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The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
Are you accusing me of dishonesty?
No, I am saying that you are very probably mistaken,

Let me remind you of what you say I'm mistaken about:

I'm reasonably happy with the idea that, in my view, 'objective' means independent of anyone's subjective opinions, attitudes or feelings. I'm in no position to comment on whether this precisely comports with your notion of objectivity.

My statement here (in bold) is a value assessment based on what, in my personal view, I believe I'd need to be aware of in order to confidently know if my view of objectivity comports precisely with ruby sparks' view. This is not something I can be mistaken about - it's my value judgement.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Let me remind you of what you say I'm mistaken about:

I'm reasonably happy with the idea that, in my view, 'objective' means independent of anyone's subjective opinions, attitudes or feelings. I'm in no position to comment on whether this precisely comports with your notion of objectivity.

My statement here (in bold) is a value assessment based on what, in my personal view, I believe I'd need to be aware of in order to confidently know if my view of objectivity comports precisely with ruby sparks' view. This is not something I can be mistaken about - it's my value judgement.

First, of course you can be mistaken about that. It may very well you have sufficient information to make that assessment, but you have not realized that yet because you have not followed my very clear, step-by-step painfully obvious arguments. For that matter, a mathematician or engineer can very well believe he has insufficient information to solve a problem and be mistaken about that - and later solve the problem. So, sure you can be mistaken about that. And it happens much more often in daily life.

Second, I actually did not claim that you were mistaken about that.

Rather, the assessment I want you to make is that either you are in a position, using information available on this thread, to realize that your definition of objectivity does not comport at all (not even close) to that proposed by ruby spark, or I have seriously misunderstood your position. I already explained, in detail, how your definition and ruby sparks's definition differ greatly.

I also explained how I interpret your view, given what you said in your posts. But if that is the difficulty, here goes again:

I understand your position as holding that moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the assessments about M depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed.

Now, surely you can tell whether the above is a really mistaken interpretation of your own definition, right? It's your own definition. So, if that is a very incorrect understanding of your definition, then you are in a position to tell that, and then you are in a position to know that either your definition and ruby sparks's are very different, or else I seriously misunderstood your definition.

On the other hand, if the above is a correct interpretation of your definition, then - unless you are far less intelligent than I'm pretty sure you are -, you are in a position to tell that your definition and ruby sparks's are very different, and thus that either your definition and ruby sparks's are very different, or else I seriously misunderstood your definition. This is not to say that you will realize that you're in a position to tell that - and just by dedicating like 5 minutes to read my posts (actually, less than a minute should suffice as it should be obvious, but let's say 5 minutes). Maybe you just don't think my posts are worth reading and/or are just inclined to never recognize a significant error in a hostile debate like these usually are. But regardless, that does not mean you are not in a position to make that assessment (it does not have to be right now; I'm saying you could do it in a few minutes if you were to actually read my posts with the determination to understand them - rather than dismiss them as incomprehensible without trying).
 

The AntiChris

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First, of course you can be mistaken about that.....

This is bordering on the manic obsessive.

Can you please explain to me why it's so desperately important to you to know if my views are precisely the same as RS's?
 

Angra Mainyu

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First, of course you can be mistaken about that.....

This is bordering on the manic obsessive.

Can you please explain to me why it's so desperately important to you to know if my views are precisely the same as RS's?

Manic obsessive? While you keep dodging the obvious questions, no matter how many times I make them? After repeatedly accusing me, and saying things like
The AntiChris said:
Outside the rarefied heights of academic debate, the term 'mind independent' is commonly used to describe objective moral facts and is typically understood to mean independent of how we as individuals happen to think or feel.
as a way of saying I should intepret ruby sparks's definition like yours (which of course would have gone against his own posts), and now you keep ignoring the fact that his defition is vastly different from yours, unless I badly misunderstood yours - which you keep refusing to say.

This is just...what I could expect from you in any debate. So, again, I have several reasons to show repeatedly the differences between your definition (as stated and explained by you) and ruby sparks's definition (as stated and explained by them), such as:

1. Try to see whether I can get you and/or he to clarify what you/he mean/s so that it is possible to have a serious discussion.

2. Try to get ruby sparks to change the definition he proposes.
 

ruby sparks

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No, it is a very uncommon meaning in ordinary English. It's not uncommon in philosophy, I grant you that, because there are several common meanings of 'objective' and 'mind-independent' in use in philosophy.

I don't know how you know how uncommon it is in ordinary English. If it is uncommon in everyday English, then fine, hooray for ordinary English, but I am still using it. And I consider yours a weaker version. If you disagree with that, then also fine.
 

ruby sparks

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B20 did not suggest that they are relative, and that is not the sense of 'relative' that matters here. It's not about 'exceptions', but rather, about complex, detailed rules. It's what you'd expect from evolution.

Ok perhaps I understood B20 wrong, or perhaps I feel, optimistically, that he would agree with me about morality being relative in the way I suggested. I think I only cited B20 because you keep referring back to him, and I actually wish you would stop, because he's not taking part at the moment.

But yes, complex, detailed rules are what we would expect from evolution.

Are you saying that whether they are true depends on whether the person making them has such-and-such feelings?

One thing I am saying is that they are not objectively true.

Is it that people who have such-and-such feelings are more inclined to make them?

I would not like to say which affects which. It might work either way. My guess would be that the two things interact.

If so, then what of it?

If it's true then morality is relativistic.

What's frustrating here is that there is room for much more agreement, between all parties who have participated in this discussion, but you seem quite determined to focus on disagreement. :)

I think, if we moved on, you keeping your version of objective and me keeping mine, we might agree on a lot of other things about morality.
 

The AntiChris

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I understand your position as holding that moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the assessments about M depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed

This appears to be in line with my view (this is assuming what you say here is intended to represent what I agreed with B20 in post #300). I have no idea if it comports precisely with RS's view.

Given this, you are perfectly capable of determining if it comports precisely with your understanding of RS's view.

And I'm still no wiser as to why you've been badgering me so relentlessly over this. :mad:
 

ruby sparks

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someone said:
...moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the [moral] assessments..... depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed


The first part (in blue) implies that the truth does not depend on evaluative attitudes (etc), but the second (in red) implies that the truth does depend on evaluative attitudes (etc).

In the first case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the assessor (not the actor) in the second case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the actor.

But it makes no difference. Because the given definition (of mind-independent objectivity) is essentially "does not depend on evaluative attitudes (etc)".

