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The is/ought issue.

Angra Mainyu

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One of the objections often raised in these forums is that one cannot derive a moral 'ought' from an 'is'. Technically that is false, because once the meaning of the words is considered, from 'It would be immoral for agent A to do X' it follows that 'Agent A ought not to do X'. But the objection remains about deriving moral conclusions from non-moral premises, i.e., deriving conclusions containing moral terms from those that do not, where 'moral terms' is defined ostensively: 'morally permissible', 'unethical', 'immoral', 'morally wrong', 'morally praiseworthy', etc., are moral terms, whereas 'cat', 'mouse', 'planet', 'car', 'table', etc., are not.

Is this true?
Well, sort of. We can derive anything (including moral conclusions) from a contradiction, even if the contradiction is stated without using any kind of moral term. But leaving that case aside (and perhaps other anomalous cases, like deriving a tautology involving moral terms, etc. ), it seems to me that in the sense of a deduction, one should not be able to do that. But what about probabilistic assessments? Now it might be said that we still need conditional probabilities described using moral terms or something like that. But if this is so, then it would still not be in a way that is vulnerable to the 'is-ought' objection, as usually put.

So, to make my case, consider first not moral assessments, but color assessments. For example, how do I assess that a ball is red? One way of doing so would be to look at the apple. It looks red to me. Under ordinary light conditions. And I know from experience that our color vision is pretty ordinary for a human. Then I am justified in assessing that the apple is red, barring counterevidence. I would say that I would be assigning a very very high probability to the hypothesis that the ball in question is red. We do this intuitively, and without using numbers.

Now suppose I do not see the ball. However, I observe that many humans who look at the ball tell me it's red. Assuming I can tell that they are being sincere (how I do that is not the issue), I also have justification to reckon that the ball is red, again with very, very high probability. Now suppose no humans look at the ball, but there is a robot with cameras for eyes and whose color vision is calibrated using the color vision of ordinary humans. The robot has been tested in thousands of experiments, and under ordinary conditions, it makes the color assessments humans ordinarily do. If I get conclusive information that the robot says the ball is red (again, ordinary light conditions), then I can use that to reckon that the ball is red.

More to the point: if I know (I have sufficient information) that a human with ordinary color vision would reckon that the ball is red, that is very good evidence that the ball is red. And if I reckon then that the ball is red, is there a fallacy involved?

Maybe intuitively I am making probabilistic assessment that P(A is red| ordinary human color vision detects it as red under normal light conditions) is extremely high. Or something like P(Q|ordinary human faculties say it's Q under normal circumstances) is also high, plus the assessment that color vision is an ordinary human faculty.

At any rate, maybe there is a logical error somewhere, but if there is, it is pervasive. It's pretty much everywhere except perhaps for immediate assessments like the example in which we directly look at the ball. But maybe the problem - if there is one - happens when I try to use language, and also when I factor in the information that my color vision is ordinary. Then again, maybe I'm making intuitive probabilistic assessments with the conditional probabilities already intuitively fixed, and there is no fallacy.

At any rate, if at some point in my probabilistic assessments, I made a logical error and as a result the assessment in question is not justified, then as they say here 'Estamos en el horno', literally 'We are in the oven', or in other words, we're screwed, because if even that sort of normal assessment fails and is not justified, very few things (if any) are.

Perhaps, there is a logical error, but it is justified to make it? Given that - again, I know it because it's intuitively obvious!!!, and I have no good reason to doubt my intuitions on the matter -, I am justified in assessing that the ball is red, i.e., very probably red (in all of the scenarios above), then it seems to me that if there is a logical error, then there are logical errors we are regularly justified to make and this is one of them...


Let us move to the moral case: Suppose that all people die due to a rogue biological weapon, except for Joe, who decides to pour gasoline on a cat and set her on fire, so that he has fun watching a fireball run. In fact, he does that every day, as there are plenty of cats around, and he can capture them with different traps and tactics. He is determined to do this, and has human intelligence and the tools left by the rest of humanity at his disposal, so the cats do not have a chance. Then Joe behaves unethically. How do I know? As in the color case, I use my own faculties, in this case my moral sense, instead of my color vision. So far, it seems similar.

But can I also use the faculties of others? I do not see why not. The information that the human ordinary moral sense reckons a behavior immoral seems to provide good evidence that it is immoral. Any potential fallacy here was also there in the color case.

My point is that from the perspective of logic, the moral case and the color case appear similar. But it's not only the moral and the color case. It's everywhere, as we rely on human faculties (we have no others) all the time. And in science too, of course. Suppose I read statements by many scientists (e.g., in textbooks) saying that water is composed of H2O. I reckon this is the case, on the basis of that evidence. But then I am of course relying on my own faculties (I can't not do that), and also using the information the reliability of science, etc.

Someone might say that science is more reliable in than human faculties (to which I would reply that that depends on the faculty, but that's a matter for another debate), but at any rate, a key point is that making an assessment that something is blue or morally wrong using as evidence that ordinary human faculties say it is relevantly similar from making an assessment that water is composed of H2O using as evidence that scientists say it is, and the relevant part is that one of them always involves the fallacy moral assessment and/or statements are usually charged with if and only if all of them do.

In particular, just as it does not logically follow from the fact that the ordinary human moral sense says a behavior is morally wrong that it actually is, it also does not logically follow from the fact that scientists say that water is composed of H2O that it actually is so (and the same for color).
 
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The AntiChris

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Can you make the same argument using other assessments such as gustatory and aesthetic judgements?
 

Wiploc

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One of the objections often raised in these forums is that one cannot derive a moral 'ought' from an 'is'.

Right.




Technically that is false, because once the meaning of the words is considered, from 'It would be immoral for agent A to do X' it follows that 'Agent A ought not to do X'.

You've got the word "immoral" in there, so you are already dealing with oughts rather than is's.

At least that's how I define morality: Something like, "Morality is what one ought to do." So the move from X is immoral to one ought-not do X is not a deduction but a mere rephrasing.




But the objection remains about deriving moral conclusions from non-moral premises,

Yes.




More to the point: if I know (I have sufficient information) that a human with ordinary color vision would reckon that the ball is red, that is very good evidence that the ball is red. And if I reckon then that the ball is red, is there a fallacy involved?

An apt analogy even if I don't agree with your conclusion.

People argue that the ball isn't really red. Their point is that redness exists in the mind rather than in the ball. But the ball has some physical characteristic that is associated with redness-in-the-mind. And balls with that characteristic have historically been called "red." Now that we know the balls aren't "really" red, that usage remains a convenient shorthand.

If pressed, we can defend, "The ball is red," by claiming it is a figure of speech, metonymy.

-

Rape is wrong because it has a strong tendency to decrease the world's happiness.

I see this with my own eyes, so to speak. I believe it with the same confidence that I believe yonder ball is red.

And I have to rely on my own eyes. You may be willing to agree on a scientific consensus about the color of the ball, but I am not willing to rely on a moral consensus about the morality of rape. Wasn't there a recent moral consensus that premarital sex was immoral? And that not being religious was immoral?

Relying on a consensus of moralists to judge that rape is wrong would be like relying on a consensus of astrologers to judge whether a Taurus is headstrong. Not useful.

-

Rape is wrong because it decreases happiness. That's what's wrong with rape. Decreasing happiness is bad. One ought not decrease happiness.

That's my starting place. That's my definition of "immoral," of what one ought not do.

-

The is claim is that rape has a strong tendency to decrease happiness.

The ought claim is something I bring with me: One ought not to decrease happiness.

Any moral realist will bring some such ought with her. If she's talking about morality at all, she's already talking about what one ought--for some reason--to do.

-

Therefore, we don't have to get from is to ought. Which is handy, because we can't.

