. You can't throw out all intuitions that can't be questioned by science. It doesn't leave enough left to construct any meaningful view on reality.



It sounds a bit like memes or any of the universal commentaries on truth claims that nietzsche and others had. They apply their theory to everyone but themselves as though they are some how immune to their own theory.


Well, I most certainly don't consider myself immune to the sorts of things I've discussed.  As an engineer, I am quite frequently confronted with situations where the reality doesn't match my intuitions, giving me very good reason to question my intuitions.  Over the course of my life I have replaced a lot of unreliable intuitions with more reliable ones, so I am very much talking about weaknesses to human minds that I realize I am quite prone to.

Well at least we share the same vocation *LOL*


I get the impression you feel that verificationism is a way out of this predicament?


Well, since the "predicament" is one of having a human mind based on a human brain, I don't see there being any sort of ultimate "way out" of the predicament.

Agreed, you need to accept some properly basic beliefs. Whether morality is one of those is the question in point.


That said, I see verificationism, (or more apropos falsificationism) as being an extremely beneficial practice for bringing one's perspective into greater consistency with reality.  For example, as a matter of such practice one could consider the answers to this years edge.org question, "WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY'S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?"  I think allowing such answers to challenge one's intuitions would reveal to nearly anyone, that their intuitions are questionable in a lot of ways.



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wonderer

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« Reply #67 on: January 27, 2011, 10:31:04 am »
JohnQuin wrote: I don't think you need to have a supernatural basis for your intuition regarding the existence of morality.


It is important to be precise in these sorts of discussions.  I don't at all dispute "the existence of morality".  Morality is obviously an important aspect of human thought.  I do dispute the existence of a set of deontological rules which are objectively true (independent of any mind).

Certainly the atheist philosopher Louise Antony doesn't seem to think so.


I haven't been able to find much on Antony's view using google, so no comment.

I think we can be as sure of the existence of good and evil as we are that the external world is real. I think you could make a case that either doesn't exist.


I would say that accepting the existence of an external world is vastly more fundamental than good and evil existing as objective categorizations.  Morality is simply moot on solipsism, since there isn't anyone else to behave morally towards, or anyone else to make moral judgements of oneself.  It seems to me that you are verging on committing a slippery slope fallacy.

In what sense do you believe that good and evil exist?



Well yes and no.  If you had an intuition which was erroneous, and from which you often reached incorrect inferences, wouldn't you wish that intuition to be torn down and replaced with an intuition which has a greater correspondence with reality?  As P.Z. Myers discusses today atheists tend to be the sort of people who put greater emphasis on their beliefs being true than on their beliefs being something that makes them happy.  Perhaps it is projection on my part to assume that you want the basis for your beliefs to be a matter of consistency with reality.  You tell me.

I don't see subjecting intuitions to questioning to be the sort of destructive thing which you seem to suggest.  For one thing, as I said in that other thread, intuitions are 'sticky'.  They aren't fragile and easily replaced.  It can be hard to get past an untrustworthy intuition, even when one is consciously aware of the intuition's untrustworthiness.

Myers is being a bit generous to the 'brights' I think.


What do you mean by "brights"?

I could easily say that atheist have a predisposition to believe anything that makes them appear more academically sophisticated.


Well, you could say all sorts of silly things, but I would find it much more interesting if you could present evidence and argument which disproved what Myers' had to say.

I don't think anyone can claim that their own position is free from bias. Does that bias extend to our properly basic beliefs? I guess we will never know.


This exemplifies a sort of fatalism that atheists tend to see a lot of reason to object to.  The fact is that the scientific method has a demonstrated track record of countering human bias over the long run gives good reason not to take such a fatalistic perspective.  There is no good reason for taking such a black or white perspective as to say either God gave me reliable cognitive faculties, or I have no basis to trust any thoughts I have.  I certainly don't see it as attempting to appear sophisticated, to say the truth is that the reliability of our cognitive faculties is quite variable, and that we have good reason to expect to need to work at it, to eliminate erroneous ways of looking at things.

