Author Topic: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.  (Read 5301 times)

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #58 on: April 17, 2013, 08:16:40 PM »
No, I never said there is no physical universe! What the hell? I don't understand how we can even have any conversation when we understand each other so poorly. What I said was that any epistemic distinction between "physical reality" and "our perception of physical reality" is not relevant- we know "physical reality" only through "our perception of physical reality." Why is that so unclear or hard to understand to you?

If that's what you were saying, then it doesn't address what I was saying.  I was assuming that what you were saying addressed what I was saying, and that led to our miscommunication.

I said values are not subjective, not that they hold truth-value.

One and the same.

Again, I disagree, because we seem to have wildly different definitions of "subjective." You seem to have all sorts of wild criteria for what is subjective and what is not,

Not really.  I have one criterion:  Does its validity depend critically on perspective, or does it transcend perspective.  Physical reality (again, not our knowledge of it) transcends perspective.  It exists as-is no matter what we think of it.  That makes it objective.  To refer to the dictionary (edited a bit for format):

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/subjective?s=t
Quote
sub·jec·tive

adjective
1. existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought ( opposed to objective ).

2. pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.

3. placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.

4. Philosophy . relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.

5. relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.


The bolded are the senses in which I am using the word "subjective".  You seem to have focused on the "existing in the mind" part of definition #1 in order to justify all biological hard-wiring of motivations/intuitions/instincts as objective, because they do not originate in the mind.  Well, sorry Hierophant, but nothing originates "in the mind".  The mind is not a place.  It is a product of biology from the outset.  There is no distionction between motivations that originate in our minds and those that don't, because the former category does not exist.

You've ignored the other part of #1, let alone #4 or #5.[1]  Why?

while I have only one, whether something is solely the product of our mind or not (such as the product of our desires, emotions, whims, etc). Values and intuitions are not the product of our mind.

Nothing is the product of our mind.  Our thoughts are all the products of our brains (and other organs, to a lesser extent).  The mind isn't something that actually does anything.  It's a side-effect.  And anyway, this is a definition of objectivity/subjectivity that fits nothing I've ever encountered.  Who made it up, and when?

Only according to your own assumptions about what is objective and what is not.

I'm only using English here, Heirophant.  What language are you using?
 1. #2 and #3 don't really pertain to this topic.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #59 on: April 18, 2013, 02:10:30 AM »
I really doubt at this point that you're speaking English, either. We're getting nowhere, fast. In my eyes, you have failed to present any definition of "subjective" that does not include e.g. science.

Anyhow, the important issue in this thread is whether there is any form of secular ethics that fulfills the two criteria:
i) It does not invoke a metaphysical reality
ii) It is capable of guiding our behaviour in a meaningful way (in other words it is not completely relativist)

Whether objective or not (but to be clear, it is objective, in case you're going to accuse me of backpedaling again as you seem to like to do), I contend that EvoInt fulfills both criteria.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #60 on: April 18, 2013, 02:30:03 AM »
I really doubt at this point that you're speaking English, either. We're getting nowhere, fast. In my eyes, you have failed to present any definition of "subjective" that does not include e.g. science.

So, you disagree with all of the dictionary definitions I listed?  Interesting decision.  What motivates you to take steps to derail our discussion in this fashion?

Anyhow, the important issue in this thread is whether there is any form of secular ethics that fulfills the two criteria:
i) It does not invoke a metaphysical reality
ii) It is capable of guiding our behaviour in a meaningful way (in other words it is not completely relativist)

Your brackets in ii) contradict the words that come before them.  But you've shown you aren't willing to even try to understand why that is.

Whether objective or not (but to be clear, it is objective, in case you're going to accuse me of backpedaling again as you seem to like to do), I contend that EvoInt fulfills both criteria.

At no point have I accused you of backpedalling.  And it's only "objective" when you re-define the word away from the English language, as you've done.  That said, it does fulfill both criteria, albeit only without the text in brackets above.  It is utterly relativist, by your own description.


