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The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
In other words, according to Angra Mainyu, an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions. It follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was.

It makes no sense to me.

When you say it makes no sense to you, do you mean that you do not understand what it means...
I understand. It's just utterly unintuitive.
But in the scenario, nobody thought it was immoral.
Sure, when people are unaware of an activity they have no opinion whatsoever. When they become aware they form an opinion. I'm not sure what you think you've shown. Nothing you've said requires that "permissibility or impermissibility (immorality, moral wrongness, or whatever word one likes better) is a property of....behaviour".

_____________________________

You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.


Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?
 

ruby sparks

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Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?

If I could answer for myself....

Yes. Everyone who has ever existed so far could be mistaken about a particular moral 'fact'.

This does not mean there are no independent moral facts, of course. I think I'm now happy to agree that's possible.

It just begs the question of how humans today would know it about a particular example today. Which would surely be a problem for any current judiciary system claiming to dispense actual, independent justice.

It goes back to what you were saying about reliable access.

Homosexual acts might be a good example.

And perhaps worryingly for homosexual anal intercourse (and indeed heterosexual anal intercourse), if we were to go back to the idea that it's an independent fact (which informs morality, as it seems to, and I would say at a stretch is morality, albeit sometimes devoid of the attitudinal add-ons and consciously-felt desires that only some organisms have the capacity for) that continued existence is good (or right, or merited, or warranted, or efficient, or a basis for action, or a compelling life force, or whatever) including by reproduction, we might trace intuitive human objections to certain human sex acts all the way back to that one, anal intercourse being a complete waste of sperm and a missed opportunity for an egg (to be fertilised), and therefore a waste of an egg too, and those who have a preference for it would be considered 'defective' in some way in relation to the independent fact that continued existence via reproduction is the right thing, because it just is.

If everyone, of any sexual orientation, began to prefer anal sex, it would not, in the long run, be good for the perpetuation of a species that reproduced via sexual intercourse. It might solve an overpopulation problem in the short term, but that's all. In the end the species would likely die out (unless the members began to reproduce in some other way).
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Really? No one deemed that what the robots were doing was wrong? Cool scenario. Very, very implausible indeed however. Have you seen the film, 'War of the Worlds'? The aliens were deemed to be breaching moral standards, Big Time. And humans surely would also deem it that way, if it ever actually happened.
Some humans would deem that the aliens - who do not exist - were behaving immorally. No human would believe that Jack behaved immorally in creating the AI, programmed to pretend to be aliens, etc., simply because no one except for Jack and the AI ever knows that he did that, as explained in the scenario.


ruby sparks said:
And even if Jack had (in another scenario), seemingly randomly, unleashed small, fiery asteroids from outer space, and not torturing robots, the victims would only not deem it immoral because (as in your scenario) they did not know the facts, particularly about intentions. It's very odd indeed that you are willing to set that factor aside now when it suits you after having banged on for so long about it being important to making accurate moral judgements.
No, you do not understand at all. It is not very odd at all that I construct a case in which the victims do not know it happens, because The AntiChris said that it did not make sense to him that a behavior "could be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was.", and you added that it would not make sense to you, either. Obviously, these are examples in which the behavior is immoral even though no one in the universe think it is. All of the people who actually know about the behavior, do not judge it immoral. And yet it is immoral. It is a counterexample.


ruby sparks said:
If someone is harmed or killed and it is deemed to be some sort of accident or natural phenomenon (absent any beliefs about the agency of a god for instance) of course no one will deem it immoral. Duh.
Not "Duh" but counterexample. However, if for some reason you do not like that scenario, we can change it so that there are no victims, as no one is actually be harmed or killed.


S12: Abdullah is a terrorist who plants a bomb in order to blow up a school bus full of children. Due to a malfunction in its timer, the bomb does not go off. No one is harmed. To avoid detection so that he can commit further terrorist acts in the future, he proceeds to remove the bomb the next day - no one else ever finds it. Now Abdullah is a religious fanatic who deems his own actions morally praiseworthy. No one else knows about them. So, he behaves immorally, but no one judges his actions immoral.

S13: Moe is a psychopath who plants a bomb in order to blow up a school bus full of children, for fun. Due to a malfunction in its timer, the bomb does not go off. No one is harmed. To avoid detection so that he can commit further terrorist acts in the future, he proceeds to remove the bomb the next day - no one else ever finds it. Now Moe does not deem anything morally wrong or right or anything. No one else knows about his actions. So, he behaves immorally, but no one judges his actions immoral.

S14: Magdalene plans to murder her old husband Bob for the inheritance money. She already married him for that purpose. She plans to kill him slowly, with poison. She buys the poison, and is planning to being the next day, at dinner. However, before that happens Bob has a heart attack, and dies, without her involvement. She does not need to kill him to inherit the money. She harms no one. She does not reckon her actions are immoral. No one else does, because no one else knows about them. No victims.
It is easy to construct as many scenarios as you like. No one needs to be harmed or killed. It remains the case that even if no one in the universe deem a behavior immoral, it may well still be immoral. In fact, plenty of cases of immoral behavior with no victims and which no one deemed immoral surely did happen in the real world.


ruby sparks said:
A number of big fails on your part there. Large asteroid-sized fails.
No, my scenarios are successful counterexamples. You do not seem to be following.
 

ruby sparks

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Some humans would deem that the aliens - who do not exist - were behaving immorally. No human would believe that Jack behaved immorally in creating the AI, programmed to pretend to be aliens, etc., simply because no one except for Jack and the AI ever knows that he did that, as explained in the scenario.



No, you do not understand at all. It is not very odd at all that I construct a case in which the victims do not know it happens, because The AntiChris said that it did not make sense to him that a behavior "could be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was.", and you added that it would not make sense to you, either. Obviously, these are examples in which the behavior is immoral even though no one in the universe think it is. All of the people who actually know about the behavior, do not judge it immoral. And yet it is immoral. It is a counterexample.

Only because of an absence of a crucial fact. I do not think AntiChris was talking about cases in which it was not even known that there had been an act by someone in the first place, and neither was I. Your scenario missed the point.

If you were to apply that situation to ANY scenario we have been talking about, it would change matters entirely. Duh. You showed nothing of any relevance, nothing that can be applied elsewhere to any of the claims.
 

ruby sparks

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Not "Duh" but counterexample. However, if for some reason you do not like that scenario, we can change it so that there are no victims, as no one is actually be harmed or killed.


S12: Abdullah is a terrorist who plants a bomb in order to blow up a school bus full of children. Due to a malfunction in its timer, the bomb does not go off. No one is harmed. To avoid detection so that he can commit further terrorist acts in the future, he proceeds to remove the bomb the next day - no one else ever finds it. Now Abdullah is a religious fanatic who deems his own actions morally praiseworthy. No one else knows about them. So, he behaves immorally, but no one judges his actions immoral.

S13: Moe is a psychopath who plants a bomb in order to blow up a school bus full of children, for fun. Due to a malfunction in its timer, the bomb does not go off. No one is harmed. To avoid detection so that he can commit further terrorist acts in the future, he proceeds to remove the bomb the next day - no one else ever finds it. Now Moe does not deem anything morally wrong or right or anything. No one else knows about his actions. So, he behaves immorally, but no one judges his actions immoral.

S14: Magdalene plans to murder her old husband Bob for the inheritance money. She already married him for that purpose. She plans to kill him slowly, with poison. She buys the poison, and is planning to being the next day, at dinner. However, before that happens Bob has a heart attack, and dies, without her involvement. She does not need to kill him to inherit the money. She harms no one. She does not reckon her actions are immoral. No one else does, because no one else knows about them. No victims.
It is easy to construct as many scenarios as you like. No one needs to be harmed or killed.

We are already broadly in agreement that actual ensuing consequences are more or less irrelevant in a particular instance, or should be, so that was a waste of time on your part.

Again, it is the not even knowing an act was done that matters. Obviously, there will be no moral judgement at all in such cases.

It remains the case that even if no one in the universe deem a behavior immoral, it may well still be immoral.

It may be. That is what we are discussing. Albeit we arguably should be discussing forgiveness.

In fact, plenty of cases of immoral behavior with no victims and which no one deemed immoral surely did happen in the real world.

Sure, but possibly only because in all such cases they would be deemed immoral if they were known about. You have not actually got away from deeming to an independent moral fact yet at all.

In short, you need to establish that there are independent moral facts, and you haven't yet. Merely showing that no one does any deeming because they don't know about something is not that.

All of this, everything, so far, in various threads, seems to boil down to your own assumptions or axioms, or mine, or of those that would agree with us. Deemings in other words.

With the possible exceptions that Treedbear brought up, and which informed my subsequent reply to AntiChris in post 46, which I think it would be more fruitful for you to explore, since it seems to support your claims.

I'm willing to agree with you in principle, on that basis, about the possibility of independent moral facts, Angra. You're wasting your philosophical sperm by trying to ram them up my metaphorical anus. Shove them up my metaphorical vagina instead, there's a much better chance of fertilisation!

We can agree on this. :)

And then, maybe, we can move on to the actual OP topic.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
Sure, when people are unaware of an activity they have no opinion whatsoever. When they become aware they form an opinion. I'm not sure what you think you've shown
Let me explained what I showed. You said before

I don't understand what you mean by independence.
The 'independence' that I find controversial is stated explicitly in this quote from the Grand Contradiction thread:

Permissibility or impermissibility (immorality, moral wrongness, or whatever word one likes better) is a property of McConnell's behavior.
In other words, according to Angra Mainyu, an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions. It follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was.

It makes no sense to me.
I showed that it is in principle possible that a behavior can be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was. I showed what you said made no sense, actually made sense. More recently, I pointed out that plenty of cases of immoral behavior with no victims and which no one deemed immoral surely did happen in the real world. So, not only is in principle possible that a behavior is immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was. In fact, it has happened many times.

The AntiChris said:
Nothing you've said requires that "permissibility or impermissibility (immorality, moral wrongness, or whatever word one likes better) is a property of....behaviour".
That is true, I was instead focusing on providing a counterexample to what you said.

As to my claim that "Permissibility or impermissibility (immorality, moral wrongness, or whatever word one likes better) is a property of McConnell's behavior.", it is not only not utterly counterintuitive, but rather, intuitively obvious to a human moral sense. Take a look at how humans behave in the wild (i.e., when they instinctively engage in moral judgments, not when they are in the grip of a RIP). They all treat it as it is a property of the behavior. Of course, McConnell's behavior is something McConnell's does, so in that sense, if you go further is a property of McConnell's mind. But it is not a property of the minds of other people (or any other part of other people).


The AntiChris said:
You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.
No, I was just debunking one of your claims by means of a counterexample. But no problem, I will address your new scenario.

The AntiChris said:
Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?
Not a problem at all. Yes, it is intuitively obviously true. Consider the following scenario:



S12: A few centuries into the future, Ahmed is one of the colonists going to a nearby planetary system. He is terrorist, and is planning to kill as many colonists as he can, because they are infidels he reckons. He goes into criosleep with everyone else, but reprograms his pod to wake up a day earlier than scheduled. He also plants a virus so that no one is warned when he wakes up. So, he does wake up. And he proceeds to murder 3 members of the 4-people crew, one by one, and before they knew what hit them. The fourth one, Sally, he takes by surprise, beats up, and then tortures slowly, to get the codes to access the main functions of the ship. Then, he murders her too. After that, he kills everyone else, by jettisoning the criopods into space. Even though he is planning to crash the ship, he wants to make sure he kills many colonists even if, for some reason, the rest of his plan were to fail. So, he kills them, and keeps going to planet #294, his destination. Since the colony is new and still pretty small, a direct hit to the inhabited area will kill everyone, he reckons. He sets the ship on a collision course, and abandons ship on a small pod, landing in an area that is specific for landing and launching ships. He plans to launch again later in a different ship, in course to Earth, to kill more infidels.
However, while Ahmed was in criosleep, a massive war broke out on Earth, and it got to the colony. Tens of thousands of nukes were used, as well as smart killer robots, and bioweapons. Humans were all killed. As for the colony, a bunch of killer robots got there faster (better propulsion system, no need for life support) and killed everone. All of the other colony ships were also blown up. Result? After he killed everyone else on board, the only human being left in the universe is Ahmed. He deemed his own actions morally praiseworthy. So, all of the actions he carried out after he murdered all of the other colonists, where considered fine by everyone in the universe ("everyone"="Ahmed").
Of course, it was immoral on his part to crash the ship in order to kill colonists just because Jack reckoned they were infidels who did not follow his religion. But the only person left in the universe was Ahmed, who thought it was fine - well, more than fine, praiseworthy, but in particular, fine.

ETA: Just in case, we may assume that in the scenario, there are no alien civilizations that have morality (just alien analogues, perhaps), or if you prefer, that humans are the only civilization in the universe, and there are no aliens smarter than a frog anywhere in the universe.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
We are already broadly in agreement that actual ensuing consequences are more or less irrelevant in a particular instance, or should be, so that was a waste of time on your part. More duh.
Not a waste of time, as I am debunking your claims. Even though you do not realize it, if any person is interested and reads the thread with care (now or in the future), this might be useful to them. And there are other reasons too. So, useful. :)
ruby sparks said:
In short, you need to establish that there are independent moral facts, and you haven't yet. Merely showing that no one does any deeming because they don't know about something is not that.
No, I do not need to. Your use of "independent" appears to be just a confusion, but as for my claims regarding moral facts being independent in some sense, they are like the claim that humans normally can move small objects in their vicinity, or that the flu is an illness, or things like that. It's part of ordinary human experience. If you want to debunk them, the burden is on you.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Some humans would deem that the aliens - who do not exist - were behaving immorally. No human would believe that Jack behaved immorally in creating the AI, programmed to pretend to be aliens, etc., simply because no one except for Jack and the AI ever knows that he did that, as explained in the scenario.



No, you do not understand at all. It is not very odd at all that I construct a case in which the victims do not know it happens, because The AntiChris said that it did not make sense to him that a behavior "could be immoral even though no one in the universe thought it was.", and you added that it would not make sense to you, either. Obviously, these are examples in which the behavior is immoral even though no one in the universe think it is. All of the people who actually know about the behavior, do not judge it immoral. And yet it is immoral. It is a counterexample.

Only because of an absence of a crucial fact. I do not think AntiChris was talking about cases in which it was not even known that there had been an act by someone in the first place, and neither was I. Your scenario missed the point.

If you were to apply that situation to ANY scenario we have been talking about, it would change matters entirely. Duh. You showed nothing of any relevance, nothing that can be applied elsewhere to any of the claims.

I took The AntiChris claim as it was written. If he misspoke, whatever, now I have considered his new claim as well.
 

ruby sparks

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Not a waste of time, as I am debunking your claims. Even though you do not realize it...

Questionable hubris.

Given that you haven't yet demonstrated that there are independent moral facts.

About which the really odd thing is that I might agree with you on a certain basis that has arisen recently.

... if any person is interested and reads the thread with care (now or in the future), this might be useful to them.

I guess you can at least hope that whoever reads it arbitrarily limits their enquiries to colloquial everyday language, mere intuitions, folk-psychology, 'how things subjectively seem', incomplete analyses and inadequate definitions and so on. Try a theology forum maybe. Stay away from science and proper, thorough philosophy. Neither are your strong suit.

What you have, so far, subject to us exploring Treedbear's point, are arguments that are inside the little artificial bubble of 'Angra's limited considerations', that's all. Go you. Maybe with that caveat your arguments are not bad. In order not to be shown wrong, it is only necessary to be sufficiently vague, and I might now add sufficiently lacking in thoroughness.
 
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The AntiChris

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Of course, it was immoral on his part....
This assumes as true the very thing that's in question.

The only thing we can say with certainty is that both you and I (external to Ahmed's universe) consider Ahmed's actions immoral (and probably insane) and that the entire population of Ahmed's universe think he did no wrong.

Nothing in your scenario can be taken as logically entailing that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions.

Anyway, congratulations on coming up with a totally unrealistic and convoluted scenario which challenged my intuitions!
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
This assumes as true the very thing that's in question.
It does not assume. It assesses. The thing is this. No matter how many counterexamples I can come up with, you can always say it is not so. But perhaps a contrastive scenario will be even more obvious.



