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RETRIBUTIVISM

ruby sparks

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Why need an attitude be dependent on anything. The 'explanation' would work as well if one pulled it out of one's arse or related it to a butterfly.

I'm starting off day in a bad mood I guess.

Excuse. Just finished taxes.

Was that intentionally meant to be ironic? :)

(You cited an attitude that was dependent on having done taxes).
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
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.
You are confused by language. Whether an assertion is false or true can only be properly assessed by the meaning of the words in it. If you just change the meaning, you are talking about something else.
ruby sparks said:
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.

Okay; I will add more details to tackle your 'woo' charge as well. Consider the following statement:

P1: Any human being who tastes fresh cat feces, finds them disgusting, save for malfunctioning of the senses of smell or taste.

That is a general statement about human beings. It is independent of what each individual human believes, or even whether there are humans.

For example, suppose nearly all of the human population are killed by aliens. The survivors are indoctrinated by some alien experimenter who poses as the creator and whom they worship. It tells them that fresh cat feces are delicious to human taste. While none of them has tasted them, they have faith in the alien, so they all come to believe that any human being who tastes fresh cat feces, finds them delicious, save for malfunctioning of the senses of smell or taste. It turns out, of course, that their beliefs are false, and that P1 remains true, as it is not a statement about what some humans happen to believe.

Was P1 true a billion years ago? While that would be an odd question (which I tackle because of your similar questions in the moral case), the answer is 'yes', because it is not a time-dependent statement (or for that matter, space-dependent). In order for it to be false, there would have to be an exception, that is, a human being who tastes fresh cat feces, does not find them disgusting, and her senses of smell and taste are not malfunctioning. But that does not happen (in philosophy, one could say it is necessarily true). Note that this is not woo. Rather it is an analysis based on what an expression in English means, and logic.

Now, let us consider the following:

P2: Any human being who has cancer is ill.
P3: Any human being who has AIDS is ill.
P4: Any human being who has Tourette's Syndrome is ill.
P5: Any human being who tortures another for pleasure behaves immorally.

My position is that all of those statements are independent in the same sense P1 is. They are general statements about human beings, and they are neither time-dependent nor dependent on what some humans happen to believe. So, they are always true. In philosophical terminology, one could say they are necessarily true. This is not about woo.

Now, if you claim that P5 is different, I would ask why. But in any event, if we disagree, disagreeing with you is very different from positing woo. Just as I'm not suggesting woo for saying P1 is necessarily true, the same goes for P2-P5.

Now not all moral statements are like that. Some - most - are about a specific human being (e.g., Ted Bundy was a morally bad person). But they are also independent of what people believe. As explained in the other thread, moral badness was a property of Bundy's character. It would remain so even if everyone forgot about his existence. It does not depend on what other humans happen to feel, believe, etc. The same goes for facts such as 'Ted Bundy liked bananas' (if he did; else, the negation of that). In that sense, they are both independent.


ruby sparks said:
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.
I'm afraid that, while I do talk about morality (see P5 above), I will not give up the analogies that are relevant in the context and for the purposes at hand. For example, in order to highlight how what I am proposing has nothing to do with woo, I point out that it is the same I propose in ordinary cases (like P1) that have nothing to do with morality. I'm talking about language, not woo.

ruby sparks said:
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.
It is not different responses. Rather, your responses use certain form of argumentation: you claim that morality is not independent because such-and-such. So, I point out that such-and-such holds for things that you believe are independent.
ruby sparks said:
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.
That is not a huge arbitrary limitation, or an arbitrary limitation that is not huge, or a limitation at all. That is what we are talking about. The terms we use in the different scenarios, including moral terms and those in the analogies, have meaning. The meaning is given by usage in colloquial English because that is the language in which we are speaking. If you choose to redefine the words, you are talking about something else. Depending on how you redefine it, the something else might be similar in some interesting respects to the object of our talk, or not. But either way, you're talking about something else.
 
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ruby sparks

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Whether an assertion is false or true can only be properly assessed by the meaning of the words in it. If you just change the meaning, you are talking about something else.

If you want to only talk of what, for example, colour is, using only everyday colloquial language, go ahead. Everything you discuss about colour will be arbitrarily limited, probably more vague, subjective and confusing than it needs to be, and your analyses will be incomplete and your definitions inadequate. Go you. Your philosophy is nothing more than an informal word game. You should stick to playing Scrabble instead.

