Morality: relative versus objective; is-ought problem

#21
Well, Grorganic, I'm glad to see you still here, and hopefully this isn't a pitiful rejoinder. :)

I get what you're saying re your anthropology class. Different cultures develop different social and moral systems, each of them tailored to their culture, and I can see how those from one culture might, initially, not understanding the full context and purpose, mistakenly judge the practices of another culture as immoral. But: just because the moral systems of different cultures have developed so that, when educated, we do judge them as moral doesn't mean that any possible so-called moral system is in fact moral. Here I refer back to the notion of killing and torturing children for fun: we would legitimately judge any culture's moral system that incorporated that practice as an immoral one. You have not adequately refuted this, but I will come back to that later.

First: the idea that different cultures develop different social and moral systems is all fine and compatible with my idea that there is an objective basis to morality at the fundamental level. To see why, let's dig into what you said a little! In particular, let's consider this: 'They [morals] were created by human cultural groups in conjunction with their members or "councils" to be able to function as a group and avoid situations that could tear the group apart. EX - "Let's agree to 1, 2, and 3 so we can live together without killing each other OK?."' So, right from the start, prior to any moral systems being formed, we have two a priori principles: that groups should not be "torn apart" (a type of harm) and that killing (another type of harm) should be avoided. Isn't that interesting? It seems that in your view, moral systems are created to... avoid harm! And the need to avoid harm is taken as a given, almost as if it were... a self-evident objective principle!

Here's another way to look at it: it is almost (not quite, but close to it) an analytical truth that avoidable harm ought to be avoided, in the sense that we could almost (not quite, but close to it) define "harm" as "that which we ought to avoid causing if we can". In other words, our very language and the concepts it commits us to accepting when we use it almost (not quite, but close to it) builds in the fundamental, objective principle(s) of morality. I am monolingual but I would imagine that it is similar in most if not all other languages.

Coming back to the notion of "torturing and killing kids for fun": neither of the examples you provided fits the bill. Allowing children to roam free and unsupervised is hardly "torture" - and arguably is a beneficial freedom and/or helpful in their development - let alone is it "killing" them. And painful initiation rites can be seen as short-term pain for long-term gain, even if/when there is a risk (note: not a guarantee; far from it) of death. Neither of these fits the bill for what was intended (at least by me and I assume by Neil too) by "torturing and killing kids for fun": almost the definition of evil.
 
#22
What is any more rational about the maximum good for the maximum number vs. living organisms looking out (generally) for themselves? Nature pretty much does that, and it works very well. Is nature not rational? Why is it more rational to try to treat everyone equally?
I think you misunderstood me: I was defining utilitarianism, not expressing support for it. I actually think that (naive) utilitarianism - that based solely on the principle of "the maximum good for the maximum number" - suffers a fatal flaw.

But in any case, I see what you're getting at, and I'd have to ask, what do you mean by "works very well"? "Working well" could be defined relative to any number of goals; presumably in this context by "wellness" you mean "persistence and flourishing of the system as a whole". Fine, but human choices are deliberative, and humans can concern themselves with the wellness of other individuals as well as of the system as a whole. So, in the context of this conversation, "wellness" implies "moral acceptability", which generally implies "acting based on the acceptance that others' interests are as important as one's own" - this simply is an objective premise.

I just don't get where you get the objective aspect. You seem to only proclaim objectivity. If it is objective, it should be easy to demonstrate or explain.
It is, and I've done so multiple times. Perhaps you're not reading as closely as you could be?

Again, on what basis do you keep claiming objectivity? How can something objective be so difficult to explain or demonstrate? We don't have evidence that anything is objective, since science only deals with inter-subjective verifiability. So if science cannot claim objectivity for anything, then what do you mean by objective?
Ethics are philosophy, not science. And there are other categories of objective philosophical truths, notably logical truths. Then there are the objective mathematical truths. To deny the existence of objective truth at all seems a little bizarre. Is that really what you're trying to do?

I don't see how it could apply to materialism. With materialism, we have epiphenomenal consciousness, that must be illusory, with a non-continuous illusory self (so why should I worry about any conscious entity if it is ephemeral, only to be replaced by another conscious entity every moment?). Suffering itself would necessarily have to be illusory: machines don't suffer. If nature unfolds based on genes and caused behavior, then on what basis is there to want to be moral? With the "selfish genes" of materialism, the only moral behavior is altruism that is based on some form of evolutionary biology, but in which case, since there is no intent, since consciousness isn't causal, then on what basis is there to call anything moral anyway? Moral judgment requires responsibility. I have no choice in my behavior, so I cannot be held responsible for that behavior, so on what basis is there to make a moral judgment?
No offence, but that all strikes me as specious reasoning. Rather than address it, I'll simply point out that plenty of avowed materialists are adamant that they are no less moral, and place no less significance on morality, than the religiously or spiritually inclined.

