Aaron Massey

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How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« on: December 14, 2016, 07:46:53 am »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.
Proverbs 8:30 "then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man."

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2016, 09:16:09 am »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.

I very enthusiastically agree that it's not OK to torture children for the fun of it. Such an act would be immoral.

You can construct simple thought experiments to weed out subjectivism: What if you preferred torturing children for fun, would it still then be immoral? Yes. What if we lived in a society that had favorable attitudes towards the torturing of children for fun, would it still be immoral? Yes. So the immorality of torturing children for fun is independent of personal preference and societal attitudes.

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Dogbyte

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2016, 09:26:02 am »
its a tough row to hoe, because human experience by definition is subjective. However, I think this is commonly misunderstood to mean that what you experience also has to be subjective, which is not the case. Determining the difference is the tough part.

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 09:35:54 am »
its a tough row to hoe, because human experience by definition is subjective. However, I think this is commonly misunderstood to mean that what you experience also has to be subjective, which is not the case. Determining the difference is the tough part.

Well you can test it simply by considering hypothetical scenarios: When you close your eyes and look away, do sick people become healthy? No, they do not. So whether or not someone is sick or healthy is independent of your perception of them. And in fact it's independent of anyone's perception, we can run the same scenario for anyone and get the same results.

But it seems there's something intrinsically bad about being sick, and intrinsically good about being healthy. So then it follows that whether or not something is good or bad doesn't always depend on your perceptions of it.

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Dogbyte

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2016, 09:43:19 am »
its a tough row to hoe, because human experience by definition is subjective. However, I think this is commonly misunderstood to mean that what you experience also has to be subjective, which is not the case. Determining the difference is the tough part.

Well you can test it simply by considering hypothetical scenarios: When you close your eyes and look away, do sick people become healthy? No, they do not. So whether or not someone is sick or healthy is independent of your perception of them. And in fact it's independent of anyone's perception, we can run the same scenario for anyone and get the same results.

But it seems there's something intrinsically bad about being sick, and intrinsically good about being healthy. So then it follows that whether or not something is good or bad doesn't always depend on your perceptions of it.

I do not disagree.

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Miles_Donahue

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, 09:53:23 am »
its a tough row to hoe, because human experience by definition is subjective. However, I think this is commonly misunderstood to mean that what you experience also has to be subjective, which is not the case. Determining the difference is the tough part.

I think you implicitly articulate the key point: there is a difference between our experience and the object of our experience. The former is subjective; it is private and inaccessible to others. That fact does nothing to show that the latter is subjective. An example is our sensory experience, subjective through and through. Nevertheless, the object of our senses - the physical world - is presumably objective.
- Socrates said the unreflective life is not worth living. I say the indecisive life is not worth living, because even if you choose wrongly, at least you chose.

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Dogbyte

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2016, 11:44:43 am »
its a tough row to hoe, because human experience by definition is subjective. However, I think this is commonly misunderstood to mean that what you experience also has to be subjective, which is not the case. Determining the difference is the tough part.

I think you implicitly articulate the key point: there is a difference between our experience and the object of our experience. The former is subjective; it is private and inaccessible to others. That fact does nothing to show that the latter is subjective. An example is our sensory experience, subjective through and through. Nevertheless, the object of our senses - the physical world - is presumably objective.

Yes, you put it better than i could have. With regard to whether or not we can have knowledge of things called moral truths, its often brushed away on account that humans must experience it, therefore making the thing experienced also to be subjective. But like you imply, the physical tree we see with our eyes is not necessarily subjective, by all probability, it is objective unless our mind/body is not operating correctly or experiencing some sort of demonstrable illusion.

So just like a physical object, the question is: Are moral truths a real thing, and as objective an experience as we might experience physical objects?

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2017, 09:14:31 am »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.

It's up to everyone to choose a set of axioms by which a person make moral judgement. In which sense it's independent of human mind?

Do baseball rules exists outside minds? How do you make sense of it?
You see a grammar or spelling error in my post? Feel free to point it out, I'm still learning.

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2017, 01:12:47 pm »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.

It's up to everyone to choose a set of axioms by which a person make moral judgement. In which sense it's independent of human mind?

Do baseball rules exists outside minds? How do you make sense of it?

But we don't actually do that. No one chooses a set of axioms and derives all their ethical beliefs from them, and makes moral judgments according to them. Rather, there are some things that seem moral and some that seem immoral, and that's what we go by.

Similarly, with the physical world, it's not as if anyone consults whether the fundamental laws of physics entail some phenomenon before them. No, they simply see something happen and believe it.

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2017, 06:26:36 am »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.

It's up to everyone to choose a set of axioms by which a person make moral judgement. In which sense it's independent of human mind?

Do baseball rules exists outside minds? How do you make sense of it?