Examples:

1. Cancer. Whether or not someone has cancer is not dependent on evaluative attitudes (etc).
2. Moral judgements. These depend on evaluative attitudes (etc).
 
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The AntiChris

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someone said:
...moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the [moral] assessments..... depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed


The first part (in blue) implies that the truth does not depend on evaluative attitudes (etc), but the second (in red) implies that the truth does depend on evaluative attitudes (etc).

In the first case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the assessor (not the actor) in the second case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the actor.

But it makes no difference.
But it does.

If evaluative attitudes (call them brain states) objectively exist, then objectively true/false statements can be made about them.

Here's B20's example: The claim that "It is morally acceptable to to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can be an objective claim because the patient isn't the assessor. The point being that if the assessor deems it morally acceptable because she does not want the patient to suffer then it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. it's morally acceptable regardless of anyone's concerns for the patient) then it's an objective claim and in my view untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).
 

Angra Mainyu

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No, it is a very uncommon meaning in ordinary English. It's not uncommon in philosophy, I grant you that, because there are several common meanings of 'objective' and 'mind-independent' in use in philosophy.

I don't know how you know how uncommon it is in ordinary English. If it is uncommon in everyday English, then fine, hooray for ordinary English, but I am still using it. And I consider yours a weaker version. If you disagree with that, then also fine.


"Weaker" in what sense?
 

Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
Angra Mainyu said:
I understand your position as holding that moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the assessments about M depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed.
This appears to be in line with my view (this is assuming what you say here is intended to represent what I agreed with B20 in post #300). I have no idea if it comports precisely with RS's view.
Yes, this is meant to represent the definition you offered in this thread, in light of your reply to B20 in post#300.

Now, I grant you that you have no idea whether it comports precisely with ruby sparks's view. However, you are in a position to determine based on what was said in this thread that it does not comport at all with ruby sparks's view. I can tell that because you need only an average reading comprehension ability to tell that, and you have more than that. Let me remind you, of some key parts of my exchange with ruby sparks on the subject:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthr...-men-Not-a-fan&p=830983&viewfull=1#post830983

It turns out that on her 'reflective equilibrium' view, whether a person A ought to Y does not depend on the person's actual attitudes or beliefs towards Y, but on the attitutes that she would have on reflective equilibrium. And of course - and crucially - it does not depend at all on the attitudes of the agent assessing whether or not A ought to Y. And this applies to what she calls "normative" judgments, which include moral judgments though are not limited to them.

Sorry, but how is Street's meaning not the one AntiChris has in mind, or indeed the one I am using (I am not assuming AntiChris and I mean exactly the same thing, but they seem to be quite similar)?


https://talkfreethought.org/showthr...-men-Not-a-fan&p=831002&viewfull=1#post831002


Angra Mainyu said:
It turns out that on her 'reflective equilibrium' view, whether a person A ought to Y does not depend on the person's actual attitudes or beliefs towards Y, but on the attitutes that she would have on reflective equilibrium. And of course - and crucially - it does not depend at all on the attitudes of the agent assessing whether or not A ought to Y. And this applies to what she calls "normative" judgments, which include moral judgments though are not limited to them.

Sorry, but how is Street's meaning not the one AntiChris has in mind, or indeed the one I am using (I am not assuming AntiChris and I mean exactly the same thing, but they seem to be quite similar)?

I already explained in my reply to The AntiChris why the meaning is not the same. If that is the one you were using, then the meaning you have in mind and the meaning that The AntiChris have in mind are different - unless of course I misunderstood the meaning The AntiChris is using, in which case he can of course clarify.

Let me explain again: in the constructivist 'reflective equilibrium' view that she gives as an example of an anti-realist theory in which there is not mind-independent normativity (for some reason, she focuses on normativity not morality, but while that is important in general it is not so here for the purposes of this discussion; see her papers for more details), if I make the statement 'Ted Bundy ought not to have killed his victims', then the truth of my statement depends on Ted Bundy's evaluative attitudes ("in particular, on what those attitudes would be in reflective equilibrium", so not his actual attitudes but the ideal ones, on reflective equilibrium). It does not depend at all on my evaluative attitudes, or on the attitudes of any other observer in her capacity as observer.

On this constructivist view (there are more than one possible constructivist views), there is such thing as what the attitudes of a person would be in reflective equilibrium, and that is what determines what a person has reason to do, or equivalently - "equivalently" according to constructivism - what a person ought to do.

And next is ruby sparks's key reply:

It does not depend at all on my evaluative attitudes, or on the attitudes of any other observer in her capacity as observer.

Of course it doesn't depend on your evaluative attitudes or those of an observer. I never said it did!

All that it means is that it depends on someone's judgement (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, etc) about it.

I actually am finding it hard to believe you now don't understand this not unusual meaning.

Do you now see that ruby sparks's definition is not at all like yours?





On your definition, moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes metaethical theories in which the truth of moral assessments depends on the evaluative attitudes of the person whose behavior is being assessed. On the other hand, on ruby sparks definition, any metaethical theory according to which the truth of moral assessments does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor, but depends on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the person whose behavior is being evaluated, is a theory under which morality is mind-dependent, and so (on his definition) not objective.



The difference is crucial in this context, in particular on the subjects of moral disagreement, whether there is an objective fact of the matter in the usual sense of the terms, etc.


The AntiChris said:
Given this, you are perfectly capable of determining if it comports precisely with your understanding of RS's view.
I am also perfectly capable of determining that it does not comport with ruby sparks's understanding of ruby sparks's view, even if he has not realized that on your view, moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the feelings, evaluative attitudes, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor - and in particular, this includes metaethical theories in which the truth of the assessments about morality depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed.



The AntiChris said:
And I'm still no wiser as to why you've been badgering me so relentlessly over this. :mad:
As I explained, I have several reasons to show repeatedly the differences between your definition (as stated and explained by you) and ruby sparks's definition (as stated and explained by them), such as:

1. Try to see whether I can get you and/or he to clarify what you/he mean/s so that it is possible to have a serious discussion.

2. Try to get ruby sparks to change the definition he proposes.

And if I can persuade you that the definitions differ significantly and you tell him that, then that also might help persuade him to change his definition, which I would consider progress.