We don't need to get from is to ought because to talk about morality is to already talk about what we ought to do. Moral realists don't start at is, so we don't have to worry about getting to ought.

Rest assured, there are plenty of moral questions left to dispute.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Can you make the same argument using other assessments such as gustatory and aesthetic judgements?
As a comparison with morality?

Yes, I could, but it would be considerably less effective in a 'partners in innocence' type of argument, for several reasons, for example some differences in which our intuitions usually tell us, or the dependence on the speaker, etc. But I think one of the main difficulties is the 'So what?' objection: people might reply that yes, using evidence from our faculties (my own or that of humans in general) in order to support such assessments also involves a fallacy and because of that they are not warranted, and so on. Color and science are examples meant to make that sort of reply much less likely.
 

Angra Mainyu

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Wiploc said:
You've got the word "immoral" in there, so you are already dealing with oughts rather than is's.
The point is that the statement does not contain an 'ought', but 'is immoral', which is an 'is'.


Wiploc said:
So the move from X is immoral to one ought-not do X is not a deduction but a mere rephrasing.
Exactly (or very close; there are subleties that might be raised, but generally yes), which is why an 'ought' and an 'is' may imply each other, which is why one can derive an 'ought' from an 'is', which is why I point out that the question is not ought/is but rather statements containing moral terms/statements not containing moral terms, regadless of whether those statements contain 'oughts' (and by the way, there are also nonmoral 'oughts').



Wiploc said:
People argue that the ball isn't really red. Their point is that redness exists in the mind rather than in the ball. But the ball has some physical characteristic that is associated with redness-in-the-mind. And balls with that characteristic have historically been called "red." Now that we know the balls aren't "really" red, that usage remains a convenient shorthand.
I disagree that the balls are not red. But leave that aside: would it involve a fallacy to argue that they are red in the manner I did?


Wiploc said:
Rape is wrong because it decreases happiness.
I disagree.


Wiploc said:
That's my starting place. That's my definition of "immoral," of what one ought not do.
Words have meanings that are given by usage in a linguistic community. The meaning of 'immoral' is not 'that which decreases happiness'.

But also, suppose others - like me - disagree with your definition. How would you go about figuring out that evidence or arguments to support it?
 

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I see two issues with this thread.

First, the comparison with colour (and indeed water) are problematical because there are, it seems, independent, objective facts about both. This may not be the case with morality and I would claim that it is not the case.

Second, there seems to be an underlying assumption that morality is logical, or amenable to it. Logic can be useful in almost every sphere of inquiry, but arguments about morality are not in the end about or resolved by logic. The variegated psychologies, emotions and values of capricious humans are involved for starters. As such, I wonder if Angra's theories are not just convoluted attempts to try to fit a very complicatedly-shaped peg into a neat round hole.
 

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Someone might say that science is more reliable in than human faculties (to which I would reply that that depends on the faculty, but that's a matter for another debate)....

It's not really a matter for another debate. Science is generally more reliable than human faculties and intuitions and that is exactly why the scientific method has been so incredibly productive. This is not quite so true of the soft sciences, obviously.

The nearest science to the study of morality is, I would say, psychology. Good luck trying to pin down or sort out human psychology with logic.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby spark said:
First, the comparison with colour (and indeed water) are problematical because there are, it seems, independent, objective facts about both. This may not be the case with morality and I would claim that it is not the case.
Whatever you mean by 'independent', that the point of the comparison is to show that there is no fallacy or else the fallacy is also in color assessment, scientific assessments, and pretty much everywhere. Those who raise the is/ought objection in the moral case face the same objection in the color case, or others. You might say that in the case of color there are "independent, objective facts" (whatever the former means), but then for that matter, someone else could just deny that (Wiploc did above).

Regardless of who denies what (that is not relevant here), the point is that in re: fallacy, the situation is the same. One is making color assessments using the human visual system (one's own, or that of other humans) and the same for moral assessments and the human moral faculty. For example, one repeated objection is that even if the human moral sense says torturing cats for fun is immoral, that does not imply it is so. But the reply here is that if that is the case, even if the human visual system says that some object is red (or light with certain frequency properties), that does not imply that it is so.

In other words, no matter how you make the is/ought objection, one can mirror it for the color case, or the illness case, or the science case, and so on.



ruby spark said:
Second, there seems to be an underlying assumption that morality is logical, or amenable to it. Logic can be useful in almost every sphere of inquiry, but arguments about morality are not in the end about or resolved by logic. The variegated psychologies, emotions and values of capricious humans are involved for starters. As such, I wonder if Angra's theories are not just convoluted attempts to try to fit a very complicatedly-shaped peg into a neat round hole.
Well, of course I can properly use logic in my arguments against the is/ought objection! Illogical arguments would be, well, bad. ;)
 

ruby sparks

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Well, of course I can properly use logic in my arguments against the is/ought objection! Illogical arguments would be, well, bad. ;)

Sure, but what I said was that you will not in the end sort out such things using it. You might find a fallacy here or a proof there, but that is about it.
 

ruby sparks

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In other words, no matter how you make the is/ought objection, one can mirror it for the color case, or the illness case, or the science case, and so on.

But not other human value judgements such as aesthetics. I see. You are sticking to conveniently dodgy comparisons instead. Why not do aesthetic beauty?

Put it this way, surely human moral judgements are value judgements. It would therefore seem most appropriate to compare them with other human value judgements, rather than something else.

Who knows, perhaps there are what you would call independent, objective facts about beauty, in the terms that you mean and use. I would not be surprised. Perhaps if we discussed that, we might see better the limitations of it, chiefly that, as with gustatory taste, even if there are, it will not sort out the majority of cases where humans disagree, because there will be no right answers no matter what amount of information is provided and we will be in relativistic territory.
 

Angra Mainyu

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In other words, no matter how you make the is/ought objection, one can mirror it for the color case, or the illness case, or the science case, and so on.

But not other human value judgements such as aesthetics. I see. You are sticking to conveniently dodgy comparisons instead. Why not do aesthetic beauty?

Put it this way, surely human moral judgements are value judgements. It would therefore seem most appropriate to compare them with other human value judgements, rather than something else.

Who knows, perhaps there are what you would call independent, objective facts about beauty? I would not be surprised. Perhaps if we discussed that, we might see better the limitations of it, chiefly that, as with gustatory taste, even if there are, it will not sort out the majority of cases where humans disagree.

I already explained why aesthetic beauty is a bad idea, and why my comparisons are not at all dodgy.

But suppose I reckon that a landscape is beautiful (very, very probably), using as a evidence that ordinary human faculties say that. Unlike the moral case, I do not know that ordinary human faculties would hold this independently of who makes the assessment, but let us say that I reckon they do (whether I am right about that empirical issue is not relevant to the logical issue). So, again, am I incurring some sort of fallacy? What is it? Is it because even if human ordinary faculties say the landscape is beautiful, it does not follow that it is? If you think that that is a fallacy, then I would contend the same happens to color assessments, scientific assessments, etc.

A difference here is of course that it is not clear to me that ordinary human judgments say that the landscape is beautiful and those who deny it are in error. For all I know, that might or might not be the case. But that is a difference in the evidence about an empirical fact regarding human ordinary assessments, not a difference in whether something follows from something.

So, there you have your beauty comparison. In case you want to raise an is/ought-like objection to aesthetic assessments.
 

ruby sparks

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But suppose I reckon that a landscape is beautiful (very, very probably), using as a evidence that ordinary human faculties say that. Unlike the moral case, I do not know that ordinary human faculties would hold this independently of who makes the assessment, but let us say that I reckon they do (whether I am right about that empirical issue is not relevant to the logical issue). So, again, am I incurring some sort of fallacy? What is it? Is it because even if human ordinary faculties say the landscape is beautiful, it does not follow that it is? If you think that that is a fallacy, then I would contend the same happens to color assessments, scientific assessments, etc.

