< 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›
 
   
 

Philosophy Undergraduate Student’s Paper: “The Materialization of Morality: A Response to Sam Harris’s Scientific Basis for Ethics”

 
nonverbal
 
Avatar
 
 
nonverbal
Total Posts:  1864
Joined  31-10-2015
 
 
 
21 April 2016 11:29
 
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:05 AM

. . .

It would be great if you were willing to clarify your main goal(s) for this paper.

. . .

- materialism: how do you classify energy, like radio waves?
  - how do you classify “thoughts” ?
- atheism: I don’t think atheism is a philosophy. It might be that many atheists share a similar philosophy, but that’s a different claim.

. . .

Oh my GOD—how could you possibly read the next 2 or 3 clearly written pages after such an unmanageable list of editorial blunders!?!

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7713
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
21 April 2016 11:33
 
nonverbal - 21 April 2016 11:29 AM
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:05 AM

. . .

It would be great if you were willing to clarify your main goal(s) for this paper.

. . .

- materialism: how do you classify energy, like radio waves?
  - how do you classify “thoughts” ?
- atheism: I don’t think atheism is a philosophy. It might be that many atheists share a similar philosophy, but that’s a different claim.

. . .

Oh my GOD—how could you possibly read the next 2 or 3 clearly written pages after such an unmanageable list of editorial blunders!?!

smile  Did you find the goals of the paper to be unambiguous?

 
 
nonverbal
 
Avatar
 
 
nonverbal
Total Posts:  1864
Joined  31-10-2015
 
 
 
21 April 2016 12:05
 
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:33 AM
nonverbal - 21 April 2016 11:29 AM
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:05 AM

. . .

It would be great if you were willing to clarify your main goal(s) for this paper.

. . .

- materialism: how do you classify energy, like radio waves?
  - how do you classify “thoughts” ?
- atheism: I don’t think atheism is a philosophy. It might be that many atheists share a similar philosophy, but that’s a different claim.

. . .

Oh my GOD—how could you possibly read the next 2 or 3 clearly written pages after such an unmanageable list of editorial blunders!?!

smile  Did you find the goals of the paper to be unambiguous?

You do realize that crimes against the English language occur right here on this forum every hour of every day, I hope? Many of them by me! Yet you muster up the fortitude to argue endlessly with far less coherent writers than Antinihilist, almost daily. I’m just trying to understand your sensitive soul, icehorse.

 
 
LadyJane
 
Avatar
 
 
LadyJane
Total Posts:  3375
Joined  26-03-2013
 
 
 
21 April 2016 12:15
 

It is my contention there is no objective morality.  There is no objective right or wrong.  I would also argue that pleasure and pain cannot be measured universally.  We have different thresholds of tolerance for these things.

This is the part of your paper that drew my attention.

Consequently, in an attempt to disprove the existence of free will, and promote his own idea of morality, Harris inevitably pulled the rug out from underneath himself by destroying the basis for his own argument: freedom of thought through reason. If Harris’s own argument was indeed true, we would never truly “know it”.

The very definition of knowledge would be meaningless without human freedom. The realm of epistemology, and nearly all human pursuit would be entirely meaningless if we have no real cognition of truth and falsity, and the freedom to believe one over the other. Argumentation would never be recognizably coherent or consistent with reality in any significant way because atoms alone, no matter how they’re arranged, are not normatively held accountable to adhere to laws of logic and rationality, only to deterministic laws of chemistry. Harris would not have chosen his own argument and position, chemistry would have determined it. You would not have chosen your response to Harris’s claims, chemistry would have. If atoms cannot search for truth, what is?

You see, in order to argue that determinism is true, one must utilize free will for the argument to hold any meaning or relevancy to truth whatsoever. And if free will does not exist, this discussion means nothing. In fact, my claim that the discussion means nothing would also mean nothing and so on. Reductio ad absurdum: in other words, we see that the adoption of determinism inevitably leads to a reduction to absurdity.

