Objections to Minimal Moral Realism

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brimstoneSalad
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Re: Objections to Minimal Moral Realism

Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:13 am

Sunflowers wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:15 pm
Like I say, and as the Stanford Encyclopedia confirms, there is no agreement on how to use these terms and so everyone must say what they are using them to mean and then move on to actually assessing the views expressed, rather than the terminology used to express them.
There's not perfect agreement, but there's general usage which is understandable to most and more specifically the usage we use here which will avoid confusion on these discussions.
Where a definition isn't clear, try to err on the side of the forum definitions for the sake of argument.
Sunflowers wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:15 pm
So, I am a moral realist and it is clear what I mean by this: I mean that I believe that some moral propositions are true. So, I am not an error theorist, and nor am I a non-cognitivist.
I think I understand what you're saying, but I also feel like you're using special definitions of morality or truth that ultimately beg the question of god.
For your arguments to be coherent, morality must be defined as essentially "the opinions of an arbitrary being we call god" in order for truth to be used in a standard way... and if it is and you're using morality as an argument for why god must exist, do you see how that's a little circular?

If we defined morality as "The opinions of santa claus" then obviously if we said some of those things are true then Santa must have an opinion and thus "exist".
Sunflowers wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:15 pm
I am also a subjectivist, because I believe that the truth-makers of moral propositions are the subjective states of a god. Not my subjective states, or yours, or those of some collection of us. But those of a god. Thus I am a subjectivist moral realist.
The trouble is that you're referencing any arbitrary subjective state at all. Why "god" instead of Bob who lives in the flat below me?
Why not me? Why not the cat outside?

It's an arbitrary choice, because it's yet another subjective view.
Your choice to define morality relative to "god" if this "god" is indeed subjective is not fundamentally different from anybody's choice to arbitrarily define their scripture or their culture or their own whims as the dictator of universal moral fact.

Now the typical Christian has an answer to this: He or she will say that GOD's opinions are not subjective but objective, because GOD transcends concepts of subjectivity as an objective reference point and law giver. This is not subjectivism, it's divine command objectivism.

I understand that you aren't saying that and that yes the proper term for what you believe may be subjective realism, but I hope you can understand how we find that a contradiction.
I mean, somebody can say he or she believes in square circleism, and indeed may believe that to be true, but that doesn't mean it's a coherent notion.
Sunflowers wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:15 pm
I believe all objectivist positions are crazy. Completely and utterly insane.
Well, you realize that you're in the minority there, not just theologically but in terms of secular ethics too?
I think you need to explain why it is you hold that belief.
Sunflowers wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:15 pm
And I believe that individual and collective subjectivist positions are grossly implausible. I think that a divine command theory is provably true (in the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' sense of the term 'prove').
Why, and please do so in a non-question-begging way.

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Post by Sunflowers » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm

My definitions are clear. I use 'realism' to mean 'actually exists' (which is what it means by default). And so for morality really to exist, is for some moral propositions of the form "X is right" to be true. It really couldn't be clearer.

And I use 'subjective' to mean 'made of the states of a subject', which is what it standardly means. Anyway, I am not going to continue to squabble about labels as, like I say, it is clear how I am using them and my usage is not unorthodox or misleading.

I am a divine command theorist. The main argument that persuades me that it is true, goes as follows:

1. Moral imperatives are a subset of the imperatives of Reason
2. Minds and only minds can issue prescriptions
3. Therefore, morality is composed of a subset of the imperatives of a mind, Reason.
4. Moral prescriptions have a single source
5. Moral prescriptions have an external source
6. Therefore, morality is composed of the prescriptions of a single mind, Reason.

The argument is valid. It is not circular, for no premise asserts the conclusion. And each of those premises is capable of independent support - indeed, I don't think there's a reasonable doubt possible about any of them.


You ask why the god could not be your friend Bob. Well it could be, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely and it is easily testable. Even if we restrict the pool of possible minds to human minds (a wholly unjustified restriction) the odds would be 7 billion to 1. I think that makes the thesis that it is your friend Bob false beyond a reaosnble doubt, wouldn't you? And moral imperatives were around in Socrates' day, so is your friend Bob thousands of years old? Plus do the imperatives and character of Reason bear any resemblence whatsoever to your friend Bob?
It seems to me, then, that seriously entertaining the possibility that your friend Bob is Reason is orders of magnitute more absurd than seriously entertaining the possibiity that your friend Bob stabbed Caesar or that you are currently living in Bob's sensorium.