I think I must strongly disagree with this comment. Only if you mean the diet, in and of itself, cannot be ethically faulted, which wouldn't really make sense to say, I would still make the case that I find the ideas presented by Laird to be completely unethical. The suggestions to force a particular diet upon people, with no respect to their culture, their ethnicity (Inuits would deteriorate quickly on a fruit diet), their metabolic individuality, their health status, nor to the health concerns of a fruit diet to not only myself, but also to my children, to be abhorrent and completely unethical. To have such little respect for individual metabolic differences, or diseased states, or to be so egregiously inconsiderate of entire ethnic groups is beyond unethical.
And supposedly vegans are the strident ones! ;-)

What I mean is that the principle that sentient beings should not be harmed if it can be avoided can't be faulted.

Culture is an abstract entity; it can't be "harmed", only adapted. Sentient beings don't need to be reified - as culture does - to deserve moral consideration.

If Inuits are genuinely incapable of surviving on a vegan-fruitarian diet (your mere assertion, which I do not accept without rigorous proof), then the harm of animal consumption is unavoidable, is it not? Perfectly consistent with a vegan ethic.

Likewise, if person has a genuine metabolic or health inability to survive on a vegan-fruitarian diet (and again, it is your mere assertion that such people exist, which again I strongly contest), then the harm of animal consumption is unavoidable, is it not? Again, perfectly consistent with a vegan ethic.

Further, there is something quite broken about a philosophy that treats all life the same, and thinks that all life has the same capacity to suffer (or at least we don't know that, but that we should give the lower life forms the benefit of the doubt). This view means that it is worse to eat sauerkraut than it is to eat a deer. If I kill a deer and gut it leaving the entrails in the woods (like predators do anyway), the bacteria in the digestive system are not being killed by my stomach acid, and I killed just one deer to eat. But if I ingest a serving of natural kraut, I would be killing millions or billions of little beings that suffer apparently just as much as a deer.. Why shouldn't I then kill a deer? That is more ethical than eating sauerkraut.
I've said that it's a matter of personal judgement whether one extends ethical consideration to microorganisms, not that it should be considered obligatory. In any case, neither sauerkraut nor deer flesh need to be consumed! And aren't you condemning those intestinal flora to death anyway by leaving the entrails in the woods to rot? Or are you assuming that they can survive even after the entrails are gone?

Any why no consideration of the environment?
The environment is an argument in favour of veganism: methane emissions, water use, land use and fecal pollution all count against animal agriculture. I posted several resources in support of this in my re-entry post to this thread.

Cattle can be raised in areas with low water and low ability to grow crops, and Australia is a good example of a place where this occurs.
Sure, but you can't get around the ethical problem of having to kill them, and only a fraction into their lifetimes, and overall, cattle are not raised in this way: they more typically are raised in feedlots on cereals.

What would the environmental impact be to try to have orchards to feed the world? Orchards are very water hungry and fruits are low in calories.
Bear in mind that I define fruit by the botanical definition. So that includes cereals, grains, seeds, nuts and "vegetable" fruits like pumpkins, zucchini, corn, etc - as well as culinary (sweet) fruit. Your blanket statement does not apply to all of those categories.

What environmental impact is there? Why is there no concern for the harm done to displaced species?
For the most part, farming animals (as they are farmed today) is even worse in this respect, because they essentially convert (globally) at least three times their weight in cereals into meat. Farming meat is highly inefficient in the modern world from the perspective of food resources, so any criticisms you have of vegan-fruitarian environmental impacts apply at least threefold to animal agriculture.

How is this quantified?
See the link above.

How is it objectively demonstrated to be a lesser total harm compared to trying to move to biodynamic farms that also humanely raise animals?
There is not enough space in your country - or even several of your countries - to free-range farm enough animals to satisfy your appetite: see the movie "Cowspiracy" for the figures.
 
#23
I think you misunderstood me: I was defining utilitarianism, not expressing support for it. I actually think that (naive) utilitarianism - that based solely on the principle of "the maximum good for the maximum number" - suffers a fatal flaw.

But in any case, I see what you're getting at, and I'd have to ask, what do you mean by "works very well"? "Working well" could be defined relative to any number of goals; presumably in this context by "wellness" you mean "persistence and flourishing of the system as a whole". Fine, but human choices are deliberative, and humans can concern themselves with the wellness of other individuals as well as of the system as a whole. So, in the context of this conversation, "wellness" implies "moral acceptability", which generally implies "acting based on the acceptance that others' interests are as important as one's own" - this simply is an objective premise.
How is that in any way objective? You merely claim it to be. I find it completely irrational to think that someone whose interests include prostitutes and drugs are as important as someone whose interests include humanitarian efforts. You can't just say that it is objective, insinuating that it is not refutable. I easily refuted it by counterexample.