ETA: Now I see that in a post after the one I was replying to, you explained one of the key differences to ruby sparks. Great! Let's see what he says.
 

ruby sparks

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someone said:
...moral assessments are mind-independent if whether a moral assessment is true does not depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc., of the agent(s) making said assessments, in her capacity as assessor. In particular, this includes cases in which the truth of the [moral] assessments..... depend on the evaluative attitudes, feelings, etc. of the person whose behavior is being assessed


The first part (in blue) implies that the truth does not depend on evaluative attitudes (etc), but the second (in red) implies that the truth does depend on evaluative attitudes (etc).

In the first case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the assessor (not the actor) in the second case, it's the evaluative attitudes (etc) of the actor.

But it makes no difference.
But it does.

If evaluative attitudes (call them brain states) objectively exist, then objectively true/false statements can be made about them.

Here's B20's example: The claim that "It is morally acceptable to to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can be an objective claim because the patient isn't the assessor. The point being that if the assessor deems it morally acceptable because she does not want the patient to suffer then it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. it's morally acceptable regardless of anyone's concerns for the patient) then it's an objective claim and in my view untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).

I don't quite follow, and B20's example confuses me, especially the last sentence. It's also possible B20 was not using the word 'objective' in the way I am.

Obviously, many objectively true/false statements can be made about morality ('moral judgements exist' is one) but not whether something is objectively morally right or wrong, using a definition of objective as 'not dependent on attitudes (etc)'.

As I see it, "It is morally acceptable to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can never actually be an objective judgement because it depends on attitudes (etc). The patient not being the assessor only means that is is the attitudes (etc) of the assessor we are talking about, but those are still attitudes (etc) which the judgement depends on. It also seems, fwiw, that the patient is deeming it morally acceptable too, which involves the patient's attitudes (etc). Unlike, for example, the cancer itself, there are no moral judgements that do not depend on attitudes (etc) as far as I can tell.

Or put it this way, someone else (a different assessor) might say "it is not morally acceptable to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed".

ETA: it might be said that we can't ever really know if anything is objectively true (beyond 'there is something', perhaps) even the existence of cancer, for example, or planet earth. That has to be a general caveat, I think. But going down that route would disqualify everyone's position on nearly everything, I think. :)
 
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ruby sparks

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No, it is a very uncommon meaning in ordinary English. It's not uncommon in philosophy, I grant you that, because there are several common meanings of 'objective' and 'mind-independent' in use in philosophy.

I don't know how you know how uncommon it is in ordinary English. If it is uncommon in everyday English, then fine, hooray for ordinary English, but I am still using it. And I consider yours a weaker version. If you disagree with that, then also fine.


"Weaker" in what sense?

Based on how I understand it, I would say it's a lower bar.

Point of order though. Have you yet offered the ordinary English version (of 'objective') you are using? I don't recall.

Also, a succinct definition of both 'morality' and 'moral fact' from you would be useful.

If you have previously offered any or all of the above then I must have missed it or forgotten, and would apologise.
 
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The AntiChris

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I don't quite follow, and B20's example confuses me.

No problem, it's not easy to explain.

As I see it, "It is morally acceptable to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can never be objective because it depends on attitudes (etc).

The objectivity we're attempting pin down is that of the claim "It is morally acceptable". The attitude of the patient has no bearing on the objectivity of this claim. The only role the patient's attitude plays in this is solely as the determining factor as to whether the assessor believes it is or is not a morally significant state of affairs.

For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes. To reword slightly what I said earlier, the point is that if the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).

Has this helped (at least to understand my position)?
 

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I don't quite follow, and B20's example confuses me.

No problem, it's not easy to explain.

As I see it, "It is morally acceptable to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can never be objective because it depends on attitudes (etc).

The objectivity we're attempting pin down is that of the claim "It is morally acceptable". The attitude of the patient has no bearing on the objectivity of this claim. The only role the patient's attitude plays in this is solely as the determining factor as to whether the assessor believes it is or is not a morally significant state of affairs.

For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes. To reword slightly what I said earlier, the point is that if the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).

Has this helped (at least to understand my position)?

Sorry, but no. :(

"For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes".

But it isn't that? There is no claim that is independent of feelings/attitudes (etc)? This is as true of the assessor as the patient.

The assessor believing in moral facts does not change that. Because beliefs are as subjective as attitudes are. In fact, a belief is often described as an attitude, a propositional attitude to be precise, which I would go along with and which makes sense, imo.

Previously, I have listed other things that 'feelings/attitudes (etc)' is meant to cover, such as judgements, intuitions, emotions, thoughts, etc. (I can't recall the whole list I made and it's probably incomplete). Beliefs are just another one of those, because belief is subjective.
 

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Propositional attitude
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_attitude

"Linguistically, propositional attitudes are denoted by a verb (e.g. "believed") governing an embedded "that" clause, for example, 'Sally believed that she had won'."

So, rewriting B20's last sentence:

"However if the assessor's attitude is that the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist)".

Then that is not independent of attitudes (etc).

Nor is B20 saying he doesn't believe in moral facts. :)

Which I am surprised to be reminded of, because I had it in my head that he did, that it was just that they were extremely complicated. Just goes to show how often we misunderstand each other I guess. But yes, I do seem to remember him saying he was not taking a position on it, so he may also not believe that they don't exist either.
 

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ruby sparks

Are you saying that no proposition/statement can ever be objective (because they always express the speaker's belief)?
 

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Are you saying that no proposition/statement can ever be objective (because they always express the speaker's belief)?

Yes.

Though I might say 'thoughts' rather than beliefs, since the former seems to be the better catch-all term. It might even, at a pinch, capture non-conscious thought processes too.

Cancer (we assume) objectively exists regardless of what anyone thinks about it. Moral judgements depend on (in fact are) subjective thoughts about something.

This is my basic objective/subjective distinction, and what I mean by mind-independent.

Note that if moral facts do exist regardless of what anyone thinks about them, then they would qualify as objectively existing, much like cancer.

But I personally do not think they do, at this point. That they depend heavily on thoughts about them is not, imo, supportive of the claim that they do, given the variety and complexity of human thoughts and the capriciousness of humans. But it must be said, it doesn't mean they don't, at least for humans (an important caveat imo, because things like cancer, for example, are not limited in that way).

In any case, we were, recently, only doing 'objective'.
 

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Yes. :)

Would the statement "Bill has cancer." be objective or subjective?

In that case it's objectively true (assuming bill does have cancer) based on our reasonable assumption that cancer actually exists regardless of what we think about that.

Perhaps we could say it's an objective fact, subjectively stated. Bear in mind that it's the cancer we want to be objective about, not whether someone (a subject) says something about it. That's true of all 'X is a fact' statements.