You mention my being in a minority. Yes, what's that got to do with anything? Do you believe the correct metaethical theory is determined by whichever one the majority of experts believe to be correct, or the one that is supported by Reason? It's the latter, surely - and so if you think my position is not supported by Reason tell me which premise in the above argument is false and why. Plus, what unites contemporary metaethicists is the belief that there is nothing remotely approaching a consensus on which kind of theory is true - so what unites contemporary metaethicists is a belief that nobody working in this area really has much of a clue. Now, I agree with that - I don't think they have a clue.

Objectivist positions are insane. Morality instructs, guides, prescribes, favours, values. How on earth - I mean, how on earth - can anything 'objetive' do that? By definition, if something is objective then it exists extra-mentally - that is, outside of a mind. So, anything objective is mindless. Now, if someone believes that mindless things are issuing instructions to them, or they believe that there are mindless instructions just floating about in the ether, then I think they are insance or insincere.

As for why individualist and collectivist subjectivist positions are implausible - well, they are inconsistent with the truth of premises 4 and 5 in the argument above. I am not going ot defend those two premises in this post, as it has become too long.
Last edited by Sunflowers on Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jebus » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:55 pm

@Sunflowers. Serious question: Did you join this forum because you wanted to learn?
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

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Post by Sunflowers » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:00 pm

I don't believe that's a serious question.

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Post by Jebus » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:28 pm

Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:00 pm
I don't believe that's a serious question.
I have the impression that you are someone with somewhat inferior knowledge trying to teach people with superior knowledge. Hence my question.
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

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Post by Sunflowers » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:54 pm

Like I say, not a serious question (you already think you know the answer). Anyway, oh superior one, give me the benefit of your wisdom and show me the errors of my ways by highlighting a flaw in my reasoning above.

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Post by Jebus » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:25 pm

Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:54 pm
give me the benefit of your wisdom and show me the errors of my ways by highlighting a flaw in my reasoning above.
I have nothing to add to the flaws that have already been pointed out.
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

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Post by Sunflowers » Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:37 pm

I can't find them. Which premise is false and why? Provide a deductively valid argument that has the negation of one of my premises as a conclusion and has premises that are more plausible than their negations. Or do you have nothing to say but didn't let that stop you?

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:59 pm

Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
My definitions are clear. I use 'realism' to mean 'actually exists' (which is what it means by default). And so for morality really to exist, is for some moral propositions of the form "X is right" to be true. It really couldn't be clearer.
No, it couldn't be more ambiguous, because "X" could be anything.

if X = "Bob believes it to be moral to squish kittens" that can still be true (right, correct, etc.) depending on what Bob believes. That doesn't get us to realism.

Realism, even the minimal sort, requires that X be a substantive moral claim, like that it is or isn't moral to squish kittens given a certain context.
It can not just be a claim about somebody's beliefs or opinions, which is a usage that makes it trivial: thus the issue with you inserting subjectivism into the mix. If it's trivially true, then the word adds no value to the conversation and we can infer that's probably not a useful or correct definition (if we assume the more correct definition is one that's actually adding something of useful meaning to a conversation or identity, and here we DO assume that).

If the definition you're using doesn't actually meaningfully define and differentiate what is or isn't a realist position then you're using a special (and wrong) definition.

Do you want to try again?
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
And I use 'subjective' to mean 'made of the states of a subject', which is what it standardly means.
ALSO a useless definition which could apply to anything, everything, or nothing at all.
Please read this article, which was made for situations like this where people do not grasp the ambiguity created by these terms: wiki/index.php/Objective-subjective_distinction

Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Anyway, I am not going to continue to squabble about labels as, like I say, it is clear how I am using them and my usage is not unorthodox or misleading,
You're wrong.
So, if you won't defend or clarify your usage of these terms, then there's nothing to discuss here because everything that follows from your incorrect terminology is illogical nonsense playing off various ambiguity fallacies.

Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
1. Moral imperatives are a subset of the imperatives of Reason
What's an imperative?
Are we talking hypothetical imperatives or categorical ones? And what does the latter mean if so?
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
2. Minds and only minds can issue prescriptions
Well I disagree with that. A hypothetical norm can be derived from reason without a mind. A computer program could work it out, unless you want a circular definition in which a mind is anything that can issue a prescription.
As per the first question on imperatives, I'd ask what a prescription really is though.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
3. Therefore, morality is composed of a subset of the imperatives of a mind, Reason.
Why do you think 3 follows from 1 and 2?
What syllogistic form is this taking? Your syntax is a mess.