A difference here is of course that it is not clear to me that ordinary human judgments say that the landscape is beautiful and those who deny it are in error. For all I know, that might or might not be the case. But that is a difference in the evidence about an empirical fact regarding human ordinary assessments, not a difference in whether something follows from something.

So, there you have your beauty comparison. In case you want to raise an is/ought-like objection to aesthetic assessments.

First, I would not claim it is a fallacy, because fallacies are not necessarily the crucial point, ditto for colour, illness, water, gustatory taste, morality and so on. Because in the end you can't explain, justify or understand these things with just logic, even if it is sometimes helpful to apply it.

Second, you seem to be willing to accept something for morality that you do not accept for aesthetics. Why is that? I disagree that you know that ordinary human faculties hold anything independently of who makes the assessment, because for such things there is always an assessor (most of the time it's you). Now, you did this with gustatory taste, so don't shy away from it. You claimed, if I recall, that gustatory taste was a good comparison with morality. But gustatory taste has essentially the same issues as aesthetic beauty, chiefly that the judgements about it are largely relativistic (with perhaps a few exceptions, which are only species-wide or not even that, only apply to so-called normal properly-functioning humans). And that is where your moral theory is. And it is very limited. It is non-controversial to say that there are human norms. That, at best, is what your moral 'facts' are. Norms that are sufficiently widespread that we can call them standard human features. Here's another, Humans dislike pain. Whoopee. Oh except for most cases where everyone has a different threshold, even in terms of when stimulus X is even painful. In other words, even if you are right, you are not saying very much.
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Second, you seem to be willing to accept something for morality that you do not accept for aesthetics. Why is that?
Because the evidence is different. You see, to make aesthetic assessments, I use my own faculties and also evidence from the assessments of others. However, that evidence also indicates that people often do not behave as though they believe that aesthetic facts are independent of the person making the assessment. And also I do not have that intuitive impression myself. How common that is, I do not know, so I remain undecided in many cases in which the evidence is not clear-cut.

ruby sparks said:
I disagree that you know that ordinary human faculties hold anything independently of who makes the assessment, because for such things there is always an assessor (most of the time it's you)
Again, we can say the same about color, or about science. There is always an assessor. But that is the wrong way to look at whether our faculties say that it's independent of who makes the assessment. The right way is to test what our faculties say in case people make different assessment that would be incompatible if the statements were independent (e.g., A says the landscape is beautiful, B says it is not). Is the reaction that one of them is in error, or that each of them is talking about their own tastes?
 

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Wiploc said:
That's my starting place. That's my definition of "immoral," of what one ought not do.
Words have meanings that are given by usage in a linguistic community. The meaning of 'immoral' is not 'that which decreases happiness'.

True. For a definition, we'd be closer to say something like, "The immoral is that which ought not be done."

But then we come to questions like, "What sort of thing ought not to be done?" As a utilitarian, my answer is something like, "Things that decrease happiness."

Others will offer alternative answers. Some will say, for instance, that doubting and disobeying gods is what should be avoided.





But also, suppose others - like me - disagree with your definition. How would you go about figuring out that evidence or arguments to support it?

Question A: "What is morality about?" Answer A: "It is about what things one ought and ought not do."

Question B: "What ought one to do or not do?" My oversimplified utilitarian answer to question B: "One ought to do things expected to increase happiness. One ought not do things expected to decrease happiness."

I assume you're asking about question B. Suppose I meet a virtue theorist who claims that honesty is always in-and-of-itself good. How do we decide what's right?

We do two things: First, we try to work thru our moral reactions in various circumstances, seeing which theory matches up better, and which causes more cognitive dissonance.

Second, we look for end points, ultimate sources. I ask the virtue theorist what is good about honesty. What is it good for? Isn't honesty good because it tends to make people happy?

And the virtue theorist asks me things like, "What's so great about happiness?" and, "What if I don't approve of happiness?"

And then we see who feels stupider. :)
 

Angra Mainyu

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Wiploc said:
I assume you're asking about question B. Suppose I meet a virtue theorist who claims that honesty is always in-and-of-itself good. How do we decide what's right?
Yes, that is my question.


Wiploc said:
We do two things: First, we try to work thru our moral reactions in various circumstances, seeing which theory matches up better, and which causes more cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance? You mean the theory does not match the intuitive assessment?
If so, yes, that sounds like the right way to test it. Use the usual instrument to find moral truth: our own moral sense.

Wiploc said:
And we see who feels stupider.:)
lol, well not exactly, but close enough ;)



Blast from the past. :)

https://talkfreethought.org/showthr...-Contradiction&p=760368&viewfull=1#post760368

Imagine that Bob and Jack people are marooned in a deserted island. There is no hope for them to return to civilization, and they both know it (it happened in the year 500 and they are in the middle of nowhere, in a place no one goes to where they got by accident in a freak storm, or they are from our time but were taken by aliens to another planet and abandoned on that planet, or whatever). Jack is a serial killer.

Scenario 1: Jack takes Bob by surprise. He hits him in the head, and when Bob is trying to get up, Jack stabs him repeatedly, and cuts him in many places. He laughs as Bob dies in a pool of his own blood. Jack lives the rest of his days on the island, alone. But he likes being alone - he hates people - and he enjoys recalling how he murdered his victims, the last one of which was Bob.

Scenario 2: Like Scenario 1 until Bob is dying in a pool of blood. But Jack did not know that Bob also had a knife - he just hadn't had time to grab it before Jack fatally wounded him. So, Bob knows he is dying and has no hope of returning. But Jack is very close, so Bob makes an effort and manages to stab Jack once before he loses consciousness, never to recover. But now Jack is fatally wounded, and a few minutes later, he dies as well.

In Scenario 2, Bob reduces happiness by killing Jack, as he prevents all the future happiness of his murderer. But it is not the case that Bob has a moral obligation not to stab Jack.
 

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In Scenario 2, Bob reduces happiness by killing Jack, as he prevents all the future happiness of his murderer. But it is not the case that Bob has a moral obligation not to stab Jack.

I suspect we've been here before.

I'm a rule utilitarian. You can contrive a situation in which the rule doesn't satisfy, but that doesn't make it a bad rule generally.
 

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In Scenario 2, Bob reduces happiness by killing Jack, as he prevents all the future happiness of his murderer. But it is not the case that Bob has a moral obligation not to stab Jack.

I suspect we've been here before.

I'm a rule utilitarian. You can contrive a situation in which the rule doesn't satisfy, but that doesn't make it a bad rule generally.


Are you the justice guy? You think justice is a real thing, that can be identified, that is good of itself, that is the goal?
 

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Second, we look for end points, ultimate sources. I ask the virtue theorist what is good about honesty. What is it good for? Isn't honesty good because it tends to make people happy?

Hasn't worked for me.

And the virtue theorist asks me things like, "What's so great about happiness?" and, "What if I don't approve of happiness?"

And then we see who feels stupider. :)

Happiness per se is vastly over-rated, IMHO.
 

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One of the objections often raised in these forums is that one cannot derive a moral 'ought' from an 'is'. Technically that is false, because once the meaning of the words is considered, from 'It would be immoral for agent A to do X' it follows that 'Agent A ought not to do X'.


Your premise of "It is immoral to do X" has no semantic meaning other than "I feel that people ought not to do X." Thus, you are not deriving an "ought" from an actual "is", but an ought from and ought. An "is" is a statement about the objective world that does not depend upon how any mind subjectively feels about it. It is something that would be true even in the absence of any minds to feel anything.