I do not see a conflict with my usage of objective, which is "does not depend on thoughts" ("is mind-independent, ie is thought-independent"). To be fair, it has been expressed in a variety of ways in the last few pages, but it's always been essentially the same meaning, with thoughts now intended as a catch-all term for attitudes, feelings, opinions, emotions, etc. Now, this is not a cast-iron position. Some strong behaviourists might say 'there are only behaviours'. I don't know. Certainly that seems to be true of other species. Which raises interesting questions, as do non-conscious thought processes.

But, 'Bill has cancer' is not like 'Bill is morally bad' (unless there is an objective fact that bill or anyone is morally bad, which I personally don't think there is).
 

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We appear to be talking past each other. You have said this:

ruby sparks

Are you saying that no proposition/statement can ever be objective (because they always express the speaker's belief)?

Yes.

and this:

Would the statement "Bill has cancer." be objective or subjective?

In that case it's objectively true

"Bill has cancer" is a statement which you previously agreed could never be objective, but which you now say is objective. :confused:

Perhaps we could say it's an objective fact, subjectively stated.


You could say that but it would be very confusing. If everything that is stated is 'subjective', then the word 'subjective' is redundant. Why not just say it is a stated objective fact?


I do not see a conflict with my usage of objective,

Apparently not. :D


So, 'Bill has cancer' is not like 'Bill is morally bad' (unless there is an objective fact that bill or anyone is morally bad, which I personally don't think there is).
This is pretty much exactly what I said in posts #359 and #365 both of which you rejected.

I don't think we're making any progress here so I'll leave it to you and Angra. Thanks for the chat.
 

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"Bill has cancer" is a statement which you previously agreed could never be objective, but which you now say is objective. :confused:

It is a subjective statement, yes, as all statements are. But whether Bill has cancer or not is not (we all assume) subjective. I do not understand why you feel that is confusing. It is just clarifying what the 'objective' pertains to. It is not the making of the statement. No statement can of itself be an objective phenomenon, though some can be about an objective phenomenon (the cancer, in that case). Debating whether the statement, as opposed to the thing it is about, is subjective or objective, is getting away from the topic of objective moral facts.

And so my definition of objective is still "independent of thoughts (etc)".

Or if you like, my definition of an objective fact (or truth) is "a fact (or truth) that is independent of thoughts etc (about it)". Similarly, my definition of objective existence is "existence that is independent of thoughts etc (about it)"
 
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Angra Mainyu

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Propositional attitude
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_attitude

"Linguistically, propositional attitudes are denoted by a verb (e.g. "believed") governing an embedded "that" clause, for example, 'Sally believed that she had won'."

So, rewriting B20's last sentence:

"However if the assessor's attitude is that the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist)".

Then that is not independent of attitudes (etc).

Nor is B20 saying he doesn't believe in moral facts. :)

Which I am surprised to be reminded of, because I had it in my head that he did, that it was just that they were extremely complicated. Just goes to show how often we misunderstand each other I guess. But yes, I do seem to remember him saying he was not taking a position on it, so he may also not believe that they don't exist either.
Of course Bomb#20 believes there are moral facts. The AntiChris believes there are no moral facts. The sentence is not B20's. :)
 

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Are you saying that no proposition/statement can ever be objective ....?

It may be that I misunderstood your question. Apologies if I did. Genuine mistake on my part.

No, I was not saying that no statement can ever be objectively true. A statement can be objectively true if it expresses an objective fact.
 
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ruby sparks

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No problem.:)

I assume it was a simple misreading. The question was straightforward and unambiguous.

I think I got 'objective' and 'objectively true' confused.

I could add that I'm still not clear what was meant to be objective in (what I now realise was) your cancer patient 'argument', but we can leave that behind if you like. This topic goes in enough circles as it is, imo. :)
 

Bomb#20

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Here's B20's example: The claim that "It is morally acceptable to to mercy kill a cancer patient if the patient wants to be killed" can be an objective claim because the patient isn't the assessor. The point being that if the assessor deems it morally acceptable because she does not want the patient to suffer then it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. it's morally acceptable regardless of anyone's concerns for the patient) then it's an objective claim and in my view untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).
Gaah! Why is this so bloody hard? (Man, a lot happens while I'm not following the thread. Having to work for a living sucks...)

I don't quite follow, and B20's example confuses me.

No problem, it's not easy to explain.
It should be easy -- I'm not saying anything abstruse here. You shouldn't kill people, for the most part. We have a right to life. But, like our other rights, we can waive that right. If I want you dead, that's not a good enough reason to kill you. If you want you dead, that's a much better reason. It's your life, not mine.

All I'm expressing here is ordinary common sense morality. It's shared so widely the TV industry takes it for granted their audience will see things that way. Did we all see the scene where Jon Snow murders an unarmed prisoner of war? Yay Jon! He's the number one hero of the series. Why is it okay for him to murder Mance Rayder? Well, it's because King Stannis was about to burn Rayder at the stake, and we take it as read that Rayder preferred to be shot through the heart rather than be burned to death.

The objectivity we're attempting pin down is that of the claim "It is morally acceptable". The attitude of the patient has no bearing on the objectivity of this claim. The only role the patient's attitude plays in this is solely as the determining factor as to whether the assessor believes it is or is not a morally significant state of affairs.
Yes and no. It has no bearing on the objectivity of the claim because it's in the semantics of moral claims to be objective; a subjective claim like "Killing him feels right to me" is an autobiography, not a moral claim. (Of course "The moon is made of cheese" is an objective claim too; some objective claims are objectively false.) But the patient's attitude plays a vital role as the determining factor as to whether the claim "It's okay to mercy-kill him" is true. (I get that you don't think it does since you don't believe in moral facts, but it looks like you're trying to explain my view to ruby sparks.)

For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes. To reword slightly what I said earlier, the point is that if the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim
That's not the distinction I was making. It's about truth-makers. If "I'm concerned for his suffering" is the truth-maker for "It's okay for you to kill him", that's subjective. If the truth-maker is "He's suffering and wants to be killed", that's objective. I can be concerned about his suffering and still make an objective judgment, as long as it isn't my concern that makes killing the guy okay.

(Actually, even if "He's suffering" were the truth-maker all by itself, that would be objective too. It's just that "He's suffering" isn't really a good enough reason to mercy-kill someone. We have to respect people's autonomy. If the patient is in constant pain but is determined to tough it out and live long enough to see his wife through her pregnancy and see his son born, it wouldn't be right for you to preempt that choice and mercy-kill him early. His life, not yours.)

