Objective morality

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Robin Yergenson
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Re: Objective morality

Post by Robin Yergenson » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:44 pm

Hi met,

You say,
In any case, whether you agree with antitrust law or not, MS DID use pirate-ish tactics. Simply by operating OUTSIDE those laws - on four continents - while pretending to be good corporate citizens. They could afford to do so because the wealth and power they already held had already put them in that 'Too Big To Fail' category, so they were basically untouchable for it. The penalties they incurred were minimal and did little to offset the profits.

Is that ethical behavior? (Really, I'm still trying to understand your grasp of "ethics" here.)
Laws are only valid to the degree that they comport with just conditions. If a law says you should stone innocent rape victims, it’s a law that fails to comport with just conditions and as such is not a valid law. Similarly, antitrust laws at the very least go too far and may have no valid basis at all. Once you have demonstrated that these laws are valid, then we can talk about whether MS was operating outside the law or not. I just don’t think a grey area like this is a good place to focus this discussion. I’m claiming that we ought to act in harmonious ways and we ought not act in predatory ways. I think the point you are trying to make is that if someone willfully acts outside of valid laws then he should be held accountable for it in a way that doesn’t make the criminal act worth doing. If the law of the land fails to render what is due, then being a predator might seem to be an expedient path, but only because society is broken. It’s like some religious pacifist community that invites criminals to steal and prey on them because they think that it’s God’s will. Maybe I need to be more explicit and expound on my original claim by saying,

13. It follows then that in a in a social context (i.e. in a society of rational volitional beings who value their rights and who prefer not to be preyed upon and who, in a concerted effort, take appropriate actions against those who prey upon them), we ought to act in harmonious ways and we ought not act in predatory ways.

And you say,
OK. Suppose the smart tough kid has a mother AND a grandmother who both desperately need operations . Is it then ok?
As I already said, we aren’t promoting harmonious rights reciprocity as an absolute that is independent of context, but as a context dependent universal principle, so yes, we can dream up extreme emergency situations that warrant exceptions to my claim 13. Does that make it an invalid claim? Perhaps I should add be a bit more explicit by saying:

13. It follows then that, with the exception of extreme emergency situations that warrant certain exceptions, in a in a social context (i.e. in a society of rational volitional beings who value their rights and who prefer not to be preyed upon and who, in a concerted effort, take appropriate actions against those who prey upon them), we ought to act in harmonious ways and we ought not act in predatory ways.

And you say,
Suppose our kid only kills and runs drugs for a few months, just long enough to bankroll a legit education and career. What then?
Running drugs could be considered a legitimate free exchange between a buyer and a seller and as such it may not be appropriate for the government to control, so again, I don’t care for your example. Does the last more explicit way of stating my claim 13 cover your concerns now?

Rob

Robin Yergenson
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Re: Objective morality

Post by Robin Yergenson » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:24 pm

Hi Metacrock,

You say,
I find a strange inconsistency in that Robin says "I am not a utilitarian then turns around and obviously stakes value on outcome.
My understanding of utilitarianism is pursuing the maximum amount of happiness within society. I’m demonstrating that morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness. It just happens that in pursuing personal happiness, society wins too, but the happiness of society is not the proper moral basis. That’s why I’m not a utilitarian. I’m more of a headonist. And you say,
He assumes value is benefit. Values is not always benefit at least not in the immediate sense. Now maybe he allows for a Mill's sort of answer that's there's a higher sense of value that derives form a higher sense of benefit. But if that's his argument he should make it plain.
If I say “I value staying high on heroin,” when in fact heroin is harmful to me, is heroin actually a value to me or am I in error in thinking that heroin is a value to me?

And earlier you said,
BUT you seem to be assuming "well I've proved that we should act in ways that foster harmony and togetherness in order to have benefit, so doesn't that mean that we derive the moral good form the outcome?" No it does not. You are still assuming values without proving them and acting like this is moral thinking because it's about values, not your justifying the axiom of deriving good form the outcome. You already start the process with the assertion that benefit is the good and yet you are not proving that.
Willful actions are proper or improper based on whether they obtain…what? What do you say the object of those actions is Metacrock? I say it is goodness. Goodness based on what? Goodness with respect to the one who’s doing the willing and acting of course, or do you have some other basis for goodness? And isn’t things that benefit good? What are you thinking about when you use these terms? What is it exactly that you still seem to think I need to demonstrate?