Also, that colour is merely a brain sensation and is not actually 'out there' is a valid alternative claim, and one that is supported by a lot of science (there doesn't need to be a coloured object out there or even a coloured input of any sort, for me to experience colour, and I'm not talking about a memory of colour or dreaming in colour) albeit it can't be conclusively proved either way. But it is still nonsense to say that if we talk of colour in ways other than everyday language, we are not talking about colour.

Now, if you claim that P5 is different, I would ask why.

Groundhog Day.

Once again, because it may not be a fact, or it may be a 'fact' only in the sense of it being deemed to be the case. More to the point, it's only one carefully chosen 'easy' example anyway, and therefore only of limited use.

Also, as I have been saying, you should make claims about morality itself, not via analogies that may or may not apply fully. Or else stick to this:




In any case, this thread is mainly meant to be about retributivism, which is a slightly separate issue in many ways.
 
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ruby sparks

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Now, if you claim that P5 is different, I would ask why.

Caveat to my reply above....

It could possibly be said that calling something an 'illness' is in some ways a deeming, in the sense that there's arguably a value judgement involved, yes.

So I could in that sense agree not to single out P5, but only on the basis that they could all be said to be deemings.

The key point, however, which can't merely be arbitrarily excluded from consideration when doing the analogies, is that it seems there are other, relevant, independent, non-value judgement, facts about Cancer, AIDS, wavelengths, grass, etc that are not, it seems, about deeming. That is the point. And that is why the analogy would fail unless there are such facts about P5, which hasn't been established yet.
 
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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.


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.

I cited what seems to be a metaphysical fact that existed prior to and is independent of human existence. That is, in order for things to exist they need to survive. It's one of those "How could it be otherwise?" axioms. I think when you arrive at one of those you can safely say you've uncovered a basic truth. I would even suggest that it holds true in whatever universes have ever or will ever exist or that can even be imagined. It's so obviously true that it might seem trivial. But as it happens it can be applied especially well to life forms of every species and to our own particular species, as it is that living species are characterized by how they survive within their environment. And it's tempting to apply the idea of moral codes to their behavior even if it is clearly due to genetics rather than learned. And many human values also come from a genetic predisposition, such as with social tendencies. But morality as such is seen mainly as a cultural adaptation. That is, it concerns codes of learned cultural behavior within the broader context of what it means to be human. From that perspective the universe at large can be extremely immoral, albeit the more appropriate term would be amoral.

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.

The universe at large and even examples from the animal kingdom probably have little value in how we administer justice. We are, after all, "civilized". That means we need act to forgive or punish according to how the outcome will effect our civilization. Neither would work as a blanket policy, and we sometimes lean too far one way or the other. Still, a norm needs to be established so that we can say that a decision was fair.
 

aupmanyav

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Even God is retributive:
"for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,"
And Allah will pour boiling oil on the skull till the brain melts.

So, I think nothing wrong with retributive justice.
 

ruby sparks

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I cited what seems to be a metaphysical fact that existed prior to and is independent of human existence. That is, in order for things to exist they need to survive. It's one of those "How could it be otherwise?" axioms. I think when you arrive at one of those you can safely say you've uncovered a basic truth. I would even suggest that it holds true in whatever universes have ever or will ever exist or that can even be imagined. It's so obviously true that it might seem trivial. But as it happens it can be applied especially well to life forms of every species and to our own particular species, as it is that living species are characterized by how they survive within their environment. And it's tempting to apply the idea of moral codes to their behavior even if it is clearly due to genetics rather than learned. And many human values also come from a genetic predisposition, such as with social tendencies. But morality as such is seen mainly as a cultural adaptation. That is, it concerns codes of learned cultural behavior within the broader context of what it means to be human. From that perspective the universe at large can be extremely immoral, albeit the more appropriate term would be amoral.


I think you may have introduced something more fundamentally relevant than I or anyone else in the thread had mentioned, and I think it has a great deal of explanatory power. It might be said to 'cut through all the philosophical crap' and get straight to the nub of the matter. Whether it is merely 'the basis for morality' or (as I'm toying with saying) 'morality itself' is not something we need to decide, because if it's 'merely' the former then it's an an explanation for morality, and what more do we need?

It would explain, for example why certain things, for all living things, are 'done instead of other things', preferred or not preferred, and why actions have “to-be-doneness” or "not-to-be-doneness’ ‘built into them’, that either have 'magnetic attraction' or 'repulsion' (and often disgust). In our particular case, these could be dispositions we are born with and/or things that could be affected by environment and learning, or a mixture of both.

