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ruby sparks

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Do you think it's surely only whether cancer is deemed to be an illness by whatever percentage of humans, etc.?
If not, what is the difference? Why do you single out morality?

There are facts about cancer that are independent of human judgements about it. There do not appear to be any moral judgements that are independent facts in that way.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
There are facts about cancer that are independent of human (or any other) judgements about it.

Just as there facts about cancer that are independent of human judgments about it, there are facts about Ted Bundy that are independent of judgments about him. Do you agree, or disagree?

Now, I would say that one of those facts about (human) cancer that is independent of judgements about it, is that cancer is an illness. And one of the facts about Ted Bundy that is independent of judgements about him, is that he was a bad person. Now I guess you disagree. But why? Why do you accept that it is a fact about human cancer independent of any judgments about it that cancer is an illness, but it is not a fact about Ted Bundy that is independent of any judgments about him that he was a bad person. What is the difference?

Note that the fact that there are facts about how cancer develops, what causes it, etc., is beside the point. For that matter, there are facts about how Ted Bundy developed, what he intended to do and did, etc.

So, what is the difference here?
 

ruby sparks

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ruby sparks said:
There are facts about cancer that are independent of human (or any other) judgements about it.

Just as there facts about cancer that are independent of human judgments about it, there are facts about Ted Bundy that are independent of judgments about him. Do you agree, or disagree?

Now, I would say that one of those facts about (human) cancer that is independent of judgements about it, is that cancer is an illness. And one of the facts about Ted Bundy that is independent of judgements about him, is that he was a bad person. Now I guess you disagree. But why? Why do you accept that it is a fact about human cancer independent of any judgments about it that cancer is an illness, but it is not a fact about Ted Bundy that is independent of any judgments about him that he was a bad person. What is the difference?

Note that the fact that there are facts about how cancer develops, what causes it, etc., is beside the point. For that matter, there are facts about how Ted Bundy developed, what he intended to do and did, etc.

So, what is the difference here?

In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether Ted Bundy was or wasn't a bad person, or even that he did bad things. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about cancer. They do not depend on human agreement about them. How difficult is that to understand?
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether Ted Bundy was or wasn't a bad person, or even that he did bad things. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about cancer. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?
You are the one who is not understanding. I am talking about the fact that cancer is an illness vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person.

I might as well mirror your argument and say:


In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether cancer is an illness. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about Ted Bundy. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?

Do you see the parallel?
I hope you realize why the distinction you are making does not work.
 

ruby sparks

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ruby sparks said:
In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether Ted Bundy was or wasn't a bad person, or even that he did bad things. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about cancer. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?
You are the one who is not understanding. I am talking about the fact that cancer is an illness vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person.

I might as well mirror your argument and say:


In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether cancer is an illness. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about Ted Bundy. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?
.
You did a switcheroo to 'whether cancer is an illness'. I noticed. You've tried it before. You tried to frame the question that way. Naughty. :)

Stick with 'the independent and fully objective facts about cancer', since that is what I said, and meant, and have obviously been referring to.

I think you will surely have to agree that there are independent facts about cancer that do not depend on agreement about them. Or do you believe cancer cells would not grow if there was no one there to observe them?

That is the difference between morality and cancer. Please stop trying to avoid it.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
You did a switcheroo to 'illness'. I noticed. You've tried it before. You tried to frame the question that way.:)

The accusation is false.

ruby sparks said:
Stick with 'certain facts about cancer', since that is what I said, and meant, and was referring to.
I was talking about the fact that cancer is an illness. Your accusation is false.

Let us look at the exchange:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765267&viewfull=1#post765267

me said:
ruby sparks said:
At best it's surely only 'deemed to be' (by whatever percentage of humans doing the deeming).
Why?
Do you think it's surely only whether cancer is deemed to be an illness by whatever percentage of humans, etc.?
If not, what is the difference? Why do you single out morality?
See, my point was about whether cancer is an illness. That was my challenge to your anti-morality argument.

Here is your reply:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765271&viewfull=1#post765271

Do you think it's surely only whether cancer is deemed to be an illness by whatever percentage of humans, etc.?
If not, what is the difference? Why do you single out morality?

There are facts about cancer that are independent of human judgements about it. There do not appear to be any moral judgements that are independent facts in that way.
And that is your swtcheroo. Do you realize now that you did the switcheroo, and I noticed. Of course, I will not accuse you of doing the switcheroo deliberately. You just misunderstood my words, but you did the switching.


I took your switcheroo as an unfortunate fact, and thought of other ways of getting you to realize that you are making a mistake and your analogy fails. So, here is my reply:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765293&viewfull=1#post765293

me said:
Just as there facts about cancer that are independent of human judgments about it, there are facts about Ted Bundy that are independent of judgments about him. Do you agree, or disagree?
At that point, I show that your switcheroo from whether cancer is an illness to 'facts about cancer' can be mirrored by a 'facts about Ted Bundy'. And then I go on:

me said:
Now, I would say that one of those facts about (human) cancer that is independent of judgements about it, is that cancer is an illness. And one of the facts about Ted Bundy that is independent of judgements about him, is that he was a bad person.
See, I am making the parallel as explicit as I can. Even with your switcheroo, I try to find another way to get you to realize what is going on. And further
me said:
Now I guess you disagree. But why? Why do you accept that it is a fact about human cancer independent of any judgments about it that cancer is an illness, but it is not a fact about Ted Bundy that is independent of any judgments about him that he was a bad person. What is the difference?
Do you see what is going on? I am trying to explain why you have provided absolutely no good reason to challenge the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person but not that cancer is an illness, and further, that your arguments against morality would work against illness - yet, of course you realize that there is illness.

I even went on to say:

me said:
Note that the fact that there are facts about how cancer develops, what causes it, etc., is beside the point. For that matter, there are facts about how Ted Bundy developed, what he intended to do and did, etc.
How can I make that even more clear?

And yet, here is your reply:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765311&viewfull=1#post765311

ruby sparks said:
There are facts about cancer that are independent of human (or any other) judgements about it.

Just as there facts about cancer that are independent of human judgments about it, there are facts about Ted Bundy that are independent of judgments about him. Do you agree, or disagree?

Now, I would say that one of those facts about (human) cancer that is independent of judgements about it, is that cancer is an illness. And one of the facts about Ted Bundy that is independent of judgements about him, is that he was a bad person. Now I guess you disagree. But why? Why do you accept that it is a fact about human cancer independent of any judgments about it that cancer is an illness, but it is not a fact about Ted Bundy that is independent of any judgments about him that he was a bad person. What is the difference?

Note that the fact that there are facts about how cancer develops, what causes it, etc., is beside the point. For that matter, there are facts about how Ted Bundy developed, what he intended to do and did, etc.

So, what is the difference here?

In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether Ted Bundy was or wasn't a bad person, or even that he did bad things. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about cancer. They do not depend on human agreement about them. How difficult is that to understand?

At this point, you still do not get it. So, I make a parallel again:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765316&viewfull=1#post765316

me said:
ruby sparks said:
In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether Ted Bundy was or wasn't a bad person, or even that he did bad things. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about cancer. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?
You are the one who is not understanding. I am talking about the fact that cancer is an illness vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person.

I might as well mirror your argument and say:


In the end, it is in fact strictly speaking debatable as to whether cancer is an illness. There is, in the end, just almost complete agreement among humans about it, that's all. That's not the same for the independent and fully objective facts about Ted Bundy. They do not depend on agreement. How difficult is that to understand?

Do you see the parallel?
I hope you realize why the distinction you are making does not work.
Frankly, I was sincerely hoping you would eventually realize that you were making a mistake. But I also thought maybe you wouldn't. What I did not see coming was an accusation. Look, I get that you did not do any of this deliberately. I just hope that you realize that I was talking about whether cancer is an illness. I get you did not understand that. I hope now you do, and you understand the nature of the challenge to your argument against morality. If you do not understand it, please let me know, and I will explain it again, in greater detail.
 

ruby sparks

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Yes, I switched it, to show why cancer is not a good analogy to morality.

The first has independent facts that do not depend on agreement, the latter does not. That is a big and relevant difference between the two things.

Please stop trying to dodge that fact.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Yes, I switched it, to show why cancer is not a good analogy to morality.

The first has independent facts that do not depend on agreement, the latter does not. That is the big difference.

Please stop trying to dodge that fact.

Perhaps the most irritating thing is that you sincerely believe that you are right and I am trying to dodge something. Please, try to understand the careful explanation as to why you are mistaken.

There are plenty of facts about Ted Bundy that can be described in nonmoral terms, e.g., he "kidnapped, raped, and murdered numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Bundy, where you can find plenty more of those facts). Similarly, there are plenty of facts about human cancer that can be described in non-illness terms. For example, you can describe how it develops, what causes it, how the cells mutate, what effects it has on the person as it progresses, etc., without using the word 'illness', or similar.

Upon contemplating those facts about Ted Bundy, I reckon that he is a bad person. I do that by means of my moral sense, which allows me to intuitively apprehend moral facts.

Upon contemplating those facts about human cancer, I reckon that it is an illness. I do that by means of my health/illness sense, which allows me to intuitively apprehend facts about that domain.

Do you see the analogy? Do you realize why I am not dodging anything, but providing an argument against your argument against morality? I hope you realize that. :)
 

ruby sparks

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Do you see the analogy? Do you realize why I am not dodging anything, but providing an argument against your argument against morality? I hope you realize that. :)

I see the particular/limited analogy, with cancer. But if there is a big difference between morality and cancer as regards whether there are independent facts about one and not the other, it may mean that the two things can't be properly compared, even if there are merely some selected aspects (or properties) of the two that could be.

Also, after my brief exchange with AntiChris just above, it seemed to me that you clarified that you do in fact believe that "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes". And it was that I was particularly interested in during our exchanges since that, when comparing morality with cancer.

I'm objecting to you using cancer as a direct analogy to morality, because there is a fundamental difference between the two as regards independent facts.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Do you see the analogy? Do you realize why I am not dodging anything, but providing an argument against your argument against morality? I hope you realize that. :)

I see the analogy, with cancer. But if there is a big difference between morality and cancer as regards whether there are independent facts about one and not the other, it may mean that the two things can't be properly compared, even if there are merely some selected aspects (or properties) of the two that could be.

I'm objecting to you using cancer as an analogy to morality.
I see that you do not understand what I am doing. I am not using cancer as an analogy to morality. Not at all. Rather, I am using illness/health as an analogy to morality. In the analogy, cancer is the analogue not to morality or to moral badness, but to Ted Bundy.

We humans reckon intuitively that Ted Bundy is a bad person. We humans reckon intuitively that human cancer is an illness.

In the moral case, we have a moral sense that allows us to intuitively apprehend moral facts. In the health/illness case, we have a similar sense that allows us to intuitively apprehend facts about health and disease.

Why is it that you eschew our human moral sense and our intuitive apprehension of moral facts, but you do not eschew our human illness/health sense or our intuitive apprehension of facts about illness and health?
 

ruby sparks

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Why is it that you eschew our human moral sense and our intuitive apprehension of moral facts, but you do not eschew our human illness/health sense or our intuitive apprehension of facts about illness and health?

I'm not sure I do or ever did that, certainly not deliberately.

The analogy is essentially ok, imo. They are both, in the end, (human) senses. As with colour, as I agreed much earlier. Possibly they are also both judgements, attitudes and beliefs. There might even be other words for what they both are.