Rob

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Re: Objective morality

Post by Robin Yergenson » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:25 pm

Hi runamokmonk,

There seems to be one most pivotal area that we are not aligned on so I’m going to focus there. You say,
You define value as that which benefits an organism. That is your value system, your definition of what a value is factually correct to be. In reality, this is not the deepest value of all organisms.
When the valuer (you/me) decides that something is a value, don’t you think that we are making a judgment about the factual relationship between the valuer (you/me) and that thing’s ability to affect the valuer (you/me) in an experientially positive way that results in net intrinsic goodness to the valuer (you/me)? If not why not? I asked Metacrock, and I’ll ask you. If I as an organism say “I value staying high on heroin,” when in fact heroin is harmful to me as an organism, is heroin actually a value to me or am I in error in thinking that heroin is a value to me? If I say it is a fact that it causes net harm to me it is therefore not beneficial to me and I am actually in error for thinking so, am I merely stating my whim based thinking or am I stating objective facts? If I am stating objective facts, that are true for all human organisms, is it appropriate for you to say, “That is your value system, your definition of what a value is factually correct to be. In reality, this is not the deepest value of all organisms.”

I’ll stop there. These are good questions so please think this through before responding. If you just pipe something off without thinking about it, we’re wasting each other’s time.

Rob

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met
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Re: Objective morality

Post by met » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:04 pm

Rob, thanks. I don't mean to make you niggle with your axioms, but I just wanna understand. We may disagree between the two of us on the particular examples I chose but that doesn't matter because they're specific ethical cases and we're really talking about meta-ethical issues here. "What is the objective basis for morality."

What I was getting at with all those examples is this: For you, does the enlightened self-interested choice always LEAD to a moral (harmonious) choice, or is it already the moral choice by definition?

I was feeling unclear on that & perhaps need to reread everything you already said in this thread.... :)
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Re: Objective morality

Post by Metacrock » Fri Aug 17, 2012 9:42 am

Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi Metacrock,

You say,
I find a strange inconsistency in that Robin says "I am not a utilitarian then turns around and obviously stakes value on outcome.
Rob:My understanding of utilitarianism is pursuing the maximum amount of happiness within society. I’m demonstrating that morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness. It just happens that in pursuing personal happiness, society wins too, but the happiness of society is not the proper moral basis. That’s why I’m not a utilitarian. I’m more of a headonist. And you say,
I think that's going to require even more justification. Since ethics is about how we live it's relation to others is vital. why should that not be more important than personal happiness? --I’m demonstrating that morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness. you sure have not done that yet. I don't know how you are going to demonstrate it. For that matter why should morality be about happiness at all? Not that I'm against happiness.

Moreover, Utilitrian forumla is 'greatest good for the greatest number."


He assumes value is benefit. Values is not always benefit at least not in the immediate sense. Now maybe he allows for a Mill's sort of answer that's there's a higher sense of value that derives form a higher sense of benefit. But if that's his argument he should make it plain.
Rob:If I say “I value staying high on heroin,” when in fact heroin is harmful to me, is heroin actually a value to me or am I in error in thinking that heroin is a value to me?
Before we move on to that you need to demonstrate the personal aspect of moral philosophy becuase I think that's an unsupported assumption.

And earlier you said,
BUT you seem to be assuming "well I've proved that we should act in ways that foster harmony and togetherness in order to have benefit, so doesn't that mean that we derive the moral good form the outcome?" No it does not. You are still assuming values without proving them and acting like this is moral thinking because it's about values, not your justifying the axiom of deriving good form the outcome. You already start the process with the assertion that benefit is the good and yet you are not proving that.
Willful actions are proper or improper based on whether they obtain…what? What do you say the object of those actions is Metacrock? I say it is goodness. Goodness based on what? Goodness with respect to the one who’s doing the willing and acting of course, or do you have some other basis for goodness? And isn’t things that benefit good? What are you thinking about when you use these terms? What is it exactly that you still seem to think I need to demonstrate?
[/quote]

you have this personal "selfish" spin on it that I forgot about. I seem to remember you saying you are not i to Ayn Rand? But you do seem to have that personal direction for moral philosophy. yet you are assuming the correctness of that with no other basis than "this is what I want." So it seems. I may be forgetting what was said early in the thread.
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Robin Yergenson
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Re: Objective morality