You claim it is objective, and even seem to compare it to logical and mathematical truth below, yet I cannot deny mathematical truth, nor logical truth, without being clearly wrong. You seem to think that formal logic applies to moral principles, but it simply does not apply. If you disagree, please state your moral principles in a logical structure based on axioms. That would "prove" their objectivity if the statements hold up to logic.


Laid said:
It is, and I've done so multiple times. Perhaps you're not reading as closely as you could be?
Proclamations of objectivity are meaningless. You have demonstrated nothing by any type of logical argument or demonstration that your position is even logically coherent let alone plausible.


Laird said:
Ethics are philosophy, not science. And there are other categories of objective philosophical truths, notably logical truths. Then there are the objective mathematical truths. To deny the existence of objective truth at all seems a little bizarre. Is that really what you're trying to do?
It's all the same, in that they are all constructs or models that we have created. An "objective mathematical truth" only has objective truth status within the model in which it is represented! I do not deny any notion of objective truth in absolute terms (it must be subjective), but to ascribe absolute truth to a statement within a conceptual structure is nonsensical. And if you wish to compare your statement of objective moral principles to logical and mathematical truths, then please state your objective moral principles in formal logical statements.


Laird said:
No offence, but that all strikes me as specious reasoning. Rather than address it, I'll simply point out that plenty of avowed materialists are adamant that they are no less moral, and place no less significance on morality, than the religiously or spiritually inclined.
If you wish to reference logical truths, which this example will clearly demonstrate that these truths exist within the conceptual framework, then I cannot see how you can accuse as specious the statement that materialism logically excludes consciousness, and since consciousness is required for experience, which is required for the qualia, or what-it's-like to suffer, then materialism a priori excludes any type of suffering of conscious beings that would make me even care of acting morally to others. I don't care if I treat a computer without moral consideration. If you wish to claim this as a specious argument, then I am interested in your logical argument that can account for conscious experience within a materialist framework, i.e. a classical mechanical physical framework. That is not logically possible because classical mechanics completely excludes consciousness in the mathematical description of how nature is supposed to be.

And without consciousness, there is no intent, and and moral responsibility requires consciousness. How can you then have moral principles apply the same within the framework I suggest which puts consciousness as primary vs. a materialistic framework which excludes consciousness?

Personal anecdotes from confused materialists has no bearing on the logic on the materialist framework.


Regarding the nutrition parts, my comment was towards Grorganic, and I don't really wish to rehash our previous 500 page conversation :)
 
#24
Gudday Neil,

OK, so, let me say at the outset that the fundamental moral principle(s) isn't/aren't objectively true in the same "formal" way that the logical and mathematical truths are; it is / they are instead true in the same way that the (previously stated) economic principle that "increasing the money supply devalues that currency" is objectively true, with a little bit of extra difficulty with the translation from "is to ought".

In the same way that there is no need to present a formal argument for that economic principle, there is no need to present a formal argument for the objectivity of morality at base: it is simply self-evidently and intuitively true. I have shared several paths towards grasping the self-evidence and intuitiveness of that truth already, but you seem to want to dismiss them as "mere claims" - assuming you have even spent any time contemplating them at all. Please feel free to challenge me to list those paths; I'm happy to oblige.

Moving on to the (other) contents of your post:

How is that in any way objective? You merely claim it to be. I find it completely irrational to think that someone whose interests include prostitutes and drugs are as important as someone whose interests include humanitarian efforts.
Neil, are you familiar with the principle of granting your debating partner the most favourable interpretation? If so, do you think you might have seen your way to granting that not only do interests need to be compared on a like-for-like/equality-of-moral-effect basis (which test "prostitutes and drugs" versus "humanitarian efforts" quite clearly fails), but also that the key interests are those in avoiding harm?

You can't just say that it is objective, insinuating that it is not refutable. I easily refuted it by counterexample.
Counterexample or... straw man?

An "objective mathematical truth" only has objective truth status within the model in which it is represented!
Perhaps you mean that mathematical truths are, strictly speaking, tautological, given the axioms with respect to which they exist. Fine, in which case please refer to my earlier reference to objective economic principles.

I do not deny any notion of objective truth in absolute terms (it must be subjective), but to ascribe absolute truth to a statement within a conceptual structure is nonsensical.
You are the first person to apply the term "absolute" with respect to truth in this discussion. It would not be my choice to do so. I must admit though that I am baffled as to what you might mean by your parenthetical statement!