None of which need to be consciously-experienced by an organism, of course, let alone deliberated over as we do. In some ways, all the deliberation and reasoning may be just window dressing (or in some cases post-hoc rationalisation, given that there is evidence that we make instinctive moral decisions in a fifth of a second and possibly even non-consciously, that first impressions last, and that as someone posted in another thread 'we don't change our minds as often as we think we do').

The concept of entities having very basic 'interests' (starting with 'continued existence' as priority number 1) that might affect, at the most basic level, genes, then at a 'me' level, then at a 'those I am most like (genetically or in terms of relationships)' level, then in the end at a 'my species' level, would explain certain anomalies in moral judgements such as approving of harmful acts done to 'those not like me' and the biases that lead us to judge ourselves more moral than others even if we do the same things as them.

I can't off the top of my head think of anything it would not explain about morality. And as I said before I agree it's a 'fact about morality' that is independent of humans.

Whether it extends to non-living things is another question. Does 'continued existence = good' apply to the universe? Why not, in principle? I mean, it may seem a stretch, but for living things we are only talking, in the end, about things which obey natural laws. What's the essential difference between ion pumps which cause things to move against concentration gradients in a living cell, and the physical forces that cause the universe to expand? Or have I gone too far?

The universe at large and even examples from the animal kingdom probably have little value in how we administer justice. We are, after all, "civilized". That means we need act to forgive or punish according to how the outcome will effect our civilization. Neither would work as a blanket policy, and we sometimes lean too far one way or the other. Still, a norm needs to be established so that we can say that a decision was fair.

I think the key here is that we are a both a social species and a sentient one, and that our strategies for success or failure are complicated by this. Considerations such as 'reputation' come in for example. Our idea of fairness is then just an extension of the same previously-mentioned drive to continue existing.
 
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Angra Mainyu

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Even God is retributive:
"for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on their children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,"
And Allah will pour boiling oil on the skull till the brain melts.

So, I think nothing wrong with retributive justice.

That is extremely unjust retribution, because the children in the first, third or whatever generation do not deserve punishment for what their ancestors did, of course. Retributivists like me say that wrongdoers deserve retribution, not that people who are genetically related to wrongdoers deserve retribution.
 

ruby sparks

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As Dr. de Waal sees it, human morality may be severely limited by having evolved as a way of banding together against adversaries, with moral restraints being observed only toward the in group, not toward outsiders. “The profound irony is that our noblest achievement — morality — has evolutionary ties to our basest behavior — warfare,” he writes

"Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are."

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/science/20moral.html
 
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ruby sparks

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Claim: morality (for living things) is biological and/or biochemical.

This would mean that moral facts are biological/biochemical facts, and physical facts inasmuch as the laws of physics apply to living things. Variety and complexity in morality would then be due to and explained by biological variety and complexity. In other words, morality would be relative to biology. Morality would be sociobiological where a social species is concerned.

Furthermore, under the above claim, morality would not depend on the experiencing, by this or that species, of propositional attitudes towards or beliefs about what is either right or wrong. In other words, a behaviour could be independently right or wrong in relation to a biological fact, rule, drive, urge or desire (eg 'continued existence is correct') independently of whether or not (a) that fact/rule/drive/urge/desire is consciously felt/experienced/understood by the living things to which it applies, and/ or (b) there are moral attitudes about the behaviour by this or that organism or species.
 
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ruby sparks

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Here, a single-cell organism (a didinium) is ingesting (and killing) another single-cell organism (a paramecium):

1.jpg




And here, a multi-celled organism is ingesting another multi-celled organism (after killing it):







Here, a multi-celled organism is ingesting another multi-celled organism of its own species (after killing it):





It is worth noting that killing, and/or killing-then-eating, can apparently be done for reasons other than that the nutrients are needed for survival by the organism doing either. Though they may all, in the end, be traced back to 'continued existence is correct'.

Note that killing for fun is not necessarily deemed immoral when its a 'not like me', especially if it's another species.

Humans also appear to kill and eat for pleasure when it is not in their own best interests (eg health risks of obesity).

So, one possibly counter-intuitive outcome of accepting that 'continued existence is correct' is an independent fact that is either the basis for morality, or is morality itself, is that over-eating (past a point where it maximises chances of continued existence, ie causes health problems) would be prima facie immoral. Possibly also suicide, and possibly also homosexuality and/or anal sex.
 
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