EDIT:  I smited you because you refused to even address my points.  You're sabotaging the discussion to save face instead of losing an argument with grace.  Hey look, I rhymed.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 02:32:39 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #61 on: April 18, 2013, 03:20:50 AM »
I am disappointed that you'd be so confrontational. I am not "sabotaging" your discussion. My own reckoning was that there's no point in the both of us continuing because we are going nowhere. And for this you penalize me? That's friggin juvenile. I will certainly not engage you again in the future.

Why don't you present a definition of "subjective" that doesn't apply to science (since we both agree that science is a valid method of finding knowledge). Otherwise... there is nothing left to discuss.

BTW, I am not the one who wrote the criteria, that was penfold. You can't even follow the conversation. What the hell.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 03:24:41 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #62 on: April 18, 2013, 03:33:24 AM »
I am disappointed that you'd be so confrontational. I am not "sabotaging" your discussion. My own reckoning was that there's no point in the both of us continuing because we are going nowhere.

That's your deliberate decision.  Own it.  Terminating our discussion by giving excuses and refusing to address points is sabotaging it.  That is your perogative, but don't lie about it, and don't be surprised when I react accordingly.

And for this you penalize me? That's friggin juvenile. I will certainly not engage you again in the future.

I told you why I penalized you.  Read over your own post, the one I smited.  You accuse me of being confrontational?  I cited a dictionary definition, and you responded by saying that I'm not using English.  That's asinine.

Why don't you present a definition of "subjective" that doesn't apply to science (since we both agree that science is a valid method of finding knowledge). Otherwise... there is nothing left to discuss.

Why would I present a new definition of "subjective"?  These ones are the normal English definitions.  I've seen other variations, but they all follow the same general set of meanings.  Where'd you pick up your definition?  Or did you invent it yourself?

BTW, I am not the one who wrote the criteria, that was penfold. You can't even follow the conversation. What the hell.

"The" conversation?  I was following ours.  If you wish to cite material from a conversation with someone else on the same topic, then by all means do so.  You've done it before, with prompting.  But when you use uncited words in your own post, the default assumption is that they are yours.  Don't bitch at me for assuming that your words in your post are from you.  You've decided to own them in any case, so you have no grounds for shifting off responsibility for them to penfold.  Not that it would matter; I'm debating with him, too.  Difference is, he doesn't pull this bullshit.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 03:35:42 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #63 on: April 18, 2013, 03:36:18 AM »
I am not "pulling" any "bullshit." You have some kind of issue with me, but either way I don't care. Unlike me, you have no definition to provide that even remotely fits our agreed-upon judgments and therefore this whole "discussion" was entirely pointless. Thanks for wasting my time.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 03:39:39 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #64 on: April 18, 2013, 03:41:12 AM »
I am not "pulling" any "bullshit."

Mmhmm...

You have some kind of issue with me, but either way I don't care.

My 'issue' with you only came about just now, as a result of your bullshit.  See more below...

Unlike me, you have no definition to provide that even remotely fits our agreed-upon judgments and therefore this whole "discussion" was entirely pointless.

Whose agreed-upon judgments?  I offered the dictionary definitions.  See:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/subjective?s=t
Quote
sub·jec·tive

adjective
1. existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought ( opposed to objective ).

2. pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.

3. placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.

4. Philosophy . relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.

5. relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.

If you wish to offer non-English definitions for use, then see below:

Why would I present a new definition of "subjective"?  These ones are the normal English definitions.  I've seen other variations, but they all follow the same general set of meanings.  Where'd you pick up your definition?  Or did you invent it yourself?

EDIT:  I would like to point out that while disagreeing on various points, penfold and I were able to converse on this topic without non-standard definitions of "objective" and "subjective" coming up at all.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 03:54:38 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #65 on: April 18, 2013, 04:37:16 AM »
I don't think utilitarianism is useless, in fact I think there are some situations where it is clearly the only course. For example if my job is to assign the budget of a hospital, I would have to look at what is needed to attain the best possible outcome for patients which would require a principle of utility.