And if you wish to compare your statement of objective moral principles to logical and mathematical truths, then please state your objective moral principles in formal logical statements.
I do not think that there is a formalism for getting to an objective ought; we have not yet developed that logic. But I have offered you the suggestion that the fundamental principle of avoiding harming others follows in a rational if not formal sense from the acceptance of the premise that the interests of others are objectively as important as one's own interests. If that is not enough for you, then I am sorry, but undeterred.

If you wish to reference logical truths, which this example will clearly demonstrate that these truths exist within the conceptual framework, then I cannot see how you can accuse as specious the statement that materialism logically excludes consciousness, and since consciousness is required for experience, which is required for the qualia, or what-it's-like to suffer, then materialism a priori excludes any type of suffering of conscious beings that would make me even care of acting morally to others. I don't care if I treat a computer without moral consideration. If you wish to claim this as a specious argument, then I am interested in your logical argument that can account for conscious experience within a materialist framework, i.e. a classical mechanical physical framework. That is not logically possible because classical mechanics completely excludes consciousness in the mathematical description of how nature is supposed to be.

And without consciousness, there is no intent, and and moral responsibility requires consciousness. How can you then have moral principles apply the same within the framework I suggest which puts consciousness as primary vs. a materialistic framework which excludes consciousness?

Personal anecdotes from confused materialists has no bearing on the logic on the materialist framework.
Phew! OK, let's start with this: it was you who introduced this dichotomy between the view that there is an underlying unitary consciousness and the view of an extreme form of materialism which denies even that individuated consciousnesses persist from moment to moment.

Umm...

Can somebody else please say "false dichotomy" or am I going to have to be the one to do it?

(Neil, I mean no disrespect, and I'm trying to interpret you fairly, I just don't think you're being reasonable here)

Regarding the nutrition parts, my comment was towards Grorganic, and I don't really wish to rehash our previous 500 page conversation :)
OK, that's fine, I'd prefer not to rehash it either, I just assumed that since you were responding to my post you were addressing me.
 
#25
Gudday Neil,

OK, so, let me say at the outset that the fundamental moral principle(s) isn't/aren't objectively true in the same "formal" way that the logical and mathematical truths are; it is / they are instead true in the same way that the (previously stated) economic principle that "increasing the money supply devalues that currency" is objectively true, with a little bit of extra difficulty with the translation from "is to ought".
The statement of increasing the money supply devaluing the currency is a statement that can be expressed mathematically. You cannot claim that a mathematical statement and a moral statement are the same.

I don't think I see the is-ought problem to be too bad when it comes to describing human behavior, which I think is what you're getting at, but the problem is that you wish to make the principles objective, taking them outside of the realm of human experience, in which case it is no longer within a framework of humans striving for goals and using moral principles as a means to achieve those goals. Now there is no basis for going from is to ought.

Laird said:
In the same way that there is no need to present a formal argument for that economic principle, there is no need to present a formal argument for the objectivity of morality at base: it is simply self-evidently and intuitively true. I have shared several paths towards grasping the self-evidence and intuitiveness of that truth already, but you seem to want to dismiss them as "mere claims" - assuming you have even spent any time contemplating them at all. Please feel free to challenge me to list those paths; I'm happy to oblige.
The economic principle you gave is expressible mathematically. You can't just equate the two unless you can express your objective moral principle statement mathematically. By saying that it is "simply self-evidently and intuitively true" you are doing exactly what I said--bypassing any actual explanation and merely proclaiming it to be true.


Laird said:
Neil, are you familiar with the principle of granting your debating partner the most favourable interpretation? If so, do you think you might have seen your way to granting that not only do interests need to be compared on a like-for-like/equality-of-moral-effect basis (which test "prostitutes and drugs" versus "humanitarian efforts" quite clearly fails), but also that the key interests are those in avoiding harm?
What I did was a reduction ad absurdum. You want to claim that everyone's interests are equal, and that is clearly not true by my ridiculous logical extension of that statement. But now if you wish to say that the statement requires qualifications, I cannot see on what objective basis you can use to compare interests, especially when you are very often dealing with examples with terms that are incommensurable. How can you compare on a like-for-like basis when terms are incommensurable?

Laird said:
Counterexample or... straw man?
You said earlier that:

"Fine, but human choices are deliberative, and humans can concern themselves with the wellness of other individuals as well as of the system as a whole. So, in the context of this conversation, "wellness" implies "moral acceptability", which generally implies "acting based on the acceptance that others' interests are as important as one's own" - this simply is an objective premise."

How can this be an objective premise if you wish to now qualify this statement? On what objective basis do you make the qualification? I know you are not actually saying what I did in my example, but if I am to accept that others' interests are as important as mine, then that is a valid statement. If you wish to qualify what interests can be compared, I don't see what objective basis you have for that.

