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27 year-old David Hume: 1, Sam Harris who should know better: 0

 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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20 February 2017 08:54
 

@ d0rkyd00d

At the very least, I think we may have come across the bedrock of the disagreement here

Not being facetious here but that bedrock of disagreement seemed clear to me quite a long time ago.

At the very least, I think we may have come across the bedrock of the disagreement here. I do not think factual statements regarding what is good can be the same as factual statements regarding aluminum.

As I said, my position is that they can be the same as it relates to their existence as objective fact. In other words, there’s no logical reason to apply lesser status to one - especially in a decision making process - as compared to the other.

A simple example: the melting point for arsenic is 1,502°F (816.8°C) - that’s a non-anthropocentric fact. Arsenic is bad for us - that’s an anthropocentric fact (because it’s predicated entirely on the kinds of creatures we just happen to be). Both of those facts are verified through the same basic process of observation: heat arsenic and observe the point in which it starts to change forms & watch someone ingest arsenic and then observe what happens to their health.

Thus, it’s logically inconsistent to say the second statement isn’t a ‘fact’ but rather more like an ‘intuition’ (on the basis that ‘goodness of arsenic’ for humans can’t be ‘the same’ as something like the melting point of arsenic). They are both functionally the same kind of statement; define it however you want - so long as you maintain a consistent definition, there’s no functional space between the two as being observable, objective facts. 

Furthermore, I do not think the implication is access to another world; rather, it implies a different process is required to derive factual statements regarding a word like “good” vs. a word like aluminum.

Yes, along with the “other world” concept, I also stated in parenthetical reference “and/or a method outside of a scientific one”. So, what ‘different process’ are you implying outside of a scientific one? Feel free to use the example I just offered - what’s scientifically different about the ‘process’ of observing the melting point of arsenic versus observing how ingestion of arsenic is bad for the human body?

And I think that tracks back to the fact that a concept such as “good” cannot be sensed in the same way as aluminum.  Our five senses can discover qualities of aluminum, but I do not think the same can be said for “good.”

I think it’s worth noting the implication here. To relegate anthropocentric facts to a level of influence that’s lesser than non-anthropocentric facts is to put on the sidelines - to some relevant degree - a huge amount of observable, verifiable information (and if you’re not relegating anthropocentric facts in that way, then your stated point seems to become a distinction without much of a difference). Using your own referent (i.e. ‘sensing aluminum’) as a fulcrum, a focus on well-being of conscious creatures is not ‘arbitrary’ because it’s the one phenomenological process that opens up access to any and all other phenomenological processes. In other words, we can’t sense any non-anthropocentric facts if we don’t do a sufficient job of tending to the well-being of conscious creatures; maintaining our well-being is the only thing that allows us to use our senses for anything else (including to ‘sense’ aluminum). And, as Harris has said, we’re not operating in complete darkness as it relates to the well-being of conscious creatures, and particularly humans. As he has stated, it’s not ‘too soon’ to state that certain behaviors are ‘better’ for humans than others, or ‘good’ as compared to ‘bad’; and it’s not too soon to recognize those statements as the objective facts that they are. I’ve given multiple working proofs of exactly that concept.

 

 

[ Edited: 21 February 2017 06:20 by After_The_Jump]
 
Salustro
 
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20 February 2017 09:29
 
d0rkyd00d - 20 February 2017 08:30 AM

Salustro, my comment about trolling was directed towards Dharma, who seems to be obviously trolling.  I was not responding to you, sorry for the confusion.  Your thoughts are welcome here too, Dharma is being a d-bag.

Ah, see this is me stoned trying to follow a conversation that’s a few orders higher than me. Thanks for sorting it out. :D

 
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21 February 2017 10:36
 
After_The_Jump - 20 February 2017 08:54 AM

As I said, my position is that they can be the same as it relates to their existence as objective fact. In other words, there’s no logical reason to apply lesser status to one - especially in a decision making process - as compared to the other.

A simple example: the melting point for arsenic is 1,502°F (816.8°C) - that’s a non-anthropocentric fact. Arsenic is bad for us - that’s an anthropocentric fact (because it’s predicated entirely on the kinds of creatures we just happen to be). Both of those facts are verified through the same basic process of observation: heat arsenic and observe the point in which it starts to change forms & watch someone ingest arsenic and then observe what happens to their health.

