• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

The is/ought issue.

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
Regardless, my point is that there is no problem.

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

Perhaps there is a logical error in all the cases you mention. So what? It is still the case that there is a problem with one of them. The relevant one in fact.

The person raising the is/ought issue objects to moral assessments on the basis that they do not follow logically from the assessments on which they are based and allegedly that is a problem, but the same person all the time makes assessments that do not follow follow logically from the assessments on which they are based, and fails to see that by the very same standards they raise against morality, their own assessments about pretty much everything everywhere would be equally flawed.


That of course unless they do follow with implicit probabilistic premises and they are also probabilistic, but in that case, the same can apply to the moral case.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The person raising the is/ought issue objects to moral assessments on the basis that they do not follow logically from the assessments on which they are based and allegedly that is a problem, but the same person all the time makes assessments that do not follow follow logically from the assessments on which they are based...

This does not mean that there is no problem in the case of deriving an ought, does it?
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
The person raising the is/ought issue objects to moral assessments on the basis that they do not follow logically from the assessments on which they are based and allegedly that is a problem, but the same person all the time makes assessments that do not follow follow logically from the assessments on which they are based...

This does not mean that there is no problem in the case of deriving an ought, does it? There is a problem with that.

That means that the person raising the objection is not being consistent. But that is only part of what I have been arguing in the thread. I also argued that there is no is/ought problem for moral assessments because there is no problem for all of the other assessments that do the same thing. It's what is called a 'partners in innocence' kind of argument. This is not to say that people actually derive the 'ought' from the 'is'. Again, there may well be probabilistic premises, or - depending on the case -it might be an immediate intuitive moral assessment, not derived from something else either by deduction or some other means, such as induction. But I have not taken a stance on the specific way in which it happens. Rather, I argue that this is not a problem because it is a feature of human judgments in general (not just moral ones), and that includes non-problematic judgements.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
The person raising the is/ought issue objects to moral assessments on the basis that they do not follow logically from the assessments on which they are based and allegedly that is a problem, but the same person all the time makes assessments that do not follow follow logically from the assessments on which they are based...

This does not mean that there is no problem in the case of deriving an ought, does it? There is a problem with that.

That means that the person raising the objection is not being consistent.

Away from analogies or comparisons which don't involve morals, the specific relevant item here is getting a moral ought from a nonmoral is, and there is a problem with that, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy, would you not agree?
 
Last edited:

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
That means that the person raising the objection is not being consistent.

Away from analogies or comparisons which don't involve morals, the specific relevant item here is getting a moral ought from a nonmoral is, and there is a problem with that, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy, would you not agree?

No, I think not, just as I do not think there is a problem in the other cases. The reason for the analogies is simply to show that in general we do not demand that our assessment follows deductively from the statements of the information we have. Let me give you an example. On the basis of a long list of observations, scientists conclude that, say, humans and chimps have a common ancestor millions of years ago. However, it does not follow from the long list in question that they have a common ancestors. On the basis of the information that ordinary humans would reckon that psychopathy is an illness, one can similarly and properly assess that it is very probably an illness (or probable enough that it is certain, depending on the case).

Maybe these are not fallacies and what we are doing is some probabilistic assessments with probabilistic premises that allow the required connections. But if that is so, then the same can happen in the moral case. The point is that this sort of assessments are run-of-the-mill, and unproblematic. Making them problematic in the moral case would be special pleading.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Away from analogies or comparisons which don't involve morals, the specific relevant item here is getting a moral ought from a nonmoral is, and there is a problem with that, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy, would you not agree?

No, I think not....

There definitely is a problem though, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy. There used to be a guy in the forum here not that long ago who thought logic was very important in such matters. I wonder where he went?
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.

No, that is not the right conclusion. If you are going to make a distinction about deductive arguments, then the proper distinction is between valid and invalid ones. The one you make has the implicit premise that Angela is a person, but going with that, it is valid. But that's not because it's from nonmoral to nonmoral. Let me give you a different example:

P1. Everyone believes that cancer is an illness.
C2: Cancer is an illness.

That one is invalid. But how about:

P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that cancer is an illness.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, cancer is an illness.

Well, that is valid. Now:


P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.

In reality, assessments are much, much more complicated, but the underlying idea is that it's special pleading to target morality or to say that somehow a different kind of argument.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
Away from analogies or comparisons which don't involve morals, the specific relevant item here is getting a moral ought from a nonmoral is, and there is a problem with that, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy, would you not agree?

No, I think not....

There definitely is a problem though, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy. There used to be a guy in here not that long ago who thought logic was very important in such matters. I wonder where he went?

Again, either that is not the case and there is no fallacy (see the 'rape for fun' example) , or this sort of fallacy is in general not a problem as it happens everywhere (not just with morality), and it is special pleading to attack only morality with it.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
There definitely is a problem though, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy. There used to be a guy in here not that long ago who thought logic was very important in such matters. I wonder where he went?

Again, either that is not the case and there is no fallacy (see the 'rape for fun' example) , or this sort of fallacy is in general not a problem as it happens everywhere (not just with morality), and it is special pleading to attack only morality with it.

It is not special pleading. The two types of argument (moral from nonmoral and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same. They are different.

I wonder where that guy went to? Have you seen him? The one who thought logic was very important in such matters.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.

No, that is not the right conclusion.