But we don't actually do that. No one chooses a set of axioms and derives all their ethical beliefs from them, and makes moral judgments according to them. Rather, there are some things that seem moral and some that seem immoral, and that's what we go by.

Similarly, with the physical world, it's not as if anyone consults whether the fundamental laws of physics entail some phenomenon before them. No, they simply see something happen and believe it.

No, of course we do that. In most cases unconsciously. Just try and ask somebody why action X is morally good or evil according to them. If you continue asking for justification at some point that person must stop and say "that's my basis, I don't go deeper". Of course other person may think it's not enough and go further. For most of people killing other person without justification is an evil act in its own and requires no further explanation. But for ones like WLC it's only evil because their god said so. For Sam Harriss and other utilitarianist it would be evil because it decreases overall wellbeing and hapiness of humans.

Ultimately it always comes down to this: We put action through a Moral-Giving-Value-Device which everybody can design on its own and that's how we classify  humand deeds. This device may be god, or your own judgment, or some more sophisticated system of rules.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 06:35:12 am by UnreasonableFaith »
You see a grammar or spelling error in my post? Feel free to point it out, I'm still learning.

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2017, 12:48:39 pm »
How do you show people that they are?

I statrt by asking people if they think it is OK to torture a child for fun.
(usual answer is "off course not".. but quite often begrudgingly..they feel they cant say anything else despite thinking if there are other answers)

Followed by asking if everyone who believes it is wrong where to die.  would it still be wrong?

I think this works, but... unless there is some understanding of philosophy then it can be difficult.

So, what would be a good example.  I dont mind WLC's  version about hitler winning WW2 and brainwashing everyine he was good... 

Any examples would be great.

It's up to everyone to choose a set of axioms by which a person make moral judgement. In which sense it's independent of human mind?

Do baseball rules exists outside minds? How do you make sense of it?

But we don't actually do that. No one chooses a set of axioms and derives all their ethical beliefs from them, and makes moral judgments according to them. Rather, there are some things that seem moral and some that seem immoral, and that's what we go by.

Similarly, with the physical world, it's not as if anyone consults whether the fundamental laws of physics entail some phenomenon before them. No, they simply see something happen and believe it.

No, of course we do that. In most cases unconsciously. Just try and ask somebody why action X is morally good or evil according to them. If you continue asking for justification at some point that person must stop and say "that's my basis, I don't go deeper". Of course other person may think it's not enough and go further. For most of people killing other person without justification is an evil act in its own and requires no further explanation. But for ones like WLC it's only evil because their god said so. For Sam Harriss and other utilitarianist it would be evil because it decreases overall wellbeing and hapiness of humans.

Ultimately it always comes down to this: We put action through a Moral-Giving-Value-Device which everybody can design on its own and that's how we classify  humand deeds. This device may be god, or your own judgment, or some more sophisticated system of rules.

I think you're just wrong. People do have an explanation for the beliefs they hold, but these explanations are formed retroactively. People don't choose their basic beliefs and build up from there, people have beliefs and then abstract away more foundational beliefs. What happens is that there are just a set of beliefs that seem true and false to us, and this is where we start. Then, in trying to explain why they're true or false we dig up more general principles, and so on, until we've gotten down to some basic principles. But, when evaluating the truth it's not like we ever consult those basic principles. Rather, we just believe according to what seems to be true.

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bruce culver

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2017, 08:59:51 am »
You cannot show that moral values are mind-independent because they are mind-dependent pretty much by definition. That is no value exists without there being an evaluation. An evaluation requires an evaluator and an evaluator is  a mind.

The reason it seems that morality is mind-independent is that it is independent of individual minds. Once defined the meaning of a word is independent of individual minds because otherwise the word would not be able to be used for communication.

The meaning of moral terms, at least at the fundamental level, is defined by social evolutionary imperative, not by personal choice or even fashion.

What all this means is that fundamental moral values, such as the principle of reciprocity are ontologically subjective (mind-dependent) but epistemically objective (not a matter of personal opinion or fashion).
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2017, 04:29:48 pm »
You cannot show that moral values are mind-independent because they are mind-dependent pretty much by definition. That is no value exists without there being an evaluation. An evaluation requires an evaluator and an evaluator is  a mind.

Why think that moral values are values in that sense, though? Why not think that they're more analogous to truth value or integer value? In this latter sense, all we mean by a "value" is a unique member of some set. The truth values are {true, false}, the integer values are {..., -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, ...}, and moral values are {good, evil}.

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The reason it seems that morality is mind-independent is that it is independent of individual minds. Once defined the meaning of a word is independent of individual minds because otherwise the word would not be able to be used for communication.