Thus, it’s logically inconsistent to say the second statement isn’t a ‘fact’ but rather more like an ‘intuition’ (on the basis that ‘goodness of arsenic’ for humans can’t be ‘the same’ as something like the melting point of arsenic). They are both functionally the same kind of statement; define it however you want - so long as you maintain a consistent definition, there’s no functional space between the two as being observable, objective facts.

I apologize for the delay in response, I didn’t see you had responded, and I also wasn’t quite cognizant of what our disagreement actually was yet, so this has been clarifying for sure! 

You say they can be the same as it relates to them as objective facts, but how do you know that?  Can you present an argument as to why objective facts about aluminum are the same as objective facts about “good?”  I don’t think your example is applicable, because you are operating on a definition of bad (using it to mean unhealthy), and bad in the moral sense of the word.  There are many objective facts that one could produce in terms of the effects Arsenic has on human cells, but none of them would reveal anything of the nature of “good” and “bad.” 

Furthermore, I do not think the implication is access to another world; rather, it implies a different process is required to derive factual statements regarding a word like “good” vs. a word like aluminum.

Yes, along with the “other world” concept, I also stated in parenthetical reference “and/or a method outside of a scientific one”. So, what ‘different process’ are you implying outside of a scientific one? Feel free to use the example I just offered - what’s scientifically different about the ‘process’ of observing the melting point of arsenic versus observing how ingestion of arsenic is bad for the human body?

Logic and reason are the processes that could assist us, but of course they can only take us so far.  I cannot provide a system that would work as well as science, because science specifically works with physical objects, not mental concepts.  Nobody has applied science to justice, because it’s obviously absurd.  And you are once again conflating bad to mean both unhealthy and immoral.  I only want to discuss good and bad as they relate to morality, since I don’t buy the idea that “good” means healthy, nor do I think it can or should be solely defined as WBCC.

I think it’s worth noting the implication here. To relegate anthropocentric facts to a level of influence that’s lesser than non-anthropocentric facts is to put on the sidelines - to some relevant degree - a huge amount of observable, verifiable information (and if you’re not relegating anthropocentric facts in that way, then your stated point seems to become a distinction without much of a difference). Using your own referent (i.e. ‘sensing aluminum’) as a fulcrum, a focus on well-being of conscious creatures is not ‘arbitrary’ because it’s the one phenomenological process that opens up access to any and all other phenomenological processes. In other words, we can’t sense any non-anthropocentric facts if we don’t do a sufficient job of tending to the well-being of conscious creatures; maintaining our well-being is the only thing that allows us to use our senses for anything else (including to ‘sense’ aluminum). And, as Harris has said, we’re not operating in complete darkness as it relates to the well-being of conscious creatures, and particularly humans. As he has stated, it’s not ‘too soon’ to state that certain behaviors are ‘better’ for humans than others, or ‘good’ as compared to ‘bad’; and it’s not too soon to recognize those statements as the objective facts that they are. I’ve given multiple working proofs of exactly that concept.

I don’t see any evidence that science relies upon our well-being.  I can see why we would need to survive in order to evolve to a point where we can apply science as a system to gain a better understanding of our physical world (key word here being physical), but I don’t see how it is a prerequisite.  The external world obviously exists regardless of whether there are conscious creatures here to observe it or not, so I don’t see how that makes your point.

 
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21 February 2017 11:50
 

@ d0rkyd00d

I don’t think your example is applicable, because you are operating on a definition of bad (using it to mean unhealthy),

And you’re operating on the definition of “aluminum” to mean what humans have defined it as. How do you know that that’s what ‘the nature of aluminum’ actually is though? How do you know we haven’t defined ‘aluminum’ the ‘wrong’ way?

That’s the thing about the existential crisis you seem to want to apply to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ - you can apply it to anything in a similar way; similar in that it renders discussion about that thing useless.

There are many objective facts that one could produce in terms of the effects Arsenic has on human cells, but none of them would reveal anything of the nature of “good” and “bad.

As I believe I’ve stated in dialogue with you before and I as just implied above, at the point that we’ve reached this kind of reasoning, there’s really no way to have a substantive discussion at all. You’re clearly implying that ‘the nature of good and bad’ is inaccessible via the tools we have at our disposal, even as it relates to humans. Yet, you seem more than willing to accept that what we call the ‘nature of aluminum’ is in fact the nature of ‘aluminum’.