Let me recap from my end of the intertubes.

I am no longer making a strong claim that there are no moral facts. I even suggested a candidate quite a while ago. Now, it may be that there are either (i) very few specific moral facts (about specific acts, such as killing for fun) and/or (ii) quite a number of very general ones. In either or both cases, I felt that working out the rights and wrongs in any one particular instance might be as difficult (or not much easier) than it is already for someone who does not accept that there are moral facts, but I set that aside. It being difficult does not mean it is not possible, or worthwhile trying.

I had, in my head, more or less moved on from that issue to (a) start a thread on whether morality (facts included if they existed) was consequentialist in the way I mean it and (b) start two threads on responses to what are deemed moral wrongs (retribution and forgiveness respectively).

However, my accepting that there are or could be at least some moral facts was on the basis that they were basically not independent of human judgement, that they were 'merely' species-wide, a matter of consensus and that they were (human) senses, and so on. Which is what I said in my reply to AntiChris. And then you clarified. And thereafter that was what my particular point (if not yours) about the comparison with cancer was related to. I was no longer arguing (at least not strongly, or without some caveats) against the existence of moral facts, only their independence from humans. So we were at cross purposes.

And so now I am not sure what you mean by, "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes" because that would seem to be true of cancer......but not morality?
 

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"moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes"
Morality depends on one's society. I read about a tribe in a Pacefic island where the husband and wife should never be in friendship but always in conflict and were to live apart (in their own clan houses). However, sex was to be continued, and the woman would come after sunset. No morality outside society, that is to say, 'no intrinsic morality'.
 

ruby sparks

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"moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes"
Morality depends on one's society. I read about a tribe in a Pacefic island where the husband and wife should never be in friendship but always in conflict and were to live apart (in their own clan houses). However, sex was to be continued, and the woman would come after sunset. No morality outside society, that is to say, 'no intrinsic morality'.

It's a very large topic and covers a lot of judgements about a lot of things. If you want my tuppenceworth, human morality is at least sometimes relative (to culture, historical period, zeitgeist, or the individual, for example) and sometimes non-relative to those things. At this point I don't think I'd pick one or the other for the whole topic. That allows for at least some things about human morality to be what we might call moral facts, even intrinsic ones (true for more or less all normal members of the species, barring defects or anomalies, such as psychopathology for example) but not independent to (from outside of) the species.

The more general the fact, the more of them there could be. The more specific, the fewer there could be.

I liked this article:

Moral Relativism
https://www.iep.utm.edu/moral-re/#H4
 
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The AntiChris

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And you do not have a good argument against moral facts.
What would you consider a "good" argument against moral facts?

It seems to me the claim that moral facts exist, independent of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes, is unfalsifiable.
...suppose someone claimed that there is a fact of the matter as to whether tomatoes are tasty. How could I go about challenging the claim?

This doesn't really help. The arguments you'd accept against fact-of-the matter tastiness would not persuade you against moral facts-of-the-matter.

To be honest I didn't expect you to be able to answer because it's not the kind of disagreement that's particularly amenable to argument. Both sides agree on the facts in play - it's the interpretation of those facts which is in dispute. Both sides finds the interpretation of the other side implausible.

I do not think any of this is unfalsifiable. Rather, attempts to falsify it have failed
Ok, but what, in your view, would falsify it. I really don't think there is anything.

For example, given, what many people would see as a genuine moral disagreement where neither side is (non-moral) right or wrong, you will always explain it away by suggesting, for instance, that the disagreement is really about non-moral facts/beliefs (and so not a genuine moral disagreement) or that the moral sensibilities of one person are malfunctioning.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
And so now I am not sure what you mean by, "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes" because that would seem to be true of cancer......but not morality?
I did not say that, but again, my comparison was not between moral facts and cancer facts. It was between moral facts and facts about health and illness. I could add color. For example, here is a fact about health/illness: Humans who have AIDS are ill. Here's a moral fact: Humans who electrocute other humans for fun behave immorally. Light with a 700nm wavelength is red.

Are they independent of our beliefs, feelings and other attitudes?
Sure. Imagine the world, 20000 years ago. No human has the concept of electrocuting other humans, or of AIDS, or wavelengths. Or imagine in a dystopian future, humanity is back to the stone age (but after HIV is defeated), and no one knows anything about those things. That would not make the statements above false, or those things non-facts. It's just that humans are not aware of those facts.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which they do depend, namely the meaning of our words is given by usage, and we have the words we have (e.g., 'morally wrong', 'ill', 'permissible', etc., and synonims in other languages) because of the sort of minds we have. Smart aliens who evolved on another planet would very likely have different words, tracking different stuff. Due to similarities in evolution, I reckon they would likely have concepts that are closer to ours when it comes to illness/health than to moral wrongness, permissibility, etc., and the latter closer to ours than when it comes to color.

There is another, key sense in which they are independent of our beliefs, etc., namely that the truth of moral statements - like that of color statements, or statements about health and illness - is independent of the speaker. In other words, if you say the traffic light (a specific light, at a specific time and place, etc.) was green, and I say it was red, one of us makes a false statement, perhaps by mistake. The same for morality and for illness/health.
 

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The AntiChris said:
This doesn't really help. The arguments you'd accept against fact-of-the matter tastiness would not persuade you against moral facts-of-the-matter.
Actually, they would convince me, if they were backed up by the same evidence, prominently linguistic evidence and evidence about human behavior in that context. That is why I gave it as an example.


The AntiChris said:
To be honest I didn't expect you to be able to answer because it's not the kind of disagreement that's particularly amenable to argument. Both sides agree on the facts in play - it's the interpretation of those facts which is in dispute. Both sides finds the interpretation of the other side implausible.
No, it seems there is disagreement about some facts for sure.

The AntiChris said:
Ok, but what, in your view, would falsify it. I really don't think there is anything.
I already explained that. If you could provide an argument like that for tomatoes, with similar linguistic evidence, etc., sure that would convince me.

Now, given that the linguistic evidence indicates something different, then it would not work, so I think I would not be convinced but because I have already looked at the evidence and it says otherwise, so you would have to provide evidence countering the linguistic evidence I've already seen to get the same result.

At any rate, there is one piece of evidence that would leave the matter just between 'no fact of the matter' and 'the fact is that nothing is morally good or bad, morally wrong, impermissible, permissible, obligatory, etc.', which would need further argument. What you would need to do is something akin to what you would need in the color case:

Imagine you can show me that there is an odd object (say, O1), such that, under ordinary light conditions, looks green to some people, and blue to others, and those are people who appear to have normal color vision. The evidence for normal color vision is that they seem to make correct color assessments in their lives, and there is no evidence of anything that might have interfered with the proper development of their color vision. Suppose further you try that on otherwise fit, healthy young people from different countries, and the difference remains. Given enough evidence like that, I would come to the assessment that there probably is no fact of the matter as to whether O1 is blue, though there is usually a fact of the matter as to the color of ordinary objects.

Similarly, if you can show me that human assessments on whether - say - same-sex sex is always immoral differ even when people are using their moral senses only and not an improper instrument (e.g., religious indoctrination, a metaphysical theory), even in absense of disagreement about other relevant matters (e.g., whether people who have same-sex sex intend to recruit children, etc.), and after reflection, I would be persuaded that there probably is no fact of the matter as to whether same-sex sex is always immoral.

That alone, however, would not be good grounds to think there isn't a fact of the matter in most ordinary cases - moreover, there is the problem that if the same pattern held for many ordinary cases, perhaps we would move from a 'no fact of the latter' situation to a 'the fact is that nothing is morally good or bad, morally wrong, impermissible, permissible, obligatory, etc.' situation (the difference with the tomato case is that in the latter case, people generally do not take themselves to be talking about a matter of fact, so linguistic evidence differs), though this would need more discussion.

In short, you could convince me (as above) that in some specific instances, there are no moral facts, but if you do that for many instances (how many to be assessed intuitively, as always), then maybe you would need a further argument to convince me that in general, there are no moral facts, rather than 'the fact is that nothing is morally good or bad, morally wrong, impermissible, permissible, obligatory, etc.'. Either way, I would be convinced that one moral error theory or the other holds - just which one requires further argument.


The AntiChris said:
For example, given, what many people would see as a genuine moral disagreement where neither side is (non-moral) right or wrong, you will always explain it away by suggesting, for instance, that the disagreement is really about non-moral facts/beliefs (and so not a genuine moral disagreement) or that the moral sensibilities of one person are malfunctioning.
There is a third alternative: they are using an improper instrument. Instead of their moral sense, they are following the dictates of a religion/ideology/philosophy (RIP for short :)) they were told about. This sort of wrong instrument might also damage the moral sense, so this alternative and the second one are not mutually exclusive. Additionally, apart from direct dictates, RIP can make contain false nonmoral claims on the basis of which false moral claims are made, so this alternative also overlaps with the first one (moral disagreement can have multiple causes).

(also, here 'disagreement' is a bit strong, as it A says X happened, B says X did not happen. It might be that B has never even thought about whether X happened. I will use 'disagreement' for short, but in the understanding that it includes cases like that, in which they have different beliefs, though they do not disagree in a strict sense; if necessary, we can change terminology).

But note that this is similar to other cases in which (I think) you do not doubt that there is a fact of the matter. Take, for example, common descent. Surely, there is plenty of disagreement about whether, say, chimps and mosquitoes have a common ancestor. What can account for the disagreement? It's not that there is no fact of the matter. So, I would say the realistic options are:

1. There is disagreement about what observations were made, and these observations are used to make the assessment as to whether they have a common ancestor (analogue: disagreement about nonmoral facts).
2. Someone is using the wrong instrument, like RIP or something along those lines.
3. Their epistemic sense (i.e., the faculty by which humans normally make epistemic probabilistic assessments) is malfunctioning.
4. A combination two or three of the above.

Moreover, in philosophy, long-lasting disagreements are pretty common. For example, disagreements between theists and nontheists, between substance dualists (i.e., souls and the like) and substance monists, and then property dualists and property monists. Also, disagreements in general about epistemology, philosophy of mind, you name it. Generally, though, we reckon there is a fact of the matter in those cases (not all philosophical disputes perhaps, but surely the ones I mentioned before and many others in those fields of philosophy). Why do these sort of disagreements persist? Well, it seems to me that it's something like the options given above.
 

The AntiChris

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The arguments you'd accept against fact-of-the matter tastiness would not persuade you against moral facts-of-the-matter.
Actually, they would convince me, if they were backed up by the same evidence, prominently linguistic evidence and evidence about human behavior in that context.
If the evidence was the same then the world would would be a different place. It's not. The evidence is what it is and all we're left with are differing interpretations.

Both sides agree on the facts in play - it's the interpretation of those facts which is in dispute. Both sides finds the interpretation of the other side implausible.

No, it seems there is disagreement about some facts for sure.
I'm not at all convinced.


The AntiChris said:
Ok, but what, in your view, would falsify it. I really don't think there is anything.
I already explained that. If you could provide an argument like that for tomatoes, with similar linguistic evidence, etc., sure that would convince me.
I've explained this is an impossibility. All you're saying is that if the world were different you might be convinced.



