bruce culver

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2017, 09:43:18 am »
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"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."

Seeing as "truth" is the correspondence of a mind-dependent idea with mind-independent reality (or possibly mind-dependent reality), no there would not be any such a thing as "truth" in the absence of minds. Yes, there would still be reality (something for truth to potentially be based on), but suffering and happiness would not be part of that reality, so your claim really has no legs as far as I can see.

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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.

I never said "wellbeing" doesn't have an objective aspect to it. However, the value of wellbeing is subjective. Some people do not value their wellbeing. We can consider them psychologically unhealthy, but nevertheless, they are proof that the evaluation of wellbeing as good is subjective. Of course, I'm speaking of ontology here. Once human beings give a definition to the term wellbeing it becomes epistemically objective at least to a point, and I think that is the kind of objectivity you are correctly surmising above. But that is not the same thing as ontological objectivity.

This is my argument, i.e., moral values are ontologically subjective, but they are to some extent epistemically objective. That's why I do believe that moral truths exist despite their being ontologically subjective.
"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 #16 on: February 05, 2017, 02:31:00 pm »
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"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."

Seeing as "truth" is the correspondence of a mind-dependent idea with mind-independent reality (or possibly mind-dependent reality), no there would not be any such a thing as "truth" in the absence of minds. Yes, there would still be reality (something for truth to potentially be based on), but suffering and happiness would not be part of that reality, so your claim really has no legs as far as I can see.

I wasn't asking whether or not a world without any minds would have true sentences, but rather whether or not there are true sentences about such a world without any minds.

It's true that "even if there were no minds, happiness would still be good".

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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.

I never said "wellbeing" doesn't have an objective aspect to it. However, the value of wellbeing is subjective. Some people do not value their wellbeing. We can consider them psychologically unhealthy, but nevertheless, they are proof that the evaluation of wellbeing as good is subjective. Of course, I'm speaking of ontology here. Once human beings give a definition to the term wellbeing it becomes epistemically objective at least to a point, and I think that is the kind of objectivity you are correctly surmising above. But that is not the same thing as ontological objectivity.

This is my argument, i.e., moral values are ontologically subjective, but they are to some extent epistemically objective. That's why I do believe that moral truths exist despite their being ontologically subjective.

Then your argument just begs the question against the objectivist. You have to defend that moral values are ontologically subjective, not just assert it.

Moral objectivists say that well-being is morally valuable independent of whether anyone values it.

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bruce culver

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2017, 10:14:39 pm »
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I wasn't asking whether or not a world without any minds would have true sentences, but rather whether or not there are true sentences about such a world without any minds.

It's true that "even if there were no minds, happiness would still be good".

How could happiness be good if there were no minds to be happy let alone any to judge that it was good to be happy. I'm sorry but IMO you are just typing nonsense.

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Then your argument just begs the question against the objectivist. You have to defend that moral values are ontologically subjective, not just assert it.

Moral objectivists say that well-being is morally valuable independent of whether anyone values it.

I consider it to be self-evident that morals are mind-dependent, and I'm really not sure how you can think that there could be true sentences about the value of happiness in a world without minds in it. I'm sorry but I think if somebody wants to argue that a value can exist without an evaluator, the burden of proof is on them.

Now, you did point out that there is a sense of the word "value" that seems to be objective, i.e. truth value, but I think it is pretty clear that's an equivocation fallacy, and I'm not even sure truth value isn't ontologically subjective, too. Yes, it's definitely epistemically objective, assuming that objective reality exists, which I do, but without minds there would be no ideas about reality that could then be evaluated for their truth. I'd say reality is ontologically objective, but truth while is epistemically objective in ontologically subjective.

"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 #18 on: February 06, 2017, 10:31:54 am »
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I wasn't asking whether or not a world without any minds would have true sentences, but rather whether or not there are true sentences about such a world without any minds.

It's true that "even if there were no minds, happiness would still be good".

How could happiness be good if there were no minds to be happy...

The same way that Dodos are a species of flightless bird, even though there are no Dodos. The sorts of truths I'm talking about are conditional truths, of the form "if someone was happy then it would be good that he was happy", and that's true even if there are no minds to be happy.

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let alone any to judge that it was good to be happy. I'm sorry but IMO you are just typing nonsense.

You're presupposing subjectivism. I don't think subjectivism is a rational position to hold, not only is there no evidence for it but there's quite a lot of evidence against it (even Craig's thought experiment about the Nazi's works).