And you are once again conflating bad to mean both unhealthy and immoral.

I’ve asked you, repeatedly, what other tools (besides the scientific method) you think we should be using to define ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Consistently, you offer no answer. Yet, when I’ve asked in the past whether or not you think we should just flip a coin to make decisions - since, according to you, we aren’t capable of objectively defining whether a decision is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ - you say you don’t hold that position either. In fact, in response to that question, I believe you’ve said that information and evidence is important to the decision making process (if my memory is mistaken here, then I’ll pose the question to you now). How could that be if we are incapable of objectively defining ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Why would information and evidence matter at all in a decision making process if we can’t know what constitutes an objectively ‘good’ decision and what constitutes an objectively ‘bad’ one?

I only want to discuss good and bad as they relate to morality

You only want to discuss good and bad as they relate to morality but you won’t accept that morality can be talked about in the same way we talk about everything else. That’s the impossible hurdle you’ve constructed.

I don’t see any evidence that science relies upon our well-being.

By definition, science - i.e. the systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe - relies on consciousness.

The external world obviously exists regardless of whether there are conscious creatures here to observe it or not, so I don’t see how that makes your point

You said aluminum was different than a notion of ‘good’ because our 5 senses allows us to ‘sense’ aluminum in a way that it doesn’t allow us to ‘sense’ a notion of ‘good’. Without our well-being being attended to in a way that allows consciousness to be intact, our ‘five senses’ don’t functionally exist.

And if you want to remove humans from the equation - feel free. Because consciousness is still a prerequisite to ‘sense’ anything in the way you described.

 

 

 

 

 

[ Edited: 21 February 2017 12:21 by After_The_Jump]
 
d0rkyd00d
 
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21 February 2017 12:36
 
After_The_Jump - 21 February 2017 11:50 AM

And you’re operating on the definition of “aluminum” to mean what humans have defined it as. How do you know that that’s what ‘the nature of aluminum’ actually is though? How do you know we haven’t defined ‘aluminum’ the ‘wrong’ way?

That’s the thing about the existential crisis you seem to want to apply to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ - you can apply it to anything in a similar way; similar in that it renders discussion about that thing useless.

Your point is a false equivalent.  You are using the word “bad” to mean two different things when it is convenient to prove your point (smoking is bad, i.e. unhealthy, and then equating that to the claim that therefore smoking is bad, i.e. wrong).  Aluminum is as aluminum does.

As I believe I’ve stated in dialogue with you before and I as just implied above, at the point that we’ve reached this kind of reasoning, there’s really no way to have a substantive discussion at all. You’re clearly implying that ‘the nature of good and bad’ is inaccessible via the tools we have at our disposal, even as it relates to humans. Yet, you seem more than willing to accept that what we call the ‘nature of aluminum’ is in fact the nature of ‘aluminum’.

It is inaccessible to the tool of science, but not the tools of logic, reason, and philosophy.  There is a way to have substantive discussions, and philosophers have done so for millennia.

I’ve asked you, repeatedly, what other tools (besides the scientific method) you think we should be using to define ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Consistently, you offer no answer. Yet, when I’ve asked in the past whether or not you think we should just flip a coin to make decisions - since, according to you, we aren’t capable of objectively defining whether a decision is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ - you say you don’t hold that position either. In fact, in response to that question, I believe you’ve said that information and evidence is important to the decision making process. How could that be if we are incapable of objectively defining ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Why would information and evidence matter at all in a decision making process if we can’t know what constitutes an objectively ‘good’ decision and what constitutes an objectively ‘bad’ one?

Logic, reason, philosophy, and thought are the tools at our disposal.  If you are thinking, “Wait!  That means we will never be able to refine our understanding of morality in a (humanly) universal way,” then you are correct.  Which is why Harris is wrong.  We aren’t incapable of defining good and bad, but it is arbitrary.

You only want to discuss good and bad as they relate to morality but you won’t accept that morality can be talked about in the same way we talk about everything else. That’s the impossible hurdle you’ve constructed.

No, philosophy has done the job effectively, and will continue to do so.  My claim is that we cannot talk about concepts in the same way we talk about physical objects, because these concepts do not exist in the external world; rather, they were created.  They are figments of our imagination.