Even if I accepted 1 and 2 (which I do not because they're ambiguous as hell) I'm not convinced that 3 follows. You need to prove this rather than assert it. Show me what syllogism you're using here.

Is what you're trying to claim here that reason is a mind?
No, I do not agree that reason is a mind. It's a process. Confusing reason (the process) for a mind is like confusing evolution (the process) with a species.
Reason may be the fundamental characteristic of a mind, and I think you can probably make a pretty good argument for that, but that doesn't mean it IS a mind.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
4. Moral prescriptions have a single source
Why do you think this? That's like saying mathematical computation has a single source.
You can get the same correct math out of any number of calculators. The only question is whether they're operating correctly.

We can also get the same correct moral reasoning from any number of minds as long as they're reasoning correctly.
And I'd say we can get prescriptions from non-minds too, as long as they're processing the information according to an appropriate heuristic -- just like a mind, or a calculator, can deliver the correct solution to an equation.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
5. Moral prescriptions have an external source
What's that even mean? External to what?
Is math external to a calculator? In some sense, sure, but it's being used INSIDE the calculator too.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
6. Therefore, morality is composed of the prescriptions of a single mind, Reason.

The argument is valid. It is not circular, for no premise asserts the conclusion. And each of those premises is capable of independent support - indeed, I don't think there's a reasonable doubt possible about any of them.
I just showed how all of the premises are ambiguous nonsense. And no, you have not proved any of this valid because it's a semantic mess, there's no clear syllogism that supports, for example, your third statement from the first and second. Or the sixth from the fourth and fifth.

You need to word this all much more clearly so the syllogism you're using here is clear too, or you need to show this all in symbolic form. You've proved nothing, and none of your premises are very convincing at all.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
You ask why the god could not be your friend Bob. Well it could be, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely and it is easily testable.
What you described is not at test, it's rhetoric.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Even if we restrict the pool of possible minds to human minds (a wholly unjustified restriction) the odds would be 7 billion to 1.
It's as likely as any other guess, which is to say all this moral system would do is make you have no idea what's moral aside from guessing with the majority, which is a terrible moral system that would support slavery etc.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
And moral imperatives were around in Socrates' day, so is your friend Bob thousands of years old?
When one Bob dies another one takes over. So?
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Plus do the imperatives and character of Reason bear any resemblence whatsoever to your friend Bob?
Are you the arbiter of reason then? I would say you think you're god if you think you can answer that. If Bob is the epitome of moral reason and you're not, then anything you disagree with him about you'd be in the wrong but fail to understand why. Bob works in mysterious ways to other human beings. You're not Bob so you don't understand how correct Bob is.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
You mention my being in a minority. Yes, what's that got to do with anything?
One person with a crackpot theory slandering the majority of philosophers doesn't look good. The probability here is that you're wrong, particularly as you've proved nothing at all.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Do you believe the correct metaethical theory is determined by whichever one the majority of experts believe to be correct, or the one that is supported by Reason?
The latter, but unless you have access to a tap of pure reason and have no biases etc. (do you again think you're god and can't be wrong on this?) then the majority of experts are likely more reasonable than you are. The probability of you having come up with something new and proved virtually every philosopher an idiot is very low. More likely you're the one who is wrong and delusional. Have a little more humility when you're working against consensus (however slight).
Even if there's no single theory that has united the overwhelming majority, they can at least be united against yours.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Objectivist positions are insane.
That, right there. I don't think the overwhelming majority of philosophers would have any problem rejecting that claim.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
Morality instructs, guides, prescribes, favours, values. How on earth - I mean, how on earth - can anything 'objetive' do that?
It's called a hypothetical norm. If you want your knife to be able to cut well, it ought to be sharp. We can grant provisional "should" statements very easily.
Sunflowers wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:43 pm
By definition, if something is objective then it exists extra-mentally - that is, outside of a mind.
Incorrect. That is your special circular definition. Again, read the wiki article on the topic:
wiki/index.php/Objective-subjective_distinction

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Post by Sunflowers » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:59 pm

You're clearly more interested in verbal squabbles than issues of substance. Everything you've said is either false or just reflects incompetence with moral concepts. (For example, in "X is right" X has to denote an act of some sort, for only acts can have rightness - when I express myself I assume both competence with English and competence with basic moral concepts such as rightness).

And you keep referencing wiki pages. They're not peer reviewed. Academics don't use them or (typically) write them. For all I know, YOU wrote those entries.

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