Utilitarianism is a sub-division of the Evolution of cooperationWiki We are reasonable so that others may be reasonable to us.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #66 on: April 18, 2013, 05:04:29 AM »
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/subjective?s=t
Quote
sub·jec·tive

adjective
1. existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought ( opposed to objective ).

2. pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual: a subjective evaluation.

3. placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.

4. Philosophy . relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.

5. relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.



Hierophant.  Azdgari has defined subjective as he is using it.  Can I ask that you do likewise, and define subjective as you are using it?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #67 on: April 18, 2013, 05:23:46 AM »
I deny that his definitions clarify anything at all, as I already pointed out, but either way, here is a definition I think is very good:

F-ness is subjective if whether something in F constitutively depends at least in part on the psychological attitude or response that observers have or would have towards that thing.

So for instance, "funniness" is subjective because it depends on the psychological response that a human being has towards a stimuli. If one does not laugh (or some similar reaction), then it's not "funny."
An intuition, on the other hand, is objective because it exists and has the content that it has regardless of our attitudes or responses. For example, the intuition "we should trust the way things appear to us unless we find contrary evidence" is present in human beings whether they are nihilists, representationalists or realists: everyone, in their daily life, acts as if appearances can be trusted, even if they profess a contrary viewpoint.

Offline Razel

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #68 on: April 18, 2013, 05:42:35 AM »
I deny that his definitions clarify anything at all, as I already pointed out, but either way, here is a definition I think is very good:

F-ness is subjective if whether something in F constitutively depends at least in part on the psychological attitude or response that observers have or would have towards that thing.

So for instance, "funniness" is subjective because it depends on the psychological response that a human being has towards a stimuli. If one does not laugh (or some similar reaction), then it's not "funny."
An intuition, on the other hand, is objective because it exists and has the content that it has regardless of our attitudes or responses. For example, the intuition "we should trust the way things appear to us unless we find contrary evidence" is present in human beings whether they are nihilists, representationalists or realists: everyone, in their daily life, acts as if appearances can be trusted, even if they profess a contrary viewpoint.

Even if everyone in the world holds that view, it doesn't make it objective.  Even if everyone who was ever, and will be born thinks that a guy getting a pie to the face is funny, getting a pie to the face would still only be funny subjectively.

"we should trust the way things appear to us unless we find contrary evidence" isn't inherently intuitive.  It's logically possible for there to exist a person that does not hold this view.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 05:47:01 AM by Razel »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #69 on: April 18, 2013, 05:45:12 AM »
So your "objective" is still relative to the characteristics of the individual.  By that definition, sure, your applications of "subjective" and "objective" are apt.  EvoInt is still subjective according to the more commonly used definitions of subjective and objective, and you have directly described it as being individual-relative in post #55.  You can call it objective, but it's still relativist.  Unless you wish to redefine that as well.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #70 on: April 18, 2013, 05:47:15 AM »
Quote
Even if everyone in the world holds that view, it doesn't make it objective.  Even if everyone who was ever, and will be born thinks that a guy getting a pie to the face is funny, getting a pie to the face would still only be funny subjectively.

... I just got done saying funniness is subjective and you argue with me that funniness is subjective? Thank you for agreeing with me, I guess...

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #71 on: April 18, 2013, 05:48:05 AM »
Even if everyone in the world holds that view, it doesn't make it objective.  Even if everyone who was ever, and will be born thinks that a guy getting a pie to the face is funny, getting a pie to the face would still only be funny subjectively.

That's not why Hierophant would consider something to be objective, though.  He considers something to be objective if it's hard-wired into us and not derived from our thoughts, and does not - as he puts it - depend "on the psychological response that a human being has towards a stimuli".  He's not appealing to popularity to determine objectivity.