"Immoral" has no referent other than how the thing relates to way some mind feels about it. Contrast it with "X is further from the Earth than Mars.", which is an idea that is either accurate or not depending on whether it logically corresponds to some state of to some physically objective state of the world. And note that whether their are minds to verify such correspondence is logically distinct from whether subjective states of mind are themselves the thing to which the idea corresponds.

The only way your argument makes sense is if you use the word "is" to mean "ought", which is the same as using "implies" to mean "is". So, by the same abuse of meaning, I can say "X implies Y, therefore X is Y."

As for "seeing red", yes that is completely subjective experience, like morality. Thus, there is no objective truth to "that is red" without reference to such subjective experience. Just like you and many use sloppy language to say "That is immoral" to mean "Someone doesn't subjective think that ought to happen.", people often say "that is red" to mean "I subjectively expereince that as red." or "I experience that as similar in color to other things people label "red".
 

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One of the objections often raised in these forums is that one cannot derive a moral 'ought' from an 'is'. Technically that is false, because once the meaning of the words is considered, from 'It would be immoral for agent A to do X' it follows that 'Agent A ought not to do X'.

You've got the word "immoral" in there, so you are already dealing with oughts rather than is's.

At least that's how I define morality: Something like, "Morality is what one ought to do." So the move from X is immoral to one ought-not do X is not a deduction but a mere rephrasing.

The point is that the statement does not contain an 'ought', but 'is immoral', which is an 'is'.


To claim that X is immoral is the same as saying you ought not do X
The ought is structurally embedded and implicit in the claim that something is immoral.

It's not a case of what follows from a proposition that X is immoral. It's just circular reasoning and a tautology to say we ought no do things that ought not be done...because they are 'immoral'.
 

Angra Mainyu

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In Scenario 2, Bob reduces happiness by killing Jack, as he prevents all the future happiness of his murderer. But it is not the case that Bob has a moral obligation not to stab Jack.

I suspect we've been here before.

I'm a rule utilitarian. You can contrive a situation in which the rule doesn't satisfy, but that doesn't make it a bad rule generally.

I would need more information about your variant of utilitarianism, also this is a side issue, but the point is that in some situations, it is not morally wrong to decrease happiness, so it is not the case that conceptually, to be morally wrong is to decrease happiness, and also it's not a case of a necessary equivalence that is not a conceptual equivalence (like water and H2O).
 

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Lion IRC said:
To claim that X is immoral is the same as saying you ought not do X
In the moral sense of 'ought', yes (well, there are some nuances one could debate, but those are details). That is precisely the point. An 'ought' follows from an 'is' using only logic and the meaning of the words. The question is about moral terms vs. non-moral terms, not about'ought' vs. 'is'. But you are missing the central point. You are agreeing with me! (again, save for some nuances).


Lion IRC said:
The ought is structurally embedded and implicit in the claim that something is immoral.
In the moral sense of 'ought', yes, but you might as well say that the 'is immoral' is structurally embedded and implicit in the claim that you ought not to do something. And my point in that part of the OP is precisely that; it's not about is vs. ought, it's about moral language vs. non-moral language. But alas, that happens with color, or illness, or pretty much anything.


Lion IRC said:
It's not a case of what follows from a proposition that X is immoral.
Oh, no, it does follow.

Lion IRC said:
It's just circular reasoning and a tautology to say we ought no do things that ought not be done...because they are 'immoral'.
Well, it is a tautology, sure, that is my point in that part of the OP; it's not about is vs. ought, it's about moral language vs. non-moral language. But alas, that happens with color, or illness, or pretty much anything.
 

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ronburgundy said:
Your premise of "It is immoral to do X" has no semantic meaning other than "I feel that people ought not to do X."
That is false. You can see that when people engage in moral debates. They do not see each other as talking about what each of them feels. Otherwise, they would be talking past each other. Imagine this:

Bob: I feel that people ought not to have gay sex.
Alice: I feel that it is not the case that people ought not to have gay sex.
Bob: Ah, okay, so looks like we have different feelings!


But now imagine:

Bob: People ought not to have gay sex.
Alice: It is not the case that people ought not to have gay sex.
Bob: We disagree.


In other words, at least the "I feel that" is out of place. Moreover, it might be debatable whether 'A ought not to X' in the moral sense of 'ought' means the same as 'It would be immoral for A to X', or 'If A intends not to behave immorally, then A ought not to X'. If this is so, the moral 'ought' is a means-to-ends 'ought' with an implicit end.

But let me reiterate: these are details. I included the points about deriving a moral 'ought' from 'is immoral' for the sake of thoroughness. It seems some readers are just misreading it.

ronburgundy said:
Thus, you are not deriving an "ought" from an actual "is", but an ought from and ought.
Oh, no, I'm deriving an 'ought' from an 'is'. Clearly, 'is immoral' does not contain the word 'ought'. And that is precisely the point in that part of the OP. it's not about is vs. ought, it's about moral language vs. non-moral language. That is of course a side note.

ronburgundy said:
An "is" is a statement about the objective world that does not depend upon how any mind subjectively feels about it.
No, an 'is' is a statement of the form 'A is B' in English.

ronburgundy said:
"Immoral" has no referent other than how the thing relates to way some mind feels about it.
I do not see a good reason to believe so. Of course, there is no immoral behavior without minds. For that matter, there is no psychotic behavior without minds. But there is a fact of the matter as to whether a person behaves immorally, or psychotically.

ronburgundy said:
The only way your argument makes sense is if you use the word "is" to mean "ought", which is the same as using "implies" to mean "is". So, by the same abuse of meaning, I can say "X implies Y, therefore X is Y."
That is not my argument. It is a side note.



ronburgundy said:
As for "seeing red", yes that is completely subjective experience, like morality. Thus, there is no objective truth to "that is red" without reference to such subjective experience.
Imagine a court case, in which it is disputed whether the driver ran a red light. Surely, there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red.
 

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In Scenario 2, Bob reduces happiness by killing Jack, as he prevents all the future happiness of his murderer. But it is not the case that Bob has a moral obligation not to stab Jack.

I suspect we've been here before.

I'm a rule utilitarian. You can contrive a situation in which the rule doesn't satisfy, but that doesn't make it a bad rule generally.


Are you the justice guy? You think justice is a real thing, that can be identified, that is good of itself, that is the goal?

There are some behaviors that would be just to others, sure, and others that would be unjust. In that sense, justice is a "thing" (in the sense that also immorality is a thing). But you do agree that immorality is a real thing that can be identified, right?

And no, I'm not "the justice guy". I'm just a person who believes - like nearly every adult human being in the world - that there is generally a fact of the matter as to whether a human behavior is just or unjust.
 

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Will anyone actually address the real issues at hand?

Please? Any objections that do not miss the points?
 

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Imagine a court case, in which it is disputed whether the driver ran a red light. Surely, there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red.

Loaded comparison (yet again). It may be that there are objective facts about the traffic light (at least in terms of wavelengths or energies of light) but not about morality. This has been put to you repeatedly, in many threads, so it is very odd indeed that you doggedly persist with the comparison.
 

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Imagine a court case, in which it is disputed whether the driver ran a red light. Surely, there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red.

Loaded comparison (yet again). It may be that there are objective facts about the traffic light (at least in terms of wavelengths or energies of light) but not about morality. This has been put to you repeatedly, in many threads, so it is very odd indeed that you doggedly persist with the comparison.

You fail to realize why your objections fail, but you also fail to realize that I'm talking about color in a number of very different contexts, as my replies are adjusted to the claims of each of my interlocutors. In this particular post, I was replying to ronburgundy, who was actually saying that color was subjective, and I was saying that it was not. It's as if you think a single objection applies to all sorts of different arguments, regardless of their content - either that, or you're just not reading the exchanges: you just read 'color' and deploy your favorite objection.
 