The assessor believing it's a moral fact isn't relevant to whether it's objective -- anti-realists make objective moral claims all the time when they take off their meta-ethics hats and put on their ethics hats. To consciously make an utterance that one's antirealist meta-ethics alleges is what moral claims mean, such as "Killing him feels right to me" or "Yay, mercy-killing!", is to express an inarguable sentiment. But anti-realists argue first-order moral positions as much as the rest of us do.

and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).
That sounds like you're accepting the objectivity of moral claims without accepting their truth, i.e., you're an error theorist. Is that correct?
 

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Gaah! Why is this so bloody hard?
it's not easy to explain.
It should be easy

You surely realise by now that we antirealists really struggle to understand the realist position- it simply doesn't make any sense to us.

Anyway, apologies if you feel I've misrepresented your views (having looked at your comments I'm not convinced I was that far out).

I've got some questions. I'll try to keep it brief (I really dislike long posts addressing multiple issues),

The AntiChris said:
For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes. To reword slightly what I said earlier, the point is that if the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim
That's not the distinction I was making. It's about truth-makers. If "I'm concerned for his suffering" is the truth-maker for "It's okay for you to kill him", that's subjective. If the truth-maker is "He's suffering and wants to be killed", that's objective. I can be concerned about his suffering and still make an objective judgment, as long as it isn't my concern that makes killing the guy okay.
It looks to me we as if we're essentially saying exactly the same thing.

We're both talking about reasons for saying "It's ok...". You just call them truth-makers.


I can be concerned about his suffering and still make an objective judgment, as long as it isn't my concern that makes killing the guy okay.
Sure. I don't think I excluded this possibility

But anti-realists argue first-order moral positions as much as the rest of us do.
Can you explain what you mean here? Are you saying that anti-realists argue for realist positions or simply that they defend their own views and ctriticise contrary views?


The AntiChris said:
]and a claim that is in my view is untrue (I don't believe moral facts exist).
That sounds like you're accepting the objectivity of moral claims without accepting their truth, i.e., you're an error theorist. Is that correct?

No that wasn't what I intended. I was trying to say that "it's morally acceptable regardless of anyone's concerns for the patient" wasn't true but I can see I was a bit careless.

I'm wary of labels (they often mean quite different things to different people) but I think non-cognitivitist probably better describes my thinking.
 

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We have to respect people's autonomy.

I did not realise we were only doing modern moral standards.
I would not have thought this was a particularly modern standard. The principle that the patient has to be willing certainly goes back to the 1800s at the latest; and philosophers have been debating euthanasia since the middle ages.

In any event, that's a detail of the first-order moral judgment I put in for illustrative purposes; if readers disagree, or think the judgment is unacceptably modern, fine, we can simply switch to a different example. Consider the "Lords of Discipline" problem: was it okay for Dante to siphon petrol from Will's car? All I'm saying is, you or I being okay with it doesn't make it okay, but Will being okay with it makes it okay. I don't think the notion that it's not stealing if the owner doesn't object is a modern notion.
 

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I would not have thought this was a particularly modern standard. The principle that the patient has to be willing certainly goes back to the 1800s at the latest; and philosophers have been debating euthanasia since the middle ages.

In any event, that's a detail of the first-order moral judgment I put in for illustrative purposes; if readers disagree, or think the judgment is unacceptably modern, fine, we can simply switch to a different example. Consider the "Lords of Discipline" problem: was it okay for Dante to siphon petrol from Will's car? All I'm saying is, you or I being okay with it doesn't make it okay, but Will being okay with it makes it okay. I don't think the notion that it's not stealing if the owner doesn't object is a modern notion.

No thanks. I think I'll stick with the one you gave. I presume when you gave it you were using the standard of 'ordinary common sense morality' that you referred to in the same post.
 

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You surely realise by now that we antirealists really struggle to understand the realist position- it simply doesn't make any sense to us.
Right back at you. (With the added perception that apparently you* did understand it, and it did make sense to you, back when you were children and learned how to be competent users of the moral terminology provided by natural languages; this struggle to understand appears to be something you talked yourselves into for philosophical reasons, rather than because of any great difficulty in the material. No doubt it looks different from the inside, but that's what it looks like from the outside.)

(* All "you"s are plural, gross overgeneralizations about antirealists collectively; any individual antirealist may look different.)

Anyway, apologies if you feel I've misrepresented your views (having looked at your comments I'm not convinced I was that far out).

I've got some questions. I'll try to keep it brief (I really dislike long posts addressing multiple issues),

The AntiChris said:
For the claim to be objective it must be independent of the claimant's feelings/attitudes. To reword slightly what I said earlier, the point is that if the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective. However if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' (i.e. mercy-killing the patient in this circumstance has the attitude-independent quality of 'moral acceptability') then it's an objective claim
That's not the distinction I was making. It's about truth-makers. If "I'm concerned for his suffering" is the truth-maker for "It's okay for you to kill him", that's subjective. If the truth-maker is "He's suffering and wants to be killed", that's objective. I can be concerned about his suffering and still make an objective judgment, as long as it isn't my concern that makes killing the guy okay.
It looks to me we as if we're essentially saying exactly the same thing.

We're both talking about reasons for saying "It's ok...". You just call them truth-makers.
Well, maybe we just use language very differently. To my eye the statement "If the claimant (assessor) deems it morally acceptable out of concern for people like the patient, it's not objective" seems plainly false. "People in severe pain have a right not to be kept alive against their will" seems like a perfectly ordinary moral claim, just like "People have a right not to be hunted for sport.". If the reason somebody agrees with it happens to be compassion, that's on him; one person's use of compassion in forming moral judgments can't magically make somebody else's rights go away. (No doubt you don't perceive non-objectivity to imply non-existence of rights, but it's my meta-ethics you were trying to explain.)

Likewise for part 2 -- one person's belief in a moral fact can't magically give somebody else a right. But maybe that's not what you were imputing to me. If by "if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' ... then it's an objective claim" you meant that the belief that one is saying something objective makes the claim semantically objective, as opposed to making what is claimed substantively an objective fact, that has a certain plausibility to it. But I don't think it's right. You can make objective claims while believing you're doing something else, just as you can steer a bike to go under where your body is headed while believing you're shifting your weight onto the bike.