You may say, for example, that implementing your fruitarian ideals worldwide would do a lot of good, but I would disagree and say that it would be massively unethical (NOT to get into a debate on the point, but rather to just use an example). We keep using reasoning back and forth, and either one of us may be more or less reasonable in considering arguments, but on what objective basis are you claiming that your interest of fruitarian ideals is better than my ideal of sustainable farming practices? Or are you saying that they are equal? If they are equal, then you have no basis on which to impose your view, and if they are unequal, then your statement is not true because I would consider this a like-to-like comparison.

If you disagree that it is a like-to-like comparison, on what objective basis do you make this claim? Because you say that your method minimizes avoidable harm? I say you ignore the harm done to humans and the environment so that it does not do what you claim (again, let's not debate this, this is just an example that we are both familiar with the disagreement). You may say that you have presented evidence, but that evidence does not have status of objective fact, and you run into the problem in philosophy of science of how to compare theories and evidence, and you will not find an objective basis on which to compare them.

Laird said:
Perhaps you mean that mathematical truths are, strictly speaking, tautological, given the axioms with respect to which they exist. Fine, in which case please refer to my earlier reference to objective economic principles.
Which is another statement expressible in mathematical terms.


Laird said:
You are the first person to apply the term "absolute" with respect to truth in this discussion. It would not be my choice to do so. I must admit though that I am baffled as to what you might mean by your parenthetical statement!
If it is not absolutely true then how can it be objective? Science always deals with inter-subjective verifiability, so nothing can be said to be objective within the framework of science, and nothing has an objective logical basis. The only objective truth is that of subjective experience, but one cannot derive other "truths" as objective from this basis.

Laird said:
I do not think that there is a formalism for getting to an objective ought; we have not yet developed that logic. But I have offered you the suggestion that the fundamental principle of avoiding harming others follows in a rational if not formal sense from the acceptance of the premise that the interests of others are objectively as important as one's own interests. If that is not enough for you, then I am sorry, but undeterred.
You seem to assume that such logic will be developed, which seems to assume that logic has the ability to describe our world of experience. I think there is no basis for this assumption. But I do not think that the fundamental principle of avoiding harm to others is therefore irrational. I think this is rational, but to go from that to the claim of objectivity just doesn't have a basis.

Laird said:
Phew! OK, let's start with this: it was you who introduced this dichotomy between the view that there is an underlying unitary consciousness and the view of an extreme form of materialism which denies even that individuated consciousnesses persist from moment to moment.

Umm...

Can somebody else please say "false dichotomy" or am I going to have to be the one to do it?

(Neil, I mean no disrespect, and I'm trying to interpret you fairly, I just don't think you're being reasonable here)
How is it a false dichotomy? The view I gave is not an "extreme form" of materialism, but what materialism really is. If one wishes to claim to be a materialist but admit conscious experience, then they are no longer a materialist but a dualist. In fact, they are the worst type of dualist, which is substance dualism. If they want to claim materialism while admitting conscious experience, qualia, etc, then they are just deeply confused. Materialism is based on classical mechanics, and classical mechanics logically excludes consciousness. By admitting of conscious experience then one is admitting that classical mechanics is not a complete description of the universe and that materialism is not true.
 
Last edited:
#26
I think I must strongly disagree with this comment. Only if you mean the diet, in and of itself, cannot be ethically faulted, which wouldn't really make sense to say, I would still make the case that I find the ideas presented by Laird to be completely unethical. The suggestions to force a particular diet upon people, with no respect to their culture, their ethnicity (Inuits would deteriorate quickly on a fruit diet), their metabolic individuality, their health status, nor to the health concerns of a fruit diet to not only myself, but also to my children, to be abhorrent and completely unethical. To have such little respect for individual metabolic differences, or diseased states, or to be so egregiously inconsiderate of entire ethnic groups is beyond unethical.

Further, there is something quite broken about a philosophy that treats all life the same, and thinks that all life has the same capacity to suffer (or at least we don't know that, but that we should give the lower life forms the benefit of the doubt). This view means that it is worse to eat sauerkraut than it is to eat a deer. If I kill a deer and gut it leaving the entrails in the woods (like predators do anyway), the bacteria in the digestive system are not being killed by my stomach acid, and I killed just one deer to eat. But if I ingest a serving of natural kraut, I would be killing millions or billions of little beings that suffer apparently just as much as a deer.. Why shouldn't I then kill a deer? That is more ethical than eating sauerkraut.