By definition, science - i.e. the systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe - relies on consciousness.

On consciousness, yes, but not well being.  I mean I assume you define those differently.

You said aluminum was different than a notion of ‘good’ because our 5 senses allows us to ‘sense’ aluminum in a way that it doesn’t allow us to ‘sense’ a notion of ‘good’. Without our well-being being attended to in a way that allows consciousness to be intact, our ‘five senses’ don’t functionally exist.

And if you want to remove humans from the equation - feel free. Because consciousness is still a prerequisite to ‘sense’ anything in the way you described.

Yes, but again, I do not conflate consciousness with well being.  Conscious, intelligent creatures without emotions or feeling could still perform science, but almost certainly would not find a need for morality.

 

 

 

 

 
After_The_Jump
 
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21 February 2017 15:24
 

@ d0rkyd00d

We aren’t incapable of defining good and bad, but it is arbitrary.

Two points: least important one first -

(1 Is it any more arbitrary than calling the material we use to make pop cans “aluminum”?, and more importantly,
(2) If defining ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is arbitrary, then why bother with reason, logic, and philosophy at all when we’re determining what to do about any given issue? Why not just flip a coin for everything?

This is the paradox your logic creates. You seem to want to hold on to the idea that assessment according to principles of validity (i.e. application of reason and logic) has value… but then also claim that it’s all arbitrary. If it’s all arbitrary, then what value is there in using reason and logic to philosophize answers? Because, according to you, those answers aren’t really going to be ‘better’ or ‘worse’ because proclamations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are merely arbitrary.

So, this:

It is inaccessible to the tool of science, but not the tools of logic, reason, and philosophy.  There is a way to have substantive discussions, and philosophers have done so for millennia.

First, science is fundamental to logic and reason - establishing principles of validity is done through science. And philosophy divorced from science is a philosophy located squarely in supernatural proclamations (which you’ve agreed to removing from the conversation). After all, what is philosophy doing, if not synthesizing objective, observable evidence? If philosophy is a discussion about something other than things accessible to the tools of science, then how exactly can those discussions be “substantive”? And what exactly do such discussions on any specific issue look like?

Imagine, for example, two philosophers discussing the ethics of solitary confinement, torture, slavery, stem cell research, assisted suicide, etc. and they’ve agreed to locate the discussion outside of celestial edict. Where does that conversation go, substantively, if it isn’t located within the confines of observable facts illustrated by science? You seem to be claiming that, at least at some point, the conversation moves into something located in neither (a) celestial edict or (b) observable evidence. What is that ‘something’ and how can you call it ‘substantive’?

 

 

 

 

 

 

[ Edited: 21 February 2017 15:42 by After_The_Jump]
 
Salustro
 
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22 February 2017 06:38
 

“We aren’t incapable of defining good and bad, but it is arbitrary.”- d0rkyd00d


We are capable of defining good and bad but I don’t believe it’s arbitrary. I think it’s more based on the perceptive of the underlying notion of what we take good to mean in the realistic sense. Meaning, we know (as ATJ stated) that smoking is bad because we can prove through the tools of science that people who smoke have higher chances of having lung and throat cancer. This isn’t to say that all things that are generally held as “good” or “bad” cannot shift from one point to the other. Take slavery for example (barring our for profit prison system and the social injustice of the U.S system in general for a moment), at the country’s inception it pursued slavery as it was considered “good” to own slaves. Yet, in modern times having slaves isn’t something we joke about at parties or even take lightly. The modern man is more apt to call the authorities then praise you for owning a person as property.

I’d also add that if something hurts us (as humans), we generally interpret that as a “bad” thing, and if it helps us or gives us progress as a species (not just in a personal sense) it is considered a “good” thing, these most basic definitions I wouldn’t consider arbitrary at all.

 
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22 February 2017 12:03
 

Two points: least important one first -
(1 Is it any more arbitrary than calling the material we use to make pop cans “aluminum”?, and more importantly,
(2) If defining ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is arbitrary, then why bother with reason, logic, and philosophy at all when we’re determining what to do about any given issue? Why not just flip a coin for everything?
This is the paradox your logic creates. You seem to want to hold on to the idea that assessment according to principles of validity (i.e. application of reason and logic) has value… but then also claim that it’s all arbitrary. If it’s all arbitrary, then what value is there in using reason and logic to philosophize answers? Because, according to you, those answers aren’t really going to be ‘better’ or ‘worse’ because proclamations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are merely arbitrary.