This is not the definition we are familiar with.  Words don't mean what they seem right now in this thread, from our perspective.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 05:49:38 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #72 on: April 18, 2013, 05:49:30 AM »
F-ness is subjective if whether something in F constitutively depends at least in part on the psychological attitude or response that observers have or would have towards that thing.

An intuition, on the other hand, is objective because it exists and has the content that it has regardless of our attitudes or responses.

Is a particular person's intuition still objective if another person's intuition tells them something different?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #73 on: April 18, 2013, 05:53:54 AM »
F-ness is subjective if whether something in F constitutively depends at least in part on the psychological attitude or response that observers have or would have towards that thing.

An intuition, on the other hand, is objective because it exists and has the content that it has regardless of our attitudes or responses.

Is a particular person's intuition still objective if another person's intuition tells them something different?

Well first of all you'd have to ascertain that it is indeed the case that the two people have differing intuitions, and that they are not simply drawing different conclusions from the same intuitions or, most likely, that one or both of them are under the grips of ideological bias (such as religious dogma, partisan political principles or institutional goals). Ideological bias is, I believe, the most common source of ethical error, mainly because of the overwhelming importance of institutions in our life and all the ways in which they try to subordinate our values and intuitions to a dogma or other external set of rules.

But in the scenario that what you describe is verifiably correct, then yes, the intuition is objective even if disagreement exists. Objectivity has nothing to do with agreement or disagreement; people disagree on matters of fact all the time.

The easiest way to identify ideological bias is to present alternate scenarios where the belief system is not involved. So for instance, if someone counters your argument that God is evil because genocide is wrong by rationalizing the genocides in the Bible, you can use genocides in non-Biblical contexts to expose the fact that eir position is ideologically motivated.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 06:29:10 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #74 on: April 18, 2013, 05:57:57 AM »
The intuition objectively exists in both peoples' cases, certainly.  But if the intuition of person A contradicts the intuition of person B, are they both objectively correct, as you suggest?
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Offline Tero

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #75 on: April 18, 2013, 09:48:15 AM »
All moral issues involve the indivdual or family unit and the rest. Religion provides no better angle. We choose leaders, police etc and they use approved rules to determine when the individual has overstepped and is harming others.

But there are complex issues. I maintain that it is immoral to have more than two kids. Or three for three adults in case of divorce.

Therefore by my morals you are doing society harm with too many kids. We can force you to abort. If one of your kids dies before 18, we will let you have a replacement. After 18, tough luck.

Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #76 on: April 19, 2013, 05:07:09 AM »
I've recently written an ethical argument for the non-existence of God from an intuitionist perspective. I'm not sure if this is sufficiently relevant to the topic, but it might be of some interest.

***

Intuitionist Argument for the Non-Existence of God

Intuitions

(I1) Harming innocent people is wrong.

(I2) It is unreasonable to believe that an object exists unless we have (some) sufficient evidence for its existence.

(I3) Contradictions cannot exist.

Premises

(A) Torturing an infant is wrong. (from I1)
(¬A) Torturing an infant is not wrong.

(B) Occam’s Razor: the most parsimonious explanation is the only one that fulfills the burden of proof. (corollary of I2)
Explanation: If two hypotheses H1 and H2 explain the same set of phenomena P, but H1 is more parsimonious, then we can say that P provides evidence for at most the entities and processes involved in H1. The extraneous entities or processes involved in H2 have no further evidence on the basis of P, therefore we should not believe in them on the basis of P.

(C) If the existence of an object implies a contradiction, then that object cannot exist. (corollary of I3)

Argument

(1) God is partially defined as a being (external to oneself) upon which the validity and force of ethical beliefs are contingent.

(2) Either A is valid and forceful (a) because it is intuitively true or the result of deliberation applied to some intuition, (b) because it was decreed by some external agency which cannot also bring about ¬A, or (c) because it was decreed by some external agency which can also bring about ¬A.