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Imagine a court case, in which it is disputed whether the driver ran a red light. Surely, there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red.

Loaded comparison (yet again). It may be that there are objective facts about the traffic light (at least in terms of wavelengths or energies of light) but not about morality. This has been put to you repeatedly, in many threads, so it is very odd indeed that you doggedly persist with the comparison.

You fail to realize why your objections fail, but you also fail to realize that I'm talking about color in a number of very different contexts, as my replies are adjusted to the claims of each of my interlocutors. In this particular post, I was replying to ronburgundy, who was actually saying that color was subjective, and I was saying that it was not. It's as if you think a single objection applies to all sorts of different arguments, regardless of their content - either that, or you're just not reading the exchanges: you just read 'color' and deploy your favorite objection.

Yes I know ronburgundy was making a specific point, but you have used it with me a lot too. It's a dodgy comparison.

As would be:

1. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether a light is red.

2. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether deliberately running a red light is immoral.

Now, both may be true, but the former would be considered less controversial (in terms of wavelengths of light at least) and so appealing to it via comparison to support the latter is dodgy.

By the way, you say the ideas behind a lot of your posts are not originally yours. Whose are they? Can we see an exposition of them?
 
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ruby sparks said:
As would be:

1. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether a light is red.

2. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether deliberately running a red light is immoral.

First, in my reply to ronburgundy, I was not making a parallel, since he accepted the parallel and held that neither is objective, whereas I was saying that they both were, but not using the parallel as it was pointless because he was saying neither was objective.

Second, I was not making that parallel in this thread at all. Rather, this thread is meant to deal with the is/ought objection, not with a claim that there is no objective fact of the matter as to whether it's immoral to run the red light.



ruby sparks said:
By the way, you say the ideas behind a lot of your posts are not originally yours. Whose are they? Can we see an exposition of them?
I do not know who came up with them first. I saw some of the key ones in posts by B20 (and he keeps making those good points, so you can find them easily). Others in works philosophy blogs, but it's been a long time so I don't remember the source of each. Finally, a few I added myself, so in a sense those are my ideas, but are not the main ones and also it's unlikely that I'm the first one to come up with them.
 

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ruby sparks said:
As would be:

1. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether a light is red.

2. There is an objective fact of the matter as to whether deliberately running a red light is immoral.

First, in my reply to ronburgundy, I was not making a parallel, since he accepted the parallel and held that neither is objective, whereas I was saying that they both were, but not using the parallel as it was pointless because he was saying neither was objective.

Second, I was not making that parallel in this thread at all. Rather, this thread is meant to deal with the is/ought objection, not with a claim that there is no objective fact of the matter as to whether it's immoral to run the red light.



ruby sparks said:
By the way, you say the ideas behind a lot of your posts are not originally yours. Whose are they? Can we see an exposition of them?
I do not know who came up with them first. I saw some of the key ones in posts by B20 (and he keeps making those good points, so you can find them easily). Others in works philosophy blogs, but it's been a long time so I don't remember the source of each. Finally, a few I added myself, so in a sense those are my ideas, but are not the main ones and also it's unlikely that I'm the first one to come up with them.

Ok.

Regarding what ronburgundy said, I would agree with him in the sense that I believe colour is a subjective experience, not an objective property of objects or light (eg electromagnetic waves, energies of some sort, surface textures or reflectances) using the definition of subjective as: 'dependent on a subject, eg a mind (or brain)'. There may be other definitions of subjective (or objective).

Also, saying 'It is immoral for agent A to do X' is strictly speaking an 'is' statement, so technically you can get to an ought at least fairly directly from that. The main problem, as I see it, is that it already contains a moral value judgement, and as such it has not been reasonably demonstrated to be an objective (or universal) 'is' (even if it is expressed in the form of an 'is' statement).
 
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ruby sparks said:
Regarding what ronburgundy said, I would agree with him in the sense that I believe colour is a subjective experience, not an objective property of objects or light (eg electromagnetic waves, energies of some sort, surface textures or reflectances) using the definition of subjective as: 'dependent on a subject, eg a mind (or brain)'. There may be other definitions of subjective (or objective).
That is a debatable matter, but granting that that is correct, the key point here is that that is not the definition of "subjective" that is relevant in this context.

Consider, again, the court case: imagine Bob is accused of running a red light. He replies: 'Your honor, whether the light was red is a subjective matter, so maybe it was red to some police officers, but not red to me'. Clearly, he will not win the case. The judge (if reasonable) will point out that there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red when he crossed.

Common expressions such as 'there is an objective fact of the matter', 'it's a subjective matter', and so on, do not refer to the 'subjective' things in the sense you describe above.


ruby sparks said:
Also, saying 'It is immoral for agent A to do X' is strictly speaking an 'is' statement, so technically you can get to an ought at least fairly directly from that.
Yes, that was my point in bringing that up. But it was a secondary point, a side issue. The central, crucial issue is that when we make other assessments, like the assessment that a ball is red, or that water is composed of H2O, etc., in the examples I provided, one is also using information from which it does not follow that the assessments are true, in exactly the same manner, so either one is making a fallacy in all cases - in which case, this fallacy is not so important -, or else there is something else that prevents that from being a fallacy. Perhaps, the intuitive judgments are non-verbal and just a case of matching patterns as chimps might, or maybe there is a probabilistic function with the implicit connections, or whatever. But at any rate, my goal was to tackle the is/ought issue.
ruby sparks said:
The main problem, as I see it, is that it already contains a moral value judgement, and as such it has not been reasonably demonstrated to be an objective (or universal) 'is' (even if it is expressed in the form of an 'is' statement).
I do not agree that that is a problem or that I would have a burden to demonstrate it. However, even granting that for the sake of the argument, the objection to the is/ought objection would work, as it would for, say, beauty judgments.
 

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That is a debatable matter, but granting that that is correct, the key point here is that that is not the definition of "subjective" that is relevant in this context.

Consider, again, the court case: imagine Bob is accused of running a red light. He replies: 'Your honor, whether the light was red is a subjective matter, so maybe it was red to some police officers, but not red to me'. Clearly, he will not win the case. The judge (if reasonable) will point out that there is an objective fact of the matter as to whether the light was red when he crossed.

Common expressions such as 'there is an objective fact of the matter', 'it's a subjective matter', and so on, do not refer to the 'subjective' things in the sense you describe above.

In terms of everyday language, you may be correct. Fair enough, but what does it have to do with morality?

Yes, that was my point in bringing that up. But it was a secondary point, a side issue. The central, crucial issue is that when we make other assessments, like the assessment that a ball is red, or that water is composed of H2O, etc., in the examples I provided, one is also using information from which it does not follow that the assessments are true, in exactly the same manner, so either one is making a fallacy in all cases - in which case, this fallacy is not so important -, or else there is something else that prevents that from being a fallacy. Perhaps, the intuitive judgments are non-verbal and just a case of matching patterns as chimps might, or maybe there is a probabilistic function with the implicit connections, or whatever. But at any rate, my goal was to tackle the is/ought issue.
ruby sparks said:
The main problem, as I see it, is that it already contains a moral value judgement, and as such it has not been reasonably demonstrated to be an objective (or universal) 'is' (even if it is expressed in the form of an 'is' statement).
I do not agree that that is a problem or that I would have a burden to demonstrate it. However, even granting that for the sake of the argument, the objection to the is/ought objection would work, as it would for, say, beauty judgments.

I often have very little idea what you are on about or what your point is. In what way do you hope to tackle the is/ought problem?

I'm not even sure what you mean by fallacy, or whether it's an everyday language 'fallacy' (eg a mistake), or whether when you say fallacy, it's always that, and nothing to do with logic (except perhaps everyday 'logic').