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:12 am

Hi met,

You say,
Rob, thanks. I don't mean to make you niggle with your axioms, but I just wanna understand. We may disagree between the two of us on the particular examples I chose but that doesn't matter because they're specific ethical cases and we're really talking about meta-ethical issues here. "What is the objective basis for morality."
I thought that was probably the case. I’m glad you confirmed it. And you say,
What I was getting at with all those examples is this: For you, does the enlightened self-interested choice always LEAD to a moral (harmonious) choice, or is it already the moral choice by definition?
I was feeling unclear on that & perhaps need to reread everything you already said in this thread....
Enlightened self-interest leads to moral choice. As rational beings, we form concepts and categories that to the best of our ability comport with reality so that we can identify proper actions to take for obtaining goodness, where goodness is measured with respect to the actor. In order for the actor to obtain goodness, there are certain things that he ought and ought not do, and it is those objectively defined oughts that give rise to morality. If by morality we mean those things that we ought to do, then it isn’t in a most fundamental way limited to being harmonious. It is those actions that obtain goodness for the self-interested actor. Being harmonious is among them but it’s just a subpart and not what morality is all about.

Rob

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Re: Objective morality

Post by Robin Yergenson » Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:28 am

Hi Metacrock,

Earlier you had said,
One of the reasons I keep losing interest in discussion here is because you just don't listen. You don't respond to the things l say. Like here. You are still assuming that utilitarian assumptions are the only logical assumptions are so natural they are just givens and we don't have to justify the. They are not givens, you do have to justify them and you can't.
Hopefully you can see now that I am not a utilitarian. I do not recognize “'greatest good for the greatest number” to be a moral imperative at all. Do you see that? I said, “I am demonstrating that morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness.” To which you say,
You sure have not done that yet. I don't know how you are going to demonstrate it. For that matter why should morality be about happiness at all?
…He assumes value is benefit. Values is not always benefit at least not in the immediate sense.
...You need to demonstrate the personal aspect of moral philosophy because I think that's an unsupported assumption.
… You have this personal "selfish" spin on it that I forgot about. I seem to remember you saying you are not into Ayn Rand? But you do seem to have that personal direction for moral philosophy. Yet you are assuming the correctness of that with no other basis than "this is what I want." So it seems. I may be forgetting what was said early in the thread.
Yes, I do have that in common with Rand (and with all of mankind, it’s just that many of you haven’t connected the dots). Being selfish is not only what we ought to be, it is more than that. It is what we all are. Some people think it’s something to overcome. It isn’t. The pivotal question is, who’s benefit shall we act to obtain?

Let’s say you reach some critical point in life where you seriously begin to wrestle with this question, and rather than just moving through life emulating others, you sit on a rock and think about things. Soon you become uncomfortable (the rock is rather hard), but you are committed to this endeavor, so you remain there thinking, what shall I do? Who’s benefit shall I act to obtain? Later on in the day you become thirsty, but you are committed to this endeavor, so you remain there thinking, what shall I do? Who’s benefit shall I act to obtain? Toward the evening you become hungry as well, but you are committed to this endeavor, so you remain there thinking, what shall I do? Who’s benefit shall I act to obtain? The next day rolls by and your thirst, hunger, and all round discomfort increase. Should you remain there thinking about what to do, or do you already have sufficient basis for how you ought to act? If you say yes, you do have sufficient basis for how you ought to act, then please Metacrock, tell us what would it be? Is it to save the snails in some puddle somewhere? How about the abandoned pets at the animal shelter? Perhaps you disturbed the carbon molecules as you positioned yourself on the rock and now you should attempt to restore them. Maybe you should focus on counting stars. Or what about the people in need of a kidney? You have two. Should you spare one, or both? Maybe someone somewhere else has a wish list that should become your moral imperative. Do you really think so? Who’s benefit shall you act to obtain?

As a self-interested rational volitional being, there are some things that you ought to be doing in order to obtain and maintain living and thriving, so what ought you to do? Surely you won’t opt for a “selfish” spin. After all, “enlightened” people of society claim that selfish actions are evil and not a proper basis for oughts of any kind. So what ought you to do? My point is that the basis for action is your benefit, not the benefit of others. This is not evil, this is just thinking well. If that which you ought to do is what morality is, then as a self-interested rational volitional being, there are some things that you ought to be doing in order to obtain and maintain living and thriving. How is this not demonstrating that morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness? Again, who’s benefit shall you act to obtain? And please note that answering “for the benefit of others” is not a moral basis but a predisposition from unconscious non-volitional genes, which, for a self-interested rational volitional being, is no basis at all.

