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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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23 February 2017 06:38
 

@ TwoPunnyFourWords

Science cannot tell you anything about a fictional make-believe landscape that does not exist.

If your position is that ‘morality’ doesn’t exist, then I already stipulated several posts ago that I can fully support such a position.

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.

First, would you agree with d0rkyd00d that proclamations of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are arbitrary?

Second: the analogy I’ve used is this (it’s actually a combination of my analogy and one from someone I’ve been conversing with) - there is a substance, an element, we use to make soda cans (and use for other things) which we’ve chosen to call “aluminum”. The existence of “aluminum” seems to be agreed by all parties is an objective fact.

There’s an observable, objective difference in how the following two actions impact the body (a) ingesting arsenic and (b) not ingesting arsenic. If we choose to call that difference “good” and “bad”, it’s no more arbitrary than choosing to call the thing we use to make soda cans “aluminum”.

Again, if you’re claiming there’s no such thing as ‘morality’ - okay, I can stipulate to that (because we’re still left to do *something* and we’re still left with the question of how we decide what *something* we do).

If, however, one claims there is a such thing as ‘morality’, then there’s an objective way to talk about ‘morality’.

 

 

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 07:39 by After_The_Jump]
 
After_The_Jump
 
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23 February 2017 06:44
 

@ Antisocialdarwinist

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

Some anthropocentric facts are subjective and some are objective.

Example: more people like Metallica than like Creed (or, vice versa if the opposite were true) is a subjective anthropocentric fact. The impact that ingestion of arsenic has on a body is an objective anthropocentric fact. The difference is that the impact on the body remains the same for the objective fact even if a person were to say that they liked ingesting arsenic - thus, the raw data of the impact isn’t subject to preference. Whereas, in the subjective example, the raw data IS the subjective preference.

It seems the hang-up here is that some people have consternation with assigning ‘good/bad’ or ‘right/wrong’ for objective anthropocentric facts like the ones I’ve cited. Yet, the primary person I’ve interacted with here who’s objected to that has propped up “true” and “correct’ statements as having “value”. What ‘value’ is to be had from ‘true’ and ‘correct’ statements if true and correct statements aren’t any ‘better’ than untrue and incorrect statements?

At some point, to get any position on anything off the ground (i.e. to have any conversation about anything), including to claim ‘true’ and ‘correct’ positions have ‘value’, we have to operate on some brute assumptions. In no other domain do we act as if those brute assumptions mean everything we say is merely arbitrary *except* for in the domain of morality. There, a contingent of people insist on dismissing as a brute assumption the primacy of consciousness, and thus claim there is no foundation within the domain of morality to make objective claims.

Yet, are people who argue such a thing willing to claim there’s no objective way to say throwing gay people off of rooftops is ‘wrong’ or ‘worse’ than not trying to kill them at all? Further, are people willing to say behaviors of groups like ISIS are just as objectively defensible, morally, as the behaviors of any other group? It seems this kind of vague, undefinable approach to morality melts away in the face of any kind of scrutiny, and yet there are still any number of people who insist that morality has to be treated differently than any other domain, and differently in a way that makes it a fallacy to talk about morality in ‘objective’ terms. 

 

 

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 07:02 by After_The_Jump]
 
d0rkyd00d
 
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23 February 2017 07:15
 
After_The_Jump - 22 February 2017 06:52 PM

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?

As I have previously stated, I frankly don’t care about what is better more than I care about what is true.  And they are mutually exclusive.  I am not saying it helps us make true or correct decisions, I am just saying it is a tool to root out falsehood and fallacy within an argument. 

After_The_Jump - 22 February 2017 06:52 PM

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?

I value truth.  I am not saying truth is good, I am just saying I value it more than, say, well being.  I would rather be unhappily informed than ignorantly blissful.  I am not saying that is better or worse, I am simply stating my preference.  You don’t think truth inevitably leads to happiness or well being, do you?

 
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23 February 2017 07:24
 

@ d0rkyd00d

I am just saying it is a tool to root out falsehood and fallacy within an argument.

A useless tool in the landscape you’ve described, because rooting out ‘falsehood’ and ‘fallacy’ can be deemed no more useful (i.e. better or worse) than not rooting it out.

Fair enough.

 

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 07:29 by After_The_Jump]
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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23 February 2017 07:59
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 06:44 AM

@ Antisocialdarwinist

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

Some anthropocentric facts are subjective and some are objective.

Example: more people like Metallica than like Creed (or, vice versa if the opposite were true) is a subjective anthropocentric fact.