Any why no consideration of the environment? Cattle can be raised in areas with low water and low ability to grow crops, and Australia is a good example of a place where this occurs. What would the environmental impact be to try to have orchards to feed the world? Orchards are very water hungry and fruits are low in calories. What environmental impact is there? Why is there no concern for the harm done to displaced species? How is this quantified? How is it objectively demonstrated to be a lesser total harm compared to trying to move to biodynamic farms that also humanely raise animals? Especially when the claim is that all life forms may suffer equally.
Sorry Neil - I didn't use the quote function so it looked like this was my quote but it was Laird's. Sorry for the confusion. Good points!
 
#27
Well, Grorganic, I'm glad to see you still here, and hopefully this isn't a pitiful rejoinder. :)

I get what you're saying re your anthropology class. Different cultures develop different social and moral systems, each of them tailored to their culture, and I can see how those from one culture might, initially, not understanding the full context and purpose, mistakenly judge the practices of another culture as immoral. But: just because the moral systems of different cultures have developed so that, when educated, we do judge them as moral doesn't mean that any possible so-called moral system is in fact moral. Here I refer back to the notion of killing and torturing children for fun: we would legitimately judge any culture's moral system that incorporated that practice as an immoral one. You have not adequately refuted this, but I will come back to that later.

First: the idea that different cultures develop different social and moral systems is all fine and compatible with my idea that there is an objective basis to morality at the fundamental level. To see why, let's dig into what you said a little! In particular, let's consider this: 'They [morals] were created by human cultural groups in conjunction with their members or "councils" to be able to function as a group and avoid situations that could tear the group apart. EX - "Let's agree to 1, 2, and 3 so we can live together without killing each other OK?."' So, right from the start, prior to any moral systems being formed, we have two a priori principles: that groups should not be "torn apart" (a type of harm) and that killing (another type of harm) should be avoided. Isn't that interesting? It seems that in your view, moral systems are created to... avoid harm! And the need to avoid harm is taken as a given, almost as if it were... a self-evident objective principle!

Here's another way to look at it: it is almost (not quite, but close to it) an analytical truth that avoidable harm ought to be avoided, in the sense that we could almost (not quite, but close to it) define "harm" as "that which we ought to avoid causing if we can". In other words, our very language and the concepts it commits us to accepting when we use it almost (not quite, but close to it) builds in the fundamental, objective principle(s) of morality. I am monolingual but I would imagine that it is similar in most if not all other languages.

Coming back to the notion of "torturing and killing kids for fun": neither of the examples you provided fits the bill. Allowing children to roam free and unsupervised is hardly "torture" - and arguably is a beneficial freedom and/or helpful in their development - let alone is it "killing" them. And painful initiation rites can be seen as short-term pain for long-term gain, even if/when there is a risk (note: not a guarantee; far from it) of death. Neither of these fits the bill for what was intended (at least by me and I assume by Neil too) by "torturing and killing kids for fun": almost the definition of evil.
First, nothing that you've said above proves an objective morality outside of human culture. And the fact that there are cultures that don't form these "rules" as I very clearly pointed out in my last post also renders your argument mute. Then of course one could argue that a human being can live without a cultural group alone in the woods and never experience this "self-evident objective principle". Second, 100% of humans would never "legitimately judge" (OMG you love judging what others would judge!!) anything as immoral - that's the point!! Someone somewhere has a "morality" that turns your idea of "evil" upside down (ontological differences!!!). I know it's hard to get out of your own skin/mind - I recommend spending some time in a very different culture than your own to see how your "reasoning" is just that - yours. It's amazing to really absorb a different form of "reasoning" and see that things that you think are "set in stone" are as fluid as water in other cultures. I think my rite of passage example was perfect to illustrate how torturing kids for fun can be part of a cultural landscape and have purpose blind to outsiders. We've become so globalized and absorbed in the dominant cultures that we forget how many actual perspectives on these things are out there. Unfortunately, you won't find the most interesting concepts in other cultures unless you really explore anthropological literature or spend time with the cultures themselves, as the dominant cultural paradigm at the moment seeks to streamline/modernize human cultures and discard other viewpoints if they don't fit into the mold - very few mainstream articles on Tobacco Shamanism in the Warao tribe of Brazil - probably because mainstream culture deems tobacco as HARMFUL while the Warao feel just the opposite.

Adios amigo!
 
#28
Neil, maybe we can back up a little and ask what morality is in the first place. One way to define it (not the only way, but perhaps this definition is most helpful in the context of our debate) is as "[the theory or subject of] that which we should, or in other words ought to, do with respect to others and ourselves [but not with respect to some specific goal, rather in general]". OK, but what does that mean? In my view, it means that which we would be committed to doing in this respect if we were to rationally, dispassionately and objectively consider the empirical facts of (especially sentient) existence - so far as we know them - as a whole (and please feel free to challenge me on this because I am prepared to defend it). Here, objectivity means eliminating as much as possible our sense of self-importance which is due to our subjective perspective/experience, and trying to see "beyond ourselves" and "from a God's eye perspective".