Yes it is. Well, it's a valid conclusion, which is the point I was making. You couldn't say that about a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises. So the two types of argument are not the same. Getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would be invalid and a fallacy.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
There definitely is a problem though, namely that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises would not be valid, and would be a fallacy. There used to be a guy in here not that long ago who thought logic was very important in such matters. I wonder where he went?

Again, either that is not the case and there is no fallacy (see the 'rape for fun' example) , or this sort of fallacy is in general not a problem as it happens everywhere (not just with morality), and it is special pleading to attack only morality with it.

It is not special pleading. The two types of argument (moral from nonmoral and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.

I wonder where that guy went to? Have you seen him? The one who thought logic was very important in such matters.

No, that is not true. I already explained why that is not a proper classification of arguments. I already explained the logic. I already gave examples.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.

No, that is not the right conclusion.

Yes it is.

But I already showed you that it is not, in this post. You simply insist, without argument. Tell me, where is the fallacy?


P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.

ETA: If you say that that has a moral premise (P1), then exactly the same happens with the illness case, the science case, etc. Again, it is special pleading to single out morality.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Here's another nonmoral to nonmoral one:

P1. All men are mortal.
P2. Socrates is a man.
C1. Socrates is mortal.

Valid.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
But I already showed you that it is not....

No, you didn't. It is valid.

Tell me, where is the fallacy?

Where is what fallacy?

I showed that the proper distinction is not between non-moral to moral and non-moral to non-moral. With that criterion, one might as well say that the proper distinction is between non-illness to non-illness and non-illness to illness. No, the proper distinction is between valid and invalid. Your example (with an implicit premise about Angela) is valid. But then again, that is not relevant, for the reasons I've been explaining.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.
Let me provide two parallels:



By contrast, getting a nonillness conclusion from a nonillness premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness) are not the same.​



By contrast, getting a noncolor conclusion from a noncolor premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) are not the same.​
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
No, you didn't. It is valid.



Where is what fallacy?

I showed that the proper distinction is not between non-moral to moral and non-moral to non-moral.

You didn't show any such thing. The distinction between the two types of argument remains. They are not the same thing. They are different. And you should admit that there is an inherent problem with is/ought that is not a problem with your analogies.

The argument I offered is valid. A non-moral to moral argument would not be valid.

Where is what fallacy?
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
No, you didn't. It is valid.



Where is what fallacy?

I showed that the proper distinction is not between non-moral to moral and non-moral to non-moral.

You didn't show any such thing.

The argument I offered is valid. A non-moral to moral argument would not be valid.

Where is what fallacy?

Fallacy?

No, the point is that it is not proper (rational, in this case) to divide arguments in two categories (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral), and present this as a problem for the former. One might as well separate them in (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) or (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness), and so on. It's special pleading to attack morality in this particular manner. Furthermore, there is nothing special about (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) vs. (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) or (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness), when it comes to what follows from what.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
So the two types of argument (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) are not the same.[/indent]

I don't understand that. You haven't done a colour from non-colour argument to illustrate the difference.

In any case, colour is only an analogy. Not even a very good one. A contrived choice, to try to bolster your argument about morals.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
You didn't show any such thing.

The argument I offered is valid. A non-moral to moral argument would not be valid.

Where is what fallacy?

Fallacy?

No, the point is that it is not proper (rational, in this case) to divide arguments in two categories (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral), and present this as a problem for the former. One might as well separate them in (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) or (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness), and so on. It's special pleading to attack morality in this particular manner. Furthermore, there is nothing special about (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) vs. (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) or (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness), when it comes to what follows from what.

What do you mean 'no'? You asked me where the fallacy was. Now a fallacy is not the point?

Are you, or are you not, going to admit that there is an inherent problem with getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises, namely that it is not valid and a fallacy, a formal fallacy in fact. You recently claimed that logic was very important in these matters, and now it has conveniently gone out the window.

This continued evasion is getting extremely boring.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
What do you mean 'no'? You asked me where the fallacy was. Now a fallacy is not the point?
I was not claiming the argument you offered was a fallacy. What I claimed and argued - among other things - is that it is not proper to attack morality on grounds that you refuse to apply to color or illness or science even though they are in that particular regard not at all different from morality.

ruby sparks said:
Are you, or are you not, going to admit that there is an inherent problem with getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises, namely that it is not valid and a fallacy, a formal fallacy in fact. You recently claimed that logic was very important in these matters, and now it has conveniently gone out the window.

This continued evasion is getting extremely boring.
Continued evasion? On your part you mean? By failing to actually address the points and repeating yours? I have repeatedly explained my position, but again:

1. There are arguments in which the premises are arguably non-moral and warranted, the conclusion is moral, but are valid. Example:

P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.

If that does not count as non-moral premises, fine then, it depends on what you count as such.

2. Moral assessments can also be made immediately and intuitively, without any kind of reasoning, and again no fallacy.

3. If the usual way in which we make moral assessments using nonmoral information does not contain any implicit premises as the argument above, then it is a fallacy, but if that is the case, then this fallacy is not something that happens with morality in particular, but with color, illness, science, and it is pretty much everywhere, inevitably even. So, if moral statements (and then, all of these other statements) are indeed fallacious, then clearly this is a sort of fallacy that it is not important to avoid, simply because it is not even possible to avoid it and learning almost anything about the world. Rather, this would be a fallacy that one makes all the time, and which is rational to make all the time - moreover, it would be irrational to fail to make it.