S13: A few centuries into the future, Jack is one of the colonists going to a nearby planetary system. He is a psychopathic serial killer, and is planning to do all sorts of killings for fun. He goes into cryosleep with everyone else, but plants a reprograms his pod to wake up a day earlier than scheduled. He also plants a virus so that no one is warned when he wakes up. So, he does wake up. And he proceeds to murder 3 members of the 4-people crew, one by one, and before they knew what hit them. The fourth one, Sally, he takes by surprise, beats up, and then tortures slowly, to get the codes to access the main functions of the ship. Then, he murders her too. After that, he kills everyone else on the ship, by rigging the cryopods to give them a lethal electroshock. They don't know what hit them, either. He also plans to wreak havoc on the ground, on arrival to planet #294, his destination. He reckons he can't just land with everyone else dead - that would raise questions! So, instead, he programs the ship to collide with the colony. Since the colony is new and still pretty small, a direct hit to the inhabited area will kill everyone, he thinks. He is going to abandon ship on a small pod, and land in an area for landing and launching ships. He will then live there, and lauch again on a different ship, in course to Earth, to kill more people. He thinks his actions are fine. The people on the ground are unaware of his actions, and get killed by the collision.
Obviously, in S13, the actions Jack carries out after murdering the people on board and with the intend - which he achieves - of murdering everyone on the ground, are immoral. Now the contrast:



S14: A few centuries into the future, Jack is one of the colonists going to a nearby planetary system. He is a psychopathic serial killer, and is planning to do all sorts of killings for fun. He goes into cryosleep with everyone else, but plants a reprograms his pod to wake up a day earlier than scheduled. He also plants a virus so that no one is warned when he wakes up. So, he does wake up. And he proceeds to murder 3 members of the 4-people crew, one by one, and before they knew what hit them. The fourth one, Sally, he takes by surprise, beats up, and then tortures slowly, to get the codes to access the main functions of the ship. Then, he murders her too. After that, he kills everyone else on the ship, by rigging the cryopods to give them a lethal electroshock. They don't know what hit them, either. He also plans to wreak havoc on the ground, on arrival to planet #294, his destination. He reckons he can't just land with everyone else dead - that would raise questions! So, instead, he programs the ship to collide with the colony. Since the colony is new and still pretty small, a direct hit to the inhabited area will kill everyone, he thinks. He is going to abandon ship on a small pod, and land in an area for landing and launching ships. He will then live there, and lauch again on a different ship, in course to Earth, to kill more people. He thinks his actions are fine.
Unbeknown to Jack, while he was in cryosleep, a massive war broke out on Earth, and it got to the colony. Tens of thousands of nukes were used, as well as smart killer robots, and bioweapons. Humans were all killed. As for the colony, a bunch of killer robots got there faster (better propulsion system, no need for life support) and killed everone. All of the other colony ships were also blown up. Result? After he killed everyone else on board, the only human being left in the universe is Jack. There are also no aliens smarter than, say, a frog. So, all of the actions he carried out after he murdered all of the other colonists, where considered fine by everyone in the universe ("everyone"="Jack").

And again, Jack's in S14 are exactly equally immoral as Jack's actions in S13, because his intent was the same, the information available to him was the same, his beliefs were the same, in fact all of his decisions leading up to that moment were the same (it's the same Jack up to that point). The only differences in effects resulted from the actions of external third parties he did not know about and had no way of knowning about.


The AntiChris said:
The only thing we can say with certainty is that both you and I (external to Ahmed's universe) consider Ahmed's actions immoral (and probably insane) and that the entire population of Ahmed's universe think he did no wrong.
No, we can also use our moral sense instead of religion/ideology/philosophy (RIP for short) and tell that Ahmed's actions were immoral. Obviously.


The AntiChris said:
Nothing in your scenario can be taken as logically entailing that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions.
Logically entailing? Well, it follows from the fact that his actions were immoral. But of course, one needs to use a (normally functioning) human moral sense to see that. If you use RIP instead, then you are using the wrong tool. However, for that matter, no matter how much empirical evidence I bring a YEC (Young Earth Creationist) can point out that none of that entails common descent, say the fossils, etc. may have been planted by God to test us, or by demons to confuse us, or whatever.

The AntiChris said:
Anyway, congratulations on coming up with a totally unrealistic and convoluted scenario which challenged my intuitions!

You set up a scenario in which some agent A does X, and everyone in the universe makes the assessment that X is fine. That requires a very small universe, in which the entire population of the universe is aware that A did X. Thus, it is apparent that the scenarios will be totally unrealistic and convoluted, but this is so because of the way you set it up.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
I guess you can at least hope that whoever reads it arbitrarily limits their enquiries to colloquial everyday language, mere intuitions, folk-psychology, 'how things subjectively seem', incomplete analyses and inadequate definitions and so on. Try a theology forum maybe. Stay away from science and proper, thorough philosophy. Neither are your strong suit.
You are very confused. But on the issue of forgiveness, I will not forgive you for this, unless you show significant change in your behavior. You have an obligation not to attack me like that.

Also, by the way, it seems you are attempting to mete out retribution on me (instinctively, or deliberately, that I do not know). Otherwise, why would you be trying to hurt me with something like "Try a theology forum maybe. Stay away from science and proper, thorough philosophy. Neither are your strong suit."?

You're not trying to hurt me just for fun, I take it. You are not trying to deter me from posting, unless you are being utterly irrational, since it is pretty obvious by now that attacks do not deter me from posting back (and you already realized that in the other thread). So, it seems it is retribution you have in mind. But maybe you can shed some light on your motivation, if it was not retribution?
 

The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
This assumes as true the very thing that's in question.
It does not assume. It assesses.
I've no idea what that means other than that you assess (assume) it to be true.

But perhaps a contrastive scenario will be even more obvious.
Thanks for taking the trouble but I'm afraid I have no idea what exactly you think you're demonstrating with these tortuous scenarios.

The AntiChris said:
Nothing in your scenario can be taken as logically entailing that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions.
Logically entailing? Well, it follows from the fact that his actions were immoral. But of course, one needs to use a (normally functioning) human moral sense to see that.
This makes no sense.

You appear to be saying that the reason Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions., is because it follows from the fact that Ahmed's actions were immoral (impermissible).

This is circular.

Is it your view that anyone who is sceptical about attitude-independent moral properties has an abnormally functioning moral sense?
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
I've no idea what that means other than that you assess (assume) it to be true.
You made a claim that "This" assumes, implying I assume. But I do not. I assess, using my moral sense of course. Assessing is not the same as assuming. I invite readers to use their respective moral senses (not religion/ideology/philosophy) to assess by themselves whether it is true.

The AntiChris said:
Thanks for taking the trouble but I'm afraid I have no idea what exactly you think you're demonstrating with these tortuous scenarios.
That there are possible scenarios in which agent A does X, everyone in the universe believes that X was okay, yet X was immoral.

The AntiChris said:
This makes no sense.

You appear to be saying that the reason Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible, independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions., is because it follows from the fact that Ahmed's actions were immoral (impermissible).
What I am saying is that it follows from the fact that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible + the fact that everyone in the universe believed otherwise, no one had negative feelings towards it, etc., that the impermissibility was independent of those feelings, beliefs, etc., going by the very test you propose (namely, that everyone in the universe thought it was fine).
As I pointed out, that of course requires the the fact that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible, but one needs to use a (normally functioning) human moral sense to see that it was.

The AntiChris said:
Is it your view that anyone who is sceptical about attitude-independent moral properties has an abnormally functioning moral sense?
No, they may well be using RIP (religion/ideology/philosophy) instead of their moral sense, or they may disagree about some relevant nonmoral facts.

For example, in scenarios S13, S14, the actions Jack carries out after murdering the people on board and with the intent of murdering everyone on the ground for fun, are immoral. Given that - again by the test you proposed, namely that everyone in the universe believes they were fine -, this shows that the immorality of the behavior is independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, then my position is that a person who reads S13 and S14 carefully and is skeptical of moral properties independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, is in one of the following situations:

a. He does not accept your proposed test for independence, for whatever reason, or
b. He fails to realize that both in S13 and S14, the actions Jack carries out after murdering the people on board and with the intent of murdering everyone on the ground for fun, are immoral.
c. Both a. and b.

Now if it is a. but not b., nothing else can be said at that point. On the other hand, if it is b., then he is in error. The error, as usual, has one of the following causes.



1. He is mistaken about nonmoral facts, e.g., he misconstrued the scenario, added further conditions, is not aware of some of the relevant facts because he is not carefully reading the scenario, or other nonmoral issues.
2. He is using the wrong instrument, like RIP or something along those lines, instead of or interfering with the verdict that his moral sense would otherwise yield.
3. His moral sense (i.e., the faculty by which humans normally make moral assessments) is malfunctioning.
4. A combination two or three of the above.​

Note, however, that this is the case with all moral errors, and is no different from errors in other, nonmoral domains, or even fail to make the right call. For example, suppose someone is skeptical about whether chimps and mosquitoes have a common ancestor. The realistic options are:


1. She is mistaken about some of the relevant observations that have been made, generally the scientific evidence supporting it, or else simply lacks that information, or is not aware of it because she is not thinking about it.
2. She is not using her epistemic sense (i.e., the faculty by which humans normally make epistemic probabilistic assessments) to make the assessment, but something else, like RIP (or she is using a combination of both, but RIP,etc. interferes enough to make her fail to get the right assessment).
3. Her epistemic sense is malfunctioning.
4. A combination of two or three of the above.
 

The AntiChris

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What I am saying is that it follows from the fact that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible + the fact that everyone in the universe believed otherwise, no one had negative feelings towards it, etc., that the impermissibility was independent of those feelings, beliefs, etc., going by the very test you propose (namely, that everyone in the universe thought it was fine).
You're thoroughly confused.

You've convinced yourself that you've established that Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible, independent of anyone's opinion. You haven't.

All you've done is establish that in the opinion of you and I Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible.

You need to understand that this does not establish the fact that Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions.
 

Angra Mainyu

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What I am saying is that it follows from the fact that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible + the fact that everyone in the universe believed otherwise, no one had negative feelings towards it, etc., that the impermissibility was independent of those feelings, beliefs, etc., going by the very test you propose (namely, that everyone in the universe thought it was fine).
You're thoroughly confused.

You've convinced yourself that you've established that Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible, independent of anyone's opinion. You haven't.

All you've done is establish that in the opinion of you and I Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible.

You need to understand that this does not establish the fact that Ahmed's behaviour is impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions.

No, you are confused about what I said. Again, it follows from the fact that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible + the fact that everyone in the universe believed otherwise, no one had negative feelings towards it, etc., that the impermissibility was independent of those feelings, beliefs, etc., going by the very test you propose (namely, that everyone in the universe thought it was fine). The objection you raise is that I have not established that Ahmed's behavior (or Jack's in S13 and S14) was impermissible. Again, I have, by the usual way this is done: a normally functioning human moral sense yields that. Are you saying that you do not intuitively see that Jack in S13-S14 behaved immorally when he intended to kill everyone in the colony for fun, and that so did Ahmed in S12 when he intended to do that because they were infidels? Actually, it seems you do intuitively see it, as you say "in the opinion of you and I ", including yourself. That is unsurprising, as you are human.

Your test for establishing that a person's behavior is impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions is that it needs to be impermissible even though everyone in the universe believes it is okay. I provided examples of that (S12 and S14), as assessed by my moral sense, but of course I claim this is what a normal human moral sense yields (not RIP, but an actual use of a human moral sense). I invite readers to try on their own.
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris,

Let me explain this in other words, before your next reply saying I'm very confused or something along those lines:

How should one go about assessing whether the behavior of Ahmed or Jack was immoral?
The proper way is to ponder about the intentions, beliefs, predicted consequences, etc., and use our moral sense. If you believe otherwise, then what method do you propose? In that case, by the way, I would argue that you are rejecting human morality, and so I would ask about the reasons.

Now, I claim that by that proper method, Jack in S13-S14 behaved immorally when he intended to kill everyone in the colony for fun, and so did Ahmed in S12 when he intended to do that because they were infidels. If you want to debate whether this method yields these result, then alright, let me know and we can debate that. If, on the other hand, you reject the method in the first place, please let me know so that I argue that you are rejecting human morality.

So, why is it that their behavior is impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions?
Well, that is by a combination of the proper method to figure out whether Jack or Ahmed behaved immorally in the aforementioned situations (in particular S14 in the case of Jack), and your own test for independence: his behavior is impermissible (as properly assessed) even though everyone in the universe (at that time, that was the perpetrator himself) thought it was okay (and, in the case of Ahmed, even praiseworthy).
 

The AntiChris

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The AntiChris,

Let me explain this in other words, before your next reply saying I'm very confused or something along those lines:

How should one go about assessing whether the behavior of Ahmed or Jack was immoral?
The proper way is to ponder about the intentions, beliefs, predicted consequences, etc., and use our moral sense. If you believe otherwise, then what method do you propose? In that case, by the way, I would argue that you are rejecting human morality, and so I would ask about the reasons.

Now, I claim that by that proper method, Jack in S13-S14 behaved immorally when he intended to kill everyone in the colony for fun, and so did Ahmed in S12 when he intended to do that because they were infidels. If you want to debate whether this method yields these result, then alright, let me know and we can debate that. If, on the other hand, you reject the method in the first place, please let me know so that I argue that you are rejecting human morality.

So, why is it that their behavior is impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions?
Well, that is by a combination of the proper method to figure out whether Jack or Ahmed behaved immorally in the aforementioned situations (in particular S14 in the case of Jack), and your own test for independence: his behavior is impermissible (as properly assessed) even though everyone in the universe (at that time, that was the perpetrator himself) thought it was okay (and, in the case of Ahmed, even praiseworthy).
The problem with your argument is that you equivocate between two different senses of morally "impermissible".

In the first sense we agree that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible. In agreeing with you I'm assenting only that in my opinion Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible.

Having established this 'agreement' you now take it as fact that Ahmed's behaviour now has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility. This assumption is demonstrated when you defend the notion that Ahmed's behaviour is "impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions". This is unwarranted. The only conclusion we can draw from your various scenarios is that both you and I consider Ahmed's action impermissible whilst the entire population of Ahmed's universe disagree.

your own test for independence
I want to make it clear I wasn't proposing a test. I was simply raising an unintuitive consequence of your views.

___________________________________

If, in presenting your contrived 'Ahmed' scenarios, all you wanted to do was challenge my intuitions by attempting to show me that it's theoretically possible that I could disagree with the moral views of the population of an entire universe, then you've succeeded.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
The problem with your argument is that you equivocate between two different senses of morally "impermissible".
No, I do not equivocate. I always use 'impermissible' in the sense of 'morally impermissible', in the usual sense of the words in English. However, if you used the word 'impermissible' in a non-standard manner, then I misunderstood your post because I did not know you were using it so, but I did not equivocate.
That said, it seems either I did not misunderstand, or else I did because you used the word 'impermissible' in a non-standard manner. In fact, your assessment about the meanings of the word 'impermissible' is mistaken (see below), though even this is not crucial, as I do not need your agreement on this point to make mine (see further below).


The AntiChris said:
In the first sense we agree that Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible. In agreeing with you I'm assenting only that in my opinion Ahmed's behaviour was impermissible.
Your theory that there are two different meanings of the word 'impermissible' is mistaken. There aren't two different meanings of 'impermissible' in English. Consider the following two statements:

SR1: The traffic light was red.
SR2: In my opinion, the traffic light was red.
Now, there are not two different meanings of 'red' in SR1 and SR2 in English. The meaning is only one. If I assert SR1 I am saying it was red, and of course I am expressing my own view. Colloquially, though, SR1 is more assertive than SR2 - though that might depend in context -, so in general, if I assert SR1, I'm more confident that my assessment is correct than I am if I assert SR2. But either way, I'm using the word 'red' to mean the same.

Now consider the two following statements:

SA1: In S12, Ahmed's attempt to kill everyone in the colony because they were infidels, was impermissible behavior.
SA2: In my opinion, in S12, Ahmed's attempt to kill everyone in the colony because they were infidels, was impermissible behavior.

The use of 'in my opinion' is SA2 is akin to the use corresponding use in SR2. In usual contexts, it conveys less confidence in one's assessment. But the word 'impermissible' does not take different meanings. It takes the same.
Now, if you used the word 'impermissible' to mean something other than what it means in normal English, then you misspoke - as you did not clarify you were using a special definition, rather than the ordinary meaning in English -, but this is not crucial (see below).

The AntiChris said:
Having established this 'agreement' you now take it as fact that Ahmed's behaviour now has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility. This assumption is demonstrated when you defend the notion that Ahmed's behaviour is "impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions". This is unwarranted. The only conclusion we can draw from your various scenarios is that both you and I consider Ahmed's action impermissible whilst the entire population of Ahmed's universe disagree.
The fact that you agreed only is used as further evidence. But it is not required. And it is not why I reckon it is independent of anyone's beliefs, etc. (heretoforth, 'independent' for short). Let me try to clarify further, as there clearly is a misunderstanding.


I reckon that moral properties are independent because it is intuitively clear. That is what my moral sense says. And it is generally what the human moral sense says. I can do that by using my moral sense as a guide (I'm human), but further, I can observe that that is how people debate morality, rather than saying 'there is no objective fact of the matter' (or similar expressions) and back down. Rather, they insist a person is mistaken, etc.

Granted, it might be argued that the human moral sense is generally unreliable, so that we do not know the moral facts. That would result in an epistemic moral error theory. Or it might be argued that there are no moral properties, resulting in a substantive moral error theory. Or it might be argue that there is no fact of the matter as to whether or not something has a moral property (e.g., whether it is immoral), which would seem to result in some sort of error theory too - at least, error about whether there is a fact of the matter, which is what the human moral sense says (just look at how people discuss morality).

