Where does morality come from? – My take.

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This topic contains 102 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 3 months ago.

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  • #51919

    Unseen
    Participant

    Again, I repeat once more, I was talking about philosophical questions, not real-world questions.  In the case of this conundrum, it remains a conundrum.  Is it a moral question, or a practical one?

    By their nature, Simon, true moral questions ARE practical in nature. Is murdering an abusive marriage partner justifiable? Should I vote to benefit myself even if it’s to the detriment of society or even the world?

    Give us/me an example of a moral question devoid of practical implications.

    #51922

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Give an example of a philosophical moral question with no practical implications that your system “solves.”

    https://academic.oup.com/book/3167/chapter-abstract/144058658

    Parfit, like Sidgwick, believes that there are objective normative reasons. Yet Sidgwick found himself unable, in The Methods of Ethics, to put ethics on a rational basis. Reason points, he thought, in two distinct directions: we have reason to act from universal benevolence, which leads to utilitarianism, and we have reason to act from self-interest, which leads to egoism. Given that utilitarianism and egoism fail to coincide, this leads to a “dualism of practical reason.” Sidgwick describes this as “the profoundest problem of ethics.”

    The evolutionary paradigm I use reconciles self-concern and other-concern, through the interdependence of the human condition: if I help my friends, those I depend upon to survive, that’s helping myself because I need them to be in good shape, to be in good shape myself.  When we act, 9/10 times we are acting not against our self-interest.  In doing so, we aim to give the maximum benefit and minimum harm to those we affect.

    In the other 1/10 times, we are making a costly sacrifice to benefit another person.  This does not seem instrumentally rational in the present moment.  However, evolutionarily, there were/are all kinds of benefits to the individual and the strength of the small group, to make sacrifices.  Evolution both favours and punishes the bold.

    Yes, that has practical implications.  That’s a good thing.  It indicates that my philosophy is close to reality.

    #51923

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Deontology

    Deontology is simple to apply. It just requires that people follow the rules and do their duty. This approach tends to fit well with our natural intuition about what is or isn’t ethical.  …

    Despite its strengths, rigidly following deontology can produce results that many people find unacceptable. For example, suppose you’re a software engineer and learn that a nuclear missile is about to launch that might start a war. You can hack the network and cancel the launch, but it’s against your professional code of ethics to break into any software system without permission. And, it’s a form of lying and cheating. Deontology advises not to violate this rule. However, in letting the missile launch, thousands of people will die.

    In my system, moral domains of values consist of (joint, evolutionary) goals and (evolved) methods of achieving them.  One joint evolved goal is mutual benefit.  Moral values are methods of achieving this goal (for example).  So, preventing a war comes under “conflict avoidance” and aligns with the goal of mutual benefit.  Hence, stop the atomic bomb by hacking the software.

     

    #51927

    Unseen
    Participant

    @ Simon

    What is the point of solving a problem with “no practical implications”? LOL

    #51932

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    What is the point of solving a problem with “no practical implications”? LOL

    Simon Paynton wrote:

    Yes, that has practical implications. That’s a good thing. It indicates that my philosophy is close to reality.

    #51936

    Unseen
    Participant

    Yes, that has practical implications. That’s a good thing. It indicates that my philosophy is close to reality.

    So, you are now arguing that there is some sort of moral “reality,” with facts and where assertions are subject to practical testing. And this is possible without know (not defining or speculating) what The Good is. You see, in the world of value theory, the prime value in ethics/morality is The Good. The Good, it seems to me, is inescapably what someone has convinced him/herself is The Good and that some other equally qualified person can think something else is with no reliable and plausible way of settling their argument.

    #51942

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So, you are now arguing that there is some sort of moral “reality,” with facts and where assertions are subject to practical testing.

    Well, a philosophy can either be accurate, or it can be bullshit.  Which is better?

    The Good, it seems to me, is inescapably what someone has convinced him/herself is The Good and that some other equally qualified person can think something else is with no reliable and plausible way of settling their argument.

    One person’s good is not necessarily another person’s good.  A good is a desirable end state or goal.  Different people want different things.

    The Good also means a morally right course of action.  This is a method of achieving a joint goal or good.

    #51944

    Unseen
    Participant

    Well, a philosophy can either be accurate, or it can be bullshit.  Which is better?

    False dichotomy. Philosophy isn’t a fact-based science. Neither is it an art, based wholly on a creative output. It is a unique field of study. And value theory (ethics/aesthetics) are unique within philosophy.

    One person’s good is not necessarily another person’s good.  A good is a desirable end state or goal.  Different people want different things.

    There is a difference between what something is worth and what makes something worthy or worthwhile. A person’s and even a community’s goals are not necessarily worthwhile. A person may place a lot of worth on making sure that no nonwhite moves in on his street. A community may feel that morning prayer for schoolchildren or shielding them from gays is a worthwhile goal.

    The Good also means a morally right course of action.  This is a method of achieving a joint goal or good.

    That is a made-up definition of Good, defined in order to suit your purpose. Achieving something jointly is only worthwhile if the goal itself is a worthy goal.