But anti-realists argue first-order moral positions as much as the rest of us do.
Can you explain what you mean here? Are you saying that anti-realists argue for realist positions or simply that they defend their own views and ctriticise contrary views?
I don't know that I can give one answer for all varieties of anti-realism, so let's just talk about non-cognitivism. A typical explanation of a non-cognitivist opinion (not necessarily yours) is that moral claims aren't propositions at all; the semantic sense of "Meat eating is wrong" is alleged to be something non-truth-apt, something along the lines of "Meat eating, Boo!". And yet, when actual non-cognitivists get into moral discussions, they typically make ordinary logical arguments, like "You shouldn't eat meat because it contributes to global warming". Going by the non-cognitivist semantic theory, this is a type-mismatch error. "Because" is a relation that takes, as parameters, truth-apt statements. "*Meat eating, Boo! because Global warming, Boo!" isn't a logical argument; it isn't even grammatical English. "Boo!" isn't subject to logic. It's just an emotional outburst; that's the point of the meta-ethical theory. So when non-cognitivists make logical arguments like the one above, it appears that their mental "muscle-memory" still subconsciously remembers that the semantics of "Meat eating is wrong" is cognitive, even though they subsequently embraced a philosophy that insists it's non-cognitive -- just like a guy keeping his balance on a bike while believing an incorrect theory of how he does it.

Anyway, that's what I meant. I don't know if that's the same thing you meant by "anti-realists argue for realist positions"; in any event I certainly wasn't claiming anti-realists argue for realism. But going by normal English semantics, "Meat eating is wrong." is a realist position; and the empirical linguistic evidence rarely supports the hypothesis that non-cognitivists actually in practice use it in the non-standard sense of "Meat eating, Boo!".

I'm wary of labels (they often mean quite different things to different people)...
Very sensible.
 

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To clarify: Imo,"at least one moral claim is truth-apt and its truth doesn't depend on any observer's subjective opinion" as a definition of "objective morality" involves both a low bar for moral realism and a weak definition of objectivity.
When two people disagree about whether humans have fish for ancestors, it means one of them is right and the other is wrong. As far as I can see, the basic point of disagreement in meta-ethics, the primary division among the disputants, seems to be over whether moral claims can share that property -- the property of being ordinary factual propositions subject to ordinary logic like (P or not P). The definition I gave is an attempt to draw a line precisely along that division. If you think that's a "low" bar, what's your goal in setting a "higher" bar? To draw a line along some place where the point of contention isn't? To claim a rhetorical victory without actually showing realists are wrong about what we actually disagree with you about? I'm reminded of a "B.C." cartoon, where Hart was ridiculing evolutionists by drawing a picture of a caveman prostrating himself before a half-human-half-dinosaur. Hart was claiming in effect that non-creationists think humans evolved from dinosaurs and that since we think evolution was our creator we must worship it. But it isn't up to creationists to tell non-creationists what our theory is.

Likewise, it isn't up to antirealists to tell realists what our theory is. When we say some moral claims are true and some are false, that doesn't entitle you to restrict our options about which moral claims we claim are true. You no more get to rule out "Whether its okay for Chris to mercy-kill Andy depends on whether Andy wants to be killed." than Hart gets to rule out "Fish evolved into people without any step along the way being dinosaurs." Of course you can refuse to admit we're using the word "objective" correctly when we claim it's an objective fact that Chris shouldn't kill Andy because Andy doesn't want him to, but that would be no different from Hart refusing to admit I'm really an evolutionist because I say humans didn't evolve from dinosaurs. I'm still saying it's a fact. I'm still saying people who think it's okay to mercy-kill a patient who wants to keep up the fight, merely because they value his non-suffering more than they value his rights, are wrong. So the basic meta-ethical disagreement between us will remain -- whether one observer is right and the other wrong -- even if you make up a contrary definition of "objective" and use it to claim I'm an antirealist too. So what's the point of setting a different bar and calling it "higher"?

Why is the word 'observer' even in there? Why not just 'doesn't depend on anyone's opinion (or judgement if you prefer)'?
Because what's moral often depends on the opinions and judgments of the parties involved in an event. You go to Tesco and buy a loaf of bread. You pay with a counterfeit ten-Euro note. Did you act immorally? Well, that depends on your opinion and judgment of whether it was a genuine banknote. If you believed it was genuine then you're an innocent victim of somebody else's crime. If in your opinion and judgment it was a counterfeit note but you tried to pass it off as real anyway, then you're guilty of fraud. In contrast, my opinion about whether the note was counterfeit is irrelevant to whether you acted honestly or dishonestly, because I'm just an observer.

(Maybe "observer" isn't the best word; maybe "third party" or "bystander" or "judge" would be better -- after all, failing to observe isn't a qualification for having your opinion matter. I picked "observer" because when antirealists of a certain stripe claim the same event is moral to one person and immoral to another person, it's typically observers that they're talking about. Realists as a rule reject the concept of "moral to me but not to you".)

Also, out of interest, how can any moral judgement not depend on any observer's subjective opinion?
I don't know what kind of answer you want from me. According to you, no proposition/statement can ever be objective because they always express the speaker's belief. How then can a judgment of whether humans evolved from fish not depend on any observer's subjective opinion? I'm not claiming ethics is more objective than biology; but I don't think my failure to make such a claim makes me an antirealist.
 

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If "objective" really meant "not dependent on the mind for existence" then mental illness would not objectively exist.
You know it isn't as simple as that. It depends on context (Angra in post #281: "the term 'mind-independent' is used in a widely variable manner.")

At this point it's not clear to me whether use of the "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is a genuine attempt to to understand how the term 'mind independent' is being used or if it's an attempt to discredit the term (as a description of objectivity) by ridicule simply because you dislike its use.
As you know, this ain't my first rodeo. I used to argue with antirealists a lot, and I quit because it's futile. You guys, by and large, are unwilling to think critically about your own arguments. So I've moved on. But I'm here, doing it yet again, because rs cut into a discussion I was having with somebody else and asked me to explain myself. So I answered him, as a courtesy, because he asked, even though I was pretty sure, from experience, that he just wouldn't get it. What usually happens in these discussions is the antirealist commits equivocation fallacies and won't stop even when they're pointed out and explained.