However, in any of those cases, it would not be rational to mistrust one of our faculties on the suspicion that an error theory might obtain without good evidence supporting such hypothesis. The burden of course is not on the person who trusts his moral sense, but on those claiming otherwise, or demanding evidence that there are facts of the matter as to whether a person is a bad person, a behavior permissible, etc., whether that is relevantly independent of people's beliefs, attitudes, etc. Again, that is what the human moral sense says, and that demand has the burden backwards. It is not rational not to accept what one of our faculties say, without good evidence supporting the error theory.

So, in short, I do not need to show independence. You should show there is not independence. And you tried, actually, to argue against it. In particular, you proposed the following:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=766949&viewfull=1#post766949

The AntiChris said:
You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.



Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?

Of course, that is not at all uncomfortable, and I did not took 'one particular interpreation', but rather, took your words for what they were (as I already explained).

Still, here what is important is that you think that that would be uncomfortable. You attempt to show that somehow that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral) is somehow something odd, weird, etc., i.e., counterintuitive. And you are using that as evidence against the independence view.

Now, there is a subtlety here. You say that that "in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral) " follows from the independent view, but you do not say it also implies it. In context, I think you clearly indicated you considered that it implies it, so I was trying also to use that to support the view that independence holds (though again I do not need it, as the burden is not on me). But we can table that for later. Let us then consider the following thesis:


T1: It is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
You claim that if T1 is false, then independence is false. Further, you suggest that T1 is 'uncomfortable', as in counterintuitive, improbable, weird, or whatever, just bad.

So, my goal is to show that T1 is clearly true. What I need to do is construct a possible scenario in which a person behaves immorally, but everyone in the universe beliefs his behavior was fine. So, that is what scenario S12 (and scenarios S13-S14 for good measure) is for. Let us then consider the following statements:


SA3: In S12, Ahmed behaved immorally when he attempted to kill everyone in the colony because they were infidels.
SJ3: In S14, Jack behaved immorally when he attempted to kill everyone in the colony for fun.
As Ahmed and Jack were the only person left in their respective scenarios, and they reckoned that their behavior was fine, it follows that if either SA3 or SJ3 is true, then so is T1, and your objection to independence fails.

Yet, I claim that both SA3 and SJ3 are true. What is the basis of my claim? Well, of course, I use my moral sense. That is the proper way of making moral assessments. I invite others - readers - to make their own assessments as well.
That is enough. That shows that T1 is false. Now, you might say that I have not established that SA3 is true, or that SJ3 is true. I just used my moral sense. But of course, using my moral sense is the rational way of making an assessment. Your objection would be akin to that of a YEC who says that - no matter how much evidence I presented - I have not established that mosquitoes and chimps have a common ancestors. Indeed, the observations do not logically entail so. There are logically consistent alternatives, like that all of the evidence for common descent was planted by demons, or by Yahweh to test us, or by evil scientists involved in a massive conspiracy, or infinitely many others.

I may not be able to persuade people who do not accept that SA3 and SJ3 is true because either their moral sense is failing, or otherwise are making an improper assessment, perhaps using RIP instead of their moral sense. Still, here comes the part about your moral sense. When you assert that in your opinion, Ahmed behaved immorally, you are giving me pretty good evidence that your moral sense is not failing on the subject. You are making the proper moral assessment: he is behaving immorally. Your qualification "in my opinion", combined with your mistaken theory about the meaning of the relevant words (in this case, 'impermissible', see above) tells me that you are applying RIP here, i.e., instead of your moral sense, you reject SA3 and SJ3 because of a religion, ideology or philosophy. You are making the assessment using an improper tool. But were you to use the proper tool, you would reckon SA3 is true, and thus, so is T1.


That said, let us say that your moral sense actually did not say that both SA3 and SJ3 are true. In fact, let us say it didn't even say that at least one of them is true. Then, I am afraid I would have to reckon your moral sense would be malfunctioning, probably afflicted by a RIP. I would still ask readers - whose moral senses probably are working reasonably well, as is the case for nearly everyone nearly all the time - to make their own assessments, but using their moral sense, not RIP (if they use RIP, then it's wrong instrument, so who knows what they'll say).

But even then, even if your moral sense failed to say that at least one of them is true, hopefully you will recognize that the moral senses of nearly everyone else would say otherwise, so they would reckon that T1 is true, and so it is not an uncomfortable fact that independence implies that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral) is somehow something odd, weird, etc., i.e., counterintuitive. And you are using that as evidence against the independence view.

In short, I have shown that T1 is true, and indeed not odd at all. I have then shown that your argument against independence fails (beyond a reasonable doubt, not as in logically follows).

Let us get back to the following issue. I took it - as I understood the context - that you were agreeing to the following indepedence test:


IT1: Suppose agent A immorally does X. Suppose everyone in the universe believes A's doing X was morally permissible. Then, the impermissibility of A's doing X is independent.

Now you say:

The AntiChris said:
I want to make it clear I wasn't proposing a test. I was simply raising an unintuitive consequence of your views.

Okay, so I misunderstood the context and you did not mean to agree with IT1, sorry about that. I would like to ask, then: would you agree with the test? In other words, do you think that that is a sufficient condition for independence? Or do you think independence requires further conditions?

But there is one point I want to make. Your claim "I was simply raising an unintuitive consequence of your views." is false. I mean, I accept of course that you meant to raise an unintuitive consequence of my views. But you did not, because that is not at all an unintuitive. It is very intuitive. Obviously, I rely on my own moral sense to say that. And the reason I trust my moral sense is that I don't have a good reason not to. Usually, normally, and properly, we trust our faculties unless we have a specific reason not to trust one of them. This applies to the moral sense as well.

Furthermore, it seems that T1 is not even counterintuitive to you. Yes, I know you only agree that in your opinion, Ahmed's actions in question are immoral. But despite your qualification, that says that your moral sense is also reckoning 'immoral' when contemplating the action. If you were to accept its verdict, then it seems you would say that it is immoral, not just 'in your opinion', which seems to be a qualification prompted by something other than your moral sense, e.g., a RIP. Otherwise, why the qualification? Does your moral sense not reckon 'immoral' when contemplating his actions? (or Jack's, which is even more obvious if possible).
 

The AntiChris

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Your theory that there are two different meanings of the word 'impermissible' is mistaken.
This is a strange misrepresentation of what I said.

I'm saying there are two (at least) possible meanings of the claim "X is impermissible":

1. X has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility - This is the moral realist version.

2. X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible - The moral anti-realist version.

There is no non-question-begging correct version.

Equivocation occurs when you fail, either intentionally or unintentionally, to make this distinction clear.

The AntiChris said:
Having established this 'agreement' you now take it as fact that Ahmed's behaviour now has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility. This assumption is demonstrated when you defend the notion that Ahmed's behaviour is "impermissible independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions". This is unwarranted. The only conclusion we can draw from your various scenarios is that both you and I consider Ahmed's action impermissible whilst the entire population of Ahmed's universe disagree.
The fact that you agreed only is used as further evidence. But it is not required. And it is not why I reckon it is independent of anyone's beliefs, etc. (heretoforth, 'independent' for short). Let me try to clarify further, as there clearly is a misunderstanding.
Ok. At this point I'm expecting you to explain how your scenarios lead to the conclusion that Ahmed's behaviour is attitude-independent impermissible .

I reckon that moral properties are independent because it is intuitively clear. That is what my moral sense says. And it is generally what the human moral sense says. I can do that by using my moral sense as a guide....

Ok. It's clear that your scenarios were never intended to demonstrate attitude-independence, you simply wanted to challenge my intuitions. You expand on this here:

Let us then consider the following thesis:


T1: It is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
You claim that if T1 is false, then independence is false.
No. It's unfalsifiable. I say that it would be profoundly counterintuitive.

Further, you suggest that T1 is 'uncomfortable', as in counterintuitive, improbable, weird, or whatever, just bad.

So, my goal is to show that T1 is clearly true.
No. To do so you'd have to show that attitude-independence is true. All you can do is show that if attitude-independence is true then T1 is not necessarily counterintuitive.

Of course, your painfully constructed scenarios do show that T1 is not necessarily uncomfortable/unintuitive in all situations. But they do not challenge the notion that T1 is profoundly unintuitive in realistic situations.

Let us get back to the following issue. I took it - as I understood the context - that you were agreeing to the following indepedence test:


IT1: Suppose agent A immorally does X. Suppose everyone in the universe believes A's doing X was morally permissible. Then, the impermissibility of A's doing X is independent.
No. I 'm not sure why you thought this. I don't even understand what it means.

I would like to ask, then: would you agree with the test? In other words, do you think that that is a sufficient condition for independence?
Of course not. It's ambiguous. Here's your test again with 'immorally' 'replaced with 'impermissibly':

IT1: Suppose agent A impermissibly does X. Suppose everyone in the universe believes A's doing X was morally permissible. Then, the impermissibility of A's doing X is independent.

The premise here is that X is impermissible. In what sense is it impermissible? (see my comments on equivocation at the beginning of this post)

If it's impermissible in the sense that it has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility, then all you're saying is that if x is impermissibly independent then it is impermissibly independent. Circular!

If it's impermissible, in the speaker's opinion, then of course X is not attitude independent.

In other words your "test" is meaningless.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
This is a strange misrepresentation of what I said.
It is neither strange nor a misrepresentation. You claimed that I was equivocating on 'impermissible'. As I explained, it is false. Moreover, you made a claim about the meaning of 'impermissible' (namely, about their being two meanings) which is false, for the reasons I have been explaining.

The AntiChris said:
I'm saying there are two (at least) possible meanings of the claim "X is impermissible":

1. X has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility - This is the moral realist version.

2. X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible - The moral anti-realist version.
There are infinitely many possible meanings of every word. However, in English, the word 'impermissible' in a moral context does not take those two meanings. It takes one. And the meaning is given by usage. It's 'one of those behaviors' (while describing some impermissible behaviors), but 'not one of those' (when describing permissible ones). And if you want to put it in terms of properties, then the claim 'X is impermissible' just is the claim that X has the property of being impermissible.

The term 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'. If you take a look at how moral debates go, that is obvious. But then, this is not crucial at all. Your moral sense says that the behaviors of Ahmed and Jack are impermissible (S12 and S13-14 respectively). The fact that you choose to qualify it with a 'in my opinion' does not change what your moral sense say.


The AntiChris said:
There is no non-question-begging correct version.

Equivocation occurs when you fail, either intentionally or unintentionally, to make this distinction clear.

No, there is no equivocation. As I explained, even if you were correct that there are those two meanings (and there aren't; take a look at how people speak), I only used it in one sense, so it would be no equivocation, but at most a misunderstanding of what you said. In reality, it is not, because there are no such two meanings. At any rate, it is not relevant, for the reasons I have explained already, in this post

The AntiChris said:
Ok. It's clear that your scenarios were never intended to demonstrate attitude-independence, you simply wanted to challenge my intuitions. You expand on this here:
But they work for that purpose as well. In fact, I repurposed them to show attitude-independence under what I thought was your test, and they worked. I will defend the test later, and use it. But originally, you are correct, the goal was not to show independence, as I do not need to show that (it's the default position)...but then again, why not go for it? I will argue for it later.


The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
Let us then consider the following thesis:


T1: It is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).​
You claim that if T1 is false, then independence is false.
No. It's unfalsifiable. I say that it would be profoundly counterintuitive.

But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise. In fact, you said the following:

_____________________________

You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.


Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?

Note that you said that it was a logical conclusion of indepedennce that it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
In other words, you claimed that independence logically entails that T1 is true. Hence, you imply that if T1 is false, then independence is false. I do not have an objection to that implication, by the way. I'm just letting you know why I said "You claim that if T1 is false, then independence is false.".


The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
Further, you suggest that T1 is 'uncomfortable', as in counterintuitive, improbable, weird, or whatever, just bad.

So, my goal is to show that T1 is clearly true.
No. To do so you'd have to show that attitude-independence is true. All you can do is show that if attitude-independence is true then T1 is not necessarily counterintuitive.
To do what? If I say my goal is to show that T1 is clearly true, then that is my goal. :confused: I'm not following your objection here, but in any case, I do not have to show that indepedence is true, as it is he ordinary, default and rational position to trust our faculties; I gave more details above. Still, I will make an unnecessary case for independence below, but first I have other things to reply to.

The AntiChris said:
Of course, your painfully constructed scenarios do show that T1 is not necessarily uncomfortable/unintuitive in all situations. But they do not challenge the notion that T1 is profoundly unintuitive in realistic situations.

But that's not remotely a challenge to independence! It does not make independence strange at all!

The scenarios are of course contrived because you set a condition that forces it!. As I pointed out, you set up a scenario in which some agent A does X, and everyone in the universe makes the assessment that X is fine. That requires a very small universe, in which the entire population of the universe is aware that A did X. Thus, it is apparent that the scenarios will be totally unrealistic and convoluted, but this is so because of the way you set it up.

For example, consider the following parallel:


Ahura Mazda: Illness is an attitude-independence property. Whether an agent is ill does not depend on she or what other agents happen to believe on the matter, their attitudes, and so on.
Jesus Christ: Your view has a very uncomfortable logical conclusion: Given Ahura Mazda's view that a person is ill/not ill independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a person could be ill even if everyone in the universe thought she was was fine (not ill).
Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions, Ahura Mazda?
Ahura Mazda: Not a problem at all. Indeed, here we have a very intuitive conclusion: T2: It is possible that a person is ill even if everyone in the universe thought she was fine (not ill).
Jesus Christ: That is very counterintuitive.
Ahura Mazda: Let me show you that it is not. In fact, our intuitions say T2 is true. I will proceed to construct scenarios in which everyone in the universe believes that Mary is fine, but she is ill....

<Ahura Mazda constructs scenarios that show how intuitive it is. Of course, in those scenarios, everyone in the whole universe is aware of who Mary is and what the diagnosis is, so the scenarios are obviously massively unrealistic. But it is intuitively obvious in such scenarios that everyone is mistaken in their belief that Mary is not ill. >

Jesus Christ: Of course, your painfully constructed scenarios do show that T2 is not necessarily uncomfortable/unintuitive in all situations. But they do not challenge the notion that T2 is profoundly unintuitive in realistic situations.
Ahura Mazda: Aaarghhhhh, man you're killing me with this one! :noid: :( :( :( :noid: Of course, T2 is not something that can be assessed in all situations. In order to assess T2, you need to construct a very special sort of situation, in which everyone in the whole universe is aware of the condition of a person. Then by design the scenarios in which one has to test it are unrealistic. That was your choice of the allegedly counterintuitive conclusion, not mine.

Well, I hope you get my point. :)

The AntiChris said:
No. I 'm not sure why you thought this. I don't even understand what it means.
You did say that independence logically entails that it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral). All I'm saying is that the converse implication holds as well, leaving aside theism and things like that. In other words, that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral), entails that the property of immorality is attitude-independent (not in all but at least in some cases). Do you agree with that?

Okay, there is another minor caveat: someone might say that the dependence could be reverse, namely that what makes it immoral is the attitude of the poeple who think it is not immoral, so I would say the converse implication holds under the obvious hypothesis that there is no reverse-dependence, and leaving aside theism or other personal agents beyond their universe (in a larger possible world). But if you want to include reverse-dependence in the test, I can just set up something more complicated. But then again, it looks like you have another objection.

The AntiChris said:
The premise here is that X is impermissible. In what sense is it impermissible?(see my comments on equivocation at the beginning of this post)
In the usual sense of the word 'impermissible' in English, in moral contexts (i.e., not 'legally impermissible'). If we use 'immoral' instead of 'impermissible', we avoid that ambiguity. See my comments on the charge of equivocation earlier in this post, but in more detail, in this post.


The AntiChris said:
In other words your "test" is meaningless.
No, you got that wrong.

First, the test shows that a human moral sense holds that some behaviors are immoral/impermissible even in situations in which everyone in the universe believes that the behaviors in question are fine. This shows that the human moral sense supports independence (aside for reverse-dependence, theism or things like that; I can handle that too, by complicating the test).

Second, as the human moral sense is the proper tool to make moral assessments, this shows independence. You would need a ton of evidence to debunk the human moral sense, as it would not be rational to reject what one of our faculties says without specific counter evidence.
 

ruby sparks

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Illness is an attitude-independence property. Whether an agent is ill does not depend on she or what other agents happen to believe on the matter, their attitudes, and so on.

There are clearly non-attitudinal facts about illness that are externally independent. This does not necessarily seem to be the case regarding the morality of the actions in your scenario, or at least you have not shown it.

That's a potential limitation with analogies, no matter how many you use.

Also:

1. Your scenarios don't show attitude-independence because you are making a negative judgement, albeit from outside the scenario.
2. The people inside the scenarios are merely mistaken about the facts, something which you elsewhere consider essential to making the correct and proper moral judgement.