The AntiChris said:
For example, given, what many people would see as a genuine moral disagreement where neither side is (non-moral) right or wrong, you will always explain it away by suggesting, for instance, that the disagreement is really about non-moral facts/beliefs (and so not a genuine moral disagreement) or that the moral sensibilities of one person are malfunctioning.
There is a third alternative: they are using an improper instrument. Instead of their moral sense, they are following the dictates of a religion/ideology/philosophy (RIP for short :)) they were told about. This sort of wrong instrument might also damage the moral sense, so this alternative and the second one are not mutually exclusive. Additionally, apart from direct dictates, RIP can make contain false nonmoral claims on the basis of which false moral claims are made, so this alternative also overlaps with the first one (moral disagreement can have multiple causes).
It really doesn't matter which convoluted justification you employ, my point is that the moral realist will always find a reason to reject, what many would see as, a genuine moral disagreement between normally-functioning humans.


Moreover, in philosophy, long-lasting disagreements are pretty common. For example, disagreements between theists and nontheists, between substance dualists (i.e., souls and the like) and substance monists, and then property dualists and property monists. Also, disagreements in general about epistemology, philosophy of mind, you name it. Generally, though, we reckon there is a fact of the matter in those cases (not all philosophical disputes perhaps, but surely the ones I mentioned before and many others in those fields of philosophy). Why do these sort of disagreements persist? Well, it seems to me that it's something like the options given above.
Just to make it clear, I haven't been making the argument that moral disagreement disproves moral facts-of-the-matter.
 

ruby sparks

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ruby sparks said:
And so now I am not sure what you mean by, "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes" because that would seem to be true of cancer......but not morality?
I did not say that...

You did seem to....

.... All that said, and for the sake of clarity, you say 'independent of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes'. Well, in a relevant sense, yes.


....but I may have misunderstood.

....but again, my comparison was not between moral facts and cancer facts. It was between moral facts and facts about health and illness. I could add color. For example, here is a fact about health/illness: Humans who have AIDS are ill. Here's a moral fact: Humans who electrocute other humans for fun behave immorally. Light with a 700nm wavelength is red.

I'm good with all that. It's just this 'independent' thing.

And while you may have been comparing one aspect or property of cancer to morality, which is fine as far as it goes, I wasn't limiting myself to that, or to 'comparable properties' and don't see why I should. It'd be a bit like comparing the sun to a banana because they're both yellow.

Are they independent of our beliefs, feelings and other attitudes? Sure.

Ok so you are saying it?

Imagine the world, 20000 years ago...

Imagine a world 50 million years ago. :)

Or imagine one 50 million years from now, with humans all gone.

I think we're at cross purposes here. A human moral fact needs a human to deem it to exist. And it's not independent to human brains (even when humans do exist), as in not from anywhere other than the sense of it that's in their brains. It's not external to humans, whether they exist or not. It sort of doesn't matter whether they do or not. The absence of humans in the past or future only serves to illustrate a point.

Human moral facts are only in human brains. There's no moral facts (and no morality) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

Imagine the world, 20000 years ago. No human has the concept of electrocuting other humans, or of AIDS, or wavelengths. Or imagine in a dystopian future, humanity is back to the stone age (but after HIV is defeated), and no one knows anything about those things. That would not make the statements above false, or those things non-facts. It's just that humans are not aware of those facts.

I would say that if, back then, something that is deemed to be a moral fact now (or is a moral fact now, because everyone deems it) wasn't then, that the better explanation is that it simply wasn't a fact at that time, that the fact literally did not exist. Because again, morality is not necessarily a good analogy to AIDS or wavelengths. Facts about those (and I'm not claiming AIDS is or isn't an illness, I'm talking about other facts about AIDS) exist independently of what humans think about them. And I'm saying moral facts don't, because moral facts are only things that humans think. This is not true of AIDS, cancer or wavelenghths. Colour, yes, that's not independent, like morality that's a brain sense.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which they do depend, namely the meaning of our words is given by usage, and we have the words we have (e.g., 'morally wrong', 'ill', 'permissible', etc., and synonims in other languages) because of the sort of minds we have. Smart aliens who evolved on another planet would very likely have different words, tracking different stuff. Due to similarities in evolution, I reckon they would likely have concepts that are closer to ours when it comes to illness/health than to moral wrongness, permissibility, etc., and the latter closer to ours than when it comes to color.

I might agree with you. To be honest, I'm focusing on the issue of independence.


There is another, key sense in which they are independent of our beliefs, etc., namely that the truth of moral statements - like that of color statements, or statements about health and illness - is independent of the speaker. In other words, if you say the traffic light (a specific light, at a specific time and place, etc.) was green, and I say it was red, one of us makes a false statement, perhaps by mistake. The same for morality and for illness/health.

That's only independent of the beliefs, feelings and attitude of an individual human (the speaker), or possibly some humans (speakers). Perhaps that's what you meant in what I bolded above. Ok.

Anyhows, I'm suggesting that human morality, being a human sense, is not independent of humans. I thought that when someone said, "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes", the 'our' implied humans generally.

What moral facts do depend on, it seems, is humans to deem them.

In one way, they are basically statistical, they are about enough agreement (about a deeming) between brains, to have a consensus about them.
 
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ruby sparks

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If the evidence was the same then the world would would be a different place. It's not. The evidence is what it is and all we're left with are differing interpretations.

I think I agree. Human moral judgements clearly often vary and are relative to various things. This is indisputable (and not even disputed here I think). There may sometimes be agreement to the point of universal (human) consensus, about some aspects of human morality however, at which point, we can call something there is a universal (human) consensus about, a human moral 'fact', and 'real' and 'true' in the sense that it is actually real and true and a fact that there is a universal (human) consensus about it.

Or, perhaps more importantly, I might even say that anything further than that, about the factualness or realness or truth of moral judgements and senses, is redundant to, superfluous to, and unnecessary for explanations. Which if it is the case, surely makes it permissible to simply leave it out. If someone wants to include it, as an interesting additional hypothetical assertion, in the absence of being able to show that it's actually, independently or externally true, go them. Can we do invisible elves carrying falling leaves down to the ground next?
 
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Angra Mainyu

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The AntiChris said:
If the evidence was the same then the world would would be a different place. It's not. The evidence is what it is and all we're left with are differing interpretations.
But that is not the issue. You asked me what would convince me, and I gave you an answer. The evidence does not have to be exactly but relevantly the same, e.g., people generally saying that there is no fact of the matter instead of engaging in moral debate, evidence of persistent disagreement of the right kind (as explained), and so on.

Of course, as it happens, the evidence is not relevantly the same. But that does not mean at all that the claim is unfalsifiable. I gave you examples as to how to falsify it.

The AntiChris said:
I've explained this is an impossibility. All you're saying is that if the world were different you might be convinced.
No, I'm saying in which ways the world would have to be in order to convince me. You were saying that it is unfalsifiable. That is not what it means for something to be unfalsifiable. I'm telling you, if such-and-such happens, then it is falsified. I already provided an example with color, if you do not like the tomato example.


The AntiChris said:
It really doesn't matter which convoluted justification you employ, my point is that the moral realist will always find a reason to reject, what many would see as, a genuine moral disagreement between normally-functioning humans.
First, it is not convoluted at all:

a. Just take a look at moral debates as they actually happen (e.g., here in PD, or somewhere else). You will find that there is plenty of nonmoral disagreement to base the moral disagreement. You will see the demonization of the opponents, the accusations of having intent, beliefs, etc., that there is no good reason to believe the other person has (and which of course they deny, so plenty of disagreement), as well as demonization of the person they are debating with their opponents about. You will also see excuses from the other side. In other words, you will see vast nonmoral disagreement.

b. Take a look at disagreements about evolution. You have not addressed my point:
me said:
But note that this is similar to other cases in which (I think) you do not doubt that there is a fact of the matter. Take, for example, common descent. Surely, there is plenty of disagreement about whether, say, chimps and mosquitoes have a common ancestor. What can account for the disagreement? It's not that there is no fact of the matter. So, I would say the realistic options are:

1. There is disagreement about what observations were made, and these observations are used to make the assessment as to whether they have a common ancestor (analogue: disagreement about nonmoral facts).
2. Someone is using the wrong instrument, like RIP or something along those lines.
3. Their epistemic sense (i.e., the faculty by which humans normally make epistemic probabilistic assessments) is malfunctioning.
4. A combination two or three of the above.
I might mirror your argument and say that realists about common ancestry will always find a reason to reject, what many would see as, a genuine ancestry disagreement between normally-functioning humans, and then say that the claim that there is a fact of the matter as to whether chimps and mosquitoes have a common ancestors is unfalsifiable, or alternatively, that the claim that there is a fact of the matter as to whether it is rational, on the basis of the available observations, to believe that chimpanzees and mosquitoes do not have a common ancestor, is unfalsifiable.


Second, the claim "the moral realist will always find a reason to reject, what many would see as, a genuine moral disagreement between normally-functioning humans." is false. I'm a moral realist, but I was not always so. I mean, I began as an implicit realist like everyone else (except maybe psychopaths), but many years ago, I found the argument from apparent disagreement to miscommunication persuasive. I had made a mistaken assessment about the type of disagreement there is (also, I made another mistake about how people used the words, but that's not the relevant issue here). Upon further observation, I realize I got that wrong. That's not remotely what you see in a case of unfalsifiable claims.

The AntiChris said:
Just to make it clear, I haven't been making the argument that moral disagreement disproves moral facts-of-the-matter.
No, you just say that the claim is unfalsifiable, and advance the case of moral disagreement in a fuzzy way, without explaining why you push it.

I'm just using parallels to show that the argument from disagreement fails (at whatever goal you intend for it to have) in other cases in which disagreement seems to happen in a similar manner. If you think that it has much greater weight in showing that there is no fact of the matter, or that somehow it makes the issue unfalsifiable, I would ask that you make your argumentation clear.
 

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ruby sparks said:
You did seem to....
No, I did not seem to. You used quotation marks. I did not say that.

ruby sparks said:
I'm good with all that. It's just this 'independent' thing.
But why? Why is the fact that humans with cancer are ill any more independent than the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person?

ruby sparks said:
Ok so you are saying it?
Yes, now I'm saying that in a way they are. In what way? In the way I described in the post you replied to. :)

ruby sparks said:
Imagine a world 50 million years ago. :)
That simply gets out of the scenario, and excludes it by decision. But that is not a way of countering my arguments. :)

ruby sparks said:
Or imagine one 50 million years from now, with humans all gone.
Why do you think there will not be post-humans with morality?
But regardless, let's say not. Everyone dies in a nuclear war or whatever.

ruby sparks said:
I think we're at cross purposes here. A human moral fact needs a human to deem it to exist.
No, that is not true. If all humans were to die, then it would remain the case that Ted Bundy was a bad person, as it would remain the case that humans who had cancer were ill, or that red traffic lights were red.

ruby sparks said:
And it's not independent to human brains (even when humans do exist), as in from anywhere other than the sense of it that's in their brains. It's not external to humans, whether they exist or not. It sort of doesn't matter whether they do or not. The absence of humans in the past or future only serves to illustrate a point.
But it doesn't illustrate that. It fails. Suppose again all humans die. That does not affect the fact that human red traffic lights were red. Or that humans with cancer were ill. Or that Ted Bundy was a morally bad person. Why would you single out the third one for elimination?

ruby sparks said:
Human moral facts are only in human brains. There's no moral facts (and no morality) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

Parallel 1: Human illness and health facts are only in human brains. There's no illness and health facts (and no illness or health) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

Parallel 2: Human color facts are only in human brains. There's no color facts (and no color) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

I take it - from what you've been saying - that you reject these parallels..at least with illness (I'm less sure what you think about the color parallel now). But why? What is the relevant difference?