Rob

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Re: Objective morality

Post by met » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:28 pm

Robin Yergenson wrote:Enlightened self-interest leads to moral choice. As rational beings, we form concepts and categories that to the best of our ability comport with reality so that we can identify proper actions to take for obtaining goodness, where goodness is measured with respect to the actor. In order for the actor to obtain goodness, there are certain things that he ought and ought not do, and it is those objectively defined oughts that give rise to morality. If by morality we mean those things that we ought to do, then it isn’t in a most fundamental way limited to being harmonious. It is those actions that obtain goodness for the self-interested actor. Being harmonious is among them but it’s just a subpart and not what morality is all about.
Okay. Yeah. I think even religious and spiritual systems suggest that enlightened self-interest leads to moral/harmonious action and an "ethical" lifestyle. They use a metaphysical basis to support that: freedom from karma or sin, afterlife rewards/punishments etc, but I suppose outside those metaphysical realms, it still could be argued: "Nothing is worth the disharmony a disharmonious life ultimately brings on you. It's better to maintain your own connection with God / inner peace." So, in that sense, even (so-called) spiritually-minded people maintain morals / harmony really for the sake of our themselves.Just not in a materially-oriented way. And the disagreement they have with someone like Ayn Rand isn't about acting in your own self-interest, and in that sense, yeah, "morality is about pursuing the maximum amount of personal happiness." Just as you said.

Problems arise however, from deciding, what really IS in our own best interests! :)
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Re: Objective morality

Post by Metacrock » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:39 pm

Robin you need to read Reinhold Niebuhr (Moral man and immoral Society, Nature and Destiny of man vol 1). He will explain why there is no such thing as enlightened self interest. So called ESI always degenerates into class warfare.

Moral choices are often opposed to our self interest. We must often take the hit to do the right thing.
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Re: Objective morality

Post by James S Saint » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:33 pm

Hello peoples 8-)

Have you ever considered that any argument that has lasted for thousands of years, is not going to be one that is trivially resolved? And in almost every case, that seems to be due to exaggeration of opposing views or stances. The real resolution tends to be between the extremes that are argued.

This thread happens to be one of my favorite subjects. I suspect that might be due to it being one that most other people can't resolve. I like resolving the un-resolvable. :mrgreen:

In this thread the term "Enlightened self interest" has been one of those extremes. I suspect it was so named earlier due to an apparent need to emphasize that the self needs more consideration than whatever was commonly taught at the time. But as with all monikers, the intended meaning gets perverted to an extreme beyond the founders thoughts.

Enlightened self interest has come to mean "selfish" which means a lack of consideration for others. I suspect the total lack of consideration for others was not the original intent, but too late to fix that now.

Objective morality can actually be derived from the notion of what I call, "Inclusive Self-Harmony". If that term became popular, I have little doubt that it too would become some extreme such as "total concern with one's own harmony disregarding anyone else". That isn't what I mean by it, but I couldn't think of a more appropriate terminology for what I actually mean. I prefer that it means "an active harmony of life both within and surrounding oneself" - "Inclusive".

The OP goes into a rather lengthy explanation of what it means to be rational. And rationality certainly plays into morality. But I think a more precise understanding of rationality, life, purpose in life, and self-harmony must be acquired before the real question concerning morality can be answered. Logical syllogisms are a bit pointless if people can't agree upon the premises involved (including definitions of terms being used).

But without going into what all of those terms mean, let me state what must be left as mere opinion or theory until its foundation can be agreed upon.

Objective morality is entirely an issue of always being in the process of affirming self-harmony. There are rules concerning precisely how to do that, but they too are a bit complicated to explain (as one should expect). Now given that self-harmony means that there is to be harmony both within oneself as well as surrounding oneself, it can be seen that to seek the harmonious means of dealing with others is inherent in the fundamental concern of morality. In addition, with a little more study, it can be seen that to spend a degree of time actually assisting others in their effort to do the same, is an essential part of the act.

Once such intentions are throughout a society, eternal joy becomes the aim and progress of the individuals as well as the entire society as a whole, thus resolving the issue of who comes higher or is of more importance, "society or individual".

Eternal joy inherently requires survival as well as a minimized strife or discomfort. Obviously survival often requires a degree of discomfort, thus the joy element is always being at least slightly degraded by the necessities of living. So the end result of such effort resolves to merely reducing the suffering as much as is possible while ensuring survival. But realize that such survival is not a solitary type of survival. No man is an island. Thus to survive, one must ensure that others survive and are not inspired into disharmony if possible.

So that is a very short version of my personal resolve to this subject.. in case anyone was interested. 8-)

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