    Is happiness a worthwhile goal? It depends on whether what makes you (or by extension your community) happy is worthy. Your happiness may depend upon keeping dark-skinned immigrants out. A highly questionable goal. It might be more worthwhile to be unhappy.

    #51946

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Philosophy isn’t a fact-based science.

    It kind of is.  Philosophy means love of knowledge, not love of bullshit.

    There is a difference between what something is worth and what makes something worthy or worthwhile. A person’s and even a community’s goals are not necessarily worthwhile. A person may place a lot of worth on making sure that no nonwhite moves in on his street. A community may feel that morning prayer for schoolchildren or shielding them from gays is a worthwhile goal.

    I think you’re talking about the distinction between instrumental and moral goods.

    Instrumental goals or goods are just those we pursue in the absence of consideration for others – solitary goals.

    Pursuing a joint good gives rise to the need for moral behaviour, in order to achieve that joint goal.  But not every joint good, or goal, is worthwhile in that it might not be morally good in itself.  Like you say, Nazi Germany would be a good example.  Also, the Pirate Code is another example.

    The Good also means a morally right course of action.  This is a method of achieving a joint goal or good.

    That is a made-up definition of Good, defined in order to suit your purpose.

    Well, there is such a thing as The Good in behaviour: the “best” behaviour, which in the end amounts to following moral principles: ideal methods of achieving evolved joint goals of thriving, suriving and reproducing.

    What if you are in a victorious army?  You are brave and loyal to your comrades.  Did you do wrong?

    Achieving something jointly is only worthwhile if the goal itself is a worthy goal.

    I would agree with you there.

     

     

    #51947

    jakelafort
    Participant

    I am not particularly captivated by philosophy of morality because human interaction is so fraught with cruelty that it seems academic. And humans are so easily led that no matter how cruel the mores the majority go along for the ride.

    #51948

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    But then, the questions of why people are cruel for emotional gain, and deceptive for material gain, are interesting in themselves.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12144-023-04765-0

    #51949

    Unseen
    Participant

    @ Simon

    Philosophy means love of knowledge, not love of bullshit.

    If you parse the word “philosophy” it, yes, comes back as “friend of knowledge,” but as it has evolved, it has evolved away from the empirical sciences and is looking for a different sort of knowledge, exemplified by the questions it tackles. What is meaning? What is Being? What is the nature of reality? What is The Good? What is Beauty? What is Justice? Does God exist? What is free will and do we even have it?

    None of these have fact-based, testable, verifiable answers. If they did, they’d have been solved by now. And, strange as it may seem, solving them may not even be the point.

    Pursuing a joint good gives rise to the need for moral behaviour, in order to achieve that joint goal.  But not every joint good, or goal, is worthwhile in that it might not be morally good in itself.  Like you say, Nazi Germany would be a good example.  Also, the Pirate Code is another example.

    And yet, you seem to imply that joint goals are ipso facto good. If joint goals are better than individual goals, then ultimately the only goal worth putting our minds to is the one that benefits the entire human community, even if it dooms our own component community. Well, how do you convince me to bury my family, friends, neighbors, and community for the common good of all mankind? I can make that extreme decision for myself, if needs be, but how could I justify making it for others?

    I’m reminded of John Rawls’ famous dictum about the importance of the individual in any scheme of justice: “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override.” That strikes me as the opposite of your position, which exalts the group over the individual, or so it seems to me.

     

    #51951

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    And yet, you seem to imply that joint goals are ipso facto good. If joint goals are better than individual goals, then ultimately the only goal worth putting our minds to is the one that benefits the entire human community, even if it dooms our own component community. Well, how do you convince me to bury my family, friends, neighbors, and community for the common good of all mankind? I can make that extreme decision for myself, if needs be, but how could I justify making it for others?

    I’m reminded of John Rawls’ famous dictum about the importance of the individual in any scheme of justice: “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override.” That strikes me as the opposite of your position, which exalts the group over the individual, or so it seems to me.

    You keep saying that, and I keep saying something different.  If you don’t like your group’s joint goal, you can fall back on your instincts and do something different.  These instincts may depend on the survival instincts of early humans: egalitarianism and compassion.

    #51955

    Unseen
    Participant

    You keep saying that, and I keep saying something different.  If you don’t like your group’s joint goal, you can fall back on your instincts and do something different.  These instincts may depend on the survival instincts of early humans: egalitarianism and compassion.

    So “Do whatever you feel like doing.” Well, then you don’t have a system of morality at all and you’re engaging in descriptive sociology and not moral philosophy.

    Do you agree with Rawls’s “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override”?

    #51956

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Do you agree with Rawls’s “Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override”?

    I’m not sure what the welfare of society means.  If it means “what my society wants me to do” or “what is in the interests of a possibly corrupt society”, then that may be attempting to override justice.

    Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice …

    Michael Tomasello sums up basic morality with three expressions: we > me (acting on behalf of the group); you > me (compassion); you = me (basis of fairness and justice).  Without the group, without we > me, there is only interpersonal justice and compassion.  So – yes, I pretty much agree with the statement.  In effect he’s describing a distinction between interpersonal and collective morality.  Without collective morality, we still can have interpersonal morality.

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