I don't think that subjecting intuitions to questioning is destructive. What I mean is that all of us have intuitions that are not verifiable, including intuitions that science is reliable. This is the reason that verificationism failed. It undermined itself. You can't throw out all intuitions that can't be questioned by science. It doesn't leave enough left to construct any meaningful view on reality.


Again, it's not a black or white matter.  I'm not saying that people should throw out all intuitions which can't be questioned by science.  In fact I've tried to make the point that one couldn't throw out all intuitions if one tried.  I'm not advocating that people toss out their intuitions to the point of psychosis.

I get the impression you feel that verificationism is a way out of this predicament?


Well, since the "predicament" is one of having a human mind based on a human brain, I don't see there being any sort of ultimate "way out" of the predicament.

Agreed, you need to accept some properly basic beliefs. Whether morality is one of those is the question in point.

Well, I doubt we agree that you need to accept some properly basic belief in the sense I was referring to when I got into this discussion and said:

From my perspective, this seems an odd way of phrasing things. It seems unreasonable to me to be "committed" to an idea/belief. It seems much more reasonable to believe things on the basis of reasons to consider the belief true. Saying that one is "committed" to a belief, suggests to me that the person will ignore all evidence and arguments that contradict the belief and that doesn't seem very consistent with having intellectual integrity to me.


To the extent that accepting a belief as being "properly basic", is being committed to that belief regardless of evidence falsifying it, doing so seems likely to lead to self-delusion.  Do you actually believe that there are beliefs that people should be committed to, regardless of all evidence falsifying that belief?  If so, what do you consider to be reasonable grounds for making such a commitment to a belief?

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John Quin

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« Reply #68 on: January 28, 2011, 04:11:23 am »
wonderer wrote:
Quote from: JohnQuin
I don't think you need to have a supernatural basis for your intuition regarding the existence of morality.


It is important to be precise in these sorts of discussions.  I don't at all dispute "the existence of morality".  Morality is obviously an important aspect of human thought.  I do dispute the existence of a set of deontological rules which are objectively true (independent of any mind).



I'd settle for some objective value of humans or life and objective duty to preserve it. If morality is a purely human invention or genetic mechanism then it lacks any sort of viability. Essentially you would need to justify why it wasn't an illusion that need not be accepted.


Certainly the atheist philosopher Louise Antony doesn't seem to think so.


I haven't been able to find much on Antony's view using google, so no comment.


In short Antony (unlike Ruse) argues that objective morality exists and she doesn't claim that it was a supernatural revelation.


I think we can be as sure of the existence of good and evil as we are that the external world is real. I think you could make a case that either doesn't exist.


I would say that accepting the existence of an external world is vastly more fundamental than good and evil existing as objective categorizations.  Morality is simply moot on solipsism, since there isn't anyone else to behave morally towards, or anyone else to make moral judgments of oneself.  It seems to me that you are verging on committing a slippery slope fallacy.

In what sense do you believe that good and evil exist?


I'm not saying that you need to accept the existence of morality or else the whole of reality will fall. What I am saying is that you can accept the existence of something without some sort of scientific verification.


Well yes and no.  If you had an intuition which was erroneous, and from which you often reached incorrect inferences, wouldn't you wish that intuition to be torn down and replaced with an intuition which has a greater correspondence with reality?  As P.Z. Myers discusses today atheists tend to be the sort of people who put greater emphasis on their beliefs being true than on their beliefs being something that makes them happy.  Perhaps it is projection on my part to assume that you want the basis for your beliefs to be a matter of consistency with reality.  You tell me.

I don't see subjecting intuitions to questioning to be the sort of destructive thing which you seem to suggest.  For one thing, as I said in that other thread, intuitions are 'sticky'.  They aren't fragile and easily replaced.  It can be hard to get past an untrustworthy intuition, even when one is consciously aware of the intuition's untrustworthiness.

Myers is being a bit generous to the 'brights' I think.


What do you mean by "brights"?

The brights is the term dawkins and co use to describe themselves. Sorry I thought it was well known.


I could easily say that atheist have a predisposition to believe anything that makes them appear more academically sophisticated.