I get the impression that a lot of your arguments rely on everyday language, intuitions and common sense. I have to say I don't think this is a particularly good basis for analysis, regardless of what you say about the general reliability of such things. We discussed this before, and I am no more convinced than I was the last time.

If you want to claim that in everyday language, there is no significant issue getting an ought from an is, then, fine. I don't think I'd argue because I don't think it would show very much.
 

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Suppose a son stabs his father to death with a knife. Everyone agrees that this is morally wrong in some sense.

Now, the OP claims that moral wrongness is perceived like color is perceived. If that's true, I ought to be able to perceive the wrongness of the stabbing like I can perceive the redness of the father's blood.

I can't, though. I can examine the situation in every particular, and I'll never come across a perception of wrongness. I can see the knife, I can see it entering the father's body, I can see the blood leaving the father's body, I can see the father collapsing, etc. But I never perceive any wrongness the way I perceive the colors and sounds (and so on) of all of these entities and events.

What we are given by observation is a bunch of facts about the world (the knife, the stabbing, etc.), and a feeling in me that results from my perceiving those facts. I think any attempt to get over the is-ought gap will need to proceed by knitting those together by some process of conceptual inference - either the facts to one another, or the facts to the feeling. I think the "ought" will need to be inferred, rather than perceived, if it is to be obtained from the "is."

Thoughts?
 

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ruby sparks said:
In terms of everyday language, you may be correct. Fair enough, but what does it have to do with morality?
That was in the context of ronburgundy's points about color, so it was not about morality. Still, in the case of morality, a similar issue can be raised. The key disagreement in philosophy (both professional and amateur) and in the context of these threads is not whether morality is subjective in the sense you mentioned, but whether there is an objective fact of the matter (or a fact of the matter, which means the same in everyday language) as to whether moral assessments are true.


ruby sparks said:
I often have very little idea what you are on about or what your point is. In what way do you hope to tackle the is/ought problem?
In the way that after considering the matter, it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments based on information about non-moral matters to say that an 'ought' doesn't follow from an 'is', or that moral assessments do not logically followed from information described using only nonmoral terms.

But let me go with an example.

Suppose that Bob accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with ordinary color vision would see this ball as red, under ordinary lighting conditions, and on the basis of that, he reckons that the ball is probably red. Bob rejects the idea that he is committing any fallacy in making that assessment.
Bob also accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral. Now, when Alice uses that information as evidence that the actions in question were indeed very immoral, Bob objects and says that Alice is incurring the is/ought fallacy, because it does not follow from the premise that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral, that the actions were indeed very immoral.

One of my aims is to get readers to realize that Bob is making a mistake, more precisely if Alice is committing a fallacy for the stated reason, then so is Bob with his color assessment, and for the same reason (roughly; one might raise implicit premises as an objection, but that can be properly dealt with too). Note that saying that color is somehow different from morality or that there is an objective fact of the matter would miss the point. The question is about what follows from what, and whether these are cases of making fallacious assessments, or else cases in which one is not deriving the assessment by means of deductive logic but in some other way, and that is not itself a fallacy.



ruby sparks said:
I'm not even sure what you mean by fallacy, or whether it's an everyday language 'fallacy' (eg a mistake), or whether when you say fallacy, it's always that, and nothing to do with logic (except perhaps everyday 'logic').
A fallacy is a formal logical error. In this case, it would be to try to derive a conclusion from certain premises by means of deductive logic, but using an invalid argument. I focus on this meaning of 'fallacy' because that is how the is/ought issue is usually raised.

At any rate, the response to the objection that Alice is making some sort of error (not necessarily that one) would be along the lines that Bob has not provided any kind of reason to reckon that Alice is making a mistake with her moral assessment that Bob is not making with his color assessment.


ruby sparks said:
I get the impression that a lot of your arguments rely on everyday language, intuitions and common sense. I have to say I don't think this is a particularly good basis for analysis, regardless of what you say about the general reliability of such things. We discussed this before, and I am no more convinced than I was the last time.
Yes, this is unfortunate. I realize I will not convince you of that. But the objection to the is/ought objection does not rely on that, as you should be able to see in the OP and my replies above. Now, I will probably not convince you of that, either, but I am also aiming to persuade other readers. Unfortunately, this thread has not attracted much interest, so maybe I won't persuade anyone, but I'm trying, and in doing so, I'm not going to limit my arguments to those I think might persuade you (if any).
 

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Suppose a son stabs his father to death with a knife. Everyone agrees that this is morally wrong in some sense.

Now, the OP claims that moral wrongness is perceived like color is perceived. If that's true, I ought to be able to perceive the wrongness of the stabbing like I can perceive the redness of the father's blood.

I can't, though. I can examine the situation in every particular, and I'll never come across a perception of wrongness. I can see the knife, I can see it entering the father's body, I can see the blood leaving the father's body, I can see the father collapsing, etc. But I never perceive any wrongness the way I perceive the colors and sounds (and so on) of all of these entities and events.

What we are given by observation is a bunch of facts about the world (the knife, the stabbing, etc.), and a feeling in me that results from my perceiving those facts. I think any attempt to get over the is-ought gap will need to proceed by knitting those together by some process of conceptual inference - either the facts to one another, or the facts to the feeling. I think the "ought" will need to be inferred, rather than perceived, if it is to be obtained from the "is."

Thoughts?

Thanks for the post.

The OP does not claim that moral wrongness is perceived like color is perceived, with our color vision. I am concerned with the is/ought objection.

But since you raise this matter, for that matter, sound is not perceived like color either. You look at the event, but you do not hear the blood, just as you do not see the screams, and you neither hear nor see the wrongness, but you do perceive it, do you not? Sure, you say you have a "a feeling in me that results from my perceiving those facts". But do you perceive the facts? Is the color impression that you see not also perceived as "a feeling in" you, even if a different kind of feeling? Is the sound as you perceived it also not "a feeling in" you, even if distinct from both the perception of redness and that of moral wrongness?

None of this has to do with the response to the is/ought objection, though, but for now, how about this: instead of color, think illness. You can see all of the effects of, say, cancer on a human being. But where do you see the illness in cancer, or psychosis?


But let me go with an example.

Suppose that Bob accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with ordinary faculties would find that a human with the symptoms described as 'psychosis' is ill. On the basis of that, he reckons that psychosis is very probably an illness (maybe so probable that it's beyond a reasonable doubt). Bob rejects the idea that he is committing any fallacy in making that assessment.

Bob also accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral. Now, when Alice uses that information as evidence that the actions in question were indeed very immoral and reckons that they very probably were, Bob objects and says that Alice is incurring the is/ought fallacy, because it does not follow from the premise that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral, that the actions were indeed very immoral.

One of my aims is to show that there is something wrong with Bob's objection, for the same reasons explained in my previous reply to ruby sparks.


ETA:
Torin said:
What we are given by observation is a bunch of facts about the world (the knife, the stabbing, etc.), and a feeling in me that results from my perceiving those facts. I think any attempt to get over the is-ought gap will need to proceed by knitting those together by some process of conceptual inference - either the facts to one another, or the facts to the feeling. I think the "ought" will need to be inferred, rather than perceived, if it is to be obtained from the "is."
But why would the moral assessment have to be inferred? You see the red blood, you hear the screams, you perceive the wrongness too, without resorting to any kind of reasoning: it is an immediate assessment, not something you reason your way to. Still, as I mentioned, if that does not convince you, how about illness? You do not see or hear the illness in a cancer patient, or in a psychotic patient, etc., right?
 

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A fallacy is a formal logical error. In this case, it would be to try to derive a conclusion from certain premises by means of deductive logic, but using an invalid argument. I focus on this meaning of 'fallacy' because that is how the is/ought issue is usually raised.