So no, use of the "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is neither a "genuine attempt"* to understand how the term 'mind independent' is being used, nor an attempt to discredit the term (as a description of objectivity) "by ridicule"* simply because I dislike its use. That's a False Dilemma fallacy. The "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is me trying my level best to forestall some of those foreseeable equivocation fallacies by drawing rs's attention to the failure of his stated definition to mean anything useful for a meta-ethical discussion, going by the literal meaning of the words in it. If the phrase "mind independent" has some other meaning in typical philosophical use or in rs's own mind, that will not do. That will simply be fertile ground for implicitly switching meanings at critical points in the argument -- it will let him equivocate without realizing he's doing so. So I want us to use definitions that say what they mean in plain English. I don't think rs objects to this policy in principle; I think he just doesn't realize how problematic the definition he proposed is. So I'm trying to make him aware of it by pointing out the logical implications of his words. If he doesn't agree to making his definition precise and literal, that's his choice, but it will predictably result in him not understanding what I say, and we're only here in the first place because he indicated he wants to understand.

(* It's also a Poisoning the Well fallacy. Don't think what you tried to do there was lost on me.)
 

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At this point it's not clear to me whether use of the "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is a genuine attempt to to understand how the term 'mind independent' is being used or if it's an attempt to discredit the term (as a description of objectivity) by ridicule simply because you dislike its use.

Possibly it's because if that definition is used, then there are no objective moral truths. Now, if the bar for moral realism can be lowered sufficiently, including by adopting a weaker definition of objectivity (and also in other ways) then maybe it can be argued that there are such things. There's a term for that sort of endeavour, or if there isn't, there should be imo. The phrase, 'defining something into existence' may come close. 'Sophistry' may not be all that far away either. Possibly even 'denialism'. 'Much ado about nothing'? I suspect a search and rescue mission pipe dream.
If your intent in writing to me was neither to understand me nor to persuade me, but rather to pick a mental pigeonhole to stick me in so you can feel good about not thinking about my arguments, let's just stop.
 

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... let's just stop.

Ok. You completely blew it with your "we have to respect people's autonomy" example.

He did not blow anything. The problem is that you do not seem to be trying to understand, but to attack a position you already believe is very different from what it is. It's similar to what happens in your exchanges with me. If you were to try to understand, maybe you would learn why morality is objective, or at the very least, you would understand what it is that the people whose positions you first misconstrue then attack actually believe, and what the arguments are. As it is, you keep raising objections that miss the points entirely.
 

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The AntiChris said:
We're both talking about reasons for saying "It's ok...". You just call them truth-makers.
Well, maybe we just use language very differently.
I think the problem is that we start with very different assumptions. There is much here that I'd like to clarify and challenge but I have no enthusiasm for the inevitably lengthy follow-up to-and-fro.

Just one thing I'd like to clear up:

If by "if the assessor believes the acceptability is a 'moral fact' ... then it's an objective claim" you meant that the belief that one is saying something objective makes the claim semantically objective, as opposed to making what is claimed substantively an objective fact,
No, my intention was to express the idea that it's objective if the sole motivation for the belief was the observed state-of-affairs (or more precisely the claimed moral qualities of the observed state-of-affairs)and not the personal concerns of the assessor.

but it's my meta-ethics you were trying to explain.

I didn't think I was? All I thought I was doing, using your cancer patient example, was attempting to explain to ruby sparks why I thought the cancer patient's attitude played no role in establishing the objectivity of the moral claim.

The AntiChris said:
Can you explain what you mean here [that anti-realists argue like the rest of us]?
I don't know that I can give one answer for all varieties of anti-realism, so let's just talk about non-cognitivism. A typical explanation of a non-cognitivist opinion (not necessarily yours) is that moral claims aren't propositions at all;
That's right - they're not truth-apt.

the semantic sense of "Meat eating is wrong" is alleged to be something non-truth-apt, something along the lines of "Meat eating, Boo!".
The messages people (realists and anti-realists) wish to convey when they make moral claims are many and varied. Nobody means "Boo!".

they typically make ordinary logical arguments, like "You shouldn't eat meat because it contributes to global warming". Going by the non-cognitivist semantic theory, this is a type-mismatch error. "Because" is a relation that takes, as parameters, truth-apt statements.
To me this looks like a straightforward appeal to the values meat eaters may hold which may influence their attitude to meat eating. I don't see how this is in conflict with the idea that "meat eating is wrong" is not truth-apt.

"Meat eating is wrong." is a realist position

Is "Surströmming is disgusting" a realist position?
 

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If "objective" really meant "not dependent on the mind for existence" then mental illness would not objectively exist.
You know it isn't as simple as that. It depends on context (Angra in post #281: "the term 'mind-independent' is used in a widely variable manner.")

At this point it's not clear to me whether use of the "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is a genuine attempt to to understand how the term 'mind independent' is being used or if it's an attempt to discredit the term (as a description of objectivity) by ridicule simply because you dislike its use.
As you know, this ain't my first rodeo. I used to argue with antirealists a lot, and I quit because it's futile. You guys, by and large, are unwilling to think critically about your own arguments. So I've moved on. But I'm here, doing it yet again, because rs cut into a discussion I was having with somebody else and asked me to explain myself. So I answered him, as a courtesy, because he asked, even though I was pretty sure, from experience, that he just wouldn't get it. What usually happens in these discussions is the antirealist commits equivocation fallacies and won't stop even when they're pointed out and explained.

So no, use of the "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is neither a "genuine attempt"* to understand how the term 'mind independent' is being used, nor an attempt to discredit the term (as a description of objectivity) "by ridicule"* simply because I dislike its use. That's a False Dilemma fallacy. The "then mental illness wouldn't be objective" comment is me trying my level best to forestall some of those foreseeable equivocation fallacies by drawing rs's attention to the failure of his stated definition to mean anything useful for a meta-ethical discussion, going by the literal meaning of the words in it. If the phrase "mind independent" has some other meaning in typical philosophical use or in rs's own mind, that will not do. That will simply be fertile ground for implicitly switching meanings at critical points in the argument -- it will let him equivocate without realizing he's doing so. So I want us to use definitions that say what they mean in plain English. I don't think rs objects to this policy in principle; I think he just doesn't realize how problematic the definition he proposed is. So I'm trying to make him aware of it by pointing out the logical implications of his words. If he doesn't agree to making his definition precise and literal, that's his choice, but it will predictably result in him not understanding what I say, and we're only here in the first place because he indicated he wants to understand.

(* It's also a Poisoning the Well fallacy. Don't think what you tried to do there was lost on me.)
Apologies. My implied slight was unfair and unwarranted.
 

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Some folks opine that bad people will get what’s coming to them by ending up in prison, victimized by rape. It’s usually delivered as a laugh line.