Well, you could say all sorts of silly things, but I would find it much more interesting if you could present evidence and argument which disproved what Myers' had to say.


I think the point is that you cant just claim that one group of people are immune form social influences in deciding which truth claims are more believable. I think it is a bit rich to say that academic atheists are more interested in truth rather than a pleasant delusion.
You find the counter claim that atheist have a predisposition to believe anything that makes them appear more academically sophisticated as silly but it is no less insulting that the claim that theists have a predisposition to believing something that is emotionally gratifying/pacifying.


I don't think anyone can claim that their own position is free from bias. Does that bias extend to our properly basic beliefs? I guess we will never know.


This exemplifies a sort of fatalism that atheists tend to see a lot of reason to object to.  The fact is that the scientific method has a demonstrated track record of countering human bias over the long run gives good reason not to take such a fatalistic perspective.  There is no good reason for taking such a black or white perspective as to say either God gave me reliable cognitive faculties, or I have no basis to trust any thoughts I have.  I certainly don't see it as attempting to appear sophisticated, to say the truth is that the reliability of our cognitive faculties is quite variable, and that we have good reason to expect to need to work at it, to eliminate erroneous ways of looking at things.


You may object but that does not detract from the consequence that we use intuition to trust that science is reliable. And that intuition is not something that it itself can be scientifically verified. I certainly don't see how you can start to selectively falsify some intuitions and then ignore others lest they undermine the whole process in the first place


I don't think that subjecting intuitions to questioning is destructive. What I mean is that all of us have intuitions that are not verifiable, including intuitions that science is reliable. This is the reason that verificationism failed. It undermined itself. You can't throw out all intuitions that can't be questioned by science. It doesn't leave enough left to construct any meaningful view on reality.


Again, it's not a black or white matter.  I'm not saying that people should throw out all intuitions which can't be questioned by science.  In fact I've tried to make the point that one couldn't throw out all intuitions if one tried.  I'm not advocating that people toss out their intuitions to the point of psychosis.


If the original claim was the modest claim that intuition is not infallible then I would agree.
However if that was the case that only a few intuitions are false then I'm not sure why we would suspect that moral intuitions are the fallible ones but others aren't.
If someone claims that most of our intuitions are unreliable then I fail to see how the consequences could be bounded. Any claim that verification will strengthen certain beliefs could itself be suspect. I fail to see how it is immune or even less likely to be subject to the consequences.


I get the impression you feel that verificationism is a way out of this predicament?


Well, since the "predicament" is one of having a human mind based on a human brain, I don't see there being any sort of ultimate "way out" of the predicament.

Agreed, you need to accept some properly basic beliefs. Whether morality is one of those is the question in point.


Well, I doubt we agree that you need to accept some properly basic belief in the sense I was referring to when I got into this discussion and said:

From my perspective, this seems an odd way of phrasing things. It seems unreasonable to me to be "committed" to an idea/belief. It seems much more reasonable to believe things on the basis of reasons to consider the belief true. Saying that one is "committed" to a belief, suggests to me that the person will ignore all evidence and arguments that contradict the belief and that doesn't seem very consistent with having intellectual integrity to me.


To the extent
   that accepting a belief as being "properly basic", is being committed to that belief regardless of evidence falsifying it, doing so seems likely to lead to self-delusion.  Do you actually believe that there are beliefs that people should be committed to, regardless of all evidence falsifying that belief?  If so, what do you consider to be reasonable grounds for making such a commitment to a belief?


I not sure that the existence of morality is falsifiable/verifiable. Like metaphysics, aesthetics and others it lies outside of the bounds of science. So I'm not sure we need to have properly basic beliefs that contradict something that has been falsified. I don't think it would be sensible to have a properly basic belief that the sky is red for example.
Since morality lies outside of the field of falsification I'm not sure why we should reject our intuitions that objective morality exists. I don't think creating uncertainly in intuition helps at all in this regard.
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Snakeystew

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« Reply #69 on: January 28, 2011, 05:33:00 am »
The brights is the term dawkins and co use to describe themselves.