Second, as the human moral sense is the proper tool to make moral assessments, this shows independence.

This is just circular and involves assuming the conclusion.

It's also not even relevant to your scenarios, because the people in all the scenarios (unless I've missed one) are merely mistaken about the facts and therefore can't make a proper or correct assessment. If you're not even showing what you would call a proper or correct assessment, you're not really showing anything much at all about morality, even by your own standards.

You would need a ton of evidence to debunk the human moral sense, as it would not be rational to reject what one of our faculties says without specific counter evidence.

Well, that's debatable, given how often modern science demonstrates that our subjective mental faculties are an unreliable guide to what's actually happening. At best they're normally reliably pragmatic for navigating the world, even if they involve many useful illusions about it, that's all.

But in any case you are an evidence-denialist. Even if/when counter evidence were/is available, you would/do ignore it, and have tried to do so on other issues. So personally, I wouldn't put you in charge of deciding about that, because you have a tendency to hold on to your assumptions and beliefs no matter what the counter evidence. There's a word for that you know. Religion.
 
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The AntiChris

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The term 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.

Yes it can. This isn't an opinion. It's a fact.

It's what moral anti-realists mean when they say "X is impermissible".


But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false.

No I didn't. This is a fact.

Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise.

No I didn't. This was your misinterpretation of what I said. I pointed out your mistake in post #69 (which you acknowledged).

_________________________

On a general note I'd like point out that this isn't the first time you've insisted that you know better than I what I intended to say despite my protests (the last time you did this was some years ago). This is extremely frustrating and makes civil discourse difficult.

_________________________

The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
So, my goal is to show that T1 is clearly true.
No. To do so you'd have to show that attitude-independence is true. All you can do is show that if attitude-independence is true then T1 is not necessarily counterintuitive.
To do what?
To show "T1 is clearly true".

Here's T1 again

T1: It is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
For T1 to be true you'd have to show that the behaviour in question had the attitude-independent property of immorality.

If you could, you'd resolve a major difference of opinion in moral philosophy.

You can't and you haven't.

a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral), entails that the property of immorality is attitude-independent

What do you mean by "could be immoral"?

If you mean the behaviour has the attitude-independent property of immorality, then your statement is circular. If you mean immoral according to "human moral sense" then it clearly isn't attitude-independent and your statement is false.

The AntiChris said:
The premise here is that X is impermissible. In what sense is it impermissible?(see my comments on equivocation at the beginning of this post)
In the usual sense of the word 'impermissible' in English, in moral contexts
This isn't helpful.

If you mean that X has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility then your test is circular. If you mean X is impermissible according to "human moral sense" then it clearly isn't attitude-independent and your test fails.
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
The term 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.
Yes it can. This isn't an opinion. It's a fact.

It's what moral anti-realists mean when they say "X is impermissible".
No, this is not at all a fact. It is a fact that your claim is false.

First, one needs to distinguish between the meaning of the words, and theories about the meaning of the words. This is not only about morality, but generally about many domains. Color anti-realists and color realists do not mean different things by 'red', in usual, colloquial speech. They mean the same, and have different theories about the meaning of those words (often; sometimes, they disagree about some other stuff instead), but that does not change the meaning of the words they use, at least in nearly all cases. An exception might be this: a person with a false theory about the meaning of the words might sometimes, usually while defending that theory, use the word to mean what they falsely believe it means, rather than to mean what it usually means. However, meaning is given by usage in a linguistic community, not by usage by a single individual.

Second, even the vast majority of moral anti-realists do not believe that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'. For starters, moral error theorists are anti-realists who generally agree with realists about the meaning of the words, and indeed agree that it means that X has the property of being impermissible. But furthermore, other antirealists are expressivists of one variety or another, noncognitivists, etc., and would reject any kind of reduction of moral expressions to something like 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.
In fact, I have not found a single anti-realist philosopher who believes that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible' (and how do you get out of the vicious circularity, by the way).


Third, if you were correct and anti-realists meant that, then that would entail that moral anti-realism is true of the speech of anti-realists. Indeed, assume anti-realists mean that, and Adolph and Alice are anti-realists.


Alice: Hitler behaved immorally when he ordered to put Jews in camps and then kill them.
Adolph: Hitler behaved in a morally praiseworthy manner when he ordered to put Jews in camps and then kill them.
Assume that both Alice and Adolph are sincere. Then (leaving aside vicious circularity, but let's assume you can avoid it), both are making true statements!!!.

What this means is that if anti-realists are numerous enough so that their usage of the words can be considered a standard English usage, anti-realism is true.

On the other hand, if anti-realists are not numerous enough for that, then their usage is not standard English usage, which contradicts your claim that the use of 'X is impermissible' to mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible' is standard English.

The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false.
No I didn't. This is a fact.
That is a misrepresentation of my words. If you had quoted the next sentence, that would be obvious. What you are replying to is this:

Angra Mainyu said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise. In fact, you said the following:
So, even though you did not literally claim it, my claim is that you trivially implied it, so telling me that it is a fact that you did not literally claim it misrepresents my words.

The AntiChris said:
No I didn't. This was your misinterpretation of what I said. I pointed out your mistake in post #69 (which you acknowledged).
No, this is false. Let us consider the matter again.


You made the following claim:


The AntiChris said:
You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.



Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).

Is this a problem for you, or does it conform with your intuitions?

Of course, that is not at all uncomfortable, and I did not took 'one particular interpreation', but rather, took your words for what they were (as I already explained).

But leave that aside. Note that you said that it was a logical conclusion of indepedence that it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral). In other words, you claimed that independence logically entails that T1 is true. Hence, you imply that if T1 is false, then independence is false. I do not have an objection to that implication, by the way. I'm just letting you know why I said "You claim that if T1 is false, then independence is false.". It is because even though you did not explicitly state 'if T1 is false, then independence is false', you implied it - and, in fact, you implied it in a trivial manner, i.e., it is apparent that you implied it.

Moreover, even in post#69, you said "I want to make it clear I wasn't proposing a test. I was simply raising an unintuitive consequence of your views."
Note, again, you claimed that this was a consequence of my views.

So, in short, you did imply that T1 was logically entailed by independence (and, again, I am not even objecting to that implication; I'm fine with it). Therefore, my point stands as follows:


You did (trivially) imply that if T1 is false, then independence if false.


Again, nothing wrong with that implication. But let us make the facts clear. You did imply that.

The AntiChris said:

On a general note I'd like point out that this isn't the first time you've insisted that you know better than I what I intended to say despite my protests (the last time you did this was some years ago). This is extremely frustrating and makes civil discourse difficult.
My claim is about what you said - and very clearly so -, not about what you intended to say. If you misspoke repeatedly, that is a difficulty. But the problem is not on my side.


The AntiChris said:
To show "T1 is clearly true".
Actually, to show that T1 is true I need to construct a scenario in which a behavior is immoral, even if everyone in the universe in that scenario thinks it is not immoral. To show it is clearly true, I need to construct a scenario in which a behavior is clearly immoral, even if everyone in the universe in that scenario thinks it is not immoral. I have done so. The scenarios are S12 and S14.


The AntiChris said:
For T1 to be true you'd have to show that the behaviour in question had the attitude-independent property of immorality.
No, the human moral sense does not say that a behavior is immoral depending on attitudes. It just says it is immoral. It's like the human sense of health/illness which says that someone - or something - is ill, not that it is ill depending on attitudes.

Now, that aside, these human senses also say that these properties are attitude-independent. One way to see this is to see what happens when two humans make assessments that are, on the face of it, a disagreement. Humans take that to be a genuine disagreement, a matter of fact, and debate it.

Yet, another way to see this and this is what I have done is to look at scenarios such as S12 or S14 (and S13 too, but just to contrast it with S14) and realize that the human moral sense says the behavior under consideration was immoral, even though the only person in those universes believed it was permissible (or even praiseworthy). In short, you get the independence by the fact that the human moral sense reckons the behavior is immoral even against the attitudes of everyone in the universe.

This, however, is the bigger point I aimed at establishing. In order to show that T1 is true, I just need to show that the conditions of T1 obtain (i.e., namely, everyone in the universe believes the behavior was not immoral, etc.).


The AntiChris said:
What do you mean by "could be immoral"?
Well, the expression was used by you first, but 'immoral' is not ambiguous, and any ambiguity in 'could be' is covered when the scenario is such that the behavior is immoral, since 'is immoral' surely implies 'could be immoral'. Still, I took your claim in the best possible manner, which was to use 'could be' in the sense of metaphysical possibility. But I see your beef was not with 'could be' but with 'immoral'. On that note.
The AntiChris said:
If you mean the behaviour has the attitude-independent property of immorality, then your statement is circular. If you mean immoral according to "human moral sense" then it clearly isn't attitude-independent and your statement is false.
By 'immoral' I meant the behavior is immoral, in the usual sense of the word 'immoral' in English, when making moral assessments. Now I did not mean that it was immoral according to the human moral sense, but one should not confuse meaning and reference. Indeed, I explained that it is reckoned as immoral by the human moral sense, and that provides conclusive reasons to think it's immoral, barring good evidence against it.

Indeed, while human faculties are fallible, it is normal and rational to trust them unless presented with sufficient counter evidence. This should be obvious, but in any case, I have explained it repeatedly: The fact is that we trust our faculties all the time, e.g., we trust our eyes - both to see shapes and colors -, ears (so to speak), memories, and so on. If we did not do that, it would be impossible to make any rational assessments whatsoever. So, in order to move away from this normal and rational position with regard to one of our faculties (in the case under consideration, our human moral sense), one would need a lot of evidence indicating it is failing. No such evidence is forthcoming.

But then, you are making another mistake here. When I say that a light or an apple is red, I do not mean 'it is red by human color vision'. I just mean it is red. However, it turns out that 'red' is the stuff that human color vision perceives in such-and-such manner (barring malfunction). Aliens who visited Earth in the Carboniferous would not figure that some objects are red (they may well have alien analogues), so in that sense, the human color vision plays a role. We have language, and then coin words to name the stuff some of our faculties pick, like redness, or immoral behavior.

The AntiChris said:
This isn't helpful.

If you mean that X has the attitude-independent property of impermissibility then your test is circular. If you mean X is impermissible according to "human moral sense" then it clearly isn't attitude-independent and your test fails.
No, the test is not circular. I mean 'immoral' in the usual sense of the words. That the propery is attitude independent can be seen in different ways. The easier is to look at moral disagreements, as explained above. Humans take disagreement to be genuine, they debate, etc.., so the human moral sense - save for malfunction - says the property is attitude independent.

Another way to see that the property is attitude-independent is to look at the scenarios I provided. In those scenarios, everyone in the universe believes the behavior was not immoral. However, it was immoral - as assessed by a human moral sense, barring malfunction -, and thus - since it immoral despite the attitude of everyone in the universe -, it was immoral in an attitude-independent manner.

Again, this shows that the human moral sense says that the property is attitude-independent. It would be irrational to mistrust it without good evidence to do so - as is the case with any of our human faculties.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
There are clearly non-attitudinal facts about illness that are externally independent. This does not necessarily seem to be the case regarding the morality of the actions in your scenario, or at least you have not shown it.
No, that misses the point of the analogy again. The point was to show the misguided reply that the scenarios were contrived.


ruby sparks said:
Also:

1. Your scenarios don't show attitude-independence because you are making a negative judgement, albeit from outsidethe scenario.

Well, not just I. I invite readers to do the same. And of course, I know a human moral sense will make the same negative judgment. I know that because, well, I have a moral sense too, and I can use it to predict what the human moral sense says as I have no good reason to suspect it is not functioning properly (if I could not, that alone would give us conclusive reason for a moral error theory, at least of the epistemic variety, but you would need a lot of evidence for that).

The point is that the human moral sense says there are scenarios in which everyone believes something is not immoral, but it is immoral. This is one of the ways of realizing that the human moral sense supports that immorality is an attitude-independent property. An easier way is to look at moral disagreements, as explained above. Humans take disagreement to be genuine, they debate, etc.., so the human moral sense - save for malfunction - says the property is attitude independent.

ruby sparks said:
2. The people inside the scenarios are merely mistaken about the facts, something which you elsewhere consider essential to making the correct and proper moral judgement.
No, you got that wrong, because:

a. Actually, in S14, the only person left in the universe is the serial killer who wants to murder other people for fun. He is mistaken about the fact that others are dead and he believes otherwise, but that is not the issue, as it does not make his assessment that his own behavior is not immoral any different. In other words, he is fully informed about the facts about the mental behavior of the person he judges (himself), he knows intent, beliefs, etc., which are the relevant ones to make moral assessments.

b. It does not matter. I'm proposing a test to show it is independent from their actual attitudes, not from ideal attitudes that humans would have under ideal conditions. This is another matter, and, save for terminologiucal quibbling, depending on ideal attitudes, ideal observer theory would be a form of moral realism for all practical intent and purposes (yes, some philosophers do not classify it as such, there is debate, but I mean for all practical intents and purposes).

ruby sparks said:
This is just circular and involves assuming the conclusion.
No, it does not. I showed that the human moral sense does that. Try it using your own moral sense, rather than RIP.

ruby sparks said:
It's also not even relevant to your scenarios, because the people in all the scenarios (unless I've missed one) are merely mistaken about the facts and therefore can't make a proper or correct assessment.
First, that is false for Jack. The mistake about others being alive does not color his judgment of his own action - i.e., this is not something relevant to his assessment. He is fully informed about the facts about the mental behavior of the person he judges (himself), he knows intent, beliefs, etc., which are the relevant ones to make moral assessments.
Second, as explained, this is irrelevant. I'm arguing is actual-attitude independent, not ideal-observer-attitude independent.

ruby sparks said:
If you're not even showing what you would call a proper or correct assessment, you're not really showing anything much at all about morality, even by your own standards.
No, you do not understand. Obviously, if I want to show that everyone can be mistaken and the behavior is still immoral, again obviously they are not making a proper assessment. Something went wrong. But it is irrelevant what it was, as my target was attitude-independence considering actual attitudes, not ideal observers.

ruby sparks said:
Well, that's debatable, given how often modern science demonstrates that our subjective mental faculties are an unreliable guide to what's actually happening. At best they're normally reliably pragmatic for navigating the world, even if they involve many useful illusions about it, that's all.
No, we use them all the time, and that is the only way to even make rational assessments. Indeed, while human faculties are fallible, it is normal and rational to trust them unless presented with sufficient counter evidence. This should be obvious, but in any case, I have explained it repeatedly: The fact is that we trust our faculties all the time, e.g., we trust our eyes - both to see shapes and colors -, ears (so to speak), memories, and so on. If we did not do that, it would be impossible to make any rational assessments whatsoever. So, in order to move away from this normal and rational position with regard to one of our faculties (in the case under consideration, our human moral sense), one would need a lot of evidence indicating it is failing. No such evidence is forthcoming.


ruby sparks said:
But in any case you are an evidence-denialist. Even if/when counter evidence were/is available, you would/do ignore it, and have tried to do so on other issues. So personally, I wouldn't put you in charge of deciding about that, because you have a tendency to hold on to your assumptions and beliefs no matter what the counter evidence. There's a word for that you know. Religion.
False and unwarranted accusations, demonization of the opponent, etc. There is a word for that. Well, a few: Individual in fighting mode, not in learning mode, and probably RIP too.

Anyway, I used to think the evidence from apparent disagreement to miscommunication was strong enough to reject moral realism. I was mistaken about the evidence. But it is not as if I had such a big commitment to realism. I am committed to truth, and I can make mistakes of course. But I am not a religionist.

I wasn't going to talk about you, but for this, some just retribution is in order, so here goes (note, the following is true, actually, unlike your claims about me):

Your behavior, your false and unwarranted accusations, etc., clearly indicates that either you are in the grip of a RIP (religion/ideology/philosophy), or else you are just too angry with me and instinctively looking for ways to hurt me as a means of retribution for perceived wrongs (which weren't there, but you are very mistaken about the nonmoral facts of this exchange) to think with a cool head. Or both, what do I know?
 

ruby sparks

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ruby sparks said:
2. The people inside the scenarios are merely mistaken about the facts, something which you elsewhere consider essential to making the correct and proper moral judgement.
No, you got that wrong, because:

a. Actually, in S14, the only person left in the universe is the serial killer who wants to murder other people for fun. He is mistaken about the fact that others are dead and he believes otherwise, but that is not the issue, as it does not make his assessment that his own behavior is not immoral any different. In other words, he is fully informed about the facts about the mental behavior of the person he judges (himself), he knows intent, beliefs, etc., which are the relevant ones to make moral assessments.

Yes, but as you agree, in that case you would then call that 'only person left' defective.

As such, what does that tell us about what is right and what is wrong using your approach? Nothing, that's what.

Nor have you even shown independence anyway, mistaken or defective or whatever, because now all you've shown is that someone (your 'only person left') deems something not to be immoral. That's not independent of that person's attitudes. Nor is you and I and AntiChris deeming it immoral from outside the scenario.