Now, I do think in general logic is important, and in particular, so is to avoid fallacies. But if it turns out that this particular kind of assessment is a fallacy, then clearly it is not always the case important to avoid fallacies, but rather, it is important to incur this particular fallacy all the time. And this is so even if one is a moral error theorist and rejects morality - this particular fallacy, if it is a fallacy at all, again is necessary to learn information about the world, perhaps for all of it or all of it except for immediate perceptions.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
Your example (with an implicit premise about Angela) is valid.

Just tangentally on this, what do you mean by 'implicit premise about Angela'?

You need the implicit premise that Angela is a person. Without that premise, Angela might be, say, a cat, and then the conclusion would not follow because 'Everyone' includes all persons, but not cats. But I misread your argument. I thought the conclusion said that Angela was prejudiced against Jim. As it is, it is invalid.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
By contrast, getting a nonmoral conclusion from a nonmoral premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (moral from nonmoral, and nonmoral from nonmoral) are not the same.
Let me provide two parallels:



By contrast, getting a nonillness conclusion from a nonillness premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (illness from nonillness, and nonillness from nonillness) are not the same.​



By contrast, getting a noncolor conclusion from a noncolor premise is not necessarily invalid. A simple example:

P1. Everyone is prejudiced against prejudiced people.
P2. Jim is prejudiced against Bob.
C1. Therefore, Angela is prejudiced against Mary.

So the two types of argument (color from noncolor, and noncolor from noncolor) are not the same.​

And of course, those are all invalid. Sorry, I misread your argument. I thought the conclusion was that Angela was prejudiced against Jim, because that is what I was expecting you to say (why would you make an invalid argument as an example of a valid one? Oh well). As it is, the argument you provide is invalid. Still, my parallels go through - just as invalid, but still relevant parallels.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
You need the implicit premise that Angela is a person. Without that premise, Angela might be, say, a cat, and then the conclusion would not follow because 'Everyone' includes all persons, but not cats.

Ok. They are all people.

But I misread your argument. I thought the conclusion said that Angela was prejudiced against Jim. As it is, it is invalid.

No, it isn't. It's valid. It may or may not be true, but that's a different issue.
 
Last edited:

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
ruby sparks said:
What do you mean 'no'? You asked me where the fallacy was. Now a fallacy is not the point?
I was not claiming the argument you offered was a fallacy. What I claimed and argued - among other things - is that it is not proper to attack morality on grounds that you refuse to apply to color or illness or science even though they are in that particular regard not at all different from morality.

ruby sparks said:
Are you, or are you not, going to admit that there is an inherent problem with getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises, namely that it is not valid and a fallacy, a formal fallacy in fact. You recently claimed that logic was very important in these matters, and now it has conveniently gone out the window.

This continued evasion is getting extremely boring.
Continued evasion? On your part you mean? By failing to actually address the points and repeating yours? I have repeatedly explained my position, but again:

1. There are arguments in which the premises are arguably non-moral and warranted, the conclusion is moral, but are valid. Example:

P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.

If that does not count as non-moral premises, fine then, it depends on what you count as such.

2. Moral assessments can also be made immediately and intuitively, without any kind of reasoning, and again no fallacy.

3. If the usual way in which we make moral assessments using nonmoral information does not contain any implicit premises as the argument above, then it is a fallacy, but if that is the case, then this fallacy is not something that happens with morality in particular, but with color, illness, science, and it is pretty much everywhere, inevitably even. So, if moral statements (and then, all of these other statements) are indeed fallacious, then clearly this is a sort of fallacy that it is not important to avoid, simply because it is not even possible to avoid it and learning almost anything about the world. Rather, this would be a fallacy that one makes all the time, and which is rational to make all the time - moreover, it would be irrational to fail to make it.

Now, I do think in general logic is important, and in particular, so is to avoid fallacies. But if it turns out that this particular kind of assessment is a fallacy, then clearly it is not always the case important to avoid fallacies, but rather, it is important to incur this particular fallacy all the time. And this is so even if one is a moral error theorist and rejects morality - this particular fallacy, if it is a fallacy at all, again is necessary to learn information about the world, perhaps for all of it or all of it except for immediate perceptions.

We agree that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises is a formal fallacy and not valid. Therefore we agree there is an inherent is/ought problem, surely an important one to someone like you who values logic highly, at least sometimes.

Whether something else, something different, is or isn't valid, is a fallacy, or is problematical in some other way, is another matter. You are de facto not comparing like with like (first, you are comparing nonmoral issues to moral ones, and second, your analogous phenomena arguably and apparently have mind-independent properties, whereas morality arguably and apparently doesn't) so the analogies and comparisons you are using ultimately fail by your own preferred standards.

In any case, and above and beyond all that, analogies can be very useful and illuminating, yes, but even if it (colour) were a good analogy (which imo it isn't, despite your unconvincing protestations) it's still not necessarily warranted (is a potential non-sequitur) to draw conclusions from any analogy regarding what you are comparing it to, which is what you have been doing ever since you started using the analogies in this forum.

You may even, possibly, be risking committing a fallacy by analogy, as with this typical example (not by you):

P1. Planets in a solar system orbit a star.
P2. Electrons in an atom orbit a nucleus, and electrons jump from orbit to orbit.
C1. Planets in a solar system jump from orbit to orbit.