It seems independent of groups of minds, too. Be careful not to conflate the word "good" with goodness itself, though. We don't care that words are mind-dependent, we're interested in whether or not goodness itself (that which the word "good" refers to) is mind independent. Even if the word "good" is mind-dependent, something could still be good without anyone believing it is. At least, if you're a subjectivist this is a possibility you must refute.

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The meaning of moral terms, at least at the fundamental level, is defined by social evolutionary imperative, not by personal choice or even fashion. ...

Sure, and that's true of all words--including words that refer to putatively objective things. Rocks are objective, but the word "rock" acquired its meaning through some process of social evolution.

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... What all this means is that fundamental moral values, such as the principle of reciprocity are ontologically subjective (mind-dependent) but epistemically objective (not a matter of personal opinion or fashion).

Ah, again careful with the distinction between things and the language we use to talk about them. Just because words acquire meaning in a subjective way doesn't entail that those things our words are about are subjective in any way.

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bruce culver

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2017, 09:54:50 pm »
You cannot show that moral values are mind-independent because they are mind-dependent pretty much by definition. That is no value exists without there being an evaluation. An evaluation requires an evaluator and an evaluator is  a mind.

Why think that moral values are values in that sense, though? Why not think that they're more analogous to truth value or integer value? In this latter sense, all we mean by a "value" is a unique member of some set. The truth values are {true, false}, the integer values are {..., -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, ...}, and moral values are {good, evil}.

Quote
The reason it seems that morality is mind-independent is that it is independent of individual minds. Once defined the meaning of a word is independent of individual minds because otherwise the word would not be able to be used for communication.

It seems independent of groups of minds, too. Be careful not to conflate the word "good" with goodness itself, though. We don't care that words are mind-dependent, we're interested in whether or not goodness itself (that which the word "good" refers to) is mind independent. Even if the word "good" is mind-dependent, something could still be good without anyone believing it is. At least, if you're a subjectivist this is a possibility you must refute.

Quote
The meaning of moral terms, at least at the fundamental level, is defined by social evolutionary imperative, not by personal choice or even fashion. ...

Sure, and that's true of all words--including words that refer to putatively objective things. Rocks are objective, but the word "rock" acquired its meaning through some process of social evolution.

Quote
... What all this means is that fundamental moral values, such as the principle of reciprocity are ontologically subjective (mind-dependent) but epistemically objective (not a matter of personal opinion or fashion).

Ah, again careful with the distinction between things and the language we use to talk about them. Just because words acquire meaning in a subjective way doesn't entail that those things our words are about are subjective in any way.

Hmmmm. It seems to me pretty self-evident that "good" and "evil" are values in the sense of being value judgments, and not like in the sense of truth value. Imagine a world with no sentient beings in it. There would certainly be no such things as moral values in such a world.

It seems to me that the fundamental principle of morality is the principle of reciprocity and this is just an objectification of the subjective value that any sane individual puts on their own wellbeing. It basically says that if you expect others to value your wellbeing then you are obliged to value others wellbeing. I fail to see how any such thing could exist independent of minds.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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aleph naught

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2017, 11:38:45 pm »
Hmmmm. It seems to me pretty self-evident that "good" and "evil" are values in the sense of being value judgments, and not like in the sense of truth value. Imagine a world with no sentient beings in it. There would certainly be no such things as moral values in such a world.

I think that's just empirically false. It's coherent to say "stealing that item is morally bad, but I just don't care", and in fact people do say this every now and then. And, when they say it we often think they're saying something true. After all, we agree that stealing the item is morally bad. And, moreover, we take them to know better than anyone else whether or not they care.

In a world without sentient beings there would be no morally valuable things. But good and evil, as kinds of things, would still be real.

Consider the Dodo bird. Dodo birds, as we all know, are a species of flightless bird that went extinct a few hundred years ago. So Dodo birds do not exist. But are Dodo birds real? Yes, the Dodo bird species is a real kind of animal. There's lots of facts about them, and these facts are true independent of the existence of any actual Dodo birds.

Similarly, then, even if there are no minds it's still true that, for example, "happiness is good" and "suffering is bad" and so on. It just so happens that there is no suffering or happiness in the absence of minds. But these sentences about morality are still true, even in the absence of minds.

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It seems to me that the fundamental principle of morality is the principle of reciprocity and this is just an objectification of the subjective value that any sane individual puts on their own wellbeing. It basically says that if you expect others to value your wellbeing then you are obliged to value others wellbeing. I fail to see how any such thing could exist independent of minds.

Ah, but wellbeing is an objective thing. If you think otherwise, try drinking a gallon of gasoline and willing yourself to be in good health and to have happiness. (But don't actually, you will be sick and die. You will be objectively sick and objectively die). Now the wellbeing of sentient creatures cannot come about without the presence of minds, but that doesn't mean it's subjective.