On the other hand, if you agree with the parallels, please let me know.

ruby sparks said:
I would say that if, back then, something that is deemed to be a moral fact now (or is a moral fact now, because everyone deems it) wasn't then, that the explanation is that it simply wasn't a fact at that time, that the fact literally did not exist. Because again, morality is not necessarily a good analogy to AIDS or wavelengths.
The analogy is not between morality and AIDS. The analogy is between moral facts and illness facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS is not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. And again, the analogy is not at all between wavelengths and morality. It is between color and morality, etc.

ruby sparks said:
Facts about those (and I'm not claiming AIDS is or isn't an illness, I'm talking about other facts about AIDS) exist independently of what humans think about them.
But then you are not talking about what I am talking. I am talking about the fact that a human being with AIDS is ill vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a morally evil person.

ruby sparks said:
And I'm saying moral facts don't, because moral facts are only things that humans think. If nobody thinks them, they don't exist. This is not true of AIDS, cancer or wavelenghths.
I don't agree that they do not exist if nobody thinks them (e.g., everyone dies, and it remains the case that Ted Bundy was a bad person).

ruby sparks said:
Colour, yes, that's not independent, like morality that's a brain sense.
Do you believe that if all humans die, then all grass stops being green? If not, then why the fact that Ted Bundy was a morally evil person go away?
 

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No, I did not seem to. You used quotation marks. I did not say that.

So what? If you do think it and agree you did say it later, what's the point of quibbling? That was rhetorical. Please don't answer.


But why? Why is the fact that humans with cancer are ill any more independent than the fact that Ted Bundy was a bad person?

I already agreed that illness was no more independent.


ruby sparks said:
Imagine a world 50 million years ago. :)
That simply gets out of the scenario, and excludes it by decision. But that is not a way of countering my arguments. :)

I'm not obliged to limit myself to your selective aspects of the issue. I'm doing the issue, not just your selected aspects of it (which I agree with) because there's more to the issue. You have a habit of not responding to my replies on other aspects of the issue. I don't know why, since our agreement on yours is done and dusted and for the last time, I'm not countering those points.

ruby sparks said:
I think we're at cross purposes here. A human moral fact needs a human to deem it to exist.
No, that is not true. If all humans were to die, then it would remain the case that Ted Bundy was a bad person, as it would remain the case that humans who had cancer were ill, or that red traffic lights were red.

It would only be the case that those things were once deemed to be the case, by humans.

Suppose again all humans die. That does not affect the fact that human red traffic lights were red. Or that humans with cancer were ill. Or that Ted Bundy was a morally bad person. Why would you single out the third one for elimination?

I don't, from those three. I put all those three together, as 'facts'.

Parallel 1: Human illness and health facts are only in human brains. There's no illness and health facts (and no illness or health) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

Parallel 2: Human color facts are only in human brains. There's no color facts (and no color) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.

For the last time, I hope, I am good with that.

I take it - from what you've been saying - that you reject these parallels..at least with illness (I'm less sure what you think about the color parallel now). But why? What is the relevant difference?

Double whammy. Wrong and weird, given that I've gone blue in the face making it clear I have no problem with those particular comparisons.

On the other hand, if you agree with the parallels, please let me know.

Wtf? I agree, and had already done so.

The analogy is not between morality and AIDS. The analogy is between moral facts and illness facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS is not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. And again, the analogy is not at all between wavelengths and morality. It is between color and morality, etc.

I think you mean your selective arbitrary comparisons. Go you. The sun is like a banana. Both are yellow. I guess that's all we need to consider and we can put them on a par, according to your inadequate standards and incomplete criteria.

But then you are not talking about what I am talking. I am talking about the fact that a human being with AIDS is ill vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a morally evil person.

Given that I already agreed with you about that quite a while ago, why are you still banging on about it?

ruby sparks said:
And I'm saying moral facts don't, because moral facts are only things that humans think. If nobody thinks them, they don't exist. This is not true of AIDS, cancer or wavelenghths.
I don't agree that they do not exist if nobody thinks them (e.g., everyone dies, and it remains the case that Ted Bundy was a bad person).

It only remains true that when there were humans, they deemed Ted bundy to be bad, that's all.

ruby sparks said:
Colour, yes, that's not independent, like morality that's a brain sense.
Do you believe that if all humans die, then all grass stops being green? If not, then why the fact that Ted Bundy was a morally evil person go away?

Yes, the grass stops being green if there is no entity to deem it to be green. Similar for Ted Bundy being bad. And, in the final analysis, whether anyone was ever what is called ill.

Grass may still exist however. Cancer may still exist. There may still be wavelengths for electromagnetic radiation. Those would be facts that would be independent of what humans deem them.





And all of that is why moral facts are apparently not independent of humans, which is at this time the issue we are discussing.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
So what? If you do think it and agree you did say it later, what's the point of quibbling?
It's not quibbling. Rather, you said
ruby sparks said:
And so now I am not sure what you mean by, "moral facts exist independently of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes" because that would seem to be true of cancer......but not morality?
In that context, you are asking for clarification of my words. I'm saying I did not say that, so I have no way of clarifying.

ruby sparks said:
I'm not limiting myself to your selective framing of the issue. I already agreed that illness was no more independent.
I did not know you agreed with that. I thought you were sort-of agreeing about color ("sort of" because you were still not interpreting my comparision as it was meant to, so I was not/am not certain).

ruby sparks said:
I'm not obliged to limit myself to your selective framings of the issue. I'm doing the issue, not your arbitrary selections. You have a habit of not responding to my replies on their own terms.
No, I do reply. I just point it out first that the reply misses the point where it does. Still, we are getting somewhere, given that you already agreed (if I am reading this right) that neither illness nor color is more 'independent' than morality (whatever you mean by 'independent', that's good progress I think).

ruby sparks said:
It would only be the case that those things were deemed to be he case, by humans.
They were deemed so correctly. The point of using the color and illness/health analogies was to use examples in which you would (I would have expected) accept that there is a fact of the matter, that if humans die the facts remain, and so on. If you do not agree with that, either, I guess there might not be enough ground for further discussion. I will think of further examples.

ruby sparks said:
I don't, from those three. I put all those three together.
Great, so the analogies worked in a way...just they had an opposite effect to what I was going for. :(
I mean, yes, I wanted you to put all those three together, so success! :)
But then, I wanted to do so as a 'partners in innocent' sort of thing, where moral facts get rescued by color facts and/or facts about health and illness. Instead, it seems you got a 'partners in crime' reading, so that color facts and facts about health and illness got taken down as well. :(

I'll think of some other domain I might be able to use, but I need to think about it (there is a candidate in my exchange with The AntiChris, but I'm worried it might backfire as well; I'll think about it more).

ruby sparks said:
For the last time, I hope, I am good with that.
Okay, I get it. :)
So, again, that backfired. :(

ruby sparks said:
Double whammy. Wrong and weird, given that I've gone blue in the face making it clear I have no problem with those particular comparisons.
Okay, so I misunderstood. It is not so weird, though. Misunderstanding is the rule in these forums.:)


ruby sparks said:
I think you mean your selective arbitrary comparisons. Go you. The sun is like a banana. Both are yellow. I guess that's all we need to consider.
No, I do not mean that at all. I regret you feel it's that way. There was a point to the comparisons (see above).

ruby sparks said:
Angra Mainyu said:
But then you are not talking about what I am talking. I am talking about the fact that a human being with AIDS is ill vs. the fact that Ted Bundy was a morally evil person.
Given that I already agreed with you about that quite a while ago, why are you still banging on about it?
Okay, I misunderstood, but see, you kept saying things like
ruby sparks said:
Because again, morality is not necessarily a good analogy to AIDS or wavelengths.
Yes, you repeated that several times. But since I never used morality as an analogy to either AIDS or wavelengths, it made sense to keep clarifying what my analogies were about.

ruby sparks said:
It only remains true that when there were humans, they deemed Ted bundy to be bad, that's all.
That is not true, just as if all humans die, it remains the case that Marie Curie was ill due to radiation poisoning...but I guess you do not agree with that, either, so maybe not enough common ground for a conversation here. :(

ruby sparks said:
Yes, the grass stops being green if there is no entity to deem it to be green. What's difficult about that?
It's not difficult, and I disagree of course. But I thought it would be obvious to you as well that this was false. That was the point of these analogies. They failed because you bit the bullets instead of recoiling. :)
 

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There was a point to the comparisons (see above).

I didn't say there wasn't, but as regards comparing cancer or AIDS with morality, it was only a partial point, because it only related to certain aspects that could be positively compared.

Okay, I misunderstood, but see, you kept saying things like
ruby sparks said:
Because again, morality is not necessarily a good analogy to AIDS or wavelengths.

Which it isn't necessarily, because they are apparently different in the very way we are supposed to be discussing, namely their independence from human brains.

For the latter (AIDS, cancer, grass or wavelengths) there are apparently facts that are independent of humans and for the former (morality) there apparently aren't. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that their was ever human morality when there weren't human brains, or even when there were but moral facts were not asserted? No. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever grass or electromagnetic radiation when there merely were no human brains? Yes. The latter two are therefore, by any reasonable standard, demonstrably independent of human brains and the former isn't that, and you are more or less left with nothing but an arguably controversial bald assertion about the supposed independence of morality, an assertion that has no evidence, can't be demonstrated, and that is also redundant to explanations.

Now, can we do invisible, leaf-carrying elves? Perhaps you think I need to falsify them, or provide evidence they don't exist?

Hey, if you were essentially doing woo-type stuff, you should have just said, a lot earlier.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
I didn't say there wasn't, but as regards comparing cancer or AIDS with morality, it was only a partial point, because it only related to certain aspects that could be compared.
Actually, that was neither a partial nor a complete point from me. Rather, I never compared cancer or AIDS to with morality. :)
Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. And again, the analogy is not at all between wavelengths and morality. It is between color and morality, etc.

ruby sparks said:
Which it isn't necessarily, because they are apparently different in the very way we are supposed to be discussing, namely independence.
I don't know what you mean by 'independence' here, but the point is that when you say things like "Because again, morality is not necessarily a good analogy to AIDS or wavelengths." in reply to my posts, you suggest (given what you also say) that I made that analogy. I did not. Rather, the analogy was between color facts and moral facts, and between redness and moral evilness/badness, and the other analogy I just explained again.


ruby sparks said:
For the latter (AIDS, cancer or wavelengths) there are apparently facts that are independent of humans and for the former (morality) there apparently aren't, beyond a bald assertion that can't be demonstrated. Can it be demonstrated that their was ever human morality when there weren't humans? No. Can it be demonstrated that there was ever grass when there weren't humans? Yes. One is independent of humans and the other isn't.
What do you mean by "there was morality"? If you mean there were morally wrong behavior, etc., it seems clearly so. It's not as though morality sprang into existence with humans. There were other primates, like say Homo Erectus that also had morality - evidence of this is that chimps and other apes do as well.