In any case, I like analogies myself, but there are limits to them. As with planets and electrons, something might easily be true about colour and not about morality despite certain similarities between them, especially if they are different phenomena, which they are, so even setting logic aside, I'd still be a bit dubious, especially if I was a fan of logical thinking, about firmly concluding 'as with reasoning about colour, so with reasoning about morality'. In fact, it might itself even be a non-sequitur to say that.

Also, it is interesting that you can't yet see that the prejudice argument above is valid. I would say that points up one of the limitations of a non-logical, often intuitive system (eg the human brain) trying to do logic.
 
Last edited:

Torin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Dec 30, 2018
Messages
190
Location
USA
Basic Beliefs
Student of Objectivism
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?
But we have sensations (roughly, what David Hume called impressions) of colors and sounds. We don't have the same sorts of sensations for colors as we have for sounds, but we do have sensations for both. There's no sensation of 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?
You don't!

Illness is an abstraction. It is formed from observation by a process of conceptual inference. It is then applied to concrete instances by a series of logical steps.

To be clear, I do not deny the validity of morality. I just think it's to do with reasoning rather than feelings or perceptions.

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.
Ok. I would say we have a concept of morality that applies to the actions of Ted Bundy, rather than a moral sense.

I don't think we have a moral sense, in the sense you seem to mean that.

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.
The moral assessment must be inferred because it isn't given in observation. I agree that the assessment is very rapid, but that is because as adults we have a certain fluency with the concept of morality - in simple and clear cases, that is.

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?
Correct, but it ought to be clear at this point that I regard illness as an abstraction from observation.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
You need the implicit premise that Angela is a person. Without that premise, Angela might be, say, a cat, and then the conclusion would not follow because 'Everyone' includes all persons, but not cats.

Ok. They are all people.

But I misread your argument. I thought the conclusion said that Angela was prejudiced against Jim. As it is, it is invalid.

No, it isn't. It's valid. It may or may not be true, but that's a different issue.

Yeah, okay, it's valid if they're all people. My bad, brain failure this morning. :rolleyes: But that still makes no difference that is relevant in this context. You're only showing that there are valid arguments from nonmoral to nonmoral. But there are also valid arguments from noncolor to noncolor, from nonillness to nonillness, etc., and yet the parallels also do not give us proper classifications of arguments.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
Torin said:
But we have sensations (roughly, what David Hume called impressions) of colors and sounds. We don't have the same sorts of sensations for colors as we have for sounds, but we do have sensations for both. There's no sensation of wrongness.
Ok, so you seem to classify our mental experiences in sensations and non-sensations. That is a way of classifying them, but that classification is not relevant to the matter at hand, which is about what follows from what.
For instance, in the case of color, one the central examples I gave was not one in which there was any sensation:

me said:
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.
I gave a similar example later:
me said:
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.
In those cases, there is no color sensation, because the person can't see the object (sure, they can imagine the object and maybe form a sensation as a result, but they are imagining it using other information).

Torin said:
You don't!

Illness is an abstraction. It is formed from observation by a process of conceptual inference. It is then applied to concrete instances by a series of logical steps.

To be clear, I do not deny the validity of morality. I just think it's to do with reasoning rather than feelings or perceptions.
Long before there was language, animals were able to detect ill individuals. They may not have the abstract idea of an illness, but they can often tell when something or someone is ill. That proto-concept stays with humans. It is very probably hard-wired into the brains of many species, I think. It does not have to do with reasoning as far as I can tell.

As for reasoning, if by that you mean deductive reasoning, one will never get that a person is ill by a description of the symptoms that does not use the word 'ill' or synonyms. Similarly, one will never get that chimps and humans have a common ancestor from a description of the evidence. And so on. Now, one of my arguments is that it would not be reasonable to accept all of those assessments regardless, but then say that moral assessments that use information stated in non-moral terms incur a fallacy and for that reason are suspect and/or to be rejected.


Torin said:
The moral assessment must be inferred because it isn't given in observation. I agree that the assessment is very rapid, but that is because as adults we have a certain fluency with the concept of morality - in simple and clear cases, that is.
I think there might be a misunderstanding here. You mention "inferred" and I was thinking about some conscious process. Now I'm not sure whether you require conscious processing at all. If you don't, then my only objection would be that a proto-concept suffices. I reckon a chimp would make the assessment just as quickly, if he sees a behavior that she finds wrongful (or the close chimp equivalent). But we do not need to settle that to discuss the is/ought issue, so I just have two questions:

1. When you say it's inferred, do you mean it has to be conscious?
2. When you say it's inferred, do you mean it has to be a deduction?


Torin said:
Correct, but it ought to be clear at this point that I regard illness as an abstraction from observation.
Alright, we may or may not have some disagreement (depending on the issues above), but in this instance, let us stipulate for the sake of the argument that that is so, and then so is morality. In this context, the example in my previous post still works: Bob is not being rational in raising the is/ought issue against morality, but accepting the illness assessment, without there being any relevant difference between the cases in terms of what follows from what. .

Moreover, it's not only the case of illness. It happens all over the place (see examples in my other posts).
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
We agree that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises is a formal fallacy and not valid.
That is unclear, because it depends on what you classify as 'nonmoral premises'. The following for example is valid:

P1: Ordinary human faculties reckon that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
P2: If ordinary human faculties reckon that A, then very probably A.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.