Before I answer, I feel like it is an opportune time to bring up another troublesome aspect of conversations such as these.  Intuitively, when I read your post, I immediately sense that there are things wrong with it: misunderstandings, confusions, etc.  My position seems so clear, so correct, and so superior.  This is something I despise about intuition, because while I can try to convince myself that I feel correct because I hold the reasonably superior position, in the end I know that this is simply an intuition and I imagine you have the mirrored opposing experience of these intuitions on your end.  At the end of the day, all we can do is try to align our intuitions to mirror reality, but practically speaking, it seems true that it is almost always the opposite.  So while I try to disregard my own confirmation bias, it is something that haunts me every time I begin reading your responses and feel the tug of my intuitions justifying why I am correct and you are not.  /endrant

In response to your first point: I feel it is a distinction of the utmost importance that the word “aluminum” refers to something that exists in the world “out there,” and “good” does not.  So in the case of aluminum, we are simply labeling an existing thing.  We are naming something that was here long before consciousness entered the scene.  In the case of “good,” I don’t see any way around defining it from the ground up, given that it is an abstract concept that exists solely within our minds.  Since there is no external object that we are referencing with this label, we must define it, and therefore, yes, it is more arbitrary.

To answer your second point, defining terms is an essential part of having philosophical discussions or making logical arguments; otherwise, we would just talk past one another when debating certain abstract concepts.  So it is important to nail them down.  Why use logic at all?  Well, because it is a wonderful system for determining whether an argument is logically consistent, thereby avoiding the many fallacious pitfalls that humans are so prone to, since we are obviously not hardwired to be logical.  While logic may be just as arbitrary as mathematics in the sense that we are initially creating a framework in which to operate, it is useful in guiding us towards “truths.”  A logically sound argument with true premises will guarantee a true conclusion.  I think that is pretty useful. 
I also never claimed that “it is all arbitrary (not sure what “all” entails here)” so I am inclined to think this is a straw man, but as I mentioned before, logic can save us from fallacious arguments and false conclusions, so I would say that is valuable.

First, science is fundamental to logic and reason - establishing principles of validity is done through science. And philosophy divorced from science is a philosophy located squarely in supernatural proclamations (which you’ve agreed to removing from the conversation). After all, what is philosophy doing, if not synthesizing objective, observable evidence? If philosophy is a discussion about something other than things accessible to the tools of science, then how exactly can those discussions be “substantive”? And what exactly do such discussions on any specific issue look like?

I have never heard the argument that science is fundamental to logic and reason, but it seems patently false.  That’s like saying science if fundamental to mathematics, to which I would respond: no it isn’t.  As I think about it, I would say philosophy in some ways is more like mathematics than it is science.  For instance, you will never find a “1” out there in the world.  Additionally, there are many mathematically deduced conclusions that don’t describe or map onto our reality at all.  I suppose some may find it extremely impractical or useless, but that doesn’t make the conclusions any less true.  Similarly, there are many philosophical concepts that seem to defy our intuitions about the nature of reality, or are never “synthesizing objective, observable evidence” but like Dawkins said, frankly I could care less.  I only care about what is true.  The universe doesn’t need to make sense to me or bend to my human desire for understanding.

 

 
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22 February 2017 12:09
 
Salustro - 22 February 2017 06:38 AM

“We aren’t incapable of defining good and bad, but it is arbitrary.”- d0rkyd00d


We are capable of defining good and bad but I don’t believe it’s arbitrary. I think it’s more based on the perceptive of the underlying notion of what we take good to mean in the realistic sense. Meaning, we know (as ATJ stated) that smoking is bad because we can prove through the tools of science that people who smoke have higher chances of having lung and throat cancer. This isn’t to say that all things that are generally held as “good” or “bad” cannot shift from one point to the other. Take slavery for example (barring our for profit prison system and the social injustice of the U.S system in general for a moment), at the country’s inception it pursued slavery as it was considered “good” to own slaves. Yet, in modern times having slaves isn’t something we joke about at parties or even take lightly. The modern man is more apt to call the authorities then praise you for owning a person as property.