But that is not the issue. Yes, there was grass before there were humans. And there was also green stuff before there were humans. And there were ill animals, plants, etc. The fact that the meaning of our words is given by usage and the fact that usage is informed by our faculties does not imply that the referents of our words did not exist before humans.
On the other hand, was there AIDS before humans? It seems not.

ruby sparks said:
You disagree that grass stops being green if there is no entity there to deem it to be green? That's extremely controversial.
I do not think it is extremely controversial, or controversial at all, unless by that you mean a few people strongly disagree. Sure, you can find anything in philosophy. But it would be extremely weird for humans to believe that grass stops being green if there is no entity there to deem it green. :)

Purely for example, take a look at the following links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinosaur_coloration
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/1/100127-dinosaur-feathers-colors-nature/

Those animals became extinct over 65 million years before there were any humans. People discuss what color they were, and while there is disagreement, that's about what the evidence tells us, not about whether they were some color in the first place. That goes without saying (i.e., it's entirely uncontroversial, leaving aside some philosophers of course, but then, nearly everything would be controversial in that context).
 

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Things such as AIDS, cancer, grass and wavelengths are apparently different from morality in the very way we are supposed to be discussing lately, namely independence from human brains.

For AIDS, cancer, grass or wavelengths, there are apparently facts that are independent of humans and for morality there apparently aren't. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever human morality when there weren't human brains, or even when there were but moral facts were not asserted? No. You are more or less left with nothing but an arguably controversial bald assertion about the supposed independence of morality, an assertion that has no evidence, can't be demonstrated, and that is also redundant to explanations.

But maybe you are right.

Now, can we do invisible, leaf-carrying elves? Perhaps you think I need to falsify them, or provide evidence they don't exist?

We can discuss them colloquially or in terms of intuitions if you like.

Hey, if you were essentially doing woo-type stuff, you should have just said, a lot earlier.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
For the latter (AIDS, cancer, grass or wavelengths) there are apparently facts that are independent of humans and for the former (morality) there apparently aren't. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that their was ever human morality when there weren't human brains, or even when there were but moral facts were not asserted? No.
What do you mean?
There are facts that are not depending on time or instantiation, and others that are.

For example,

F1: It is always immoral for a human being to kill another for fun.
F2: Ted Bundy was a morally evil person.

Now, F1 is a fact of the first kind. F2 is a fact of the second kind. F2 of course requires the past existence of Ted Bundy. But it is not affected by future events. F1 does not require anyone's existence. Why? It is not an assertion about a particular individual, or about a particular time, etc. Rather, it is a general assessment about all humans, which does not require existence of humans.

On the other hand, you can say there was no human morality before there were humans in the sense there were no humans with moral properties - morally good, morally bad, etc. - though there were H. Erectus with such properties.

At any rate, I do not see where you are going with this.

ruby sparks said:
Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever grass or electromagnetic radiation when there merely were no human brains? Yes. The latter two are therefore, by any reasonable standard, demonstrably independent of human brains and the former isn't that, and you are more or less left with nothing but an arguably controversial bald assertion about the supposed independence of morality, an assertion that has no evidence, can't be demonstrated, and that is also redundant to explanations.
Well, if you restrict your scenario to human morality, I might as well restrict the cancer comparison to human brain cancer, which did not exist before there were human brains.

Alternatively, we can consider Tourette's syndrome. By your standard, it seems that Tourette's syndrome and human brain cancers are also 'dependent' (whatever that means). I'm still not seeing your point.

ruby sparks said:
Now, can we do invisible, leaf-carrying elves? Perhaps you think I need to falsify them, or provide evidence they don't exist?

Hey, if you were essentially doing woo-type stuff, you should have just said, a lot earlier.
That is not remotely related to anything I said.
 

Angra Mainyu

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That is not remotely related to anything I said.

It's pretty similar in some ways. You know, like cancer and morality. Like the sun and bananas.

First, I did not compare cancer with morality. Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. I also did not compare the Sun and bananas.

Second, I never said or suggested anything about elves, or anything like that. When you start with the woo accusations, they are not related to my posts.
 

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That is not remotely related to anything I said.

It's pretty similar in some ways. You know, like cancer and morality. Like the sun and bananas.

First, I did not compare cancer with morality. Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. I also did not compare the Sun and bananas.

Second, I never said or suggested anything about elves, or anything like that. When you start with the woo accusations, they are not related to my posts.

There's been some things about our conversations for quite a while, on various topics, that has reminded me of conversations I've had with religious people. The dogmatic certainty and conviction that something you personally think is actually true, and that other people you are talking to just don't see it yet. The more than slightly ropey 'revelation' (about there supposedly being only minuscule exceptions to moral judgements in general) that took place and is now the 'bedrock' of the 'true beliefs'. The not coming straight out with things. The tortured 'logic' and jumping through of endless hoops. The being vague and going around in quibbling circles instead. The reliance on (possibly hiding of weak or superfluous claims behind) everyday language, colloquialisms, analogies (about carefully selected aspects of things) folk psychology and intuitions. The lack of actual direct, objective evidence or demonstration. The repeated rejection, in turn, of scientific explanations and the results of experiments that you try to insist don't undermine the claims. The putting too much stock in merely not being falsified or conclusively shown to be wrong. The trying to limit the analyses and discussion of various issues to personally chosen, limited, 'safe' areas, and the consequent dependence on inadequate or incomplete analyses. The redundancy of the claims to explanations. The lack of parsimony. I could go on.

Claim: moral facts exist independently of and/or externally to the senses of the entities that believe them to.

I could say the same thing about gods. It's that type of claim.
 
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ruby sparks

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Input fact A (to a normal brain) + input fact B + input facts C-Z = permissible output 1: punish.

Input fact A (to a normal but non-identical brain) + input fact B + input facts C-Z = permissible output 2: forgive.

Input fact A (to a normal but non-identical brain) + input fact B + input facts C-Z = permissible outputs 3 onwards: neither of the above, go make a sandwich or other response as selected.

The simplest explanation for the wide variety of possible answers, or permutations of them, is that morality is relative and depends on brains, which (crucially) differ, and does not independently exist outside of them. If nearly everyone agrees on some of them then that would merely show that nearly everyone agrees about those. A social species that has evolved over a very long time period would exhibit that feature, and all the features and patterns that can be observed, without recourse to independent, external moral facts, which are therefore, like Zeus and/or elves (neither of which can be proved not to exist) redundant to explanations,
 
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Angra Mainyu

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First, I did not compare cancer with morality. Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. I also did not compare the Sun and bananas.

Second, I never said or suggested anything about elves, or anything like that. When you start with the woo accusations, they are not related to my posts.

There's been some things about our conversations for quite a while, on various topics, that has reminded me of conversations I've had with religious people. The dogmatic certainty and conviction that something you personally think is actually true, and that other people you are talking to just don't see it yet. The more than slightly ropey 'revelation' (about there supposedly being only minuscule exceptions to moral judgements in general) that took place and is now the 'bedrock' of the 'true beliefs'. The not coming straight out with things. The tortured 'logic' and jumping through of endless hoops. The being vague and going around in quibbling circles instead. The reliance on (possibly hiding of weak or superfluous claims behind) everyday language, colloquialisms, analogies (about carefully selected aspects of things) folk psychology and intuitions. The lack of actual direct, objective evidence or demonstration. The repeated rejection, in turn, of scientific explanations and the results of experiments that you try to insist don't undermine the claims. The putting too much stock in merely not being falsified or conclusively shown to be wrong. The trying to limit the analyses and discussion of various issues to personally chosen, limited, 'safe' areas, and the consequent dependence on inadequate or incomplete analyses. The redundancy of the claims to explanations. The lack of parsimony. I could go on.

Claim: moral facts exist independently of and/or externally to the senses of the entities that believe them to.

I could say the same thing about gods. It's that type of claim.
That is all unwarranted and false.
There have been some things about my conversation with you that matches my conversations with nearly all endorsers of a religion/ideology/any political position on the internet: the demonization of the opponents, the constant attribution to the opponent of beliefs and intentions that the person does not have and that the accuser has no reason whatsoever to even suspect the person has, as well as accusations of actions the person has never engaged in, like "!The not coming straight out with things. " (all in your head), the " The more than slightly ropey 'revelation'" (look at how people actually debate), the " being vague and going around in quibbling circles instead" (not even close, I've been clarifying over and over and over, as a reply to persistent misrepresentations), the claim of denials of scientific explanations, and so on.

The most tragic part is that you actually believe what you say.
 

The AntiChris

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All you're saying is that if the world were different you might be convinced.

No, I'm saying in which ways the world would have to be in order to convince me.
I think that's a 'yes'. ;)

The AntiChris said:
It really doesn't matter which convoluted justification you employ, my point is that the moral realist will always find a reason to reject, what many would see as, a genuine moral disagreement between normally-functioning humans.
First, it is not convoluted at all:
Are you proposing an opinion-independent fact-of-the-matter about convolution? :D

If you think that it [genuine moral disagreement] has much greater weight in showing that there is no fact of the matter, or that somehow it makes the issue unfalsifiable, I would ask that you make your argumentation clear.
Genuine moral disagreement wouldn't be fatal to attitude-independent moral facts-of-the-matter but it does present problems for the moral realist. I'll explain.

Assuming moral facts, independent of our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes do exist, then moral disagreement between two normally-functioning humans would mean the following:

1. One, or both, disputants cannot reliably access/interpret moral facts.

2. If normally functioning human beings cannot be relied upon to access/interpret moral facts accurately then we (humans) have no way of knowing moral facts.

This doesn't show there are no moral facts-of-the-matter but, if they do exist, it renders them superfluous.

This is why a moral realist will go to great lengths to justify their denial of genuine moral disagreements.
 

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The most tragic part is that you actually believe what you say.

Have you ever considered becoming a Catholic priest? Serious question. If you said yes, you did at one time contemplate attending a seminary, I honestly would not be totally surprised.

On the other hand, no, you'd probably have to think wrongdoers sometimes deserve forgiveness.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
The simplest explanation for the wide variety of possible answers, or permutations of them, is that morality is relative and depends on brains, which (crucially) differ, and does not independently exist outside of them.

That is not the simplest explanation. You would need to explain the massive failure of one of our faculties - i.e., the moral sense - to provide accurate information, as we would be massively mistaken about right and wrong, falsely believing that there is a fact of the matter and engaging in long debates about things about which there is no fact of the matter. You would have to explain why a sense that fails to track anything would evolve, how it would manage to work for monkeys given that they would not be able to predict with their own moral sense how the other monkeys will react, and so on. Do you have handy explanations for all of those things? Evidence in support of them?


There are simpler explanations if you look at the way debates go, like:


1. Disagreement about nonmoral facts, in a broad sense (i.e., different relevant information; one of the debaters may not have considered what the other debater has, rather than denying it).
2. Someone is using the wrong instrument, like RIP or something along those lines.
3. Their 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 that this is a simple explanation, as the pattern would match we see in many, many other areas of discourse, like a debate on whether chimps and mosquitoes have a common ancestor. The realistic options are:


1. There is disagreement about what observations were made, and these observations are used to make the assessment as to whether they have a common ancestor (analogue: disagreement about nonmoral facts). Here, 'disagreement' is used broadly, to include instances in which some of the debaters simply has not considered what the other debater says.
2. Someone is using the wrong instrument, like RIP or something along those lines.
3. Their epistemic sense (i.e., the faculty by which humans normally make epistemic probabilistic assessments) is malfunctioning.
4. A combination two or three of the above.​


As I already pointed out, also in philosophy, long-lasting disagreements are pretty common. For example, disagreements between theists and nontheists, between substance dualists (i.e., souls and the like) and substance monists, and then property dualists and property monists. Also, disagreements in general about epistemology, philosophy of mind, you name it. Generally, though, we reckon there is a fact of the matter in those cases (not all philosophical disputes perhaps, but surely the ones I mentioned before and many others in those fields of philosophy). Why do these sort of disagreements persist? Well, it seems to me that it's something like the options given above.