There's something a bit iffy about the way you mix and match standards, imo. One minute it's formal logic, the next it's everyday language.
 

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A fallacy is a formal logical error. In this case, it would be to try to derive a conclusion from certain premises by means of deductive logic, but using an invalid argument. I focus on this meaning of 'fallacy' because that is how the is/ought issue is usually raised.

There's something a bit iffy about the way you mix and match standards, imo. One minute it's formal logic, the next it's everyday language.
That is not mixing standards at all. If someone says

P1: If all swans are white, there are no black swans.
P2: There are no black swans.
C: All swans are white.

Then they made a fallacy, and a formal logical error. The language is everyday language, but that is not really the issue. You can make formal logical errors in everyday language. By the way, logic was originally developed in the context of everyday language, not formal languages. That came much, much later.
 

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Suppose a son stabs his father to death with a knife. Everyone agrees that this is morally wrong in some sense.

Now, the OP claims that moral wrongness is perceived like color is perceived. If that's true, I ought to be able to perceive the wrongness of the stabbing like I can perceive the redness of the father's blood.

I can't, though. I can examine the situation in every particular, and I'll never come across a perception of wrongness. I can see the knife, I can see it entering the father's body, I can see the blood leaving the father's body, I can see the father collapsing, etc. But I never perceive any wrongness the way I perceive the colors and sounds (and so on) of all of these entities and events.

What we are given by observation is a bunch of facts about the world (the knife, the stabbing, etc.), and a feeling in me that results from my perceiving those facts. I think any attempt to get over the is-ought gap will need to proceed by knitting those together by some process of conceptual inference - either the facts to one another, or the facts to the feeling. I think the "ought" will need to be inferred, rather than perceived, if it is to be obtained from the "is."

Thoughts?

In both cases, it's perceptions. Better to say it's a brain-thing, I think. One question is whether or not they are perceptions about objective, actual things or whether they are only in the brain.

In the case of a red light, there is (it very much seems) an actual objective red light (in terms of there being wavelengths of light at least). This does not seem to be the case to an equivalent extent for morality. There is, it seems, no objective morality, as far as we know, and nor are particular moral judgements (opinions) universal.

Yes, the ought is inferred (by human brains) from the is, imo. I'm not ever sure I think infer is the right word. I would say the brain creates the morality. There's nothing in the events outside the brain which are anything to do with morality, of themselves.
 

ruby sparks

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A fallacy is a formal logical error. In this case, it would be to try to derive a conclusion from certain premises by means of deductive logic, but using an invalid argument. I focus on this meaning of 'fallacy' because that is how the is/ought issue is usually raised.

There's something a bit iffy about the way you mix and match standards, imo. One minute it's formal logic, the next it's everyday language.
That is not mixing standards at all. If someone says

P1: If all swans are white, there are no black swans.
P2: There are no black swans.
C: All swans are white.

Then they made a fallacy, and a formal logical error. The language is everyday language, but that is not really the issue. You can make formal logical errors in everyday language. By the way, logic was originally developed in the context of everyday language, not formal languages. That came much, much later.

Formal logic is not everyday reasoning. You switch between one and the other.
 

Angra Mainyu

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That is not mixing standards at all. If someone says

P1: If all swans are white, there are no black swans.
P2: There are no black swans.
C: All swans are white.

Then they made a fallacy, and a formal logical error. The language is everyday language, but that is not really the issue. You can make formal logical errors in everyday language. By the way, logic was originally developed in the context of everyday language, not formal languages. That came much, much later.

Formal logic is not everyday reasoning. You switch between one and the other.

If by "formal logic" you mean mathematical logic, sure, but I said a formal logical error, not mathematical logic. And of course, people make formal logical errors in everyday talk.
But for example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_fallacy

In philosophy, a formal fallacy, deductive fallacy, logical fallacy or non sequitur[1] (Latin for "it does not follow") is a pattern of reasoning rendered invalid by a flaw in its logical structure that can neatly be expressed in a standard logic system, for example propositional logic.[2]
That can be neatly expressed in a standard logical system does not mean it is not committed in everyday talk. Of course, people engage in non-sequiturs all around. But still, since you think I'm making some kind of error, could you explain what it is - not vaguely, but show me the error?
 

ruby sparks

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But still, since you think I'm making some kind of error, could you explain what it is - not vaguely, but show me the error?

It would help me in trying to answer that if I could even work out what it was you were trying to get at half the time. As it is, I strongly suggest something dodgy.

This for example:

In the way that after considering the matter, it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments based on information about non-moral matters to say that an 'ought' doesn't follow from an 'is', or that moral assessments do not logically followed from information described using only nonmoral terms.

But let me go with an example.

Suppose that Bob accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with ordinary color vision would see this ball as red, under ordinary lighting conditions, and on the basis of that, he reckons that the ball is probably red. Bob rejects the idea that he is committing any fallacy in making that assessment.
Bob also accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral. Now, when Alice uses that information as evidence that the actions in question were indeed very immoral, Bob objects and says that Alice is incurring the is/ought fallacy, because it does not follow from the premise that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral, that the actions were indeed very immoral.

One of my aims is to get readers to realize that Bob is making a mistake, more precisely if Alice is committing a fallacy for the stated reason, then so is Bob with his color assessment, and for the same reason (roughly; one might raise implicit premises as an objection, but that can be properly dealt with too). Note that saying that color is somehow different from morality or that there is an objective fact of the matter would miss the point. The question is about what follows from what, and whether these are cases of making fallacious assessments, or else cases in which one is not deriving the assessment by means of deductive logic but in some other way, and that is not itself a fallacy.

I have no idea what your underlying point is or how what you write demonstrates it. The whole thing is just confusing. I can only go back to what I said before, yes you can get an ought from an is fairly readily if you want to, but your 'is' already contains a moral judgement, and it has not been reasonably demonstrated to be objectively or universally true.

Regarding the bit in bold, can you give me an example of a moral assessment that logically follows from something described using only nonmoral terms?

I think I can reduce what you said to, "It is not reasonable to object...that moral assessments do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms".

So an example would help. Because personally, at this point, I would say that moral assessments do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms. If anyone said they did, I would object. Where is my mistake?

If possible, keep it short.

ps I believe the ball itself is not actually red. :)
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
I have no idea what your underlying point is or how what you write demonstrates it. The whole thing is just confusing. I can only go back to what I said before, yes you can get an ought from an is fairly readily if you want to, but your 'is' already contains a moral judgement, and it has not been reasonably demonstrated to be objectively or universally true.
I am sorry, but it is very clear to me, and I do not know how to make it more clear.


ruby sparks said:
Regarding the bit in bold, can you give me an example of a moral assessment that logically follows from something described using only nonmoral terms?
Yes, I can, but it would be irrelevant, and the fact that you're asking this question tells me that you do not understand what I'm saying in this thread. That is of course fine. What is find more problematic is that you keep charging me with making some errors. You would have to understand me to assess that.

As for your example:

P1: The ball is red, and it is not the case that the ball is red.

From that it follows that Hitler was an evil person (though of course, you may want to say that you need an implicit premise containing logical terms, even if it's conditional. That really would take us in the direction of a discussion of what it for something to follow from something else that is not at all related to the matter at hand).



And no, I am not saying that moral assessments ordinarily logically follow from something described using only nonmoral terms (those would be just like odd cases as above, and still debatable). Rather, I am saying it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments because of that, given that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only noncolor terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only nonillness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

ruby sparks said:
So an example would help. Because personally, at this point, I would say that moral assessments do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms.
I actually agree with that assessment, save perhaps for anomalous cases that are not relevant anyway because contradictory descriptions are false. The point is that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow from something described using only non-color terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only non-illness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

And if you're going to tell me that the analogy is not good because there are objective facts about color, illness, etc., then you missed the point entirely. The point is that it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments on the basis that they do not logically followed from information described using only nonmoral terms, not that it's not reasonable to object on other grounds that could be debated separately .
 