It was more Dennett than anyone else.

I'd settle for some objective value of humans or life and objective duty to preserve it


It is objectively true that all living organisms place value in survival, in propagation and preservation - including humans. This is a necessary objective fact because any organisms that were not so are dead now and have nothing to say on the matter. Non-living self replicators still replicate - hence 'survival' is the core objective fact even when talking of replicators. That is what they do, they replicate. They are obviously not aware that survival and propagation is the outcome, but it is the outcome. All life is in the same boat - down to the very cells.

There are some things which are objectively more beneficial to well-being, to achieving that goal and there are some things which are objectively more detrimental to it. This is precisely what morality is - even, (and obviously), in the religious worldview. As time progresses, we come closer to an understanding of what is more beneficial and more detrimental to human well-being.

We can say objectively that a nuclear bomb is detrimental to human well-being and that free bowls of rice to all the homeless, starving folk is more beneficial. This is precisely why we're all going to say that giving free rice out is moral and killing people with nukes is immoral. It all comes down to survival, propagation and preservation. This is why 'murder' is seen as immoral but soldiers killing other soldiers is seen as noble.

These are objective facts. We can add to that the objective fact that we have evolved as a social species. Unlike turtles and most reptiles, mutual cooperation and indeed the need for other members of our species to ensure our own survival makes our 'survival, propagation and preservation' come down to more than "I". You couldn't do it even if you wanted to - unless you've learnt how to give yourself a triple heart bypass or impregnate yourself?

We only develop vaccines and cures because diseases go against human well-being. We only tell our children to cross at a red light instead of a green light because it aids human well-being. We only have an issue with psychopaths because they operate against human well-being.

There's absolutely nothing here that requires magic or magical entities - indeed as can be shown through decent argument, a claim to a god entity being a source of objective morality is flawed from the outset. I won't go into it here, I've already butted in enough.

Regards,


(Sorry Wonderer).

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« Reply #70 on: January 28, 2011, 10:34:09 am »
JohnQuin wrote:
It is important to be precise in these sorts of discussions.  I don't at all dispute "the existence of morality".  Morality is obviously an important aspect of human thought.  I do dispute the existence of a set of deontological rules which are objectively true (independent of any mind).


I'd settle for some objective value of humans or life and objective duty to preserve it.


I'm not sure how to interpret, "I'd settle for..."  Am I to interpret this as being a matter of your subjective desires as to how people look at things, rather than a discussion of what way of looking at things has the greatest correspondence with reality?

A lot of people look at the situation and fail to recognize that "Beauty (value) is in the eye of the beholder."  It is objectively true that the vast majority of people value (at least some) other people.  It need not be a duty.  Such valuing of people comes pretty naturally to social primates such as ourselves.  Although evolution endowed us with empathic faculties more tuned towards small social bands rather than with what might be more optimal for a peaceful world of 7 billion people.

The confusion on the matter lies in failing to realize that value is not an inherent characteristic of the thing valued, but rather value is something a mind projects onto something.  I liken it to projection from the subconscious onto a heads-up-display.  For example, you see a woman who matches your subconscious criteria for attractiveness, and the HUD makes everything but her fade to gray momentarily.  It's not that this woman has some higher intrinsic value than some other woman, it's just a matter of how your mind reacts.

Similarly, it is totally natural for you to subjectively value those you identify as members of your social group, but not to value those you see as 'not one of us' so much.  Now certainly there is increased human well-being which comes with people attempting to see all humans as 'one of us'.  From a virtue ethics perspective, it is reasonable to say that it is desireable that people cultivate the virtue of being loving towards all people.  However, it doesn't make much sense to me, to say that people have a duty to transcend their human nature.

If morality is a purely human invention or genetic mechanism then it lacks any sort of viability.


I'm not sure on what basis you would support such a contention, since it seems fairly obvious to me that human morality, as a complex mixture of human invention and genetic mechanism evolving over time in diverse environments, has proven to be quite viable.

Essentially you would need to justify why it wasn't an illusion that need not be accepted.


It sounds to me like you are talking about something which you seem to think that you need, rather than something which I need.