When making an argument in favour of determinism, and eliminating the notion of free will, meaning or relevance is unnecessary.  When pursuing the truth the only meaning we apply comes as a result of gathering facts, and then figuring out what those facts represent.  You stated the definition of knowledge would be meaningless without human freedom.  Is the idea of “human freedom” not merely an illusion?  Acquiring knowledge is more of a discipline which is sort of the opposite of freedom, in my estimation.  Why would developing ways of reasoning suggest the existence of free will and not simply reflect an extension of human evolution in a deterministic universe?  When exploring matters scientifically it is the truth that we are seeking.  Truth doesn’t depend on what we believe.  What we think or feel about the answers we find is irrelevant.  Defining morality and conducting “experiments” in an attempt to verify that definition is putting the cart before the horse.  Embarking on a mission to determine that morality is somehow tantamount to a law of nature, is layering the concept of morality on top of what exists naturally and pretending it was there all along.  Which makes it unscientific, man made, and meaningless.  If this were not the case, morality would have the same effect on everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Welcome to the forum Ms. Flanders.

 

 
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7713
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
21 April 2016 12:15
 
nonverbal - 21 April 2016 12:05 PM
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:33 AM
nonverbal - 21 April 2016 11:29 AM
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:05 AM

. . .

It would be great if you were willing to clarify your main goal(s) for this paper.
. . .

- materialism: how do you classify energy, like radio waves?
  - how do you classify “thoughts” ?
- atheism: I don’t think atheism is a philosophy. It might be that many atheists share a similar philosophy, but that’s a different claim.
. . .

Oh my GOD—how could you possibly read the next 2 or 3 clearly written pages after such an unmanageable list of editorial blunders!?!

smile  Did you find the goals of the paper to be unambiguous?

You do realize that crimes against the English language occur right here on this forum every hour of every day, I hope? Many of them by me! Yet you muster up the fortitude to argue endlessly with far less coherent writers than Antinihilist, almost daily. I’m just trying to understand your sensitive soul, icehorse.

Well I appreciate the gentle handling of my soul!  smile

To me, the OP set up a situation different from the normal forum thread. She specifically offered a paper for review. I took it as a request to work to a higher standard.

 
 
the Antinihilist
 
Avatar
 
 
the Antinihilist
Total Posts:  14
Joined  20-04-2016
 
 
 
21 April 2016 15:57
 
GAD - 21 April 2016 09:55 AM

OK, you ask, so here’s my opinion, your paper is as wrong and dismal as Harris’s The Moral Landscape just in the other direction.

Notes:

- The Moral Landscape is wrong in it’s premise and a shitty written book

- Morality is the consensus of personal preferences of a group regarding right and wrong

- Morality and right and wrong are human inventions and completely subjective

- You ask “What is morality for a materialist or naturalist? For an atheist?”; the same as for anyone else

- Freewill is an illusion, I’d ask you to prove that wrong but I know you can’t, and that’s why millions of man years are spent arguing about it

- Determinism (causality) is provable, indeterminism is not, your view was too incoherent to even follow

* Icehorse is the champion of the Science of Morality, it operates and does exactly what morality does it just sounds cooler because it has the word “science” in it, but even better would be the Science of Quantum Morality tm., doesn’t that sound really cool!

- “In some cultures they love their neighbors. In others they eat them, both on the basis of feeling. To which do you have a preference?” - Ravi Zacharias on subjective morality

- If determinism is true, all thoughts, actions, and beliefs are determined by biochemistry and laws of nature. That applies to your position that determinism is true, as well as every other comment you made about this discussion. Like I said in my paper, that makes the entire endeavor of philosophy meaningless. I don’t think any of us believe that, or we wouldn’t be on here right now. smile But we wouldn’t have a choice in the matter anyway.

-When you use language like “prove”, you are conflating deductive philosophical issues with inductive philosophical issues. We are talking about inductive philosophical issues. Additionally, you are not holding your own position to the same standard.

-You seem to be equating determinism with causality. Determinism is based upon the principle of causality, but is not causality itself.

 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7713
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
21 April 2016 19:05
 

LadyJane,

It seems that in much of your last post you’re railing against pure, black-and-white, binary definitions. Harris isn’t proposing anything black and white.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3333
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
21 April 2016 21:09
 
LadyJane - 21 April 2016 12:15 PM

...