From this perspective, we are committed to the recognition that whilst subjectively we feel that our own interests, needs and desires - particularly the immediate and short-term ones - are most important, objectively they are no more nor less important than those of others, nor than our long-term interests, needs and desires. And given our understanding and experience of harm, which almost by definition is that which a sentient being would desire to avoid, we are also especially committed to recognising that the interest others have in avoiding harm (and in attaining that which is beneficial) is no less (nor more) objectively important than that which we have for ourselves.

You have pointed out that when two individuals have different specific interests (or goals/ambitions/desires/needs), these are not always necessarily equally important. Point taken. This is where judgement comes in. But I hope that you can accept that where those specific interests (or goals/ambitions/desires/needs) are identical, then, from an objective perspective, and all else being equal, both are equally important, and that in a more abstract sense - each person's interest in avoiding harm and in attaining the beneficial - again the interests of others are, from an objective perspective, equally as important as those of our own selves.

From there, and based on what I outlined in the first substantive paragraph above, it is more or less a rational or semantic "manoeuvre" to get to (one of) the fundamental moral principle(s): that we "ought" to "do unto others that which we would have done to ourselves", which in the negative sense, that we "ought" not to "do unto others that which we would not have done to ourselves" I have expressed as (or in a closely compatible sense as) "the harm avoidance principle".

So, if all of that is unacceptable to you as a justification of the objectivity of the fundamental moral principle(s), then let's just call it quits, because I can't add much to it.

Now, you say that (and from my perspective I would add "in practice"), our moral judgements and behaviour are driven largely by our affective systems, and you also suggest that if it is the case that there is a unified consciousness behind all beings, then moral judgements have more weight or meaning or legitimacy (I'm not sure which word best paraphrases your view, please feel free to correct me).

Perhaps I have been a little brusque in responding to these ideas of yours, which has led you to some degree of frustration, especially since you were (kindly) trying to bridge a gap between Grorganic and me, the expression of which (your frustration) perhaps led me in turn to some unwarranted hostility. I'm sorry for that. I will try here, then, to respond to them more fully and hopefully more kindly:

Yes, it might very well be true that in practice, our moral judgements are largely drive by our affective systems, in particular by the empathy that we feel for others. If so, then we are lucky to have those systems! But: let's also recognise (if you are willing to) that, by the reasoning I laid out above, empathy is rational from an objective perspective, and our affective systems are very much helping us overcome our irrational but natural sense of self-importance which is (perhaps) inherent in having a subjective perspective, or at least in the default human subjective perspective. That psychopaths, lacking this assistance from their affective systems, are overcome by their self-importance simply shows how difficult it is to overcome it by reason-backed-willpower alone.

Yes, if consciousness is ultimately unified, then we have extra incentive to behave morally (i.e. with consideration not just for ourselves but also for others): after all, if we harm them, then we are ultimately harming ourselves, and thus our subjective sense of self-importance turns out in this case to actually be of benefit rather than a hindrance! Nevertheless, the ridiculous implications of hard-core materialism aside, even believing that our consciousnesses are separate commits us to moral behaviour given the reasoning outlined above. So, sure, if we are all unified at base, then hooray, let's celebrate the boost that that gives to moral commitment, but if not, let's not reject morality, because morality has anyway a rational objective basis.

Neil, I know that in backing up and summarising like this I might not have addressed some of your specific points. I hope that this post has enough overall consistency for it to be worth that lack. If after this post we are still unable to see (relatively) eye-to-eye, then perhaps we ought to call it quits.
 
Last edited:
#29
Grorganic,

I'll focus on this, which is, I think, quite self-contradictory: "I think my rite of passage example was perfect to illustrate how torturing kids for fun can be part of a cultural landscape and have purpose blind to outsiders".

On the one hand you advance this as an example of child torture whose purpose is "fun", yet on the other, and in the very same sentence, you suggest a "purpose blind to outsiders" i.e. that the purpose is not mere fun, but it is some higher moral purpose. In other words, you want to have it both ways. And this is exactly my point: absent a higher moral purpose, torturing kids is objectively morally wrong - no matter what your culture - let alone if the (lower) purpose for the torture is mere fun!

I have offered my reasoning as to the objective basis of morality in plenty of prior posts, but the just-previous post, to Neil, is, I hope, the most comprehensive and consistent. If you have an objection to it, then please feel free to raise it. In any case, I offer this as a cogent basis for why we would rightly judge torturing kids for fun as objectively immoral.