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Then your argument just begs the question against the objectivist. You have to defend that moral values are ontologically subjective, not just assert it.

Moral objectivists say that well-being is morally valuable independent of whether anyone values it.

I consider it to be self-evident that morals are mind-dependent, and I'm really not sure how you can think that there could be true sentences about the value of happiness in a world without minds in it. I'm sorry but I think if somebody wants to argue that a value can exist without an evaluator, the burden of proof is on them.

Now, you did point out that there is a sense of the word "value" that seems to be objective, i.e. truth value, but I think it is pretty clear that's an equivocation fallacy, and I'm not even sure truth value isn't ontologically subjective, too. Yes, it's definitely epistemically objective, assuming that objective reality exists, which I do, but without minds there would be no ideas about reality that could then be evaluated for their truth. I'd say reality is ontologically objective, but truth while is epistemically objective in ontologically subjective.

Well as I just explained, even if there are no minds to be happy it would still be the case that if minds were happy then that would be good.

And there's no equivocation here. Equivocation is a kind of fallacious argument, and I didn't give an argument. I just gave examples of value (integer value, truth value) that are not subjective, which refutes your point that value requires an evaluation.

Truth just isn't ontologically subjective. Truth and reality are interdefinable concepts (the sentence "p" is true if and only if p), if truth was subjective then so would be reality.


Note that when objectivists say that morality is mind independent, they don't mean that in the absence of minds there could still be good things. Rather, they mean that in the absence of minds there would still be goodness. There would still be facts about what is and isn't good. Just in the same way that even in the absence of any Dodo birds, there are still facts about what is and isn't a Dodo bird. A property or kind needn't be instantiated (there needn't be any particular Dodo birds, or any particular good things) for it to be real.

It seems pretty obvious that, for example, happiness is necessarily good. But then even in a world without minds happiness would be good. And there needn't be any things that are actually happy, for it to be the case that happiness is good.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 10:34:52 am by aleph naught »

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bruce culver

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Re: How to show morals exist independent of mind?
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2017, 11:31:13 am »
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The same way that Dodos are a species of flightless bird, even though there are no Dodos. The sorts of truths I'm talking about are conditional truths, of the form "if someone was happy then it would be good that he was happy", and that's true even if there are no minds to be happy.

But in a world where no Dodo's had ever existed or ever would exist, then the sentence would lose all it's truth value, because it would be utterly meaningless. "A possible world is a complete way things might have gone, past, present, and future, down to the last detail, everywhere in the universe." I don't think it makes sense to project the sense  a statement makes in the actual world into another possible world where the conditions that make the statement make sense in the actual world are postulated as not obtaining.

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You're presupposing subjectivism. I don't think subjectivism is a rational position to hold, not only is there no evidence for it but there's quite a lot of evidence against it (even Craig's thought experiment about the Nazi's works).

I'm not presupposing subjectivism. I'm roundly refuting objectivism as incoherent. I'm sorry if you can't quite grasp what I'm saying, but it seems so self-evident to me that it's almost difficult to put into words. But I think the thought experiment of imagining a world with no conscious subjects in it and seeing that morality would  and could not exist in such a world is pretty convincing. 

What you are saying is that morality would still have conditional existence in the absence of conscious subjects. But the condition that would make its existence actual are exactly the presence of conscious subjects, and that exactly proves my point, i.e., that moral values are conditional on the existence of conscious subjects, hence they are mind-dependent and ontologically subjective by definition.

I'm sorry, but that is about as crystal clear as i can make this. If you won't accept this argument, then all I can think is that there is some emotional block to your accepting it.

BTW: I'm not sure if you have noticed that I'm not a moral subjectivist. I make a distinction between ontological and epistemic subjectivity/objectivity. Just as an entity like the United States of America is ontological subjective and yet epistemically objective, i.e., it is completely possible to be factually right or wrong when making statement s about the United States of America*, so is morality a social construct that nevertheless it is possible to make true or false statements about.  The fundamental principle that allows this to be the case is determined by social evolutionary imperative. So, yes it is a fact that torturing people for fun is absolutely morally wrong, by definition, but it does not require one to abandon naturalism to believe such.

True and false statements about ontologically subjective but epistemically objective facts:

The U.S.A is in Asia.  F
The U.S.A  has three branches of government. T
Killing people for fun is morally acceptable  F
Helping your fellow man is morally good   T
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."