(3) If (a), then the validity and force of A are not contingent on any external agent, therefore God does not exist.

(4) If (b), then we cannot distinguish between A being intuitively true and A being the result of the actions of some external agency, intuition becomes the most parsimonious explanation, and this scenario therefore collapses into 3. (from B)

(5) If (c), then A and ¬A can both be valid and forceful, which is a contradiction, therefore God cannot exist. (from C)

(6) Therefore God does not exist. (from 3, 4 and 5)

***

This is an intuitionist argument, and therefore it does not take into consideration the option that A and ¬A are both subjective propositions; but there are so many grave problems with the subjectivist views that I don't think this is a big issue. There hasn't been much discussion yet on that subject (apart from the previous fiasco), so I look forward to presenting the arguments against subjectivism as well, if anyone wants to discuss them.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 05:13:33 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #77 on: April 19, 2013, 06:12:23 AM »
The intuition objectively exists in both peoples' cases, certainly.  But if the intuition of person A contradicts the intuition of person B, are they both objectively correct, as you suggest?

Repeated this question as it is one I would appreciate an answer to as well.

Intuitionist Argument for the Non-Existence of God

Intuitions

(I1) Harming innocent people is wrong.....

Can you explain how that is an objective statement?  I'm just thinking - if a society, or an individual, genuinely believed that the sacrifice of an innocent was the only means to acheive a greater good for the society, then it would not be the case that harming an innocent was necessarily always wrong.  I think that is an example of where an "intuition" is itself a moral or value judgement based on.....something, and as such seems to me a rather circular idea of building a system of morals.

Random thought: was Christ innocent?  Assuming he was, would that not negate this argument for the non-existence of god, since the greater good was in fact served by the harming of an innocent?  And that therefore "harming innocent people is wrong" is false?  (At least in this particular circumstance?)
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Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #78 on: April 19, 2013, 03:19:07 PM »
Repeated this question as it is one I would appreciate an answer to as well.
Ethically, they can't both be true, since contradictions cannot exist. From a general epistemic standpoint, intuitions are attitudes and judgments, not propositions, and cannot be true or false.

Quote
(I1) Harming innocent people is wrong.....

Can you explain how that is an objective statement?

Because we know intuitively that harming innocent people is not fair or just, and we generally don't do it. In logical terms, innocent people are of value* and, since they are not threatening anything of value* (which is why we call them "innocent"), it would be wrong to harm them in turn.

Of course, much of the content of the judgment depends on the meaning of "innocent." For the sake of the discussion, I assume that "innocent" means "one whose existence or actions do not threaten or harm anyone of value*."

Quote
I'm just thinking - if a society, or an individual, genuinely believed that the sacrifice of an innocent was the only means to acheive a greater good for the society, then it would not be the case that harming an innocent was necessarily always wrong.
No, it would probably be the result of some ideological bias, esp. a religious one. All the examples of sacrifices of innocents for society's sake I can think of, like widow-burning, the Inquisition, slavery, hard labor, neo-liberalism, exist either because of religious or political dogma or both.


Quote
I think that is an example of where an "intuition" is itself a moral or value judgement based on.....something, and as such seems to me a rather circular idea of building a system of morals.
An intuition by definition is not based on anything. It is a priori knowledge. If it's not a priori, then it's not an intuition. If you find that a judgment itself relies on another judgment, then it may be derived from an intuition, but it is not itself an intuition.

Quote
Random thought: was Christ innocent?  Assuming he was, would that not negate this argument for the non-existence of god, since the greater good was in fact served by the harming of an innocent?  And that therefore "harming innocent people is wrong" is false?  (At least in this particular circumstance?)
I don't believe Christ existed or that it would have been "good," so...
But yes, if you accept all the Christian make-believe premises, the argument must fail... but in Christian-world, there is no ethics anyway, so the fact that the argument would be false would be a trivial fact...
« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 03:22:32 PM by Hierophant »

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #79 on: April 19, 2013, 03:53:47 PM »
Ethically, they can't both be true, since contradictions cannot exist.