I’d also add that if something hurts us (as humans), we generally interpret that as a “bad” thing, and if it helps us or gives us progress as a species (not just in a personal sense) it is considered a “good” thing, these most basic definitions I wouldn’t consider arbitrary at all.

Thanks for your response.  While I agree that one of the factors humans have used in the past to determine good and bad are based on our nervous system, i.e. pain and pleasure, you can quickly see why this is not a good framework to objectively determine what is good and bad.  Certainly getting in shape when one has not been physically active is a painful process, but we also recognize it to be good.  So we have to either discard the idea of its objectivity, or accept that determining good and bad cannot be contained within any one particular framework.

As you previously mentioned, there are many things that throughout human history we look back on and consider bad, while at the time it was morally acceptable.  So what changed, our understanding of an objective morality, or morality itself?

 
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22 February 2017 18:29
 
d0rkyd00d - 31 January 2017 09:06 AM

I’d like to point out one other problem that seems to get lost in translation when discussing this issue, although it might be better suited to the Moral Landscape thread. 

Harris claims that Physics suffers the same flaws as his proposed science-based system of morals and ethics.  What I feel has gone unnoticed is one glaring and obvious difference between physics and morals.

I think most would agree that physics is based on the observation of an external world that existed long before we arrived.  We watch an apple fall, we observe its motion, and we come up with formulas that describe it.  There is no such external world to speak of when it comes to morals and ethics, which is a fiction created by our species, and one which relies heavily on qualia, something completely un-observable from an outside perspective.  One is physical, the other metaphysical.  I don’t see how one can simply ignore this drastic difference because assumptions are required for each.

Physical theories are falsifiable. Sam’s moral landscape hypothesis is not. That is a MAJOR difference which apparently has been overlooked. If he wants to assert that certain moral truths are objectively true, it is up to him to demonstrate their existence or otherwise science tells us as much about his moral landscape as astronomy tells us about astrology.

 
After_The_Jump
 
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22 February 2017 18:52
 

@ d0rkyd00d

While logic may be just as arbitrary as mathematics in the sense that we are initially creating a framework in which to operate, it is useful in guiding us towards “truths.” 
A logically sound argument with true premises will guarantee a true conclusion.  I think that is pretty useful.

What’s useful about ‘true conclusions’ if they don’t help us to make ‘good’ or ‘better’ decisions? You can say it helps us make ‘true’ or ‘correct’ decisions, but what good is that if ‘true’ and ‘correct’ decisions aren’t ‘good’ or ‘better’ than ‘wrong’ and ‘incorrect’ decisions?

I also never claimed that “it is all arbitrary (not sure what “all” entails here)” so I am inclined to think this is a straw man, but as I mentioned before, logic can save us from fallacious arguments and false conclusions, so I would say that is valuable.

Again, valuable for what? For making ‘good’ decisions as opposed to ‘bad’ ones? Again, what’s the value there if ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are ultimately ‘arbitrary’ proclamations anyway? By your own logic, ‘true’ and ‘correct’ have no purpose because they aren’t actually any ‘better’ than ‘untrue’ or ‘incorrect’.

In other words, on what basis - given your position - can you say it’s ‘good’ to avoid fallacious arguments and false conclusions?

 

[ Edited: 22 February 2017 19:07 by After_The_Jump]
 
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22 February 2017 19:20
 
After_The_Jump - 02 February 2017 12:39 PM

@ generationofvipers & d0rkyd00d

C’mon man, that isn’t even relevant.  Just because Newton was a theist from the 17th century doesn’t render his work in calculus and physics obsolete.  I am confident you have a better response than an ad hominem attack on Hume.

Of course it doesn’t render his work useless and obsolete. Hume’s work isn’t useless and obsolete either. But that doesn’t mean saying “because Hume said so” constitutes a good argument either. And specific to moral philosophy, if Hume had some degree of theism (or, more likely, deism) in his worldview, then that would seem to be quite a salient fact as it relates to his thoughts about ‘oughts’.

Anyhow, perhaps a simpler way to look at the question we’re discussing isn’t “how can one derive an ought from an is” but rather “how you can one derive an ‘ought’ from anything?”

Short of celestial edict, Hume’s distinction leaves no room at all for ‘oughts’, period. I’ll happily concede that there may indeed be no such thing as an ‘ought’. However, if one is going to claim there are indeed ‘oughts’, then a scientific development of ‘oughts’ can be just as objective as any other evidence based fact claim we develop.