I think we can be as sure of the existence of good and evil as we are that the external world is real. I think you could make a case that either doesn't exist.


I would say that accepting the existence of an external world is vastly more fundamental than good and evil existing as objective categorizations.  Morality is simply moot on solipsism, since there isn't anyone else to behave morally towards, or anyone else to make moral judgments of oneself.  It seems to me that you are verging on committing a slippery slope fallacy.

In what sense do you believe that good and evil exist?


I'm not saying that you need to accept the existence of morality or else the whole of reality will fall. What I am saying is that you can accept the existence of something without some sort of scientific verification.


You didn't answer my question.

I suppose I "can" accept the existence of all sorts of things without any sort of evidentiary basis, but without some explanation of what it is I am supposed to be accepting the existence of it seems a particularly moot point.  (However, your contention ultimately faces the problem that my viewpoint does have a lot of evidentiary support underlying it, so you are going to run into serious difficulty in convincing me to give up a view which has strong evidentiary support, for a view lacking in evidentiary support.)

You may object but that does not detract from the consequence that we use intuition to trust that science is reliable. And that intuition is not something that it itself can be scientifically verified. I certainly don't see how you can start to selectively falsify some intuitions and then ignore others lest they undermine the whole process in the first place


Being an anti-foundationalist, this doesn't seem the least bit problematic to me.  I simply take it as a reasonable induction that science works pretty well.  That I can't prove my intuition that science is the most reliable way of acquiring knowledge, hardly means that my intuition can be disproved.  Feel free to demonstrate that you have a more reliable means of gaining knowledge whenever you wish.

That's all I have time for at the moment.  I hope to be able to address the rest soon.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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wonderer

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« Reply #71 on: January 28, 2011, 01:47:14 pm »

JohnQuin wrote: If the original claim was the modest claim that intuition is not infallible then I would agree.
However if that was the case that only a few intuitions are false then I'm not sure why we would suspect that moral intuitions are the fallible ones but others aren't.

Well for one thing, there is the is-ought problem, and the fact that moral intuitions tend to be tied in with emotions in ways that many other intuitions are not.   Furthermore, a lot of psychological investigation into human moral judgements has been done which support the view that the valuations we have for things are projections onto the things, rather than recognition of some sort of intrinsic value of the thing.

If someone claims that most of our intuitions are unreliable then I fail to see how the consequences could be bounded. Any claim that verification will strengthen certain beliefs could itself be suspect. I fail to see how it is immune or even less likely to be subject to the consequences.


Well, I find the consequences to be pretty thoroughly bounded by the way things work in reality.  It seems pretty clear to me, that those who pay close attention to how things work in reality, and allow their intuitions to drift towards modelling reality with ever greater accuracy, tend to converge in their viewpoints.

To the extent that accepting a belief as being "properly basic", is being committed to that belief regardless of evidence falsifying it, doing so seems likely to lead to self-delusion.  Do you actually believe that there are beliefs that people should be committed to, regardless of all evidence falsifying that belief?  If so, what do you consider to be reasonable grounds for making such a commitment to a belief?


I not sure that the existence of morality is falsifiable/verifiable.


I'd say that depends on how one defines "morality".  If one defines morality as that which is consistent with God's will, then morality is no more falsifiable/verifiable than the existence of God.  If one defines morality as factors in human psychology which tend to be conducive to human well-being, then the existence of such factors is quite verifiable.  A lot of disputes about morality are the result of people not having established clear definitions of what it is that is being talked about.

Like metaphysics, aesthetics and others it lies outside of the bounds of science.


I disagree.  Morality is something which can and is being studied scientifically.

Since morality lies outside of the field of falsification I'm not sure why we should reject our intuitions that objective morality exists. I don't think creating uncertainly in intuition helps at all in this regard.