Do you reckon that that contains also moral premises?

ruby sparks said:
Therefore we agree there is an inherent is/ought problem, surely an important one to someone like you who values logic highly, at least sometimes.
That does not follow. And here are two ways in which it does not follow:

First, even if I agree that getting a moral conclusion from nonmoral premises is a formal fallacy and not valid (which depends on what you call "nonmoral premises"; see example above), it is not the case that I agree that that is what people usually do. For all I know, maybe we are doing exactly the sort of argument as above, or rather the nonconscious version of it. In fact, I do think we are making an intuitive assessment as we make in nearly all cases.

Second, that I value logic highly does not mean that I think there is a problem if it happens to be the case that our daily probabilistic assessments commit a fallacy - and if that happens with moral assessments, it happens with all of those too.

In fact, under the hypothesis that it is a fallacy, my assessment is precisely that this fallacy is not at all a problem, as our usual scientific assessments are fine and incur it all the time, and in fact, even beyond science and in our daily lives, our usual assessments incur this fallacy if it happens at all, of which I am not convinced.


In short, I disagree that there is an is/ought problem. My position is that either we are not deriving moral conclusions from nonmoral premises (or if the premises in the argument above count as nonmoral, maybe we are, but that is not invalid), or we are but in this case the fallacy is not a problem.


ruby sparks said:
Whether something else, something different, is or isn't valid, is a fallacy, or is problematical in some other way, is another matter.
No, it's not, because I am saying that the something else is not problematic and it is a fallacy if and only if the moral case is. And the something else is not problematic, but rather, what would be irrational would be to try not to make ordinary assessments like that, about the world around us, about what happened or will happen in either scientific or daily conditions, and the like.



ruby sparks said:
You are de facto not comparing like with like (first, you are comparing nonmoral issues to moral ones, and second, your analogous phenomena arguably and apparently have mind-independent properties, whereas morality arguably and apparently doesn't) so the analogies and comparisons you are using ultimately fail by your own preferred standards.
Whether they have mind-independent properties is irrelevant. The relevant question here is whether there is a problem due to a fallacy. My argument is that either there is no fallacy, or if there is, it is not a problem, and in fact, it would be irrational not to make it all the time.


ruby sparks said:
Also, it is interesting that you can't yet see that the prejudice argument above is valid. I would say that points up one of the limitations of a non-logical, often intuitive system (eg the human brain) trying to do logic.
Nah, that was a brain failure this morning, when I saw it again I saw it was valid, and it now looks obviously valid. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention. Maybe it's because I'm ill and also not sleeping properly (due to being ill), or maybe it was just a brain fart. But the fact that I can see clearly that it is valid also indicates that whatever caused a temporary failure in my logical system at the moment, it's not something that is a general limitation (I usually deal with far more complex arguments, and yes, sometimes I make mistakes. But I correct them later, when checking.). For that matter, sometimes people are walking and just trip or stumble despite not being an obstacle. It happens, and speaks of the fallibility of the human walking ability, not of a general limitation to the capability of the system (which allows humans to even run for long distances).
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Whether they have mind-independent properties is irrelevant. The relevant question here is whether there is a problem due to a fallacy. My argument is that either there is no fallacy, or if there is, it is not a problem, and in fact, it would be irrational not to make it all the time.

As you know, I do not agree it is irrelevant.

Also, I think it's odd that someone who claims to think logic is very important in all of this is willing to say it's not a problem if the is/ought argument is a formal fallacy. Although maybe it's not that odd, because it's exactly what someone with a prior belief about something would do, they would, at times when it was necessary or convenient, temporarily ditch a standard of inquiry they previously claimed was crucial to that inquiry if it didn't in fact fit with the prior belief. There's a word for that way of going about things.

Furthermore, the 'arguments from analogy' that try to justify exactly why it's supposedly not a problem seem to me potentially flawed in and of themselves, possibly for any and all such arguments. In this particular case, in your selected analogies you are not comparing like with like (you seem to have convinced yourself that in some way you are, but you are obviously not) therefore you can't necessarily draw conclusions about one from the other.

Because even if the thought or reasoning processes involved in both cases are at least superficially similar, there are epistemic considerations in one case that do not pertain to the other, and the brain will be automatically factoring these into its thinking processes. There are good reasons to think that the complex reasoning involved in one (eg colour) is partly based on there apparently being (as far as the brain is concerned) mind-independent facts about it, but not in the other case (eg morality). So the one does not lend the credibility to the other that you think it does.

Let me put it another way. 'Humans tend to believe there are objectively right and wrong answers about colours, therefore it is reasonable to say that there are objectively right or wrong answers about colours' does not necessarily translate to 'Humans tend to believe there are objectively right and wrong answers about morality, therefore it is reasonable to say that there are objectively right or wrong answers about morality' and I think you are pinning a lot on that particular point of comparison. Too much, imo. Yes, one day you had an interesting and useful lightbulb moment about this, but I think you're reaching about the conclusions.
 
Last edited:

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Yeah, okay, it's valid if they're all people. My bad, brain failure this morning. :rolleyes: But that still makes no difference that is relevant in this context. You're only showing that there are valid arguments from nonmoral to nonmoral. But there are also valid arguments from noncolor to noncolor, from nonillness to nonillness, etc., and yet the parallels also do not give us proper classifications of arguments.