In other words: if your claim is that there are no such things as ‘oughts’, fair enough - I can stipulate to that (because we’re still left with the same problem we’ve been discussing all along). If your claim is that there are such things as ‘oughts’, then I’ll reference back to everything I’ve said to this point.

Here’s some salient quotes regarding David Hume from Wikipedia:

Hume’s empiricist approach to philosophy places him with John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Hobbes as a British Empiricist.[3] Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. Against philosophical rationalists, Hume held that passion rather than reason governs human behaviour and argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge is ultimately founded solely in experience; Hume thus held that genuine knowledge must either be directly traceable to objects perceived in experience, or result from abstract reasoning about relations between ideas which are derived from experience, calling the rest “nothing but sophistry and illusion”,[4] a dichotomy later given the name Hume’s fork.

His is/ought attack is a sceptical attack against rationalism. He did not like rationalists, as you can see. He thought passions were empirical facts and that they were the things that were used to build ‘oughts’.

In what is sometimes referred to as Hume’s problem of induction, he argued that inductive reasoning, and belief in causality, cannot, ultimately, be justified rationally; our trust in causality and induction instead results from custom and mental habit, and are attributable to only the experience of “constant conjunction” rather than logic: for we can never, in experience, perceive that one event causes another, but only that the two are always conjoined, and to draw any inductive causal inferences from past experience first requires the presupposition that the future will be like the past, a presupposition which cannot be grounded in prior experience without already being presupposed.[5] Hume’s anti-teleological opposition to the argument for God’s existence from design is generally regarded as the most intellectually significant such attempt to rebut the teleological argument prior to Darwin.

So much for him being a theist.

Hume was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on emotion or sentiment rather than abstract moral principle, famously proclaiming that “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions”.

We know we have emotions. We don’t know if there’s some objective moral landscape out “there”. If you want science to work with it, you first have to construct a falsifiable model. In the mean time, most people will be playing the ‘justify our emotions’ game like Hume.

 
After_The_Jump
 
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After_The_Jump
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22 February 2017 19:39
 

@TwoPunnyFourWords

So much for him being a theist.

I never claimed he was a theist.

We know we have emotions. We don’t know if there’s some objective moral landscape out “there”. If you want science to work with it, you first have to construct a falsifiable model.

Morality is an anthropocentric concept. There are falsifiable, objective anthropocentric facts.

At it’s core, this seems to be Harris’s argument - falsifiable, objective anthropocentric facts provide a better guide for morality than religious proclamations of yesteryear. So, if religion can produce ‘objective moral values’ (which is the claim made by many of the people Harris debates with) then science can too. And the difference is that the ones science produces have a falsifiable anchor.

 

 

 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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TwoPunnyFourWords
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22 February 2017 19:58
 
After_The_Jump - 22 February 2017 07:39 PM

@TwoPunnyFourWords

We know we have emotions. We don’t know if there’s some objective moral landscape out “there”. If you want science to work with it, you first have to construct a falsifiable model.

Morality is an anthropocentric concept. There are falsifiable, objective anthropocentric facts.

At it’s core, this seems to be Harris’s argument - falsifiable, objective anthropocentric facts provide a better guide for morality than religious proclamations of yesteryear. So, if religion can produce ‘objective moral values’ (which is the claim made by many of the people Harris debates with) then science can too. And the difference is that the ones science produces have a falsifiable anchor.

Science cannot tell you anything about a fictional make-believe landscape that does not exist. It is wrong to speak about morality as if it exists in such a way without providing any kind of evidence for the existence of such a thing and yet still claim that science has anything to do with the quantification of the landscape.

I mean, science can tell you with immense precision exactly where in the heavens Mars happens to lie at any given time. Astrologers have never had it so good in formulating their judgements, and no doubt as we learn more about the cosmos their measurements will continue to improve…

Now, why should I listen to Sam Harris any more than I should listen to the latest prediction for those born under Capricorn?

How do you know that morality doesn’t exist in a way distinct from the way Sam Harris has described it? After all, god is an anthropocentric concept, too.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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22 February 2017 22:20
 
After_The_Jump - 22 February 2017 07:39 PM

There are falsifiable, objective anthropocentric facts.

How is an “anthropocentric fact” different from a “subjective fact?”

 
 
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