In short, these sort of 1-4 things happen very often. And provide a better explanation. And they match what actually happens in moral debates, nearly always (it's 1.). Go ahead, see for yourself. Just take a look at moral debates as they actually happen (e.g., here in PD, or somewhere else). You will find that there is plenty of nonmoral disagreement to base the moral disagreement. You will see the demonization of the opponents, the accusations of having intent, beliefs, etc., that there is no good reason to believe the other person has (and which of course they deny, so plenty of disagreement), as well as demonization of the person they are debating with their opponents about. You will also see excuses from the other side. In other words, you will see vast nonmoral disagreement.

For example, take a look at how you attack me, with things like

ruby sparks said:
Have you ever considered becoming a priest? Serious question. If you said yes, I honestly would not be surprised.

Or like the accusations in your previous post, e.g.,

ruby sparks said:
There's been some things about our conversations for quite a while, on various topics, that has reminded me of conversations I've had with religious people. The dogmatic certainty and conviction that something you personally think is actually true, and that other people you are talking to just don't see it yet. The more than slightly ropey 'revelation' (about there supposedly being only minuscule exceptions to moral judgements in general) that took place and is now the 'bedrock' of the 'true beliefs'. The not coming straight out with things. The tortured 'logic' and jumping through of endless hoops. The being vague and going around in quibbling circles instead. The reliance on (possibly hiding of weak or superfluous claims behind) everyday language, colloquialisms, analogies (about carefully selected aspects of things) folk psychology and intuitions. The lack of actual direct, objective evidence or demonstration. The repeated rejection, in turn, of scientific explanations and the results of experiments that you try to insist don't undermine the claims. The putting too much stock in merely not being falsified or conclusively shown to be wrong. The trying to limit the analyses and discussion of various issues to personally chosen, limited, 'safe' areas, and the consequent dependence on inadequate or incomplete analyses. The redundancy of the claims to explanations. The lack of parsimony. I could go on.

Claim: moral facts exist independently of and/or externally to the senses of the entities that believe them to.

I could say the same thing about gods. It's that type of claim.
Here, you make things up about me that are not remotely connected with the truth. Now, you believe those things of course, but the crucial point is the massive disagreement about facts like what I intend/intended to do, what I said, what I believe, etc. (which you all have wrong, as you should know, but even if you will not, you can at least tell that there is massive disagreement). Your derogatory beliefs about me by which you dismiss what I say as something really stupid (and actually unrelated to what I said) matches what happens in other debates, including moral debates.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Have you ever considered becoming a Catholic priest? Serious question. If you said yes, you did at one time contemplate attending a seminary, I honestly would not be totally surprised.
But you should be, as you had no reason to even suspect so, and the vast majority of people do not consider that. No, I did not.

ruby sparks said:
On the other hand, no, you'd probably have to think wrongdoers sometimes deserve forgiveness.
Catholicism says that wrongdoers deserve forgiveness? Is it not a free gift, but deserved? And even when they have not made an act of contrition? Could you provide evidence that Catholicism holds this, please?
 

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Catholicism says that wrongdoers deserve forgiveness? Is it not a free gift, but deserved? And even when they have not made an act of contrition? Could you provide evidence that Catholicism holds this, please?

Maybe I was wrong. But if I was, the good news is that you could become a Catholic priest. :)

I think you should at least consider it. It might suit your personality in some keys ways. I think they do intuitions and folk-psychology a LOT. And you would have the option to continue making the types of claims about your beliefs that you already do. And just think of all the evidence that you could say doesn't undermine them.
 

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View attachment 26187

Not like me = bad: Infants prefer those who harm dissimilar others
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374623/

In one scenario during this experiment, 75% of 9 month-old infants and 98% of 14 month-old infants preferred (from a choice of 2) the dog puppet that helped (by retrieving an accidentally dropped ball for it) a puppet that was 'like the infant' (in this case shared their food preferences).

By contrast, in another scenario, over 75% of 9 month-old infants and 98% of 14 month-old infants preferred (from the same choice of 2) the dog puppet that by contrast harmed (by running away with the accidentally dropped ball) a different puppet that was 'not like the infant' (did not share their food preferences).

Which suggests that from a very early age indeed, human moral judgements are coloured by whether the recipient or victim of an action is 'like me' or 'not like me'.

This seems to be yet another thing that human morality is relative to and in this case biased about.

After reading such things, we may not really be surprised, but we may still be a bit shocked and saddened, if it is in fact the case, because it looks possible that basic human moral judgements based on favouritism and discrimination may be almost innate.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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Maybe I was wrong. But if I was, the good news is that you could become a Catholic priest. :)
Maybe you would do better, as you have a lot more in common with them. :)
As for me, I do not think I would be a good fit.


ruby spark said:
I think you should at least consider it. It might suit your personality in some keys ways. I think they do intuitions and folk-psychology a LOT.
You got that backwards. I use moral intuitions to debunk their claims, and some of them strongly protest the use of intuitions, going instead if not with the Bible or some Catholic docrtine, with a philosophical view that is unwarranted and false, like Thomism.
ruby sparks said:
And you would have the option to continue making the types of claims about your beliefs that you already do. And just think of all the evidence that you could say doesn't undermine them.
You are the one not even looking at the evidence. Again, take a look at what you are doing here. You attribute to me beliefs and intentions I do not have, claims I have not made, etc., and then you dismiss what I said. It happens all the time in moral debates as well. Plenty of nonmoral disagreement. Even if you won't see what you have been doing here, take a look at what people do in other threads. When you are watching other humans fight instead of fighting yourself, it is easier to see how the vast majority of them make stuff up about their opponents (not deliberately, they actually believe it) and about the people they condemn in general, and regardless of whether you see that, at least you will see the extent of nonmoral disagreement (hopefully you will see that).
 

Angra Mainyu

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View attachment 26187

Not like me = bad: Infants prefer those who harm dissimilar others
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374623/

In one scenario during this experiment, 75% of 9 month-old infants and 98% of 14 month-old infants preferred (from a choice of 2) the dog puppet that helped (by retrieving an accidentally dropped ball for it) a puppet that was 'like the infant' (in this case shared their food preferences).

By contrast, in another scenario, over 75% of 9 month-old infants and 98% of 14 month-old infants preferred (from the same choice of 2) the dog puppet that by contrast harmed (by running away with the accidentally dropped ball) a different puppet that was 'not like the infant' (did not share their food preferences).

Which suggests that from a very early age indeed, human moral judgements are coloured by whether the recipient or victim of an action is 'like me' or 'not like me'.

This seems to be yet another thing that human morality is relative to and in this case biased about.

After reading such things, we may not really be surprised, but we may still be a bit shocked and saddened, if it is in fact the case, because it looks possible that basic human moral judgements based on favouritism and discrimination may be almost innate.
But you are getting a wrong conclusion. :)
First, that is about favoritism. Even if people prefer to be around those more 'like them', that does not mean they would disagree about the correct moral judgment.

Second, if human morality is pro-discrimination, favoring the in-group, that would not mean there is no fact of the matter, or even that it is relative in the relevant sense. It would mean people have obligations, say, not to harm their in-group members for fun or to steal from them, etc. (where the group is instinctively picked), but lesser or no obligations not to harm out-group members for the same reasons, and so on. You are confusing a group-centered, biased morality with no morality.
 

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But you are getting a wrong conclusion. :)

Me, and the researchers, I guess.

Your evidence-denialism, which has been a feature of your postings in a few threads, might fit in nicely at the seminary too. Although I strongly suggest that you at least study the texts when you get there, better than you do here, so that you know what they actually say.


I admire your stamina and work ethic. There appear to be no lengths you will go to or no limit to the number of hoops you will try to jump through to protect your redundant and undemonstrated claims.

First, that is about favoritism. Even if people prefer to be around those more 'like them', that does not mean they would disagree about the correct moral judgment.

Second, if human morality is pro-discrimination, favoring the in-group, that would not mean there is no fact of the matter, or even that it is relative in the relevant sense. It would mean people have obligations, say, not to harm their in-group members for fun or to steal from them, etc. (where the group is instinctively picked), but lesser or no obligations not to harm out-group members for the same reasons, and so on. You are confusing a group-centered, biased morality with no morality.

Although you may or may not have noticed, you and I have not been disagreeing much for quite some time now as to whether there are at least some of what might be called moral facts (albeit against an obvious backdrop of relative variation, for which reason I think your claims about moral facts are overstated). But I now in retrospect think it a bit unfortunate that you were quite happy to allow me, for quite a while, in various threads, to agree that there were moral 'facts' of a certain sort, albeit clearly stated by me from the moment I accepted it to be on a particular basis and not on the basis of them being external or independent to humans, without making it clear and obvious, when talking to me, that you disagree with me about that, even though you clearly did and do disagree.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Me, and the researchers, I guess.:)
I do not know about that. While humans often seem biased against strangers, the bias takes the form of false beliefs about what those strangers intend, believe, etc. I do not see researchers saying that those assessments would persist upon agreement about the nonmoral facts of the matter.

But if you think otherwise, why don't you quote them making statements that support your claims against my view?

ruby sparks said:
Your evidence-denialism, which has been a feature of your postings in a few threads, might fit in nicely at the seminary too.
The fact that you believe I engage in evidence-denialism in spite of what you can read in my posts would be a good fit for the seminary (well, in terms of absurdity, but I do not know whether your judgment of my posts is clouded by RIP, or just because you are angry with me).



ruby sparks said:
I admire your stamina and work ethic. There appear to be no lengths you will go to or no limit to the number of hoops you will try to jump through to protect your redundant and undemonstrated claims.

I don't need to 'demonstrate' claims that are part of ordinary human experience, like the claim that humans generally can move small objects in their vicinity, or that some traffic lights are red, or that humans with AIDS or cancer or the flu are ill, or that humans can and sometimes feel pain, and so on. The same goes for there being moral facts. If you intend to challenge that, the burden is on you.


ruby sparks said:
Although you may or may not have noticed, you and I have not been disagreeing much for quite some time now as to whether there are at least some of what might be called moral facts (albeit against an obvious backdrop of relative variation, for which reason I think your claims about moral facts are overstated). But I now in retrospect think it a bit unfortunate that you were quite happy to allow me, for quite a while, in various threads, to agree that there were moral 'facts' of a certain sort, albeit clearly stated by me from the moment I accepted it to be on a particular basis and not on the basis of them being external or independent to humans, without making it clear and obvious, when talking to me, that you disagree with me about that, even though you clearly did and do disagree.
Actually, when you talk about the 'independent to humans' stuff, you badly misconstrue my words, and attribute to me beliefs I do not have at all. Given the lack of clarity of your posts, I couldn't tell (I still can't) how much we disagree. Sometimes you say that you agree there are some moral facts. But then you go on to challenge them. It's rather weird. But to reiterate: I do not claim they are independent any more than claims about illness or color are. I tackled your arguments and showed that they failed, so I know your position is not correct, but how wrong it is is hard to tell because it's not precise enough for that.