When making an argument in favour of determinism, and eliminating the notion of free will, meaning or relevance is unnecessary.  When pursuing the truth the only meaning we apply comes as a result of gathering facts, and then figuring out what those facts represent.  You stated the definition of knowledge would be meaningless without human freedom.  Is the idea of “human freedom” not merely an illusion?  Acquiring knowledge is more of a discipline which is sort of the opposite of freedom, in my estimation.  Why would developing ways of reasoning suggest the existence of free will and not simply reflect an extension of human evolution in a deterministic universe?  When exploring matters scientifically it is the truth that we are seeking.  Truth doesn’t depend on what we believe.  What we think or feel about the answers we find is irrelevant.  Defining morality and conducting “experiments” in an attempt to verify that definition is putting the cart before the horse.  Embarking on a mission to determine that morality is somehow tantamount to a law of nature, is layering the concept of morality on top of what exists naturally and pretending it was there all along.  Which makes it unscientific, man made, and meaningless.  If this were not the case, morality would have the same effect on everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Welcome to the forum Ms. Flanders.

But, if we need discipline to obtain knowledge, what’s the point of determinism? According to determinism, knowledge is inevitable anyway, so why do we need to try so hard to obtain it?

Or are discipline and the struggle to achieve it only an illusion as well? I suppose then that pleasure and pain are both illusions?

I don’t think that determinism, in the sense of causality, is mutually exclusive with some degree of freedom of choice. We need a high degree of determinism just in order to exist, but a lot of that determinism is of the probabilistic sort. Classical physics and chemistry are theoretically deterministic on the macro scale because, probabilistically, the attributes of matter and energy are more easily measured on the macro scale, and so the theories themselves have been constructed by implicitly taking advantage of the law of large numbers. On micro scales however, at the level of individual atoms and molecules, classical theories start to break down. Humans are macro-scale in terms of physics and chemistry, but contain many micro-environments in which the degree of determinism present may be much less than what it is at the macro scale.

Only complete hard determinism can exclude any degree of freedom of choice. Probabilistic determinism cannot. If Free Will is defined as complete freedom of moral action independent of material restrictions, then probabilistic determinism excludes it. If some possible moral choices are dependent on material processes, then those choices will also be dependent on material restrictions, even under probabilistic determinism. That seems to me to be more like the human situation as we commonly perceive it than a stark either/or choice between absolute material certainty and absolute freedom of moral choice.

 

 
 
Smote
 
Avatar
 
 
Smote
Total Posts:  362
Joined  12-11-2014
 
 
 
21 April 2016 21:19
 

Ok, let’s see if I follow:

Line 1: So if determinism is true, then philosophy is meaningless.
Line 2: Since we are here, we believe there is meaning in philosophy.
Line 3: Therefore, holding the idea that determinism is true is self-contradictory.

I think this argument fails, because the word “meaning” is being used in a different way in line 2 than line1. Assuming determinism is true, we are programmed to care about certain things. What we care about (a determined thing) is the definition of “meaning” used in line 2.

The definition of “meaning” in line 1 is something else. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s not the same thing as the use in line 2. I skimmed the essay, and it didn’t seem clear why everything being based in atoms moving around necessarily means there is no meaning. Whatever this meaning is, it is not the sort of meaning I am familiar with:(what we subjectively care about [and it’s associated emotional responses in our bodies]). Considering “meaning” seems central to your paper, perhaps you can elaborate on what this word means to you?

So I see no contradiction here. Line 1 says something entirely unrelated to Line 2, because the used definitions of meaning are not the same.

 
GAD
 
Avatar
 
 
GAD
Total Posts:  17798
Joined  15-02-2008
 
 
 
21 April 2016 22:06
 
the Antinihilist - 21 April 2016 03:57 PM
GAD - 21 April 2016 09:55 AM

OK, you ask, so here’s my opinion, your paper is as wrong and dismal as Harris’s The Moral Landscape just in the other direction.