No, that’s just a plain fact. The evidence consists of a poll that doesn’t depend on bias or belief or preference. Any given individual’s preference for Metallica or Creed obviously depends on subjective preference, but the fact that they do prefer one or the other is just that: a fact.

After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 06:44 AM

The impact that ingestion of arsenic has on a body is an objective anthropocentric fact.

Here again, isn’t this just a plain fact? What additional information is conveyed by adding the word, “anthropocentric?”

Would you say that the effect arsenic has on cats is a “feline-centric” fact? And the effect it has on dogs a “canine-centric” fact?

 
 
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23 February 2017 08:05
 

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The evidence consists of a poll that doesn’t depend on bias or belief or preference.

The evidence IS the preference of people - that’s the point.

Here again, isn’t this just a plain fact? What additional information is conveyed by adding the word, “anthropocentric?”

There could life forms that don’t react the same way to arsenic. In other words, ‘arsenic is unhealthy’ holds true for anthropocentricism, but may not hold true outside of anthropocentrism.

Would you say that the effect arsenic has on cats is a “feline-centric” fact? And the effect it has on dogs a “canine-centric” fact?

Yes, although Anthropocentrism is generally regarded differently because of the more highly evolved nature of humans compared to other life forms. So, from an antrhopocentric point of view, the impact on cats and dogs isn’t as relevant as the impact on humans.

 

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 08:10 by After_The_Jump]
 
d0rkyd00d
 
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23 February 2017 08:23
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 07:24 AM

@ d0rkyd00d

I am just saying it is a tool to root out falsehood and fallacy within an argument.

A useless tool in the landscape you’ve described, because rooting out ‘falsehood’ and ‘fallacy’ can be deemed no more useful (i.e. better or worse) than not rooting it out.

Fair enough.

 

Now you are conflating useful as better, and better as good, and good as moral, and moral as well being, and well being as true.  This is the perfect example of why it is so important to nail down definitions, to avoid simply fluttering from one convoluted, ill-defined word to the next when it is convenient to make a point.

I mean, just look at this word-vomit of a sentence:

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?

Useful != true.  True != better.  Better != good.  Almost every time you use any of these words, you are changing their meaning and context.  Why play ball if you are just going to keep moving the goalposts?

Just answer these simple questions, if you can.

Is truth always useful? 
Is truth always better for well being? 
Are all useful things good? 
Are all true things good?

Because what you say continues to implies as much, when I have no reason to believe the answer is yes to any of them.

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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23 February 2017 08:32
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 08:05 AM

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The evidence consists of a poll that doesn’t depend on bias or belief or preference.

The evidence IS the preference of people - that’s the point.

That’s no point at all. The point is that the evidence—two numbers, in this case—doesn’t depend on the preference of the person doing the counting. It’s no different than counting the number of brown and red M & Ms in a bowl. The numbers of brown or red M & Ms in the bowl don’t depend on whether the person doing the counting prefers one or the other.

 
 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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23 February 2017 08:44
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 06:38 AM

@ TwoPunnyFourWords

If your position is that ‘morality’ doesn’t exist, then I already stipulated several posts ago that I can fully support such a position.

My position is not to claim that morality does not exist, but to claim that the nature of morality is unclear.

First, would you agree with d0rkyd00d that proclamations of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are arbitrary?

That depends what you mean by ‘arbitrary’. For example, the Earth is an arbitrary distance from the Sun. The way history has shaped the evolution of our species is arbitrary. As far as I can tell, there is no way to pre-emptively calculate where the Earth ought to be.

Would you explain what you take it to mean for a right and a wrong to be arbitrary?

Second: the analogy I’ve used is this (it’s actually a combination of my analogy and one from someone I’ve been conversing with) - there is a substance, an element, we use to make soda cans (and use for other things) which we’ve chosen to call “aluminum”. The existence of “aluminum” seems to be agreed by all parties is an objective fact.

There’s an observable, objective difference in how the following two actions impact the body (a) ingesting arsenic and (b) not ingesting arsenic. If we choose to call that difference “good” and “bad”, it’s no more arbitrary than choosing to call the thing we use to make soda cans “aluminum”.

The difference here is that we have something we can measure to objectively prove to everyone that the can is actually there. It doesn’t matter what we call the can, it still works the same way. The same does not hold for your approach to morality. What you call it changes the way you treat it, and you have no evidence to support your assertion that your way of doing things is the correct way.

Again, if you’re claiming there’s no such thing as ‘morality’ - okay, I can stipulate to that (because we’re still left to do *something* and we’re still left with the question of how we decide what *something* we do).