For example, you claimed:

ruby sparks said:
Yes, the grass stops being green if there is no entity to deem it to be green. Similar for Ted Bundy being bad. And, in the final analysis, whether anyone was ever what is called ill.
You tend to talk about this alleged "final analysis" that is never actually done, but clearly that is false. It's some sort of confusion. Dinosaurs had different colors, and scientists discover, discuss, etc., their color, even though no one was there to see it (their species-relative color vision saw something different, not what the scientists are talking about), and of course, people who had cancer were ill, and that is not the sort of fact that future events could retroactively change. This is just a mistaken theory that for some reason you hold.

Another error: you said:

ruby sparks said:
Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever grass or electromagnetic radiation when there merely were no human brains? Yes. The latter two are therefore, by any reasonable standard, demonstrably independent of human brains and the former isn't that, and you are more or less left with nothing but an arguably controversial bald assertion about the supposed independence of morality, an assertion that has no evidence, can't be demonstrated, and that is also redundant to explanations.

Well, if you restrict your scenario to human morality, I might as well restrict the cancer comparison to human brain cancer, which did not exist before there were human brains. Alternatively, we can consider Tourette's syndrome. By your standard, it seems that Tourette's syndrome and human brain cancers are also 'dependent' (whatever that means), and if all humans were to die, then no human ever had Tourette's syndrome, which is patently false.

In short, your account of 'independence' is pretty obscure, but the parts that are clear enough to make an assessment are clearly wrong.
 
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ruby sparks

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I do not know about that. While humans often seem biased against strangers, the bias takes the form of false beliefs about what those strangers intend, believe, etc.

The experiment would seem to undermine that suggestion. What was believed about the 'like me' and 'not like me' puppets was not false. Interpreting scientific results correctly does not seem to be your strong suit. I wonder if that's why you feel you can try to reject them so often, especially when they don't agree with your own claims and beliefs. Try again with that one.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I read the rest of your post carefully but I find a lot of it very questionable. In particular, the way you are comparing things like cancer or AIDS or Tourette's Syndrome, grass, wavelengths, etc, to morality is imo very confused for reasons previously given many times. And in particular your heavy reliance on 'ordinary human experience' (and things like intuitions, perceptions, everyday language, folk-psychology, analogies, colloquialisms, etc) is, I think a basic flaw that runs through many of your claims. Those considerations have much more in common with religion than anything else.

But I can cut through all that and just say I think you are wrong about moral judgements, and indeed moral 'facts', being independent of what humans deem them to be. We are now talking about the claim that morality is independent. The rest, as they say, is now merely commentary on that.

So, on that issue of supposed independence (I'm underlining it for you so that you understand, I hope, that we're not talking about moral 'facts' in the way I previously accepted):

Cancer, AIDS, grass, colour, and wavelengths are still not necessarily good analogies to morality regarding independence, for several reasons given. They may be, but possibly, like all analogies, only in some ways (see side note below also).

Human morality (ie the human sense of morality) did not, I would tend to assert (subject to being shown or convinced otherwise) exist before humans and would therefore cease to exist when humans cease to exist. This is not true of wavelengths, cancer or grass. It may be true of human cancer, yes, obviously, and historically the case, obviously. Duh.

Colour is slightly different, that, in the end, never really exists (except in the colloquial sense, such as 'lights are red' or 'dinosaurs were green') unless there is an entity to have the experience of it, given that colour is a sensory experience, and the experiencing entity doesn't have to be human. The idea that there is actually redness and greenness 'out there' is dubious and controversial. There are, it seems, only wavelengths of a certain type of radiation that are transmitted by or reflected from something.

If you think I misunderstand your specific claim about independence, which I might, then please clearly and succinctly state what that claim, about morality, is, and leave off analogies with other things at least initially?

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Side note: this issue of the applicability or not of analogies, or supposed contradictions between them and the issue at hand, comes up in other moral discussions, eg abortion. In order to decide if abortion is right or not, it is often compared, via analogy, to other things, but in the end, it seems, abortion is not the same as any of those other things, and so in the end there is nothing to fully compare it to, and we are left having to decide without recourse to analogies, in the end. It's possible this may be the case with the issue here, where we are comparing morality itself to other things.

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For example, are you claiming that there was morality and moral facts, in the universe, before there were any living things, and therefore independent of them?
 
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ruby sparks

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Regardless of any answer to that last question, I can't think of a single moral 'fact', ie something that all 'fully non-defective' humans (temporarily assuming there is such a thing objectively-speaking, which I doubt) agree on that could not be fully explained by saying it's dependent on human brains, and by extension human values, beliefs, attitudes, etc.

Can anyone think of one? Even, 'slowly torturing a human infant to death for fun is wrong' (I can't think of anything worse off the top of my head) wouldn't qualify. That could be fully explained by saying that's merely what is deemed to be the case by human brains. It's not a law of the universe, which, in case anyone hadn't noticed, is a very, very hostile and dangerous place, where damage and destruction happen a LOT, including the harm and suffering and deaths of living things, sometimes at the hands of other living things, sometimes at the hands of their own species, sometimes even, infants at the hands (or paws or hoofs or whatever) of their own mothers.

I'm not saying the animals that do that find it pleasurable, necessarily, I'm not sure if all species can experience pleasure, but there will nonetheless always be that type of reason, that it will fit, be ok, be what the chemicals in the system dictate is what feels right, or what is automatically the thing to do in the case of creatures that can't have feelings at all (beetles perhaps). The underlying reason is likely to be that it doesn't tend to reduce, and may even enhance, the chances of survival and reproduction of the species (or the genes in the gene-carrying vehicles that are the members of that species). In any case, you get the point. There are full explanations without recourse to supposed brain-independent moral facts.

Saying something like, 'X is or was still a wrong even in a universe where there are no humans and never have been (eg our universe 500 million years ago)' would be controversial, undemonstrated, possibly unfalsifiable, and redundant.

Saying something like, "humans don't have to be instantiated at a particular time for it to be a fact that it would be wrong if humans were instantiated" doesn't help much. It seems to help, if we imagine a future universe in which all humans, or even all living things, have gone, because we can then say "it was a fact when there were humans and it would be a fact if humans were ever to exist again" but that's really no different. Moral facts could still be human brain-dependent and it being otherwise would be untestable and redundant to explanations.

And if someone wants to make claims like that about morality, well, good luck to them. I guess it can't be demonstrated to be incorrect. When they're done they can do the existence of invisible elves. I don't see why not, if they want to. It'd be open season. Almost anything could be claimed.
 
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Treedbear

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Regardless of any answer to that last question, I can't think of a single moral 'fact', ie something that all 'fully non-defective' humans (temporarily assuming there is such a thing objectively-speaking, which I doubt) agree on that could not be fully explained by saying it's dependent on human brains, and by extension human values, beliefs, attitudes, etc.

Can anyone think of one? ...

Actually, yes. I think all moral values are traceable to a basic metaphysical truth of the universe (the largest context). And that is that things exist because they survive. If they don't survive they cease to be part of the universe. And in the case of living things they need to have the ability to survive, which is the evolutionary basis of morality. It's also the reason that it is (in the broadest conception of the term) relative. Species exist because they have the ability to adapt and evolve. In a nutshell you might say that at the most fundamental level existence = good, and extinction = bad. In the case of human morality it applies primarily to our own species, and all moral decisions have their roots in that which benefits our species.
 

ruby sparks

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Regardless of any answer to that last question, I can't think of a single moral 'fact', ie something that all 'fully non-defective' humans (temporarily assuming there is such a thing objectively-speaking, which I doubt) agree on that could not be fully explained by saying it's dependent on human brains, and by extension human values, beliefs, attitudes, etc.

Can anyone think of one? ...

Actually, yes. I think all moral values are traceable to a basic metaphysical truth of the universe (the largest context). And that is that things exist because they survive. If they don't survive they cease to be part of the universe. And in the case of living things they need to have the ability to survive, which is the evolutionary basis of morality. It's also the reason that it is (in the broadest conception of the term) relative. Species exist because they have the ability to adapt and evolve. In a nutshell you might say that at the most fundamental level existence = good, and extinction = bad. In the case of human morality it applies primarily to our own species, and all moral decisions have their roots in that which benefits our species.


Yes. I hadn't thought of that.

It would mean stretching the definition of 'moral' a bit. It wouldn't necessarily be a propositional attitude, or at least not a reported one (a fox can't report it) and a flower surely can't even have an attitude.

So whether it's something that's at the root of morality as opposed to being morality itself, might be debatable.

But it does satisfy in some ways, because it's an answer. It's a universal cause, possibly even a motivation, at a pinch (even one not consciously felt) at least for living things, therefore also a basis and a reason (for what become moral facts). I hesitate to call it a life force but maybe I shouldn't.


I'll certainly have to agree with Angra that there's at least one universal fact about.....something .....about morality....that does not depend on human brains, or even the having of a brain at all.

It still leaves the question of whether this fact was true before life existed. Some moral realists, perhaps all of them for all I know, would say that it did. That, I think, would be going beyond accepting that it is independent.

Nor would it seem to help to decide whether punishment or forgiveness was deserved. That would seem to pragmatically depend on outcomes, including all the ones that happened already during evolution. As such, there would still seem to be a place for forgiveness, as part of this or that strategy, even if not as often as punishment, at least for very social species such as ours.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
The experiment would seem to undermine that suggestion. What was believed about the 'like me' and 'not like me' puppets was not false. Interpreting scientific results correctly does not seem to be your strong suit. I wonder if that's why you feel you can try to reject them so often, especially when they don't agree with your own claims and beliefs. Try again with that one.
First, no, your attack is merely an attack, not based on reality. You should know better, though you will not.

Second, actually, it is not known what sort of intuitive probabilistic assessments the infants in question were making about the 'like me' vs. 'not like me' puppets. So, the experiment tells us nothing about that, one way or another. On the other hand, my assessment "While humans often seem biased against strangers, the bias takes the form of false beliefs about what those strangers intend, believe, etc." is based on observations that are available to you as well: just take a look at different websites in which people show their bias against strangers, and you will see that sort of false (and unwarranted) beliefs all over the place. So, instead of focusing on a study of infants that does not tell you anything about it, you should look at the actual evidence you can find. It is everywhere.

ruby sparks said:
I read the rest of your post carefully but I find a lot of it very questionable. In particular, the way you are comparing things like cancer or AIDS or Tourette's Syndrome, grass, wavelengths, etc, to morality is imo very confused for reasons previously given many times.
First, no, I did not compare AIDS or cancer to morality. Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS/cancer is the counterpart of Ted Bundy.

Second, yes, I did compare Tourette's Syndrome to some moral properties as a means of debunking one of your lines of argumentation. Indeed, the comparison shows that your argument fails. I thought that that was obvious, but let me explain it again. You made the following argument:

ruby sparks said:
For the latter (AIDS, cancer, grass or wavelengths) there are apparently facts that are independent of humans and for the former (morality) there apparently aren't. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that their was ever human morality when there weren't human brains, or even when there were but moral facts were not asserted? No. Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever grass or electromagnetic radiation when there merely were no human brains? Yes. The latter two are therefore, by any reasonable standard, demonstrably independent of human brains and the former isn't that, and you are more or less left with nothing but an arguably controversial bald assertion about the supposed independence of morality, an assertion that has no evidence, can't be demonstrated, and that is also redundant to explanations.