I have no idea what your point is there. My point is that there are no valid nonmoral-to-moral arguments.

But just on the ('my') prejudice argument, I am now thinking it is invalid.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
Also, I think it's odd that someone who claims to think logic is very important in all of this is willing to say it's not a problem if the is/ought argument is a formal fallacy.
Let us assume that the way in which we make moral assessments using our moral sense is a fallacy, and also making them on the basis of information about the moral senses of others, is a fallacy, then what we get is that the way we gain information about the outside world involves a fallacy in all of the times( or at least all but what Torin classifies as 'sensations'; while I argue the classification makes no relevant difference in this context, I can even grant it does and the problem remains just as much).

Then, under that assumption, my options - logically - are as follows: Either

a. This particular kind of fallacy is not a problem, so even if logic is important in other contexts, it is not in this one.

b. We simply have no information about the outside world, except perhaps (with another assumption) our sensations (which of course also require brain processing, but never mind), and not even what we can assess from them. The result is epistemological solipsism, which surely is false.


Using again my faculties - the only ones I have - I reckon that under the assumptions that the way in which we make moral assessments using our moral sense is a fallacy, and also making them on the basis of information about the moral senses of others, is a fallacy, the proper assessment is a. So, it turns out that logic is not very important in all of these cases. The reason I do not make that assessment without qualification is that I am not at all convinced that we are making a fallacy all the time. But if we are, then well clearly it is a., not b.

ruby sparks said:
Although it's not that odd, because it's exactly what someone with a prior belief about something would do, they would, at times when it was necessary or convenient, temporarily ditch a standard of inquiry they previously claimed was crucial to that inquiry if it didn't in fact fit with the prior belief. There's a word for that way of going about things.
You are very mistaken about me and the way I am doing things, and you should realize that upon reading my posts. But you persist in your attacks on me, without correcting your errors. But I will keep posting, because maybe I will persuade some of the other readers/posters.

ruby sparks said:
Furthermore, the sophistry and semantic that tries to justify exactly why it's supposedly not a problem seems to me odd in itself. In your selected analogies you are not comparing like with like (you seem to have convinced yourself that in some way you are, but you are obviously not) therefore you can't necessarily draw conclusions about one from the other.
The fact that you do not realize that the analogies are indeed correct because the matters are analogous in the sense that is relevant in this context has several potential explanations, ranging simply from anger due to hostility and contempt towards me, to other problems that would not be so easy to fix. At any rate, it's not something I can fix. This one is not on my end.


ruby sparks said:
Let me put it another way. 'Humans feel there are objectively right and wrong answers about colours, therefore it is reasonable to say that there are objectively right or wrong answers about colours' does not necessarily translate to 'Humans feel there are objectively right and wrong answers about morality, therefore it is reasonable to say that there are objectively right or wrong answers about morality' and I think you are pinning a lot on that particular point of comparison. Too much, imo.
Okay, let me address this point. First, I did not say 'feel'. Humans ordinarily believe, think, reckon, assess, etc., that there are right and wrong answers about color, and about morality. But leaving that aside, what I am saying is that there is no difference in regard to whether there is a fallacy in the following assessments:


P0: Humans with ordinary faculties, under standard light conditions, reckon that this ball is red.
C: Very probably, this ball is red.

P1: Humans with ordinary faculties reckon, upon observation of many cancer patients, that cancer is an illness.
C: Very probably, cancer is an illness.

P2: Humans with ordinary faculties reckon, after considering the matter, that it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
C: Very probably, it is immoral for a human being to rape another just for fun.
One might of course reckon that not all of these assessments are equally rational and/or equally reasonable, but that is due to other pieces of information not listed in the premises that change the proper probabilistic assessment. On the other hand, there is no difference in these assessments in regards to whether the conclusion follows from the premises. It does not. Of course, one can bridge the gap with a probabilistic premise, but that is equally doable in all 3 of them.


Remember, the purpose of this thread is not to show that there is objective morality, but rather, to show that the is/ought objection against morality fails. This is compatible with there being other objections that succeed. But not this one.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
I think it has already been agreed that it is often arguably reasonable to go from an is to an ought.

For example:

Humans need forests. Therefore, humans ought to preserve forests.

The expanded version might be:

If (or given that) humans want to survive, they need forests. Therefore, they ought to preserve them.

It could even (validly I think) be put as follows:

P1. Humans want to survive.
P2. Humans need forests in order to survive.
C1. Humans ought to preserve forests.

I guess one question is, is this a normative moral issue, and I would say, if humans think it is, then it effectively is (and I would think it).
 
Last edited:

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
I think it has already been agreed that it is often arguably reasonable to go from an is to an ought.

For example:

Humans need forests. Therefore, humans ought to preserve forests.

The expanded version might be:

If (or given that) humans want to survive, they need forests. Therefore, they ought to preserve them.

It could even (validly I think) be put as follows:

P1. Humans want to survive.
P2. Humans need forests in order to survive.
C1. Humans ought to preserve forests.

I guess one question is, is this a normative moral issue, and I would say, if humans think it is, then it effectively is (and I would think it).

That's debatable, but my argument above shows that the is/ought objection against morality fails regardless of the answer to this problem. And I would say no, that one is not a moral 'ought', but that is a side issue in this context.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
And I would say no, that one is not a moral 'ought', but that is a side issue in this context.