Honestly, I think you need to reassess what it is you imagine you're supposed to be demonstrating. You've spent a heap of time and effort on tortuous and complicated scenarios and you haven't really shown anything much.
 
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ruby sparks

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ruby sparks said:
This is just circular and involves assuming the conclusion.
No, it does not. I showed that the human moral sense does that.

Nope, you didn't, though I agree you seem convinced you did. But all you did was you just came out with what seems to be a questionable claim about the human moral sense being the proper tool to make moral assessments, and that this somehow 'shows independence'. That one must be written in The Book Of Angra, chapter 7, verse 25, or something. I don't know whether it's in the same chapter as 'if you're not talking about colour in the everyday colloquial sense then you're not talking about colour', but that verse could be in there somewhere, possibly as a commandment.

But it is irrelevant what it was, as my target was attitude-independence considering actual attitudes....

Nope. Your actual, last-person-left merely deemed his own actions not immoral. That's not independent of his attitudes.

.....not ideal observers.

Ideal observers, eh? This is where I start to smell something that's starting to smell a bit like woo-type-stuff, especially if the ideal observer's moral sense is supposed to be 'the proper tool to make moral assessments', and that this 'shows independence'. How does it do that last thing, one wonders. Are we talking about an ideal, independent observer that might start to resemble a god, that can have 'all the facts', know everything, and know what's best and right and wrong about everything? Methinks you might be marinading the human brain, or at least your own, in some kind of special sauce.

Your 'ideal observers' just seem to be doing their own deeming, that's all. That's not independent of attitudes.

Try it using your own moral sense..

What's weird about this is that a fundamental moral fact, that is independent of attitudes about it, has already been offered, discussed and agreed on by at least the posters who discussed it here in this thread, and you haven't even as much as picked up on it yet. You are very keen to disprove your own idea that disagreement about moral issues is minuscule, aren't you? ;)
 
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The AntiChris

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No, this is not at all a fact. It is a fact that your claim is false.
Ok. So it's your claim that "X is impermissible" can never mean "impermissible in the opinion of the speaker (an absurd claim if you understand anything about meaning and language use).


even the vast majority of moral anti-realists do not believe that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.
So some do. This directly contradicts your previous claim.

The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false.
No I didn't. This is a fact.
That is a misrepresentation of my words.
No it's not. It's a direct quote.

Angra Mainyu said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise.
The AntiChris said:
No I didn't. This was your misinterpretation of what I said. I pointed out your mistake in post #69 (which you acknowledged).
No, this is false.
No It's not. Here's the exchange:

The AntiChris said:
I want to make it clear I wasn't proposing a test. I was simply raising an unintuitive consequence of your views.

Okay, so I misunderstood the context and you did not mean to agree with IT1, sorry about that.
Having apologised for your mistake, you continue to argue against something I never said nor intended to imply! :mad:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This is becoming quite bizarre. Your continued desperation to refute absolutely everything I say is not only tiresome, it stops us focussing on the central points of disagreement.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What I'd like you to address is my critique of your proposed test:

IT1: Suppose agent A immorally does X. Suppose everyone in the universe believes A's doing X was morally permissible. Then, the impermissibility of A's doing X is independent.
The problem here is that if you're not assuming the very thing you're attempting to prove (that A's doing X is impermissible attitude-independent), how do you explain, in a non-question-begging way, how we can know that A's doing X was immoral in the first place?

Your response: "By 'immoral' I meant the behavior is immoral, in the usual sense of the word 'immoral' in English, when making moral assessments." doesn't help. It doesn't explain how you 'know' that A's behaviour was immoral.

As I've explained, it seems to me you have two options and they both have their problems:

1) You know it is immoral because the behaviour has the attitude independent property of being immoral. The problem here is that your test becomes circular (what everyone in the universe believes is irrelevant).

or

2) You have made a personal assessment and concluded that the behaviour is immoral. The problem here is that this does not count as an attitude-independent assessment so your test fails (it simply means that you disagree with everyone in the universe).​


If there's another option that salvages your test I'd appreciate it if you could explain.
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris,

Let me begin with this part, because I think it's important perhaps to prevent further waste of time. You say:


The AntiChris said:
This is becoming quite bizarre. Your continued desperation to refute absolutely everything I say is not only tiresome, it stops us focussing on the central points of disagreement.

Here is the thing. While I am interested in the central points of disagreement, I am more interested in two things:

1. Defending myself against false accusations.

2. Reducing the risk that other people will misconstrue my words, so I clarify them.

For those reasons, the central points always get left for later. I need to refute your false accusations and misrepresentations of my words in order to achieve my main goals, which aren't to discuss the central points, but, well, to defend myself from false accusations and to clarify my words when they are misrepresented. Now I do realize that you do not do either of these things deliberately. That is not the issue. The issue is that you still do them, and so, given my own value structure (i.e., my preferences, what I value more among these things) I keep responding in this matter. If you were to stop doing that, then I would go for the central points. The problem is that as long as you do not realize you are doing either 1. or 2., it is difficult to persuade you to stop doing that! I hope, however, that by further clarifying, you will eventually realize that you were wrong, and stop. At any rate, I have no better choice, even if this is a bad one - a necessary evil so to speak.

So, without further ado, I will address the first part of your post. I will make some substantive points, and then follow with a thorough reply to some of your accusations. The rest of your post will have to wait I'm afraid, until I can dedicate enough time to address it. First, I have some accusations to deal with and some misrepresentations of my words to address, both from you and from ruby sparks.

So, here goes the first part.



The AntiChris said:
Ok. So it's your claim that "X is impermissible" can never mean "impermissible in the opinion of the speaker (an absurd claim if you understand anything about meaning and language use).
No. Any word has infinitely many possible meanings. For that matter, I might use 'impermissible' to mean 'cat'. But that is not my point, no. The point is what I carefully explained. Note that the "can" was your addition. Indeed, you said:

The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
The term 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.
Yes it can. This isn't an opinion. It's a fact.

It's what moral anti-realists mean when they say "X is impermissible".
Note that to my assertion that 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible (i.e., that is not one of the regular meanings in English) you replied "Yes it can". But I never said 'X is impermissible' cannot mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'. Obviously, one might redefine the words as one pleases. However, that is not what it means, in English.

But let me provide further argumentation: Note that if a person uses the expression 'X is impermissible' to mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible', the word 'impermissible' is used in the second expression to mean something other than in the first, and - if it is not further defined, to mean e.g., 'cat', then in the second expression, 'impermissible' takes the ordinary meaning in English (in moral contexts, of course; 'immoral' would avoid any legal-moral ambiguity).

Indeed, if the word 'impermissible' meant the same in both expressions, we would have that a person uses 'X is impermissible' to mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible', to mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, in the opinion of the speaker, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible', and you get vicious infinite regress, un less you do not mean the same by 'X is' in both expressions, which would be utterly absurd as well.

But leave that aside, though. Let us say that you are correct and that anti-realists regularly use the expression 'X is impermissible' to mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'. Let us further say that by the latter you mean something that makes sense, rather than the vicious circularity above. For example, you mean that anti-realists actually are talking about themselves when they make moral assessments, like when people say after tasting some food item (in many, not all contexts) 'hmmm...this tastes good'. Also, by "regularly", I mean that they use it in their ordinary moral talk, when they make moral assessments, etc., rather than when they are talking about their RIP. Then, there are two options:


Option 1: Anti-realism is true. Why? Because when a person says 'X is impermissible' and another person says 'X is permissible' (equivalently, 'it is not the case that X is impermissible'), then they can both be correct. So, anti-realism holds, and that is it. Realists can only hope to save realism for talk amongst realists, but not in general in English.

Option 2: Anti-realists are misusing the word 'impermissible'. In other words, they are using to mean something other than what the words mean in English, without realizing that they are doing so.
Of course, you have not provided any good reason to even suspect that either of those options holds, even though you have made claims that imply that at least one of those holds...unless, of course, when you said that 'X is impermissible' can mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible', you merely meant that one can redefine the words and use them as one pleases, so you are not making a claim more informative than to say that, for example, 'X is impermissible' can mean 'X is a cat'. If that is what you meant to say, however (but I do not think that that is the case), then of course by presenting this as a counter to my words you are grossly misrepresenting my words.

In short, we have two possibilities:

a. You imply that either Option 1 or Option 2 holds, though you have provided zero reasons to suspect that said disjunction holds.
b. You grossly misrepresented my words, and in any case, my point that 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible' remains unchallanged (you just challenged a gross misrepresentation of it).

I believe that a. is more likely the case, but regardless, one way or another, your reply is inadequate.

Still, let me provide further evidence that 'X is impermissible' does not mean 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.

First, again, take a look at how people - even anti-realists in the wild, not while doing RIP - normally behave. They engage in moral debate. They intuitively reckon someone is mistaken. Indeed, for example take ruby sparks in this thread. Most anti-realists have a mistaken RIP about the meaning of the words, though their mistake is usually not in the sense of the 'in the opinion of the speaker' direction. But in any case, at least the vast majority of anti-realist use moral words (like 'impermissible') in their ordinary, realist sense.

Second, anti-realists are a small proportion of the population. If we leave aside error theorists (who agree that moral language is realist), and also expressivists and noncognitivists, etc. (who do not say that 'X is impermissible' means something like impermissible in the opinion of the speaker or anything of the sort), the proportion is minuscule. But the meaning of words (in this case, the word 'impermissible') is given by general usage in a linguistic community. If a minuscule proportion of the community is using the word 'impermissible' to mean something very different from what nearly everyone else means, without realzing it, then they are misusing the words - i.e., we would have an Option 2, not an Option 1.


The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
even the vast majority of moral anti-realists do not believe that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible'.
So some do. This directly contradicts your previous claim.
First, you take part of my sentence out of context.

Second, if I say that the vast majority of moral anti-realists do not believe that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible', I am not implying some do. I am just presenting a fact about the vast majority of anti-realists, without taking a stance on whether there is a small minority who do otherwise.

Third, even if I claimed that some anti-realists do believe that 'X is impermissible' means 'X is, in the opinion of the speaker, impermissible' (which, incidentally, seems pretty probable; there are plenty of weird theories out there), that would in no way contradict any of my previous claims. But since you claim that it does, then I will ask you to quote my contradictory claims side by side. On that note, remember, there is a big difference between a person's theory about what a word means, and the meaning of the word in English. Furthermore, there is a big difference conceptually (and in most cases, in practice) between a person's theory about what a word means, and what that person herself means by that word in ordinary speech (i.e., when not pushing her RIP).

The AntiChris said:
No it's not. It's a direct quote.
A direct quote that takes away the part that comes later and changes thus its meaning completely by means of a gross misinterpretation is a gross misrepresentation.
Again, if you had quoted the next sentence, that would be obvious. What you were replying to is this:
me said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise.
Note how, in my second sentence, I say "you trivially implied it, to be more precise", which means I am not really saying that you literally claimed that if T1 is false, then independence if false, but rather, than you trivially implied it. Replying as you did telling me that my claim was false because you did not literally claimed that if T1 is false, then independence if false is a gross misrepresentation of my words, by means of quoting them out of context and assuming an bad misinterpretation - which was obviously a misinterpretation given my second sentence there.


The AntiChris said:
No It's not. Here's the exchange:
That is not the relevant exchange.

The AntiChris said:
Having apologised for your mistake, you continue to argue against something I never said nor intended to imply! :mad:
No, that is a false claim on your part, you continue to grossly misrepresent my words, even though I explained your mistake in painstaking detail. :eek: :(

So, let us go back again. The mistake for which I apologized was that I thought you were proposing that IT (or an equivalent, to be precise) was a test for attitude-independence, so if IT is true, then attitude-independence is true. In context, I thought you meant to propose that test, but I was mistaken about that, so my bad.

Now, here is a very, very different thing. I said:

me said:
But you did claim that that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Well, you trivially implied it, to be more precise.
Note that this claim is indeed completely different from the claim that you proposed a test so that if IT is true, then attitude-independence is true.

In this post you began the denial of that true claim of mine (namely, that you you trivially implied that if T1 is false, then independence if false).

I went to great lengths in this post to explain to you why my claim was correct, and your denial of it, a mistake. But you now double down on your claim, adding a false accusation that "Having apologised for your mistake, you continue to argue against something I never said nor intended to imply! :mad:", and even displaying your anger at me - which I am certain is sincere, which is a problem because I don't know how to add more detail so that you realize that,. What else can I say? When I misunderstood what you were saying, I apologized. I'm not asking you to do the same, but just to drop the accusations when (if) you realize you were wrong and I was right on this.

Let me try this in a different manner. I know that most people will not bother reading the details. However, the details are still there, in the thread, to be read. :) If you continue making accusations that are obviously false to anyone who follows the details, chances are eventually someone will - even if, again, nearly all will not. That will make you look bad if you keep this up. Granted, this comment will not be effective if you are certain that you are correct. I sincerely hope you are somewhat less than certain, so that you take a look again, and you realize your accusation is 100% off (again, I'm not asking you to apologize, but just stop making such accusations).

Here is another argument: you were angry, right? Maybe you still are. This can be seen not just from the ":mad:" smilie, but more direcly because of expressions like "This is becoming quite bizarre.", and more directly "
On a general note I'd like point out that this isn't the first time you've insisted that you know better than I what I intended to say despite my protests (the last time you did this was some years ago). This is extremely frustrating and makes civil discourse difficult. "
.

So, here is my point: your behavior indicates that you intuitively reckon that I am behaving in an impermissible manner (of course, that is in the usual sense of the word 'impermissible' in English). We have a moral disagreement. Here is the change to see 'in the wild' how a moral disagreement stems from a disagreement about the nonmoral facts of the matter. You believe that

The AntiChris said:
Having apologised for your mistake, you continue to argue against something I never said nor intended to imply!:mad:

So, there is vast disagreement about what I actually am doing. I am not arguing any of the sort. I am defending the claim that you trivially implied that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Note two things here:

First, I am not saying that you literally uttered that it implies it. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. I am saying you did not.

Second, I am not saying that you meant to imply that if T1 is false, then independence if false. Rather, I am saying - and carefully showing -that you did imply that if T1 is false, then independence if false, and you implied it trivially - i.e., it was an immediate consequence of some of your words.

On the second point, in the previous post I even said that "My claim is about what you said - and very clearly so -, not about what you intended to say. If you misspoke repeatedly, that is a difficulty. But the problem is not on my side."

So, I am not claiming that you meant to imply that if T1 is false, then independence if false. However, since you trivially implied it, and I thought you meant to say what you said, I thought you really meant to imply it. It was trivially obvious from one (more, actually) of your claims (see details here). Since later you told me that you never meant to imply that if T1 is false, then independence if false, then I take it you misspoke. No problem! I'd like to move on, but I am just defending myself from the charges, and I will continue to do so for as long as the charges keep coming. I just hope you realize they are false and you stop making them.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Honestly, I think you need to reassess what it is you imagine you're supposed to be demonstrating. You've spent a heap of time and effort on tortuous and complicated scenarios and you haven't really shown anything much.
I prefer the term 'showing' rather than 'demonstrating', as the latter might be interpreted in the sense of logical entailment. But details aside, I have shown something. Something that is already obvious, namely that immorality and other properties are attitude independent. Since it was obvious - it's the verdict of a human faculty with no good reasons to mistrust it -, there was no burden on my part. But I chose to go the extra parsec and make an argument anyway.


ruby sparks said:
But all you did was you just came out with what seems to be a questionable claim about the human moral sense being the proper tool to make moral assessments, and that this somehow 'shows independence'.
That is not a questionable claim. It is obviously the proper way. If you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. It might fail, but that is the proper way. If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. Of course, it might fail. Or it might get insufficient or wrong info. But that is the proper way. And the same for moral assessments. There is absolutely no other reasonable candidate to do that.

ruby sparks said:
That one must be written in The Book Of Angra, chapter 7, verse 25, or something. I don't know whether it's in the same chapter as 'if you're not talking about colour in the everyday colloquial sense then you're not talking about colour', but that verse could be in there somewhere, possibly as a commandment.
That is so insulting. I hope one day you come to realize how wrong you were. Of course, words have meaning. If you change the meaning of 'red' and you define 'red=car' for example, then when you say 'red' you are not talking about color, but about cars. When you want to talk about immorality, permissibility, and other moral properties, it would be a big mistake to redefine the terms - you would be talking about something else.


ruby sparks said:
Nope. Your actual, last-person-left merely deemed his own actions not immoral. That's not independent of his attitudes.
Sure it is. I already pointed out it would be unreasonable to think that what makes his behavior immoral is his attitude of considering it not immoral. And it is apparent that this is not so. But if you want, you can just test that theory. Let us modify S14:




S14: A few centuries into the future, Jack is one of the colonists going to a nearby planetary system. He is a psychopathic serial killer, and is planning to do all sorts of killings for fun. He goes into cryosleep with everyone else, but plants a reprograms his pod to wake up a day earlier than scheduled. He also plants a virus so that no one is warned when he wakes up. So, he does wake up. And he proceeds to murder 3 members of the 4-people crew, one by one, and before they knew what hit them. The fourth one, Sally, he takes by surprise, beats up, and then tortures slowly, to get the codes to access the main functions of the ship. Then, he murders her too. After that, he kills everyone else on the ship, by rigging the cryopods to give them a lethal electroshock. They don't know what hit them, either. He also plans to wreak havoc on the ground, on arrival to planet #294, his destination. He reckons he can't just land with everyone else dead - that would raise questions! So, instead, he programs the ship to collide with the colony. Since the colony is new and still pretty small, a direct hit to the inhabited area will kill everyone, he thinks. He is going to abandon ship on a small pod, and land in an area for landing and launching ships. He will then live there, and lauch again on a different ship, in course to Earth, to kill more people. He thinks his actions are not immoral.
Unbeknown to Jack, while he was in cryosleep, a massive war broke out on Earth, and it got to the colony. Tens of thousands of nukes were used, as well as smart killer robots, and bioweapons. Humans were all killed. As for the colony, a bunch of killer robots got there faster (better propulsion system, no need for life support) and killed everone. All of the other colony ships were also blown up. Result? After he killed everyone else on board, the only human being left in the universe is Jack. There are also no aliens smarter than, say, a frog. So, all of the actions he carried out after he murdered all of the other colonists, where considered fine by everyone in the universe ("everyone"="Jack").