Take a look at what you are doing here. You argue that grass or electromagnetic radiation are by any reasonable standard, demonstrably independent of human brains because it can be reasonably demonstrated (i.e., shown) that there was grass and electromagnetic radiation when there were no human brains.. Then you go on to say that this is relevantly different from morality because it cannot be reasonably demostrated that there ever was human morality when there weren't any human brains. And then you use that to claim I have only a bald assertion, whatever.

Now, let us consider Tourette's Syndrome, and let us ask your very question: Can it be reasonably demonstrated that there was ever Tourette's Syndrome when there weren't human brains?
And the answer is no. You see, in that regard - i.e., with respect to your question, Tourette's Syndrome is on the same boat as human morality, not on the same boat as grass or electromagnetic radiation. Do you see that this line of questions you use in your argument is misguided, as is your idea of "independence"?

ruby sparks said:
But I can cut through all that and just say I think you are wrong about moral judgements, and indeed moral 'facts', being independent of what humans deem them to be. We are now talking about the claim that morality is independent. The rest, as they say, is now merely commentary on that.
No, this idea of "independent" you talk about is just a confusion on your part. This is what my Tourette example shows (actually, the color and illness example showed that too, but you failed to see it as you bit the bullets).

ruby sparks said:
So, on that issue of supposed independence (I'm underlining it for you so that you understand, I hope, that we're not talking about moral 'facts' in the way I previously accepted):
I do not know that you accepted them in any sense that, well, makes sense (i.e., is coherent) and is relevant. But let us consider the rest.


ruby sparks said:
Cancer, AIDS, grass, colour, and wavelengths are still not necessarily good analogies to morality regarding independence, for several reasons given. They may be, but possibly, like all analogies, only in some ways (see side note below also).
First of all, I did not compare AIDS or cancer to morality. Instead, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS/cancer is the counterpart of Ted Bundy.

Second, while your concept of "independence" appears to be a confusion, by your own standards I already showed that color properties matched moral properties. You even granted this already. Indeed, let us take a look:

me said:
Parallel 2: Human color facts are only in human brains. There's no color facts (and no color) 'out there', and 'in there' there is merely a sense (ultimately a mental sensation or set of sensations) of or about it/them. And without that sense, they don't exist.
https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765793&viewfull=1#post765793
you said:
For the last time, I hope, I am good with that.
me said:
I take it - from what you've been saying - that you reject these parallels..at least with illness (I'm less sure what you think about the color parallel now). But why? What is the relevant difference?
you said:
Double whammy. Wrong and weird, given that I've gone blue in the face making it clear I have no problem with those particular comparisons
Well, actually, you do in some posts, and you do not in others. You just jump back and forth, because the "independence" idea is apparently just a confusion on your part.

Indeed, you went on to say that
ruby sparks said:
Yes, the grass stops being green if there is no entity to deem it to be green. Similar for Ted Bundy being bad. And, in the final analysis, whether anyone was ever what is called ill.
That, obviously, is false. But regardless, your biting the bullet on that shows that the comparisons between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral facts and color facts does the job here. Your new denial

ruby sparks said:
Cancer, AIDS, grass, colour, and wavelengths are still not necessarily good analogies to morality regarding independence, for several reasons given. They may be, but possibly, like all analogies, only in some ways (see side note below also).
is just confused. Also, and by the way, let me remind you: you said:

https://talkfreethought.org/showthread.php?20647-RETRIBUTIVISM&p=765793&viewfull=1#post765793
ruby sparks said:
Yes, the grass stops being green if there is no entity to deem it to be green. Similar for Ted Bundy being bad. And, in the final analysis, whether anyone was ever what is called ill.

Grass may still exist however. Cancer may still exist. There may still be wavelengths for electromagnetic radiation. Those would be facts that would be independent of what humans deem them.

So, you say that color is a good analogy to morality regarding "independence". Now you say it is not. But that seems to be because "independence" is a confusion.
At any rate, if you say you have a coherent concept of independence, then tell me, how is it that you go back and forth with regard to color? How is it that the very test for independence that you use to separate morality from AIDS, cancer, grass or wavelengths puts Tourette's Syndrome together with morality, and yet then you go on to say that "the way you are comparing things like cancer or AIDS or Tourette's Syndrome, grass, wavelengths, etc, to morality is imo very confused for reasons previously given many times."

Of course, I was not comparing cancer or AIDS to morality. Again, the comparison is between moral facts and illness/health facts, and between moral badness/evilness and illness. In those analogies, AIDS or cancer are not the counterpart of morality. AIDS/cancer is the counterpart of Ted Bundy. But the comparision with Tourette's Syndrome is spot on, by the very standard you use!

ruby sparks said:
Human morality (ie the human sense of morality) did not, I would tend to assert (subject to being shown or convinced otherwise) exist before humans and would therefore cease to exist when humans cease to exist. This is not true of wavelengths, cancer or grass. It may be true of human cancer, yes, obviously, and historically the case, obviously. Duh.
Obviously, if you qualify the sense of morality as 'human', it cannot exist without humans by definition!!!. On the other hand, the moral sense began earlier, with other primates, and may very well continue with post-humans. Well, what about Tourette's Syndrome? It cannot be reasonably shown to have existed before humans. I guess it might or might not have existed in H. Erectus, while the moral sense certainly did. Now, the human moral sense did not because you exclude it by definition, but for that matter, the human Tourette Syndrome did not, either.

ruby sparks said:
Colour is slightly different, that, in the end, never really exists (except in the colloquial sense, such as 'lights are red' or 'dinosaurs were green') unless there is an entity to have the experience of it, given that colour is a sensory experience, and the experiencing entity doesn't have to be human. The idea that there is actually redness and greenness 'out there' is dubious and controversial. There are, it seems, only wavelengths of a certain type of radiation that are transmitted by or reflected from something.
The meaning of the words in colloquial English is the relevant one, as we are not speaking in any other language. Dinosaurs were green or whatever color. But it is obvious that they were. If you are going to talk about some concept of color that is not the colloquial English concept, then you are simply not talking about color anymore.

ruby sparks said:
If you think I misunderstand your specific claim about independence, which I might, then please clearly and succinctly state what that claim, about morality, is, and leave off analogies with other things at least initially?
Well, I explained in which sense they are independent and in which sense they are not. After that, you repeatedly misconstrued my words and came up with a very confused idea. I have no particular claim.


ruby sparks said:
Side note: this issue of the applicability or not of analogies, or supposed contradictions between them and the issue at hand, comes up in other moral discussions, eg abortion. In order to decide if abortion is right or not, it is often compared, via analogy, to other things, but in the end, it seems, abortion is not the same as any of those other things, and so in the end there is nothing to fully compare it to, and we are left having to decide without recourse to analogies, in the end. It's possible this may be the case with the issue here, where we are comparing morality itself to other things.
Yes, but I am using the analogies to show errors in your arguments against morality, or "independence" (whatever that is).

ruby sparks said:
For example, are you claiming that there was morality and moral facts, in the universe, before there were any living things, and therefore independent of them?
Based on the exchange so far, you do not appear to be using a coherent concept of independence. I am saying of course that some statements are not time-dependent. Of course, all of this is a matter of language, not of woo . As with the free will case, I talk about the meaning of the words in English, and you read 'woo'.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Even, 'slowly torturing a human infant to death for fun is wrong' (I can't think of anything worse off the top of my head) wouldn't qualify.
That could be fully explained by saying that's merely what is deemed to be the case by human brains. It's not a law of the universe, which, in case anyone hadn't noticed, is a very, very hostile and dangerous place, where damage and destruction happen a LOT, including the harm and suffering and deaths of living things, sometimes at the hands of other living things, sometimes at the hands of their own species, sometimes even, infants at the hands (or paws or hoofs or whatever) of their own mothers.
Well, it would be A human slowly torturing a human infant (or adult, which is no better) to death for fun is morally wrong'. But yes, that is deemed the case by human brains, barring malfunction. What else do you need for it to be the case? But consider red traffic lights are red, and you get the same (i.e., human eyes/brains, barring malfunction). And then I can tell you about 'AIDS is an illness', and so on.

But now you are changing the metric again (in the Tourette example, I argued against an argument of yours that used a different metric).

ruby sparks said:
Saying something like, 'X is or was still a wrong even in a universe where there are no humans and never have been (eg our universe 500 million years ago)' would be controversial, undemonstrated, possibly unfalsifiable, and redundant.
The part in italics is a bit ambiguous, but it is not a claim I made. What I said is that some statements are not time-dependent. To say that a human slowly torturing a human infant (or adult, which is no better) to death for fun is morally wrong is a general statement. In order for it to be false, there would have to be a possible scenario in which a human tortures another slowly to death for fun and which is not morally wrong. You will find no such exception. Again, I'm talking language, and you see woo. You were the one who wanted to ask whether it was true even if there were no humans. If you insist in talking like that, yes, sure, it is true, because it is true of all cases, no exceptions. But it's a rather odd question to ask. One has to be very clear that one is talking about language, not metaphysics or woo. My example was that even if all humans were to die, it would remain the case that Ted Bundy was a bad person, because it is a fact in the past that cannot be changed by future events.

ruby sparks said:
Moral facts could still be human brain-dependent and it being otherwise would be untestable and redundant to explanations.
And again, if you go by that, the same applies to facts about Tourette's Syndrome.


ruby sparks said:
And if someone wants to make claims like that about morality, well, good luck to them. I guess it can't be demonstrated to be incorrect. When they're done they can do the existence of invisible elves. I don't see why not, if they want to. It'd be open season. Almost anything could be claimed.
Again, I talk about language, you see woo and attack me. Whatever.
 

ruby sparks

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If you are going to talk about some concept of color that is not the colloquial English concept, then you are simply not talking about color anymore.

Wow. That is such complete nonsense, but if you think it isn't then that probably explains a LOT, possibly about a great deal of what has gone into all your arguments on several topics. No wonder you have so much trouble accepting the results of science. and/or misunderstanding them.

It was already obvious that there were some significant issues with your reliance on colloquialisms, intuitions, analogies, approximations, everyday language, folk-psychology, subjectivity, 'how things seem', incomplete analyses and inadequate definitions, and so on, but that fundamentally incorrect statement about the standards we should be using takes the whole biscuit in one mouthful.

Your underlying approach to philosophical issues is deeply flawed.

ruby sparks said:
If you think I misunderstand your specific claim about independence, which I might, then please clearly and succinctly state what that claim, about morality, is, and leave off analogies with other things at least initially?
Well, I explained in which sense they are independent and in which sense they are not.

Recap?

You can just do the first bit, the ways they are independent, to keep it short. Please try to keep it as short as possible. You don't need to elaborate too much initially. Short and sweet, if possible.

And, as I said, if possible, try to do it by talking about morality, not via analogies between morality and other things which may or may not be fully comparable. If they are not fully comparable then different responses may not show any inconsistency or error, it may just be that the things analogised are different from each other in some ways. And if the standard is everyday colloquial language then that's a huge and arbitrary limitation and one which will more or less automatically introduce, from the start, vagueness and imprecision.
 
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