But I’d like to suggest it’s harmful and wrong to make a laugh out of extra-judicial violence, particularly in the case of the traumatizing and degrading violence of rape.

My personal philosophy is that retribution never helps. It only legitimizes the idea that violence and degradation is okay when you feel “justified.” All criminals feel “justified.” All bullies feel “justified” all of those school shooters and all of those rapists feel “justified.”

I think it is a bad turn for society to give them any indication in any way that all you have to feel is “justified” and you can rape, assault, brutalize, murder.

I don't think jokes necessarily justify or legitimize anything. People often respond to dark humor.

That said, one of the big embarrassments of the USA is our prison system. I think it's mainly because we, as a society, can't decide what the purpose of it is. We pay lip service to rehab and protection for the public. But it's actually more about exacting punishment(vengeance) and acquiring wealth and power for politicians and investors and staff. That part is no laughing matter.
Tom
 
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TomC

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The AntiChris

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The AntiChris said:
Is "Surströmming is disgusting" a realist position?

De gustibus non est disputandum.

That's not really an answer.
I was being flippant. Drawing attention to the shared word-root "gust" (Latin for "taste") seemed worthwhile.

For a real answer, one needs to take into account what is actually being claimed. "Surströmming is disgusting" literally means "Surströmming causes disgust". (Definition of disgusting: causing a strong feeling of dislike or disinclination : causing disgust - Merriam-Webster) If we take that literally, it's plainly a realist position. It's trivially factual; and this can be shown experimentally. Open a can for a random focus group and some of them will gag, some may even throw up, and many will refuse to eat it. It will have demonstrably caused disgust.

The trouble is, "Surströmming causes disgust" isn't what people saying "Surströmming is disgusting" would typically mean. They'd mean something more along the lines of "Surströmming causes disgust in me." You wouldn't expect one of those peculiar Swedes who actually likes the stuff to say "Surströmming is disgusting" merely because she knows it disgusts other people. So the actual meaning of the sentence refers to the tastes of a particular observer: the speaker. Consequently, when Oscar says "Surströmming is disgusting" and Astrid says "Surströmming is not disgusting", what they're claiming is "Surströmming causes disgust in Oscar" and "Surströmming does not cause disgust in Astrid". But there's no more contradiction involved in fermented fish causing disgust in Oscar but not in Astrid than in a cue-ball hitting the eight-ball but not hitting the five-ball. Oscar's and Astrid's positions aren't contrary. And as Monty Python so amusingly pointed out, "Look, if I argue with you, I must take a contrary position." That's why matters of taste aren't apt for argument.

What makes "Meat eating is wrong." a realist position and "Surströmming is disgusting" (idiomatically) a non-realist position is that people normally mean something objective by the former and mean something autobiographical by the latter; empirical evidence for this is that people normally treat the former as arguable and the latter as not arguable.

I've been trying to figure out what "realism" and "anti-realism" actually mean, in this context. Could you explain that?
Tom
There are two fundamental questions in meta-ethics.

1: What does a moral claim mean?
2. What if anything makes a moral claim true?

"Realism" is typically used to refer collectively to meta-ethical theories that answer question 1 with any objective truth-apt proposition, and answer question 2 with anything other than "Nothing". This category includes pretty much all of conventional moral philosophy: Confucianism, the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, Aristotle, Kant, Utilitarianism; and it also includes religious theories. "Anti-realism" refers to everything else. If the answer to question 1 is some objective truth-apt proposition but the answer to question 2 is "Nothing", you get Error Theory. If the answer to question 1 is a truth-apt but non-objective proposition*, you get various flavors of Subjectivism and Moral Relativism. If the answer to question 1 isn't a truth-apt proposition at all, you get Noncognitivism.

In the case of taste, a meta-taste theory that says "Surströmming is disgusting" means "Surströmming disgusts somebody" and what it takes to make it true is the existence of at least one person in whom tasting it produces a gag reflex would be taste realism. A theory that says it means "Surströmming disgusts me" and what it takes to make it true is me disliking it would be taste anti-realism.

(* In case you find "truth-apt but non-objective" confusing, here's a canonical example: "In a plane, given a line and a point not on it, at most one line parallel to the given line can be drawn through the point." It's truth-apt because you can make logical arguments for it and from it; it's non-objective because it's true of Euclidean geometry but not true of non-Euclidean geometry, and mathematics isn't in the business of claiming one geometry is right and another is wrong.)
 

The AntiChris

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What makes "Meat eating is wrong." a realist position and "Surströmming is disgusting" (idiomatically) a non-realist position is that people normally mean something objective by the former and mean something autobiographical by the latter; empirical evidence for this is that people normally treat the former as arguable and the latter as not arguable.
Unsurprisingly, I don't think the distinction is quite as clear cut as you imply.
 

TomC

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What makes "Meat eating is wrong." a realist position and "Surströmming is disgusting" (idiomatically) a non-realist position is that people normally mean something objective by the former and mean something autobiographical by the latter; empirical evidence for this is that people normally treat the former as arguable and the latter as not arguable.
Unsurprisingly, I don't think the distinction is quite as clear cut as you imply.

Well, he was trying to explain it to me, a noob.

I'm still having trouble grasping it, I'd appreciate you expanding on your post.

TiA

Tom
 

The AntiChris

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What makes "Meat eating is wrong." a realist position and "Surströmming is disgusting" (idiomatically) a non-realist position is that people normally mean something objective by the former and mean something autobiographical by the latter; empirical evidence for this is that people normally treat the former as arguable and the latter as not arguable.
Unsurprisingly, I don't think the distinction is quite as clear cut as you imply.
I'm still having trouble grasping it, I'd appreciate you expanding on your post.
What specifically are you struggling to grasp? (is it my response or moral realism/anti-realism in general?)
 

ruby sparks

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What makes "Meat eating is wrong." a realist position and "Surströmming is disgusting" (idiomatically) a non-realist position is that people normally mean something objective by the former and mean something autobiographical by the latter; empirical evidence for this is that people normally treat the former as arguable and the latter as not arguable.
Unsurprisingly, I don't think the distinction is quite as clear cut as you imply.

Well, he was trying to explain it to me, a noob.

I'm still having trouble grasping it, I'd appreciate you expanding on your post.

TiA

Tom

In a nutshell, a moral realist says there are at least some things which are actually, factually, objectively morally wrong, and not just a matter of opinion. Not unlike, for example, how saying 2 + 2 = 5 is wrong is not just a matter of opinion.
 
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