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If I had to guess, I'd guess that you are trying to say there is some sort of inconsistency involved in the way the judgement about the red and the moral judgement are treated differently? If so, then so far, I'm not seeing an inconsistency.
 

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And no, I am not saying that moral assessments ordinarily logically follow from something described using only nonmoral terms (those would be just like odd cases as above, and still debatable). Rather, I am saying it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments because of that, given that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only noncolor terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only nonillness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

ruby sparks said:
So an example would help. Because personally, at this point, I would say that moral assessments do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms.
I actually agree with that assessment, save perhaps for anomalous cases that are not relevant anyway because contradictory descriptions are false. The point is that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow from something described using only non-color terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only non-illness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

And if you're going to tell me that the analogy is not good because there are objective facts about color, illness, etc., then you missed the point entirely. The point is that it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments on the basis that they do not logically followed from information described using only nonmoral terms, not that it's not reasonable to object on other grounds that could be debated separately .

Again, I object to the claim that moral judgements logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms. Where is my mistake? If I have not made a mistake, then there is obviously an is/ought problem.
 

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If I had to guess, I'd guess that you are trying to say there is some sort of inconsistency involved in the way the judgement about the red and the moral judgement are treated differently? If so, then so far, I'm not seeing it.

You do not need to guess. I'm saying just that - at least, that there is such inconsistency in the way people who raise the is/ought objection act, at least in the cases I'm familiar with, included all I've seen in TFT and previous incarnations of this forum or others.
I'm sorry that you are not seeing it. I've done my best, making the points with plenty of details repeatedly. I do not know how to do better. I hope other readers see it, though.
 

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I am sorry, but it is very clear to me, and I do not know how to make it more clear.



Yes, I can, but it would be irrelevant, and the fact that you're asking this question tells me that you do not understand what I'm saying in this thread. That is of course fine. What is find more problematic is that you keep charging me with making some errors. You would have to understand me to assess that.

As for your example:

P1: The ball is red, and it is not the case that the ball is red.

From that it follows that Hitler was an evil person (though of course, you may want to say that you need an implicit premise containing logical terms, even if it's conditional. That really would take us in the direction of a discussion of what it for something to follow from something else that is not at all related to the matter at hand).



And no, I am not saying that moral assessments ordinarily logically follow from something described using only nonmoral terms (those would be just like odd cases as above, and still debatable). Rather, I am saying it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments because of that, given that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only noncolor terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only nonillness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

ruby sparks said:
So an example would help. Because personally, at this point, I would say that moral assessments do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms.
I actually agree with that assessment, save perhaps for anomalous cases that are not relevant anyway because contradictory descriptions are false. The point is that also color assessments do not ordinarily follow from something described using only non-color terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only non-illness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

And if you're going to tell me that the analogy is not good because there are objective facts about color, illness, etc., then you missed the point entirely. The point is that it is not reasonable to object to moral assessments on the basis that they do not logically followed from information described using only nonmoral terms, not that it's not reasonable to object on other grounds that could be debated separately .

Again, I object to the claim that moral judgements logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms. This is the essence of the is/ought issue. Where is my mistake?

You make several mistakes in this thread, but in this particular post, your mistake is that I do not claim that moral judgments logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms, save perhaps for anomalous cases that are irrelevant anyway. In other words, your mistake is that you misconstrue what I'm saying, and object to something that is not related to it.
 

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If I had to guess, I'd guess that you are trying to say there is some sort of inconsistency involved in the way the judgement about the red and the moral judgement are treated differently? If so, then so far, I'm not seeing it.

You do not need to guess. I'm saying just that - at least, that there is such inconsistency in the way people who raise the is/ought objection act, at least in the cases I'm familiar with, included all I've seen in TFT and previous incarnations of this forum or others.
I'm sorry that you are not seeing it. I've done my best, making the points with plenty of details repeatedly. I do not know how to do better. I hope other readers see it, though.

Where is the inconsistency? In one case, we are talking about getting an ought from an is. In the other case(s) we are talking about something else, nothing to do with oughts. The is/ought problem, unsurprisingly, is about getting an ought (from an is).
 

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Again, I object to the claim that moral judgements logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms. This is the essence of the is/ought issue. Where is my mistake?

You make several mistakes in this thread, but in this particular post, your mistake is that I do not claim that moral judgments logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms, save perhaps for anomalous cases that are irrelevant anyway. In other words, your mistake is that you misconstrue what I'm saying, and object to something that is not related to it.

I know you have now said you agree with me that moral judgements do not logically follow from information described in nonmoral terms. I was glad to hear it, given that you initially used an example of an 'is' that was not described in nonmoral terms.

So where then is our mistake?

Because if we are not mistaken, which I think we agree neither of us are, there is an is/ought problem, the problem being that an ought does not follow from an is. Is that not the case?
 

Angra Mainyu

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ruby sparks said:
Where is the inconsistency? In one case, we are talking about getting an ought from an is. In the other case(s) we are talking about something else, nothing to do with oughts. The is/ought problem, not unsurprisingly, is about getting an ought (from an is).
First, no, that is not it. As I explained carefully, the is/ought alleged problem is not about getting an 'ought' from an 'is'. One can get an 'ought' from an 'is' easily (see my previous example). No, the problem is about getting a moral assessment from some information that is not described in moral terms.

Second, even if it were about getting an 'ought' from an 'is', the point remains that the person raising the objection is objecting on the basis that the moral assessment (with or without an 'ought') does not follow from the logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms. Yet, the same person accepts all other kinds of assessments that do not follow from the information on which they are based. The inconsistency is that that person only realizes that and objects when it comes to moral assessments, and even believes that a problem for moral assessments is that they do not logically follow from information described using only nonmoral terms. But they do not realize (or fail to see it's the same that they object to in the moral case) that color assessments do not ordinarily follow from something described using only noncolor terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only nonillness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.



But let me go with an example.

Suppose that Bob accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with ordinary color vision would see this ball as red, under ordinary lighting conditions, and on the basis of that, he reckons that the ball is probably red. Bob rejects the idea that he is committing any fallacy in making that assessment.
Bob also accepts that there is very good evidence that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral. Now, when Alice uses that information as evidence that the actions in question were indeed very immoral, Bob objects and says that Alice is incurring the is/ought fallacy, because it does not follow from the premise that any human with an ordinary moral sense would find the kidnappings, rapes and murders committed by Ted Bundy (as described here), very immoral, that the actions were indeed very immoral.


Do you not realize that Bob is making a mistake here?



ruby sparks said:
Because if we are not mistaken, which I think we agree neither of us are, there is an is/ought problem, the problem being that an ought does not follow from an is. Is that not the case?
No, that is not at all the case. I have been argued all over the thread that that is not a problem. I have argued that it is not a problem because, apart from the fact that if there were a problem it would not be an is/ought issue but a moral terms/nonmoral terms issue, also color assessments do not ordinarily follow from something described using only noncolor terms, illness assessments do not ordinarily follow rom something described using only nonillness terms, and even scientific assessments do not logically follow from the information on which they are based.

Either there is a logical error in all of those cases (and if so, then this is a logical error that is generally not a problem), or it's probabilistic assessments with some implicit premises (and in that case, there is no reason to suspect the moral case is different). Regardless, my point is that there is no problem.
 

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Regardless, my point is that there is no problem.

Well, there clearly is if we both agree that a moral conclusion does not follow from a nonmoral premise.

I know we have come a way since the OP, when your premise was couched in moral terms. But now that we are past that, we seem to agree that there is that problem.
 
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