I'd say the intuition that morality is something which can't be scientifically investigated is itself an intuition that warrants questioning.  The fact is, it is being scientifically investigated.
"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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wonderer

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« Reply #72 on: January 28, 2011, 02:40:20 pm »
BTW JQ,

I stumbled on the following response to edge.org's question for this year:


GERALD SMALLBERG, MD
Practicing Neurologist, New York City; Playwright, Off-Off Broadway Productions, Charter Members; The Gold Ring

Bias Is The Nose For The Story

The exponential explosion of information and our ability to access it make our ability to validate its truthfulness not only more important but also more difficult. Information has importance in proportion to its relevance and meaning. Its ultimate value is how we use it to make decisions and put it in a framework of knowledge

Our perceptions are crucial in appreciating truth. However, we do not apprehend objective reality. Perception is based on recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli derived from patterns of electrical impulses. From this data, the brain creates analogues and models that simulate tangible, concrete objects in the real world. Experience, though, colors and influences all of our perceptions by anticipating and predicting everything we encounter and meet. It is the reason Goethe advised that "one must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste." This preferential set of intuitions, feelings, and ideas, less poetically characterized by the term bias, poses a challenge to the ability to weigh evidence accurately to arrive at truth. Bias is the non-dispassionate thumb which experience puts on the scale.

Our brains evolved having to make the right bet with limited information. Fortune, it has been said, favors the prepared mind. Bias in the form of expectation, inclination and anticipatory hunches helped load the dice in our favor and for that reason is hardwired into our thinking.

Bias is an intuition, sensitivity, receptiveness which acts as a lens or filter on all our perceptions. "If the doors of perception were cleansed," Blake said, "everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." But without our biases to focus our attention, we would be lost in that endless and limitless expanse. We have at our disposal an immeasurable assortment of biases and their combination in each of us is as unique as a fingerprint. These biases mediate between our intellect and emotions to help congeal perception into opinion, judgment, category, metaphor, analogy, theory, and ideology which frame how we see the world.

Bias is tentative. Bias adjusts as the facts change. Bias is a provisional hypothesis. Bias is normal.

Although bias is normal in the sense that it is a product of how we select and perceive information, its influence on our thinking cannot be ignored. Medical science has long been aware of the inherent bias, which occurs in collecting and analyzing clinical data. The double blind, randomized controlled study, the gold standard of clinical design, was developed in an attempt to nullify its influence.

We live in the world, however, not in a laboratory and bias cannot be eliminated. Bias critically utilized sharpens the collection of data by knowing when to look, where to look, and how to look. It is fundamental to both inductive and deductive reasoning. Darwin didn't collect his data to formulate the theory of evolution randomly or disinterestedly. Bias is the nose for the story.

Truth needs continually to be validated against all evidence, which challenges it fairly and honestly. Science with its formal methodology of experimentation and reproducibility of its findings is available to anyone who plays by its rules. No ideology, religion, culture or civilization is awarded special privileges or rights. The truth, which survives this ordeal, has another burden to bear. Like the words in a multi-dimensional crossword puzzle, it has to fit together with all the other pieces already in place. The better and more elaborate the fit, the more certain the truth. Science permits no exceptions. It is inexorably revisionary, learning from its mistakes, erasing and rewriting, even their most sacred texts, until the puzzle is complete.

"The world needed that of us, to maintain—by our example, by our very existence—a world that would keep learning and questioning, that would remain free in thought, inquiry, and word." - Alice Dreger

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John Quin

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« Reply #73 on: January 28, 2011, 06:44:46 pm »
Just quickly as I am losing interest.
If you are an anti-foundationalist then the moral argument wont have any more validity than it would for a moral skeptic or nihilist.
But then it is all about us as individuals, other people with other views will find it to be a strong argument.

Moral intuition works on the ought not the is so I don't think that you need to bridge that gap.

I don't think morality is relevant if you have failed to show that  humans are in anyway valuable. Coming up with scientifically testable  metrics for human flourishing does not constitute morality.  But again if you are an anti-foundationalist what do you care.
 
I don't see how you have able to demonstrate that your view is in anyway  different to verifcationism or wont suffer a similar fate. If  verificationism was alive and well in the world of philosophy I would be  more interested in learning more about your position.


--
What abiogenesis needs is a form of life so simple that even Stanley Miller could create it.