S15: A few centuries into the future, Jack is one of the colonists going to a nearby planetary system. He is a psychopathic serial killer, and is planning to do all sorts of killings for fun. He goes into cryosleep with everyone else, but plants a reprograms his pod to wake up a day earlier than scheduled. He also plants a virus so that no one is warned when he wakes up. So, he does wake up. And he proceeds to murder 3 members of the 4-people crew, one by one, and before they knew what hit them. The fourth one, Sally, he takes by surprise, beats up, and then tortures slowly, to get the codes to access the main functions of the ship. Then, he murders her too. After that, he kills everyone else on the ship, by rigging the cryopods to give them a lethal electroshock. They don't know what hit them, either. He also plans to wreak havoc on the ground, on arrival to planet #294, his destination. He reckons he can't just land with everyone else dead - that would raise questions! So, instead, he programs the ship to collide with the colony. Since the colony is new and still pretty small, a direct hit to the inhabited area will kill everyone, he thinks. He is going to abandon ship on a small pod, and land in an area for landing and launching ships. He will then live there, and lauch again on a different ship, in course to Earth, to kill more people. He thinks his actions are immoral. That turns him on even further.
Unbeknown to Jack, while he was in cryosleep, a massive war broke out on Earth, and it got to the colony. Tens of thousands of nukes were used, as well as smart killer robots, and bioweapons. Humans were all killed. As for the colony, a bunch of killer robots got there faster (better propulsion system, no need for life support) and killed everone. All of the other colony ships were also blown up. Result? After he killed everyone else on board, the only human being left in the universe is Jack. There are also no aliens smarter than, say, a frog. So, all of the actions he carried out after he murdered all of the other colonists, where considered fine by everyone in the universe ("everyone"="Jack").​

Now, in S14, Jack's attempt to kill everyone in the colony for fun, was immoral behavior, even though he believed it was not immoral. But in S15, Jack's attempt to kill everyone in the colony for fun, was immoral behavior, which he believed was immoral. So, the immorality of Jack's attempt to kill everyone in the colony for fun is independent of his beliefs on whether it is immoral.



ruby sparks said:
Ideal observers, eh? This is where I start to smell something that's starting to smell a bit like woo-type-stuff, especially if the ideal observer's moral sense is supposed to be 'the proper tool to make moral assessments', and that this 'shows independence'.
Not at all. The woo is always in your head, falsely accusing me of it, even though you will never realize that. No, you misconstrue my words. I said I was not arguing against an ideal-observer theory, not that I was proposing it. I am not. But furthermore, ideal observer theory is not remotely like that. It is not in general woo - it might take that form, but usually it does not.

ruby sparks said:
How does it do that last thing, one wonders. Are we talking about an ideal, independent observer that might start to resemble a god, that can have 'all the facts', know everything, and know what's best and right and wrong about everything?
No, that's your woo-false-accusation emitter at play. I am not even proposing such a theory. I am saying that I was arguing against the theories that say that immorality depends on the beliefs, attitudes, etc. of actual people ('actual' in the scenario), not against ideal observer theories. I did not say I was proposing it. At any rate, generally those theories do not involve woo, though some might.

ruby sparks said:
Your 'ideal observers' just seem to be doing their own deeming, that's all. That's not independent of attitudes.
First, no, those are not my ideal observers.

Second, it would not be independent of attitudes in a sense (because it is the attitude of the ideal observer), but it would for all intents and purposes work exactly like moral realism (e.g., if someone says 'X is immoral' and someone else says 'X is not immoral', one of them is mistaken, some behaviors are immoral, etc.), and it would be independent of attitudes in the sense we are discussing here, so I'm not trying to knock it out.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Okay, so let us address the remaining issues, specifically the test I proposed. Before I begin, and to be clear, I do not believe this test is at all needed to show independence. I think it is much more immediate - it is intuitively clear that independence holds. But if you do not see it, take a look at how humans regularly behave on the face of moral disagreement. They take disagreement to be true disagreement, rather than 'no fact of the matter'. They tell each other they are mistaken. They try to persuade each other by means of providing arguments, and in most cases - at least, when they're not doing religion, ideology, or an unjustified philosophy (and they usually are unjustified) -, they try to convince each other of the nonmoral facts, trying to get others to agree with them on the moral facts by means of agreement on the nonmoral ones.

Still, I say this just so as not to give the impression that I think much hinges on this test. It's one more test one can properly make. The reason I thought of this particular test is that I got the impression that you were proposing it in the first place. I realize that was not so, and you were only impling that if T1 is false, then independence if false, but not that if T1 is true, then independence is true. But I think it's a nice test anyway, so that is why I'm using it now.

The AntiChris said:
What I'd like you to address is my critique of your proposed test:
I have, but below I provide a much more detailed reply.

The AntiChris said:
The problem here is that if you're not assuming the very thing you're attempting to prove (that A's doing X is impermissible attitude-independent), how do you explain, in a non-question-begging way, how we can know that A's doing X was immoral in the first place?
Let us split the argument in two parts:


Part 1: I will argue that the human moral sense intuitively yields that the property of immorality (at least in some cases; I would argue in all, but on different grounds) is independent of attitudes or beliefs.

Part 2: I will argue that we should trust our moral sense, barring specific evidence to the contrary (empirical evidence, arguments, etc.).

Now, the test I used is meant to support Part 1. Part 2, I already argued on other grounds. But let us focus on Part 1, as you are challenging the test (if you intend to challenge Part 2, we can discuss that later, but I think Part 1 comes first, as it is what you are challenging now).

The AntiChris said:
As I've explained, it seems to me you have two options and they both have their problems:

1) You know it is immoral because the behaviour has the attitude independent property of being immoral. The problem here is that your test becomes circular (what everyone in the universe believes is irrelevant).

or

2) You have made a personal assessment and concluded that the behaviour is immoral. The problem here is that this does not count as an attitude-independent assessment so your test fails (it simply means that you disagree with everyone in the universe).​
My option is different, and simple:

First, I contemplate the behavior of Jack (Ahmed) consisting in attempting to kill everyone in the colony for fun (because they were infidels). Upon contemplating them, my moral sense reckons the behavior is immoral. Note that my moral sense reckons that the behavior is immoral, not that it is immoral in someone's opinion - just as my sense of health/illness will tell me a person showing some symptoms is ill, not just ill in my opinion or whatever. In short, what pops into my head is just 'immoral'.

Second, I use my moral sense as a guide to what the human moral sense normally yields. There is ample evidence to do that - I am human -, but then, I also invite you and others to use their respective moral senses, and see whether their respective moral senses yield the same verdict. I cannot guarantee of course that all will agree. But I expect that, as long as they are using their moral senses rather than religion, ideology or a philosophy they might be in the grip of, they'll reckon the behaviors were immoral (and I'm pretty sure your moral sense also yield 'immoral', regardless of whether you add an 'in my opinion').

Third, since everyone in the universe believes the behavior is not immoral, this shows that our human moral sense intuitively holds that a behavior can be immoral independently of anyone's attitudes, beliefs, etc. Now, someone might say: 'But what about the attitudes of us, the people making the assessment?' Well, actually, we do not exist in the scenario. We are making an assessment about the morality of a behavior in a scenario that does not contain us.

Granted, if 'X is immoral' just meant 'I do not like X', or 'I disapprove of X' (or some other crude form of anti-realism), the test would clearly not work, so in proposing this option, I am implicitly assuming that a view like that does not hold. This is true, but I think I have provided more than enough grounds through the thread to show this to be the case. Regardless, I can provide more. For example, moral disagreement provides conclusive evidence. Here is an example:


Alice: McConnell's behaved immorally when he supported Kavanaugh's nomination.
Bob: You are mistaken, he did not behave immorally when he supported it.
This would be a normal dialogue (you can find plenty of examples of the sort on the internet). But try to test one of those theories, for example:

Alice: I disapprove of McConnell's support for Kavanaugh's nomination.
Bob: You are mistaken, it is not the case that I dissaprove of Kavanaugh's nomination

Surely, that would not make sense, and it would be transparent that it does not make sense, so that is not the meaning of the expression 'immorally' (and similar ones).

How about somewhat more sophisticated views under which also whether X is immoral depends on the attitude/belief/etc. of the person making the moral assessment?
The first part of my reply would be that, as mentioned before, S12 and S14 (and S13 and S15 for contrast) are scenarios in which all of the people making the assessment are in error.

Alright, so you might think: but how about some sophisticated view in which whenever we make moral assessments, we are attributing some property to ourselves, or claiming some relation between us (i.e., the person making the assessment) and the person whose behavior we are assessing?

Actually, those scenarios are handled in the same way as the crude ones, save for details. For example (for relations, unitary properties are no different):


Alice: X=McConnell's support for Kavanaugh's nomination and I are in relation R(X, Alice).
Bob: You are mistaken, it is not the case that R(X, Bob) holds.

That makes no sense, either.

Granted, this is not done by the test itself, so I am using different arguments. True, the test works under certain hypotheses, some of which I mentioned before (e.g., regarding non-theism, etc.), and against some forms of attitude-dependence. But the hypotheses can be defended independently (as I am doing now), and the forms of attitude-dependence that the test does not catch can be disposed of straightforwardly in other ways (as I am doing now).

Aside from all of that, there is another point I would like to raise. Let us go back to something you said earlier:
The AntiChris said:
You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.

Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
So, you considered that the possibility that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was not immoral, was an uncomfortable consequence of attitude-independence. I already argued against that claim of uncomfortableness. But let's leave that aside now, and let us imagine that whether a behavior is immoral depends on the attitude of the person making the assessment among us, not in the scenarios/universes/etc. that we consider (i.e., the sort of attitude-dependence I just argued against above, in this post, whether crude or a bit more sophisticated). Surely, that is not the case (as I just argued above), but that aside, assuming this possibility holds, then it seems a behavior could still be immoral even though everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral), as the assessment that it is immoral only depends on us, or rather, each of us, even when making assessments about other universes.

So, it appears this consequence is not only a consequence of attitude-independence, but also a consequence of the forms of attitude-dependence that are not ruled out by the test. So, the uncomfortableness if there were any is just as much with (this sort of) antirealism as it is with realism (not that there is any uncomfortableness, as argued earlier).
 

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It is obviously the proper way. If you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. It might fail, but that is the proper way. If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. Of course, it might fail. Or it might get insufficient or wrong info. But that is the proper way.

I see. So.......... fallible human subjectivity, intuitions and introspection are the proper tools to use for human enquiry.

Can I ask you a question. Are you posting here from the 4th Century AD? You know, before the scientific method? If you are, it would explain a LOT.

If you change the meaning of 'red' and you define 'red=car' for example, then when you say 'red' you are not talking about color, but about cars. When you want to talk about immorality, permissibility, and other moral properties, it would be a big mistake to redefine the terms - you would be talking about something else.

Except that I'm not talking about something else. I'm still talking about colour. I'm just not only talking about it using the everyday language that is apparently common in the pre-scientific era that you seem to live in.

Sure it is. I already pointed out it would be unreasonable to think that what makes his behavior immoral is his attitude of considering it not immoral. And it is apparent that this is not so. But if you want, you can just test that theory. Let us modify S14:

S14: A few centuries into the future.......[snip]....... So, the immorality of Jack's attempt to kill everyone in the colony for fun is independent of his beliefs on whether it is immoral.

Well, it seems that you have at last shown what you said you were showing.

No wait. You didn't. You just wasted even more time on tortuous scenarios that show nothing other than in each case Jack deemed something one way or the other, but that you, and I and AntiChris, and probably most people, from outside the scenario, deemed, or would deem something, as well. So far, it's all deemings one way or the other, by humans, and not independent of them or their attitudes.

Have another try. Maybe do a scenario where Jack lives in the 4th Century AD. At least then you will be much more familiar with the relevant underlying standards of enquiry. Those were the days when human brains were often thought to be coated in some sort of special magic sauce.
 
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The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
As I've explained, it seems to me you have two options and they both have their problems:

1) You know it is immoral because the behaviour has the attitude independent property of being immoral. The problem here is that your test becomes circular (what everyone in the universe believes is irrelevant).

or

2) You have made a personal assessment and concluded that the behaviour is immoral. The problem here is that this does not count as an attitude-independent assessment so your test fails (it simply means that you disagree with everyone in the universe).​
My option is different, and simple:

First, I contemplate the behavior of Jack (Ahmed) consisting in attempting to kill everyone in the colony for fun (because they were infidels). Upon contemplating them, my moral sense reckons the behavior is immoral.
What exactly is it that your moral sense is sensing? What you say next suggests that you believe you sense the attitude-independent moral property of the behaviour:

Note that my moral sense reckons that the behavior is immoral, not that it is immoral in someone's opinion - just as my sense of health/illness will tell me a person showing some symptoms is ill, not just ill in my opinion or whatever. In short, what pops into my head is just 'immoral'.
As symptoms are clearly attitude-independent properties of the patient, it seems you are saying that you 'sense' the attitude-independent moral property of the behaviour.

If I've understood you correctly, this is exactly my option "1" above which you rejected ("my option is different"). I'm confused.

...moral disagreement provides conclusive evidence.
I know you believe this, however as you will undoubtedly be aware there are competing theories about the meaning of moral discourse which is why the realist/anti-realist debate is still a live issue in moral philosophy.

I'm not going to attempt to argue against the points you make. We simply have different interpretations/opinions.

Aside from all of that, there is another point I would like to raise. Let us go back to something you said earlier:
The AntiChris said:
You've taken one particular interpretation of what I said which avoids the uncomfortable logical conclusion of your view. I'll be explicit.

Given Angra Mainyu's view that an action is moral/immoral independent of anyone's beliefs, feelings, attitudes or opinions, it follows that in principle it is possible that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral).
So, you considered that the possibility that a behaviour could be immoral even if everyone in the universe thought it was not immoral, was an uncomfortable consequence of attitude-independence. I already argued against that claim of uncomfortableness. But let's leave that aside now, and let us imagine that whether a behavior is immoral depends on the attitude of the person making the assessment among us, not in the scenarios/universes/etc. that we consider (i.e., the sort of attitude-dependence I just argued against above, in this post, whether crude or a bit more sophisticated). Surely, that is not the case (as I just argued above), but that aside, assuming this possibility holds, then it seems a behavior could still be immoral even though everyone in the universe thought it was fine (not immoral), as the assessment that it is immoral only depends on us, or rather, each of us, even when making assessments about other universes.

So, it appears this consequence is not only a consequence of attitude-independence, but also a consequence of the forms of attitude-dependence that are not ruled out by the test. So, the uncomfortableness if there were any is just as much with (this sort of) antirealism as it is with realism (not that there is any uncomfortableness, as argued earlier).
I think what you're trying to say here is that even if we accept that the external-to-the-universe observer's moral assessment is attitude-dependent (i.e. anti-realist), it remains the fact that a "behavior could still be immoral" even though everyone in the universe thought it was fine.

The phrase "behavior could still be immoral" is imprecise/misleading. What it more accurately means, given the attitude-dependent assessment, is: "a behaviour could still be immoral in the opinion of the external observer". With this in mind, all that is demonstrated is a difference of opinion between the observer and everyone in the universe.

The point here is that for a moral anti-realist, a behaviour is never, of itself, simply immoral - it's always immoral in the opinion of the speaker (or from the viewpoint of a particular individual).
 

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ruby sparks said:
I see. So.......... fallible human subjectivity, intuitions and introspection are the proper tools to use for human enquiry.

Can I ask you a question. Are you posting here from the 4th Century AD? You know, before the scientific method? If you are, it would explain a LOT.
No, you really are confused. Obviously, if you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. That is how it was always done, well before science, and humans knew what color stuff was. But if scientists want to make a machine to detect color, they have no way of doing so except...to use the human color sense to calibrate it! (obviously).