Notes:

- The Moral Landscape is wrong in it’s premise and a shitty written book

- Morality is the consensus of personal preferences of a group regarding right and wrong

- Morality and right and wrong are human inventions and completely subjective

- You ask “What is morality for a materialist or naturalist? For an atheist?”; the same as for anyone else

- Freewill is an illusion, I’d ask you to prove that wrong but I know you can’t, and that’s why millions of man years are spent arguing about it

- Determinism (causality) is provable, indeterminism is not, your view was too incoherent to even follow

* Icehorse is the champion of the Science of Morality, it operates and does exactly what morality does it just sounds cooler because it has the word “science” in it, but even better would be the Science of Quantum Morality tm., doesn’t that sound really cool!

- “In some cultures they love their neighbors. In others they eat them, both on the basis of feeling. To which do you have a preference?” - Ravi Zacharias on subjective morality

Irrelevant except to the relativism it pretends to deny in which case what you like depends on which culture you are in.
* was this random spam or was it suppose to be meaning in some way?

- If determinism is true, all thoughts, actions, and beliefs are determined by biochemistry and laws of nature. That applies to your position that determinism is true, as well as every other comment you made about this discussion. Like I said in my paper, that makes the entire endeavor of philosophy meaningless. I don’t think any of us believe that, or we wouldn’t be on here right now. smile But we wouldn’t have a choice in the matter anyway.

Please demonstrate a thought or action not determined by biochemistry and laws of nature, then we can talk.
Philosophy is meaningless, not because of determinism, but because it has no answers to anything and so people think that they can pass meaningless shit off as meaningful, that’s Philosophy.

-When you use language like “prove”, you are conflating deductive philosophical issues with inductive philosophical issues. We are talking about inductive philosophical issues. Additionally, you are not holding your own position to the same standard.

Projection on your part. The point was that freewill can’t be proven, it’s a feeling and opinion, and your opinion that it is real and necessary isn’t any more provable or valid as someone else’ belief in god or butt fairies

-You seem to be equating determinism with causality. Determinism is based upon the principle of causality, but is not causality itself.

Can you have determinism without causality? No. You want save morality and freewill here, but you can’t, but being a Philosophy Undergraduate Student it was determined that you will try.

 
 
the Antinihilist
 
Avatar
 
 
the Antinihilist
Total Posts:  14
Joined  20-04-2016
 
 
 
22 April 2016 09:22
 

GAD,

Please demonstrate a thought or action not determined by biochemistry and laws of nature, then we can talk.
Philosophy is meaningless, not because of determinism, but because it has no answers to anything and so people think that they can pass meaningless shit off as meaningful, that’s Philosophy.

Projection on your part. The point was that freewill can’t be proven, it’s a feeling and opinion, and your opinion that it is real and necessary isn’t any more provable or valid as someone else’ belief in god or butt fairies

No, I am referring to your position. Neither free will or determinism are “provable” empirically/scientifically. I argued that free will should be accepted under the principle of reductio ad absurdum, you will see that if you reread that section of my paper. Accepting that determinism is true is a reduction to absurdity. Determinism is not able to be proved because doing so would require you to rise above determinism for the argument to hold any ultimate meaning or relevancy to truth and reality whatsoever.

Can you have determinism without causality? No. You want save morality and freewill here, but you can’t, but being a Philosophy Undergraduate Student it was determined that you will try.

Can you have causality without determinism? Yes. I could just as easily say you don’t want to accept morality, but that isn’t an argument. Also, applying your own position to your argument, you too were determined to argue your point, so how would you ever step outside of determinism to be able to cognize its truth or falsity?

 

 
the Antinihilist
 
Avatar
 
 
the Antinihilist
Total Posts:  14
Joined  20-04-2016
 
 
 
22 April 2016 12:24
 
icehorse - 21 April 2016 11:05 AM

Hey Bethany -

The opinions I held before I read your paper were:

- TML seems to have merit and would be a boon.
- Freewill - I agree in theory, in practice I think the conclusions are wrong

I’m unsure of your goal. It could be one or more of these, or something else:

1 - Harris is inconsistent
2 - Taken together, TML and Freewill are inconsistent.
3 - TML on its own is wrong

It would be great if you were willing to clarify your main goal(s) for this paper.

