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The Is/Ought Problem

 
d0rkyd00d
 
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d0rkyd00d
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28 December 2016 14:06
 
After_The_Jump - 28 December 2016 12:46 PM

That’s a rather obvious change of the subject. This was not the issue at hand during the discussion about stem cell research in our nation. Obfuscating on the kinds of decisions I pointed out to instead point to the existence of potentially more complex decisions is a non-starter logically because one could justify simply never taking action on anything based on that rationale.

In that way, we can logically conclude that we’re going to engage in stem cell research now versus not and we’re going to continue to consider, as we develop better ways to measure it, whether investing in stem cell research is a more effective use of our resources than feeding starving people across the globe. It need not be an all-or-nothing decision.

You’re missing my point.  Knowing stem cell research is the most effective path forward to treating disease doesn’t offer any insight about what we should do with this knowledge.  In a situation where we have limited resources, limited manpower, limited money, what cause should we pursue? Science cannot provide the answer.

Like I said, there are no doubt questions the likes of which are so complex that we don’t yet have good ways to appropriately evaluate them. However, there are also questions the likes of which we do have good ways to evaluate and yet we’re burning fuel on those questions because we’re still stuck on deference to archaic religious books.

I can empathize with your frustration, but those who disagree with Harris in this case aren’t strictly religious.  There are many very intelligent individuals who disagree with Harris’ flippant dismissal of notorious philosophical problems.

Yes, and we’re making decisions about things every single day either way. So, we can make the most informed decisions possible or we can keep acting as if we don’t know anything about anything while still being in the position of having to make a decision either way.

We will move “forward” either way, but that is beside the point. 

So, your position is that nothing measurable changes when someone is ‘suffering’? Brain activity, neural patterns, physical body presentation, etc. all the same as when someone is in any other state? I’m afraid I can’t see how that makes any logical sense.

Sure, measurable changes occur, but there is still and always will be a disconnect between what we observe on a screen and the experience of it.  We will never know what a PET scan means experientially until we ask the participant hooked up to the machine what they feel.

The setting would make it quite easy for science to offer an answer to such a question if in fact we want to be alive versus dead.

No it will not, because it is personal preference.  One person might want to lift more.  One might want to run for longer distances.  Maybe lifting is worse for joints, but maybe I value lifting more than joint health, so once again, we are stuck using a different system to decide what we should do with this knowledge.

No, there still is no good answer to the questions ancient philosophy raised over two millenia ago: “What does it mean to live a good life? ”

Whether or not there is no ‘good’ answer is one metric. However, are you under the impression that we can say nothing definitive about something like being subjected to forced beatings or not being subjected to them?? You scoffed at Harris’s usage of extremes to illustrate this point, but yet the moment you acknowledge a culture like that of the Taliban is not conducive to positive ‘well-being’ or to ‘health’ generally, the categorical argument you’re relying on crumbles totally and completely. There’s simply no place to stand in order to accept your argument here but then also state that beating women for not wearing veils isn’t conducive to their positive well-being.

Moral relativism is not the only alternative.

We only know what ‘healthy’ looks like in so far as we’ve defined ‘healthy’. And, we only know what ‘dead’ looks like in so far as we’ve defined ‘dead’. Those poles were not established by cosmic force - they were post-hoc defined by us based on our interpretation of observable occurrences.

Yes, we have arbitrarily defined what is living vs. what is dead, and that definition is still changing, but those different states of being existed long before we were here defining them.  Single-cell organisms lived and died for billions of years before consciousness even entered the equation.  Our categorizing changed only our understanding.  Good and evil, however….well, those concepts require consciousness, as do all emotions.  So they are different.

And yet, for decades our ‘non-science’ based ‘ethics’ have led us to oppose equal rights for gay people, allow corporal punishment of children in homes, schools,etc.

Science would not have prevented this, and certainly ethics wasn’t the cause of it.  Likewise, ethics has made recommendations long before science existed that contributed to the happiness of others.

 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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28 December 2016 14:13
 

@d0rkyd00d

In a situation where we have limited resources, limited manpower, limited money, what cause should we pursue? Science cannot provide the answer.

I think we’re reaching a point of restating the same thing over and over so I’ll limit my response to just this because I think my response here tracks to basically everything else you said.

Regarding your statement that “science cannot provide the answer”. Again, in a nebulous sense, nothing can provide ‘the answer’. But, the reality is that we will, inevitably, pick an answer. In that regard, science provides the ‘best’ available answers because considering the full scope of facts on any issue will reliably lead to better answers than not considering the full scope of facts.

 
mmaakie
 
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mmaakie
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29 April 2017 15:06
 

what is the term for consequences of actions or non actions, and do morals play any part in such?  do actions require morals? or should actions be vapid movements among sentient beings automatically devoid of any consequence of relevance? should consequences have relevance, and if so, should sentient beings, aware of consequence, be required to accept responsibility, or recognition of responsibility, of such?  should consequence be only relevant to
those affected by them? with every instigator of consequence absolved because morals should not exist?  #robot

[ Edited: 30 April 2017 13:18 by mmaakie]
 
mmaakie
 
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mmaakie
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30 April 2017 12:51
 
mmaakie - 29 April 2017 03:06 PM

what is the term for consequences of actions or non actions, and do morals play any part in such?  do actions require morals? or should actions be vapid movements among sentient beings automatically devoid of any consequence of relevance? should consequences have relevance, and if so, should sentient beings, aware of consequence, be required to accept responsibility, or recognition of responsibility, of such?  should consequence be only inflicted upon those affected by them? with every instigator of consequence absolved because morals should not exist?  #robot

 
segalbe
 
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segalbe
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09 December 2017 21:02
 

There are no intuitions that Harris relies upon, which aren’t ultimately explainable in terms of our biological drive to survive. This is not morality. When morality was conceptualized, the words for “survival” existed and they were not used. Morality is supposed to be the only way we can live as prescribed, or understood, by the ultimate intelligence. It’s supposed to be more than just a great way to live, but the tip-top of the continuum of ways to live. It presupposes the continuum is not infinite and that at it’s peak, there is only one style.  This is what “morality” was meant to mean. In our infinite egoism, we supposed that for us, there was a way to live set into the fabric of the universe by the Gods themselves. This is why there can be no secular ethics. It just so happens that there can be no religious ethics either, because religion is nonsense. That doesn’t mean we won’t seek to survive. It actually doesn’t matter that we can’t justifiably make “ought” statements. We value survival. We will peruse it. Let’s not pretend it is more than it is. That was an intellectual dead end that has cost us millennia of progress.

 
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