If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. How do modern medicine does it? Exactly in that way. Medicine was developed in order to treat illnesses, etc. But the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is. And so on.

.
ruby sparks said:
So you claim. But as has been explained many times, there are reasons why analogies between morality and other things (illness, colour, wavelengths, etc) are potentially problematic.
No, it is just the only possible proper method in all cases as a basis. Any other method depends on it in a crucial manner.
ruby sparks said:
Except that I'm not talking about something else. I'm still talking about colour. I'm just not only talking about it using the everyday language that is apparently common in the pre-scientific era that you seem to live in.
That is something else

ruby sparks said:
Have another try. Maybe do a scenario where Jack lives in the 4th Century AD. At least then you will be much more familiar with the relevant underlying standards of enquiry.
I hope that one day you realize how wrong you were, and realize that your attacks were unethical.
That said, I am almost certain you will never realize that.
 

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The AntiChris said:
What exactly is it that your moral sense is sensing? What you say next suggests that you believe you sense the attitude-independent moral property of the behaviour:
My sense just says 'immoral', as it would say 'ill', or 'red'. Of course, I believe in independence, and this is one of the arguments for it.


The AntiChris said:
As symptoms are clearly attitude-independent properties of the patient, it seems you are saying that you 'sense' the attitude-independent moral property of the behaviour.
First, all of those properties are clearly attitude-independent.
But leave that aside. In this context (i.e., this argument), it is a mistake to think I'm making a parallel between those symptoms and immorality. Rather, the parallel is between the symptoms that are observed and the behavior (i.e., attempting to kill people for fun), whereas the assessment that a person with those symptoms is ill is compared with the assessment that a person who behaves in that manner acts immorally.

The AntiChris said:
If I've understood you correctly, this is exactly my option "1" above which you rejected ("my option is different"). I'm confused.
I'm afraid you have not.

The AntiChris said:
I know you believe this, however as you will undoubtedly be aware there are competing theories about the meaning of moral discourse which is why the realist/anti-realist debate is still a live issue in moral philosophy.
But live issues do not mean that one of the sides does not have conclusive evidence. It is a live issue whether Jesus rose from the dead (in philosophy of religion), whether there is an omnipotent, omniscient morally perfect creator (in metaphysics and philosophy of religion), and it's not even a live issue whether some gender nonsense is true.


The AntiChris said:
The phrase "behavior could still be immoral" is imprecise/misleading.
It is the phrase you chose originally not I, but no, as I already explained, the 'immoral' in that expression is not misleading or imprecise (the 'could' might be, but as explained, this is not relevant, as I provided scenarios in which it is immoral, and thus it could be immoral).


The AntiChris said:
What it more accurately means, given the attitude-dependent assessment, is: "a behaviour could still be immoral in the opinion of the external observer". With this in mind, all that is demonstrated is a difference of opinion between the observer and everyone in the universe.
No, that is not what it means.

I already provided further argumentation. Note that if a person uses the expression 'X could be immoral' to mean 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer', the word 'immoral' is used in the second expression to mean something other than in the first, and - if it is not further defined, to mean e.g., 'cat', then in the second expression, 'immoral' takes the ordinary meaning in English.

Indeed, if the word 'immoral' meant the same in both expressions, we would have that a person uses 'X could be immoral' to mean 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer' to mean 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer in the opinion of the external observer', then 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer in the opinion of the external observer in the opinion of the external observer', and you get vicious infinite regress, un less you do not mean the same by 'X is' in both expressions, which would be utterly absurd as well.

But leave that aside, though. Let us say that anti-realists regularly use the expression 'X could be immoral' to mean 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'. Let us further say that by the latter you mean something that makes sense, rather than the vicious circularity above. For example, you mean that anti-realists actually are talking about themselves when they make moral assessments, like when people say after tasting some food item (in many, not all contexts) 'hmmm...this tastes good'. Also, by "regularly", I mean that they use it in their ordinary moral talk, when they make moral assessments, etc., rather than when they are talking about their RIP. Then, there are two options:

Option 1: Anti-realism is true. Why? Because when a person says 'X could be immoral' and another person says 'it is not possible that a X could be immoral', then they can both be correct. So, anti-realism holds, and that is it. Realists can only hope to save realism for talk amongst realists, but not in general in English.

Option 2: Anti-realists are misusing the word 'immoral'. In other words, they are using to mean something other than what the word means in English, without realizing that they are doing so.

Of course, you have not provided any good reason to even suspect that either of those options holds, even though you have made claims that imply that at least one of those holds. Both are extraordinary claims, the first essentially rejects a human faculty, and the second doesn't match how people talk (even anti-realists in the wild).

The AntiChris said:
The point here is that for a a moral anti-realist, a behaviour is never, of itself, simply immoral - it's always immoral in the opinion of the speaker (or from the viewpoint of a particular individual).

That is not even true of the theory that anti-realists hold.

For starters, moral error theorists are anti-realists who generally agree with realists about the meaning of the words, and indeed agree that it means that X has the property of being impermissible. But furthermore, other antirealists are expressivists of one variety or another, noncognitivists, etc., and would reject any kind of reduction of moral expressions to something like 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'.
In fact, I have not found a single anti-realist philosopher who believes that 'X could be immoral' means 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'.
 

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The AntiChris,

I will classify the different types of attitude-dependence that might exist, in order to further clarify my position and arguments:


Suppose agent A does X in some possible world W (or scenario, or whatever one calls it).

AD1: Whether A's doing X in W is immoral depends on the attitude towards A's doing X of some agent(s) B1,...Bn (for some positive integer n); one option is n=1 and B1=A, but there are other options) that exist in W.
AD2: Whether A's doing X in W is immoral depends on the attitude towards A's doing X of the person assessing whether X is immoral.
AD3: Whether A's doing X in W is immoral depends on the attitude towards A's doing X that some ideal observer G would have.

As I explained in my reply to ruby sparks, my test was a means of arguing against AD1, leaving aside weird things like the thesis that God exists necessarily or things like that (which I would handle differently).

As for AD2, it fails on the basis of conceptual analysis, as seen by the examples of disagreement.

As for AD3, I'm not arguing against AD3. Whether is a form of moral realism or anti-realism is a controversial matter. But for all intents and purposes, this would be like realism (in particular, there would always be a fact of the matter as to whether some actual behavior was immoral, some behaviors would be immoral as we are not talking about error theories, etc.)


All of those theories fail as argued above. The best argument for 'no fact of the matter' anti-realism (that also fails, but it's much less bad than the others) is not about attitudes or beliefs of the speaker or some other agent towards a behavior. Rather, it's about tracking different properties.

Let me give you an example. Is there a fact of the matter as to whether an individual is a lion?

Sure, right?

For example, let C(0)=Cecil the lion. Let C(1) be his father, let C(2) be C(1)'s father, and so on, until we reach C(n), a common ancestor with Dolly the Sheep.
Now, C(0) is a lion (well, was a lion, but 'is' as in sort of thing, not in a temporal sense). But C(n) is not a lion. Is there an integer k<n such that for all j in {1,..,k}, C(j) is a lion, but C(k+1) is not a lion?

Arguably, there are some animals in the sequence for which there is no fact of the matter as to whether they were lions. That would be a way of saying that our language is not precise enough to be used in that manner, in two senses:

First, the concept of 'lion' in the head of different competent English speakers would likely be slightly different, and that would result in a different classification even when the concept each person has in the head is properly applied.

Second, even for a single person, the concept is not precise enough for the classification

Now, if I'm wrong about lions, then try 'fly', or 'frog', or things like that.


So, this does not threaten that there is a fact of the matter as to whether something is a lion in general, but still, arguably there are some actual cases (which we do not actually encounter, but they exist in the past) for which there is no fact of the matter (of course, if we actually encountered those animals and wanted to talk about them, we would coin new words to make our classification more accurate).

A way to argue for 'no fact of the matter' in the moral case would be to say that our respective moral senses are tracking different properties, and that results in conceptual differences between your concept 'immoral' and my own that are much greater than between your concept of a lion and mine (and the same for other people's concepts). This - one would argue - would not make whether A's doing X in W is immoral depend on the attitude of the person making the assessment - it would still be a property of A's behavior, or more to the point A's mind -, but the property that would be attributed would vary from one person making the attribution to another.

Of course, this would have to be argued for, since our moral sense says this does not happen, so arguing against one of our faculties would require a lot of evidence to make serious doubts rational. Also, there is the question of whether, if this happened, we would have 'no fact of the matter' as in the lion case, or a moral error theory and nothing is immoral. One difference would be how different the concepts would be (the antirealist would argue here that the differences between your 'immoral' concept and mine are much greater than between our respective 'lion' concepts). Another difference is: we could redefine 'lion' to gain accuracy if we were to encounter all of the C(j), and achieve our communicational goals. But how do we redefine 'immoral'?

At any rate, whether 'no fact of the matter' or error theory (substantive in this case), the burden would fall entirely on the anti-realist, who would have to go with an argument from apparent disagreement to miscommunication. I reckon it fails because of what I've been saying regarding the patterns we see in moral disagreements. But in any case, that would be a more serious argument. The other ones are more easily disposed of (see above).
 

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.. the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is.

Rubbish.

If something kills you, you're dead, regardless of what anyone thinks, and no matter what you thought about or what your attitudes towards the illness were beforehand, or whether the illness was thought to be fatal or not, or even if neither you nor anyone else in the universe knew, sensed or thought that you were even ill at all before you died, or whether you or anyone even noticed any symptoms whatsoever. Same is true of some illness that causes damage but not death.

It's the same, and independently the case, for any disease that kills or damages any living thing, animal, plant or whatever, whether they know about it or not.
 
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ruby sparks

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My sense just says 'immoral', as it would say 'ill', or 'red'. Of course, I believe in independence, and this is one of the arguments for it.
Saying, 'so with illness, as with morality' is potentially flawed though, because 'illness' and 'morality' may fundamentally differ, seem to fundamentally differ from each other, in the ways repeatedly described.

You'd be better comparing 'morality' to something else, 'beauty' perhaps, and asking if there are, despite disagreements, at least some aesthetic facts, and whether, if there are, they are or aren't independent of human deemings about them. There are aesthetic realists as there are moral realists. Like morality, beauty is (at least for humans) sensed/perceived, and also involves a value judgement, often a conscious one, but not always. Illness is not be like that (people, other animals, plants and all living things can die of or be damaged by diseases that neither they nor anyone else even sensed they had). You could even, if we introduce the idea that the concept of the aesthetic is arguably based on the concept of taste ('liking' or 'not liking') return to your earlier comparisons with gustatory taste.
 
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The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
If I've understood you correctly, this is exactly my option "1" above which you rejected ("my option is different"). I'm confused.
I'm afraid you have not.
Then I have no idea what you're trying to say.
The AntiChris said:
What it more accurately means, given the attitude-dependent assessment, is: "a behaviour could still be immoral in the opinion of the external observer". With this in mind, all that is demonstrated is a difference of opinion between the observer and everyone in the universe.
No, that is not what it means.
Ok I give up. :beatdeadhorse:

The AntiChris said:
The point here is that for a a moral anti-realist, a behaviour is never, of itself, simply immoral - it's always immoral in the opinion of the speaker (or from the viewpoint of a particular individual).

That is not even true of the theory that anti-realists hold.
The common factor which unites anti-realists of all stripes is that they all reject objective moral values. This entails that they believe there are no attitude-independent moral properties. It follows from this that, in the view of the anti-realist, all moral evaluations are attitude dependent and therefore opinions.

For starters, moral error theorists are anti-realists who generally agree with realists about the meaning of the words, and indeed agree that it means that X has the property of being impermissible.
But the error-theorists don't actually believe attitude-dependent properties exist -they agree that moral evaluations are in reality attitude-dependent (they're opinions whether the speaker realises it or not).

But furthermore, other antirealists are expressivists of one variety or another, noncognitivists, etc., and would reject any kind of reduction of moral expressions to something like 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'.
They all agree that moral evaluations are attitude-dependent (opinions).

In fact, I have not found a single anti-realist philosopher who believes that 'X could be immoral' means 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'.
Well they certainly don't believe X could possibly have the attitude-independent property of immorality (and therefore any moral evaluation is, in reality, an opinion).

____________________________________________

This is going nowhere, so I'll leave it there.

Thanks for the chat. :)
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
The common factor which unites anti-realists of all stripes is that they all reject objective moral values. This entails that they believe there are no attitude-independent moral properties. It follows from this that, in the view of the anti-realist, all moral evaluations are attitude dependent and therefore opinions.
The expression 'objective moral values' is obscure, but whatever you mean by it, you are making false claims about anti-realists.
First, consider moral error theorists - substantive error theorists, that is. They believe there is a fact of the matter as to whether any behavior is immoral. They believe that the fact of the matter is that it is not immoral. They reject the idea that moral evaluations are attitude dependent. They believe that moral evaluations assert the existence of independent properties that happen not to exist.
Second, consider moral expressivists of different sorts. They reject the idea that attitude-dependence is the same as 'opinion'. Their views a varied, but generally, they have some odd theories of truth, and are very willing to say that someone who disagrees with their views is mistaken, etc.

Those two camps seem to compose most of the anti-realist philosophers. As for non-philosophers, they usually do not have any coherent view. Those who do say they say there no fact of the matter (or something like that) are not therefore implying that they are making attitude-dependent claims (see my lions example).

The AntiChris said:
But the error-theorists don't actually believe attitude-dependent properties exist -they agree that moral evaluations are in reality attitude-dependent (they're opinions whether the speaker realises it or not).
Error theorists believe that moral assessments assert the existence of attitude-independent moral properties. On that, they agree with moral realists. Moral error theorists believe that those properties do not exist. And no, moral error theorist do not believe that it's a matter of opinion, there is no fact of the matter, etc. Essentially, for a moral error theorist, claims like 'Hitler behaved immorally' are like claims like 'The Earth is less than 10000 years old'. They are plain old vanilla false claims. That's at least for a substantive moral error theory (and some other forms), which covers nearly all error theorists I have found.
That aside, if you have an example of an error theorist who agree with you, I would ask you for a name or link.


The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
But furthermore, other antirealists are expressivists of one variety or another, noncognitivists, etc., and would reject any kind of reduction of moral expressions to something like 'X could be immoral in the opinion of the external observer'.
They all agree that moral evaluations are attitude-dependent (opinions).
What do you mean by 'opinions'?
If you say they believe moral assessments are 'matters of opinion', 'no fact of the matter', etc., they usually disagree with that.


The AntiChris said:
Well they certainly don't believe X could possibly have the attitude-independent property of immorality (and therefore any moral evaluation is, in reality, an opinion).
The first part is true, the second does not follow.
 

Angra Mainyu

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My sense just says 'immoral', as it would say 'ill', or 'red'. Of course, I believe in independence, and this is one of the arguments for it.
Saying, 'so with illness, as with morality' is potentially flawed though, because 'illness' and 'morality' may fundamentally differ, seem to fundamentally differ from each other, in the ways repeatedly described.

You'd be better comparing 'morality' to something else, 'beauty' perhaps, and asking if there are, despite disagreements, at least some aesthetic facts, and whether, if there are, they are or aren't independent of human deemings about them. There are aesthetic realists as there are moral realists. Like morality, beauty is (at least for humans) sensed/perceived, and also involves a value judgement, often a conscious one, but not always. Illness is not be like that (people, other animals, plants and all living things can die of or be damaged by diseases that neither they nor anyone else even sensed they had). You could even, if we introduce the idea that the concept of the aesthetic is arguably based on the concept of taste ('liking' or 'not liking') return to your earlier comparisons with gustatory taste.
Obviously, the moral sense and the ill/health sense differ in some ways and are the same in others. But in the part you are replying to, I was pointing out that the moral sense makes moral judgments like the sense of health/illness makes judgements about, well, that. The sense of beauty does that as well, but there is a difference: namely, that it is not part of our intuition that beauty is always independent of observer in ordinary settings. I mean, take a look at how people discuss beauty. Sometimes, they do say that the other person is mistaken - as in the moral case - but often they do not. This is not what happens in the moral case.

As for aesthetic realists, sure, there are some. But moral realists are essentially the entire human population. Our moral sense says that realism holds, and you reject a human faculty if you claim otherwise. This is not what we see in aesthetic judgments - more like, it dependns on the judgment.

ruby sparks said:
Illness is not be like that (people, other animals, plants and all living things can die of or be damaged by diseases that neither they nor anyone else even sensed they had).
Actually, illness is like that. People can be damaged by viruses they never sensed they had. They can be damaged by bacteria they never sensed they had They can be damaged by cancers they never sensed they had. However, the assessment that those conditions are illnesses is very much like the assessment that Ted Bundy was a morally bad person, or that a human who rapes others for fun behaves immorally, and so on.

ruby sparks said:
You could even, if we introduce the idea that the concept of the aesthetic is arguably based on the concept of taste ('liking' or 'not liking') return to your earlier comparisons with gustatory taste.
Sure, and in some cases, you would be correct. It is a matter of looking at the language, and how people talk. When it comes to beauty or gustatory taste, sometimes they are willing to say the people who disagree with them are mistaken, and sometimes they would just say that there is no fact of the matter (so it's not a real disagreement). On the other hand, when it comes to morality or health/illness, this is not so. People disagree (sometimes violently) and will not just say there is no fact of the matter (save for a minuscule proportion of the population).
 