So ethically, how would one go about deciding one's validity over the other?

From a general epistemic standpoint, intuitions are attitudes and judgments, not propositions, and cannot be true or false.

Here we agree.  This is what makes them relative.
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Offline Razel

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #80 on: April 19, 2013, 10:07:11 PM »
Because we know intuitively that harming innocent people is not fair or just, and we generally don't do it. In logical terms, innocent people are of value* and, since they are not threatening anything of value* (which is why we call them "innocent"), it would be wrong to harm them in turn.

That's an awfully flexible way of using the word "know".

And you're making a huge assumption that every person intuitively believes that harming innocent people is wrong.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #81 on: April 20, 2013, 12:51:33 AM »
Repeated this question as it is one I would appreciate an answer to as well.
Ethically, they can't both be true, since contradictions cannot exist. From a general epistemic standpoint, intuitions are attitudes and judgments, not propositions, and cannot be true or false.

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(I1) Harming innocent people is wrong.....

Can you explain how that is an objective statement?

Because we know intuitively that harming innocent people is not fair or just......

How do we know?  Is this known universally, throughout history?  Would it be known to someone who was raised, say, without being taught our society's morals, either overtly or by inference?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #82 on: April 20, 2013, 02:11:34 AM »
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How do we know?
Because we have ethical intuitions which (according to EvoInt) are the by-product of evolutionary adaptation, just like we have perceptual intuitions, logical intuitions, esthetic intuitions, etc. for various evolutionary reasons.

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Is this known universally, throughout history?
All societies have implemented conceptions of justice (as far as I know: I've never heard of any contrary example). But if you're asking about individuals, that's an open question, given the existence of, for instance, sociopaths. Do they not have ethical intuitions, or do they just have no motivation to follow them? I don't know the answer to that one.

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Would it be known to someone who was raised, say, without being taught our society's morals, either overtly or by inference?
If they have the same intuition, yes. Cultural indoctrination does not affect intuitions because intuitions are a priori.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 02:45:58 AM by Hierophant »

Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #83 on: April 20, 2013, 02:23:20 AM »
And you're making a huge assumption that every person intuitively believes that harming innocent people is wrong.
As I just pointed out, sociopaths may not intuitively believe this. I don't really know if they do. Apart from such cases, yes, I do believe people intuitively believe that harming innocent people is wrong (amongst other ethical principles). Fairness is a universal human value, and other primates have it too.

Offline Philosopher_at_large

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #84 on: April 20, 2013, 04:43:43 AM »
I dont' know if it's in keeping with the rules to post a link to another thread in response to a post, but I recently wrote on just this topic here:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,24765.new.html#new

Rather than restate it, I'll just post the link if that's okay.
"A moral philosophy that is fact based should be based upon the facts about human nature and nothing else." - Mortimer J. Adler

Offline Razel

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #85 on: April 20, 2013, 05:23:39 AM »
And you're making a huge assumption that every person intuitively believes that harming innocent people is wrong.
As I just pointed out, sociopaths may not intuitively believe this. I don't really know if they do. Apart from such cases, yes, I do believe people intuitively believe that harming innocent people is wrong (amongst other ethical principles). Fairness is a universal human value, and other primates have it too.

Fairness is universal to humans, but there may exist people who do not have it.  You don't see any contradiction there?

Offline Hierophant

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Re: Secular ethics - why Utilitarianism and Common Sense Morality fail.
« Reply #86 on: April 20, 2013, 05:33:42 AM »
Fairness is universal to humans, but there may exist people who do not have it.  You don't see any contradiction there?

No, there is no contradiction between human societies manifesting a given intuition and some human beings within a society not possessing it. Why would you ever think there is? Most individuals only have a tiny bit of input, if at all, in their society's authoritative ruleset and traditions.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 05:39:10 AM by Hierophant »