If, however, one claims there is a such thing as ‘morality’, then there’s an objective way to talk about ‘morality’.

I’m more interested in knowing what morality is than either denying its existence or embracing a fanciful description of it as a matter of faith.

 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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23 February 2017 08:47
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 08:05 AM

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The evidence consists of a poll that doesn’t depend on bias or belief or preference.

The evidence IS the preference of people - that’s the point.

Here again, isn’t this just a plain fact? What additional information is conveyed by adding the word, “anthropocentric?”

There could life forms that don’t react the same way to arsenic. In other words, ‘arsenic is unhealthy’ holds true for anthropocentricism, but may not hold true outside of anthropocentrism.

Would you say that the effect arsenic has on cats is a “feline-centric” fact? And the effect it has on dogs a “canine-centric” fact?

Yes, although Anthropocentrism is generally regarded differently because of the more highly evolved nature of humans compared to other life forms. So, from an antrhopocentric point of view, the impact on cats and dogs isn’t as relevant as the impact on humans.

The preferences are not rational but emotional in nature. In other words, if you’re going with the feels argument, then rational thinking is not what determines good and bad, but raw instincts.

That’s a framework that is scientifically testable, btw, so it has that much over Sam’s moral landscape at least. But that begs the question, why aren’t all feelings empirically existing facts of reality that need to be tended to for moral flourishing to occur?

 
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23 February 2017 10:19
 

@ d0rkyd00d

Now you are conflating useful as better, and better as good, and good as moral, and moral as well being, and well being as true.

No, I’m asking you what you mean. You said a tool to determine true and correct information was useful; you said it had value. I’m asking you how you arrive at a such a conclusion if you feel assignment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or ‘better’ and ‘worse’ are arbitrary.

Nothing you just said addresses that question.

 

 

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 10:32 by After_The_Jump]
 
After_The_Jump
 
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23 February 2017 10:21
 

@ Antisocialdarwinist

The point is that the evidence—two numbers, in this case—doesn’t depend on the preference of the person doing the counting.

Sure, it depends on the preference of the people being counted.

 

 
After_The_Jump
 
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23 February 2017 10:28
 

@ TwoPunnyFourWords

But that begs the question, why aren’t all feelings empirically existing facts of reality that need to be tended to for moral flourishing to occur?

Have you read the Moral Landscape or listened to Harris’s podcasts with Peter Singer or Will Macaskill? Harris acknowledges - in fact often introduces into the dialogue himself - that feelings are empirically existing facts which should be part of the scientific consideration and calculation of morality.

 
TwoPunnyFourWords
 
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23 February 2017 12:21
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 10:28 AM

@ TwoPunnyFourWords

But that begs the question, why aren’t all feelings empirically existing facts of reality that need to be tended to for moral flourishing to occur?

Have you read the Moral Landscape or listened to Harris’s podcasts with Peter Singer or Will Macaskill? Harris acknowledges - in fact often introduces into the dialogue himself - that feelings are empirically existing facts which should be part of the scientific consideration and calculation of morality.

But that means the feelings are unquestionable and that whatever anyone feels is intrinsically valid. So the question of what is “better” becomes a bit difficult. For example, why isn’t it moral for me to kill you if doing so makes me flourish? We can clearly see that things need to kill other things in order to live, so that’s a general principle of existence. Why should I value your desires over my desires? etc.

Harris wants to claim that there is some kind of territory outside of all of us where the answers to these questions can be found. He can assert it exists all he wants, but until he can show anybody where it is in such a way that the scientific method can test for its existence, all he’s done is paint us a pretty picture of what he thinks the world should look like. It’s no different than rationally asserting that objective moral truths exist because God dictated that it will be so.

 
d0rkyd00d
 
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23 February 2017 12:44
 
After_The_Jump - 23 February 2017 10:19 AM

@ d0rkyd00d

Now you are conflating useful as better, and better as good, and good as moral, and moral as well being, and well being as true.

No, I’m asking you what you mean. You said a tool to determine true and correct information was useful; you said it had value. I’m asking you how you arrive at a such a conclusion if you feel assignment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or ‘better’ and ‘worse’ are arbitrary.

Nothing you just said addresses that question.

I value truth.  And therefore fool-proof (or faulty-human-intuition-proof) tools that we use to arrive at true conclusions without exception are valuable. 

Also, this was in response to your statement:

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’.

Valuable for the sake of being true.  No other qualifier needed.

[ Edited: 23 February 2017 12:58 by d0rkyd00d]
 
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