How is an example of getting from an is to an ought a side issue in a thread entitled 'The is/ought issue'? :)

It is a side issue because the central argument provided in the OP (and further explained in later posts) is not affected by the answer to the question of whether this 'ought' is a moral one. :)
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
There's a central argument in the OP?

By the way, why, precisely, do you think the prejudice argument I posted earlier is valid?
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
P1. Humans want to survive.
P2. Humans need forests in order to survive.
C1. Humans ought to preserve forests.

I guess one question is, is this a normative moral issue, and I would say, if humans think it is, then it effectively is (and I would think it).

That's debatable.....

I think it is, and the chap who wrote the philosophical paper I borrowed it from thinks it is. The Stanford Encylopedia even has a page on Environmental Ethics. But you're not sure it's a moral issue. Where does that leave your claim that moral matters are not a matter of opinion, since this would include whether something was a moral matter or not?

I guess you're going to say that you do feel there's a right or wrong answer to that question, and that if there are some who say it is and some who say it isn't, one opinion is mistaken. Ok, so if so, how would you get to that?
 
Last edited:

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
There's a central argument in the OP?
Yes, obviously.

ruby sparks said:
By the way, why, precisely, do you think the prejudice argument I posted earlier is valid?
That one is also obvious; no need to insist. Yes, I made a bluder. I'm not infallible. As I mentioned, maybe I wasn't paying attention that morning. Maybe it's because I was ill (still not fully okay, but much better) and also not sleeping properly (due to being ill), or maybe it was just a brain fart. When I saw it again, I saw immediately it was valid. Why do I think so? Well, I look at it and looks valid :D, but if you want me to explain it, sure: once you add the implicit premise that they are all humans, P2 entails that Jim is a prejudiced human. It follows then from P1 that every human is prejudiced against Jim. But then, every human is prejudiced, so by P1 again, every human is prejudiced against every human. Now the conclusion follows from that and the hypothesis that Angela and Mary are both human.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
I think it is, and the chap who wrote the philosophical paper I borrowed it from thinks it is. The Stanford Encylopedia even has a page on Environmental Ethics. But you're not sure it's a moral issue. Where does that leave your claim that moral matters are not a matter of opinion, since this would include whether something was a moral matter or not?
I did not say that environmental issues were not moral matters. I was talking about the sort of 'ought' in your argument. And it was apparently not, because it was conditional to 'humans want to survive'. Moral 'oughts' are usually understoods not conditional. I think arguably they are like ordinary means-to-end 'oughts' but with the implicit condition 'in order not to behave immorally'. However, the person making the claim might be making a moral claim, even if it is written in a way that clearly indicates a non-moral matters. It happens, and claims that "Humans ought to preserve forests." usually are moral claims, so one would have to weigh what is usually the case vs. the fact that it is put in an argument that indicates it is not. I would go with the argument not to assume an error in the logic of the other person, but what do I know? In the end, more information about the context in which the argument is made is required to settle the matter.

Now, that was a side-issue, to clarify my previous words given that they have been misinterpreted. The heart of my reply follows now:

Your question "Where does that leave your claim that moral matters are not a matter of opinion, since this would include whether something was a moral matter or not?" indicates a mistaken assessment of what it is for something not to be a matter of opinion. If I do not know whether something is the case, that in no way implies that it's a matter of opinion, or in other words, that there is no fact of the matter.
 

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
And since you raised that argument: (but also, side issue):
ruby sparks said:
P1. Humans want to survive.
P2. Humans need forests in order to survive.
C1. Humans ought to preserve forests.
P1 is false. Most humans want to survive, but not all.
P2 is false. Most humans do not need forests in order to survive. Historically, there have been humans living in environments without forests, and that holds true today. If all forests disappeared and were gradually replaced with some other environment (as it is likely to happen), humanity would survive, and so would the vast majority of humans. Moreover, the extinction of forests does not need to be a bad thing for humans, on average. It depends on how it happens (and whether it's a bad thing in general, I don't know. How much suffering exists due to forests and other wild areas? ). And in the future, chances are humans will even live on places like Mars. No forests required.
C1. is false as a moral claim. There might be some humans in a position where they have the obligation of helping preserve a forests (e.g., park rangers, police in some cases), but it is not the case that humans, in general, have a moral obligation to go around preserving forests.
C1. is also false as a nonmoral claim. Sure, some humans ought to do that as a means to ends, but surely most humans do not, as they do not have a goal that requires of them to try to preserve forests.
 

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
I did not say that environmental issues were not moral matters. I was talking about the sort of 'ought' in your argument. And it was apparently not, because it was conditional to 'humans want to survive'. Moral 'oughts' are usually understoods not conditional. I think arguably they are like ordinary means-to-end 'oughts' but with the implicit condition 'in order not to behave immorally'. However, the person making the claim might be making a moral claim, even if it is written in a way that clearly indicates a non-moral matters. It happens, and claims that "Humans ought to preserve forests." usually are moral claims, so one would have to weigh what is usually the case vs. the fact that it is put in an argument that indicates it is not. I would go with the argument not to assume an error in the logic of the other person, but what do I know? In the end, more information about the context in which the argument is made is required to settle the matter.