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.. the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is.

Rubbish.

If something kills you, you're dead, regardless of what anyone thinks, and no matter what you thought about or what your attitudes towards the illness were beforehand, or whether the illness was thought to be fatal or not, or even if neither you nor anyone else in the universe knew, sensed or thought that you were even ill at all before you died, or whether you or anyone even noticed any symptoms whatsoever. Same is true of some illness that causes damage but not death.

It's the same, and independently the case, for any disease that kills or damages any living thing, animal, plant or whatever, whether they know about it or not.

You are mistaken about my point. Your reply does not even touch you. Of course if something kills you, you are dead regardless of what anyone thinks. That is irrelevant. The human sense of illness/health is what we use to ascertain whether a condition is an illness or not - and, for that matter, whether a condition is damage or not; we can tell by a similar intuition.
 

ruby sparks

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The human sense of illness/health is what we use to ascertain whether a condition is an illness or not - and, for that matter, whether a condition is damage or not; we can tell by a similar intuition.

That’s either trivial, obvious and pointless (because EVERYTHING humans know about anything comes through experience, in the final analysis) or it’s nonsense.

Because in a world where there were no humans and never had been (eg the vast majority of the history of life on earth) living things would still have had diseases, and suffered damage as a result.

No intuitions or attitudes or judgements involved.
 
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ruby sparks

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....when it comes to morality or health/illness, this is not so. People disagree (sometimes violently) and will not just say there is no fact of the matter (save for a minuscule proportion of the population).

More apparent nonsense. And again, the comparison with health/illness is very dubious.

Because once we move away from what are generally considered (deemed) and widely agreed (by humans) to be very clear moral wrongs, there are a lot of deemed-to-be-lesser behaviours that are considered to have a moral aspect, but it is often agreed that there is no independent moral fact of the matter about them either way.

For example, people will frequently say, "it depends on your personal morality, or your culture, or whatever, as to whether you think X [eg polygamy, obeying parents (or husbands), having pre-marital sex, divorce, marrying someone of a certain (young) age or a certain age in relation to your own, marrying 'outside your social class/caste' or your ethnic group, whether to marry at all (and possibly have children outside of marriage), whether to have children at all (or when), possibly even at a pinch abortion and euthanasia (when discussed among tolerant, non-judgemental observers), circumcision, eating meat, killing other animals, accumulating excessive personal wealth and how much to give to charity, etc, and of course most relevantly here, whether to punish or forgive] is right or wrong."

And things like "what consenting adults do behind closed doors is no one else's moral business but theirs."

And sometimes, "how parents choose to bring up (including how and when to discipline) their children (given agreed-to-be-reasonable limits) is their choice based on their own personal (jointly agreed) moral values and how they view what is the right and wrong way to do that."

Obviously some (in certain cases possibly many) people will have strong views on some or all of those, perhaps extending to thinking that there is an independent moral fact about them one way or the other (people can have strong views about discipling children for instance, particularly physical punishment such as smacking) but the point is that many also won't for many of the above issues. So your survey of human attitudes is incomplete and your use of the word minuscule is again questionable.

Much of the above is also arguably at the core of moral relativism, which is nowadays a very widely-held position in tolerant, liberal, multicultural societies.
 
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Torin

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Much of the above is also arguably at the core of moral relativism, which is nowadays a very widely-held position in tolerant, liberal, multicultural societies.
It's worth noting that moral relativism is perfectly consistent with brutally forcing your beliefs and values on everyone else: If there are no values that are true for everyone, it's not true for everyone that we should be tolerant.

You're not wrong that moral relativism is often taken to imply that tolerance is a virtue, though.
 

ruby sparks

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Much of the above is also arguably at the core of moral relativism, which is nowadays a very widely-held position in tolerant, liberal, multicultural societies.
It's worth noting that moral relativism is perfectly consistent with brutally forcing your beliefs and values on everyone else: If there are no values that are true for everyone, it's not true for everyone that we should be tolerant.

You're not wrong that moral relativism is often taken to imply that tolerance is a virtue, though.

I think subscribing to either extreme relativism or extreme realism could be deemed to justify and be consistent with brutally forcing your beliefs and values on everyone else.

The main problem may, as often, be to do with (a) taking things to extremes, and/or (b) people with a strong urge to force stuff on others, whatever their position on moral relativism or realism. :(

It may be that there are strong and weak versions of moral relativism and realism. Personally, I don't think I'd call myself an outright or strong relativist or an outright or strong realist. And I might even say it would make a difference what moral issue or behaviour, or type of it (and/or the severity or import of it or consequences, potential or actual, associated with it) we are talking about.

I would start with a claim such as: "morality in humans is an evolved capacity (and can be influenced by environment also) that is ultimately about 'my/our' continued existence, but gets complicated after that", and work from there. I'd be broadly in favour of a scientific approach, with input from what I might call 'pure' philosophy, because on the whole I think high-quality philosophy involves more rigorous reasoning, at least in some ways, than science. They can usefully complement each other, in other words.

My main point to Angra, you may have appreciated already, was in relation to his claim that people generally agree there is an independent fact of the matter when it comes to moral issues generally. They often don't. And it's not that they necessarily view the issues as non-moral, or have no moral opinions themselves about such things, it's that they will defer to or at least allow for different individual or cultural moral judgements by others.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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The human sense of illness/health is what we use to ascertain whether a condition is an illness or not - and, for that matter, whether a condition is damage or not; we can tell by a similar intuition.

That’s either trivial, obvious and pointless (because EVERYTHING humans know about anything comes through experience, in the final analysis) or it’s nonsense.

Because in a world where there were no humans and never had been (eg the vast majority of the history of life on earth) living things would still have had diseases, and suffered damage as a result.

No intuitions or attitudes or judgements involved.
First, you often talk about a "final analysis", but that is only limited to some claims on your part. Where is the analysis?

Second, that is irrelevant. The point is that the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is. Whether there were illnesses before humans (there were) is irrelevant. You are simply changing the subject.

Let us take a look at that part of the exchange:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=767897&viewfull=1#post767897
ruby sparks said:
But all you did was you just came out with what seems to be a questionable claim about the human moral sense being the proper tool to make moral assessments, and that this somehow 'shows independence'.
Here, you question that the human moral sense is the proper tool to make moral assessments, though you provide no evidence for your claim - which, of course, goes against ordinary human experience.
My reply?

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768472&viewfull=1#post768472
Angra Mainyu said:
That is not a questionable claim. It is obviously the proper way. If you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. It might fail, but that is the proper way. If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. Of course, it might fail. Or it might get insufficient or wrong info. But that is the proper way. And the same for moral assessments. There is absolutely no other reasonable candidate to do that.
Note how the debate is about the proper way of making moral assessments. I give the examples of color and health/illness as other cases in which this holds. What do you say?

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768519&viewfull=1#post768519
ruby sparks said:
Angra Mainyu said:
It is obviously the proper way. If you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. It might fail, but that is the proper way. If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. Of course, it might fail. Or it might get insufficient or wrong info. But that is the proper way.
I see. So.......... fallible human subjectivity, intuitions and introspection are the proper tools to use for human enquiry.

Can I ask you a question. Are you posting here from the 4th Century AD? You know, before the scientific method? If you are, it would explain a LOT.
You display your hostility and mock the proper way of making moral assessments, and also assessments of color, and also assessments of health and illness.
It is important to stop here and look at what you are doing: you are clearly denying that the proper way of assessing whether someone showing some symptoms is ill or not, etc., is to use the human sense of illness/health. You call that - which is obviously the proper way, of course - something like the 4th Centure CE. So, what is my reply?

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768523&viewfull=1#post768523

Angra Mainyu said:
No, you really are confused. Obviously, if you want to make color assessments, the proper way is to use the human color sense. That is how it was always done, well before science, and humans knew what color stuff was. But if scientists want to make a machine to detect color, they have no way of doing so except...to use the human color sense to calibrate it! (obviously).

If you want to make assessments of health and illness (i.e., whether someone showing some symptoms is ill), the proper way is to use the human intuitive sense of illness/health. How do modern medicine does it? Exactly in that way. Medicine was developed in order to treat illnesses, etc. But the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is. And so on.
And next, you keep denying the fact point that the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is. Let us take a look at your reply:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768529&viewfull=1#post768529
.. the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is.

Rubbish.

If something kills you, you're dead, regardless of what anyone thinks, and no matter what you thought about or what your attitudes towards the illness were beforehand, or whether the illness was thought to be fatal or not, or even if neither you nor anyone else in the universe knew, sensed or thought that you were even ill at all before you died, or whether you or anyone even noticed any symptoms whatsoever. Same is true of some illness that causes damage but not death.

It's the same, and independently the case, for any disease that kills or damages any living thing, animal, plant or whatever, whether they know about it or not.

Now we are getting closer to the current post. Let us see my reply:
https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768791&viewfull=1#post768791

Angra Mainyu said:
You are mistaken about my point. Your reply does not even touch you. Of course if something kills you, you are dead regardless of what anyone thinks. That is irrelevant. The human sense of illness/health is what we use to ascertain whether a condition is an illness or not - and, for that matter, whether a condition is damage or not; we can tell by a similar intuition.
And now let us see what you say:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20677-FORGIVENESS&p=768840&viewfull=1#post768840
The human sense of illness/health is what we use to ascertain whether a condition is an illness or not - and, for that matter, whether a condition is damage or not; we can tell by a similar intuition.

That’s either trivial, obvious and pointless (because EVERYTHING humans know about anything comes through experience, in the final analysis) or it’s nonsense.

Because in a world where there were no humans and never had been (eg the vast majority of the history of life on earth) living things would still have had diseases, and suffered damage as a result.

No intuitions or attitudes or judgements involved.

You do not realize it, but you just changed the subject completely. You were challenging - repeatedly denying, even mocking - my point that the human sense of illness/health is what tells us what an illness is. Now you are saying it's either "trivial, obvious and pointless" for some obscure unexplained reason about a never-given "final analysis", or else it's nonsense (for no given reason), and decide to talk about something else instead, namely that there were living things with diseases in a world without humans.

Again, you just lost track of the exchange, and changed the subject. But no matter, let us take a look at your claim:

ruby sparks said:
Because in a world where there were no humans and never had been (eg the vast majority of the history of life on earth) living things would still have had diseases, and suffered damage as a result.

No intuitions or attitudes or judgements involved.
Obviously, there were living things with diseases. Many of those actually did make assessments of health and disease, even if they did not have language. But regardless, that is also irrelevant. For that matter, in a world without humans, for there were red fruits, and green leaves, for millions of years. You deny that obvious fact of course, though you do not deny the also obvious fact that there were illnesses. But that does not change the fact that what we use to ascertain whether something is red or green or whatever color is the human color vision (under normal circumstances). And the same applies to illness and health.
 

Angra Mainyu

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I address your hypothetical examples below, but how about this?
You pick an example of an actual moral debate (in this forum, or another, your choice), and we then discuss whether a realist or a non-realist analysis of their claims and arguments is more adequate, by looking at what they actually say (instead of saying what people often say or don't say). The only things I would ask is that the debate be current and open to the public so that one can ask the participants of the debate when clarification when needed.


ruby sparks said:
More apparent nonsense. And again, the comparison with health/illness is very dubious.

Because once we move away from what are generally considered (deemed) and widely agreed (by humans) to be very clear moral wrongs, there are a lot of deemed-to-be-lesser behaviours that are considered to have a moral aspect, but it is often agreed that there is no independent moral fact of the matter about them either way.
No, that only happens to people in the grip of some ideologies, and even then, it only happens when their ideology is getting in the way of their moral sense, so they are confused. Usually, even those people make moral assessments, and debate the matters (more below).


ruby sparks said:
For example, people will frequently say, "it depends on your personal morality, or your culture, or whatever, as to whether you think X [eg polygamy, obeying parents (or husbands), having pre-marital sex, divorce, marrying someone of a certain (young) age or a certain age in relation to your own, marrying 'outside your social class/caste' or your ethnic group, whether to marry at all (and possibly have children outside of marriage), whether to have children at all (or when), possibly even at a pinch abortion and euthanasia (when discussed among tolerant, non-judgemental observers), circumcision, eating meat, killing other animals, accumulating excessive personal wealth and how much to give to charity, etc, and of course most relevantly here, whether to punish or forgive] is right or wrong."
But that is not a problem - not per se.

There is a difference between moral rules (which apply to all humans) and local rules (which do not). Local rules are sometimes coded in written laws, but actually the vast majority of them are not (plenty of rules of expected behavior, e.g., etiquette laws) and existed long before there were written laws. And the connection is that usually it is immoral to break the local laws. More generally, the moral obligations that a person has do depend on the information available to her, and that includes information about how others will likely react to her behavior, which is a culturally variable matter.

On the other hand, there local rules it is okay to break. But let me give you an example. The relativists in question usually will not be willing to say Bob behaved immorally when he had consensual sex with Tom (both adults, no threats or other undue pressure from one on the other) just because Bob and Tom were raised in right-wing fundamentalist Protestant families. They will consider that those right-wingers are in the wrong, both mistaken about the morality of the behavior of Tom and Bob and behaving themselves immorally for punishing Tom and Bob.

Now, granted, left-wingers tend to have a blind spot for fanatics from other societies, in particular Muslims. But that too is not a problem for moral realism. Indeed, even if those left-wingers were correct, that too is of course compatible with realism. In other words, it is perfectly compatible with realism that it is immoral for Bob to have sex with Tom if and only if Bob and Tom live in a place where the local rules ban sex between two men. What would make their behavior immoral in some cases would be that they are breaking the local laws. Now, I believe this is not the case. But this is a disagreement to have within realism, not a challenge to it.



ruby sparks said:
And things like "what consenting adults do behind closed doors is no one else's moral business but theirs."
Excellent example!
When people say things like that, even if they do not realize it, they are making a vanilla moral assessment, and they are implying that those who promote the belief that that it is immoral to, say, have same-sex sex, are both mistaken and behaving immorally!!! ]

ruby sparks said:
And sometimes, "how parents choose to bring up (including how and when to discipline) their children (given agreed-to-be-reasonable limits) is their choice based on their own personal (jointly agreed) moral values and how they view what is the right and wrong way to do that."
Actually, I'm not very familiar with that one. I would need more context, but this may well be an ordinary moral assessment that it is "their choice", meaning that the government should not interfere. This is an ordinary moral judgment, compatible with the belief that the parents in question may well be mistaken. Of course, the people making this sort of assessment would also say that if the parents choose to bring up up their children with the moral beliefs of right-wing Protestant groups, teaching them that e.g., gay people deserve to and will in fact burn in Hell for eternity, those parents would be behaving immorally.

ruby sparks said:
Much of the above is also arguably at the core of moral relativism, which is nowadays a very widely-held position in tolerant, liberal, multicultural societies.
Well, there are different varieties of moral relativism. But the sort of leftist relativism you are talking about is not particularly tolerant. They just claim that they are. But they of course claim and argue - using some words or others - that their opponents like right-wing Protestants (see example above) are both mistaken in their beliefs about the morality of same-sex behavior (and of Hell), and behaving immorally by promoting their beliefs and by raising their children as they do.

On the other hand, those leftist relativists tend to have a blind spot for Muslims, who are overall even more their opponents than Christians are, but are instead seen as allies. Ideology does get people to make mistaken assessments very often. But regardless, the vast majority of relativists engage in nonrelativist moral assessments all the time.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
I think subscribing to either extreme relativism or extreme realism could be deemed to justify and be consistent with brutally forcing your beliefs and values on everyone else.
What is extreme realism, or extreme relativism?
But in any case, what is your argument for that?


ruby sparks said:
The main problem may, as often, be to do with (a) taking things to extremes, and/or (b) people with a strong urge to force stuff on others, whatever their position on moral relativism or realism.:(
Again, what is extreme realism, and how would that have anything to do with willingness to force stuff on others?

ruby sparks said:
It may be that there are strong and weak versions of moral relativism and realism.
Definitions?

There are different definitions of moral realism. I would go with a simple one - which would be accepted by some but not all philosophers:


1. There is a fact of the matter as to whether a moral assessment (e.g., whether Ted Bundy was a bad person) is true (this should be understood with some tolerance for vagueness, e.g., there is a fact of the matter as to whether an animal is a lion - but there might be some vagueness, as mentioned earlier).

2. There are moral properties, e.g., some humans sometimes behave immorally, some humans sometimes behave in a morally praiseworthy manner.

Is that extreme? If so, how would any of that result in trying to impose your beliefs on others?
 
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