If your goal is to prove that Harris is inconsistent, I wouldn’t have much to push back on, since I agree.

If your goal is to say that TML on its own is wrong, then we could pursue that discussion.

== specifics

- begging the question - got it
- materialism: how do you classify energy, like radio waves?
  - how do you classify “thoughts” ?
- atheism: I don’t think atheism is a philosophy. It might be that many atheists share a similar philosophy, but that’s a different claim.

- logical leaps - i’d like to defer until we have goals nailed down

- the WBCC axiom - hmmm. Again this seems dependent on your goals. I would contend that if we look at TML alone, it’s a reasonable axiom, lest we slip into a relativistic swamp.

- uniformity to nature - again, i’d like to defer until i understand your goal(s)

In response to your question about the general goals, I would definitely say I was arguing for all three of those points. As far as your specific questions…. In my paper, I did not want to argue on what my own position was on, for example, what I believe the true definition of thoughts to be. I wanted to really refrain from giving an argument for my own worldview, and focus on the philosophical dilemmas I found present in TML, Free Will, and his Ted Talk under Harris’s own presuppositions.

Also, any position, question, subject, etc. that has to do with questioning, describing, or attempting to understand the nature of knowledge and reality is philosophy.

 
Smote
 
Avatar
 
 
Smote
Total Posts:  362
Joined  12-11-2014
 
 
 
22 April 2016 14:13
 

deleted

[ Edited: 22 April 2016 20:06 by Smote]
 
icehorse
 
Avatar
 
 
icehorse
Total Posts:  7713
Joined  22-02-2014
 
 
 
22 April 2016 14:45
 

Bethany said:

In response to your question about the general goals, I would definitely say I was arguing for all three of those points. As far as your specific questions…. In my paper, I did not want to argue on what my own position was on, for example, what I believe the true definition of thoughts to be. I wanted to really refrain from giving an argument for my own worldview, and focus on the philosophical dilemmas I found present in TML, Free Will, and his Ted Talk under Harris’s own presuppositions.

Also, any position, question, subject, etc. that has to do with questioning, describing, or attempting to understand the nature of knowledge and reality is philosophy.

And to recap, my three potential goals (for your paper), were:

1 - Harris is inconsistent
2 - Taken together, TML and Freewill are inconsistent.
3 - TML on its own is wrong

I’m happy to grant you 1 and 2. In your opinion, do you think your paper attempts to argue against TML, if considered alone?

 
 
GAD
 
Avatar
 
 
GAD
Total Posts:  17798
Joined  15-02-2008
 
 
 
23 April 2016 09:31
 
the Antinihilist - 22 April 2016 09:22 AM

GAD,

Please demonstrate a thought or action not determined by biochemistry and laws of nature, then we can talk.
Philosophy is meaningless, not because of determinism, but because it has no answers to anything and so people think that they can pass meaningless shit off as meaningful, that’s Philosophy.

Projection on your part. The point was that freewill can’t be proven, it’s a feeling and opinion, and your opinion that it is real and necessary isn’t any more provable or valid as someone else’ belief in god or butt fairies

No, I am referring to your position. Neither free will or determinism are “provable” empirically/scientifically. I argued that free will should be accepted under the principle of reductio ad absurdum, you will see that if you reread that section of my paper. Accepting that determinism is true is a reduction to absurdity. Determinism is not able to be proved because doing so would require you to rise above determinism for the argument to hold any ultimate meaning or relevancy to truth and reality whatsoever.

Can you have determinism without causality? No. You want save morality and freewill here, but you can’t, but being a Philosophy Undergraduate Student it was determined that you will try.

Can you have causality without determinism? Yes. I could just as easily say you don’t want to accept morality, but that isn’t an argument. Also, applying your own position to your argument, you too were determined to argue your point, so how would you ever step outside of determinism to be able to cognize its truth or falsity?

You will make a fine Philosopher, you have a gift for meaningless nonsense.

 
 
 < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›