I don't understand very much of that at all, so I'll just pick out one thing. Can you explain what you mean by, and substantiate, saying that moral oughts are usually understood as non-conditional? I know there are some who would say or have said that (eg Kant) but I didn't realise it was now the norm. At the very least, it would seem clear they are conditional on whether the issue is or isn't seen as a moral one. Personally, I would say modern, especially secular moral oughts are often fundamentally conditional, as in 'one ought to do X if....'. This seems particularly true of any morality that has identified goals or rationales, and there are a number of those. Or perhaps you are only referring to adherents of The One True Moral TheoryTM (ie your preferred type). Perhaps we could say that for you and them, morality is not about opinions, but about unconditional, objective, universal facts?

Your question "Where does that leave your claim that moral matters are not a matter of opinion, since this would include whether something was a moral matter or not?" indicates a mistaken assessment of what it is for something not to be a matter of opinion. If I do not know whether something is the case, that in no way implies that it's a matter of opinion, or in other words, that there is no fact of the matter.

We have previously agreed that disagreement does not necessarily mean an absence of an objective moral fact. That's in the bag, Angra, quite a while ago. But, how exactly do you get to saying that there really is an objective moral fact of the matter, in this case (of whether something is or isn't a moral issue)? How, in this case and many others, can you reliably or with any certainty tell the difference between disagreement because of some sort of relativity, and disagreement because someone is making a mistake about an objective fact?
 
Last edited:

ruby sparks

Contributor
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Messages
9,167
Location
Northern Ireland
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
P1 is false. Most humans want to survive, but not all.

Again I'll just single out one item from what is, imo, a very problematic post.

It's not all humans who think something (even killing) is morally wrong. And yet, as on a few similar occasions when you switch standards, that didn't bother you when you wanted to claim universality about morals, because you inserted and accepted caveats such as 'normal' (human), 'non-defective' (human) and 'widespread'. Now those sorts of caveats have conveniently disappeared.
 
Last edited:

Angra Mainyu

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2006
Messages
3,898
Location
Buenos Aires
Basic Beliefs
non-theist
ruby sparks said:
I don't understand very much of that at all, so I'll just pick out one thing. Can you explain what you mean by, and substantiate, saying that moral oughts are usually understood as non-conditional?
Yes. When people make moral assessments like "Person A ought to X", they do not withdraw the judgment upon learning that A does not want to X. On the other hand, in ordinary means-to-ends judgments, people usually do withdraw the judgment "Person A ought to X" upon learning that A does not want to X. The most common interpretation of this is that 'ought' has a different meaning in the moral vs. means-to-ends case. An alternative would be that the moral 'ought' is a means-to-ends 'ought' but with an implicit 'In order not to behave immorally' or 'if you intend to avoid immoral behavior' clause, so it's telling someone what they means-to-end ought to do in order not to behave immorally (which, if true, remains the case even if the person wants to behave immorally, because it's conditional to the person having that intent).

ruby sparks said:
We have previously agreed that disagreement does not necessarily mean an absence of an objective moral fact. That's in the bag, Angra, quite a while ago. But, how exactly do you get to saying that there really is an objective moral fact of the matter, in this case (of whether something is or isn't a moral issue)?
But that is another issue. You were raising an objection to there being an objective fact of the matter. Still, I would say this:

In this particular case, it is unclear whether the person is making a moral claim or not (but that is a matter of evidence of what the person means to say), so:


1, Assuming hypothetically that the person is making a moral claim, then I reckon that there is a fact of the matter, for the same reasons I do in the other moral cases.

2. Assuming hypothetically the person is not making a moral claim, then I still reckon that there is a fact of the matter, for the same reasons I do in the other means-to-ends 'ought' cases.

Recall, however, that this thread is to deal with the is/ought objection, not to argue that there is a fact of the matter in moral cases, in general. I could make another thread, but maybe B20 will make his case, and you will have better chances of understanding him than me, given previous experience.


ruby sparks said:
It's not all humans who think something (even killing) is morally wrong. And yet, as on a few similar occasions when you switch standards, that didn't bother you when you wanted to claim universality about morals, because you inserted and accepted caveats such as 'normal' (human), 'non-defective' (human) and 'widespread'. Now those sorts of caveats have conveniently disappeared.
I never switched standards in these threads. Of course, if you had said 'Humans ordinarily want to survive', or even 'Normally functioning humans want to survive', etc., I would not have objected to that particular premise. But of course, the others would have been subject to objections.
But let us interpret the argument in one of those manners:

P1. Humans ordinarily want to survive.
P2. Humans ordinarily need forests in order to survive.
C1. Humans ordinarily ought to preserve forests.
Then P1 is true. But P2 is false. Most humans do not need forests in order to survive, even under ordinary conditions. Historically, there have been humans living in environments without forests, and that holds true today. If all forests disappeared and were gradually replaced with some other environment (as it is likely to happen), humanity would survive, and so would the vast majority of humans. Moreover, the extinction of forests does not need to be a bad thing for humans, on average. It depends on how it happens (and whether it's a bad thing in general, I don't know. How much suffering exists due to forests and other wild areas? ).

But the argument is also a bad one in a different sense, if we assume that the 'ought' is a moral one, and especially if 'preserve' involves an active duty, rather than a duty not to destroy (but even then). In general, the problem is that from the fact that one wants X, it does not follow (nor is it likely) that one has a moral obligation to take action so that one can in fact obtain X (in a simplified manner, generally there is no moral obligation to obtain what one wants to obtain; it is not immoral to fail to obtain what one wants, again in general).
 
Top Bottom