As far as tobacco goes, I am sure that there are both pros and cons, and that the way in which it is used plays a huge part in assessing it!

If this is still adios, then adios amigo, otherwise, I welcome your rejoinder.
 
Last edited:
#30
P.S. Grorganic, if you're at all amenable to continuing this conversation to the extent of responding to this, then here it is:

Do you have any examples of "relative (cultural) morals" which egregiously (or even just moderately) contravene the Golden Rule? It seems to me that rather than relative cultural morals, you have provided examples of relative cultural practices, and perhaps you need to do more to show that these practices really are sanctioned by fundamentally different morals.
 
#31
You've made the claim Laird, not me - avoiding avoidable harm is a moral obligation based on objective moral principles that exist outside of human culture - it just hasn't been proven yet (not just here but everywhere). That's why it's totally cool to have your own subjective moral convictions but not to judge others' subjective moral convictions. I'm not claiming anything. Moral relativism isn't based on my feelings or reasoning but tangible cultural evidence (which to be honest, I'm not sure you've even investigated - but instead keep doubling down on your own reasoning) while positing an objective morality is based on one’s feelings/one's reasoning/God argument. It's quite simple really.

Just to clarify my example - sorry if it was confusing. I meant to express that outsiders may see these rites of passage as "torturing kids for fun" (blind to the real purpose). From an outside perspective, these outsiders make judgments, feel "morally superior" and demand the "unethical" practices be stopped based on the "objective morality" that clearly demands that "torturing kids for fun" is universally wrong. See the mistake there. In the culture, the rite of passage has many purposes for the culture. I did not say that it was a “higher moral purpose". You said that. It's a social purpose to bridge the gap between childhood and man/woman hood and provide additional responsibilities and access to new social relationships. It's not "good" or "bad" - it's just what they do. So, you see people killing/eating animals and judge them to be immoral based on universal principles/objective morality. What you don't see (blind to the purpose) is that killing/eating animals in many cultures is an integral part of their way of life and isn't something that can be eliminated without eliminating, say, their spiritual outlook, their clothes, their oral traditions, their warrior training, their rituals and well every part of their life. It's what they do - it's not good or bad to them, it’s literally a part of them. I know I'm repeating what I've said many times but it appears necessary to do so.

So. over and over and over again, you posit this objective morality. You are using your own reasoning as support for the claim. I don't think your reasoning proves it exists but I recognize your seriously awesome attempts to work it out (that's not sarcasm - I truly admire how much thought you've put into this). Please honor this back and forth by answering the following question:

Where does your "objective morality" come from? Specifically please - in one sentence - no verbosity on this one.

(PS. full disclosure - if it exists, my answer would be God or a spiritual dimension - something that can't be proven to all which is oh sooo Coyote)
 
#32
Neil, maybe we can back up a little and ask what morality is in the first place. One way to define it (not the only way, but perhaps this definition is most helpful in the context of our debate) is as "[the theory or subject of] that which we should, or in other words ought to, do with respect to others and ourselves [but not with respect to some specific goal, rather in general]". OK, but what does that mean? In my view, it means that which we would be committed to doing in this respect if we were to rationally, dispassionately and objectively consider the empirical facts of (especially sentient) existence - so far as we know them - as a whole (and please feel free to challenge me on this because I am prepared to defend it). Here, objectivity means eliminating as much as possible our sense of self-importance which is due to our subjective perspective/experience, and trying to see "beyond ourselves" and "from a God's eye perspective".

From this perspective, we are committed to the recognition that whilst subjectively we feel that our own interests, needs and desires - particularly the immediate and short-term ones - are most important, objectively they are no more nor less important than those of others, nor than our long-term interests, needs and desires. And given our understanding and experience of harm, which almost by definition is that which a sentient being would desire to avoid, we are also especially committed to recognising that the interest others have in avoiding harm (and in attaining that which is beneficial) is no less (nor more) objectively important than that which we have for ourselves.
If my interests are "objectively no more nor less important than those of others" then how can you justify that there is a need for me to treat someone morally? Their needs are no more or no less important than mine, and vice versa, and in the world, conflict happens, so objectively, I understand that things aren't fair and that is the nature of things, just like in nature herself, and this can involve harming others and objectively that is okay.

Remember, you are trying to look from "God's eye perspective" or from an objective stance, not from considering the point of view of the person or animal being harmed. From the point of view of the universe, I don't see why it matters if an animal dies so that I can eat, nor do I see why the animal's instinct for survival is more important than my want to eat a nourishing food that is natural for the human animal to eat. You say that neither is more or less important, so why should I not eat the animal? I don't see an objective basis to say that I should avoid that harm. The universe doesn't care--only humans care.

Laird said:
You have pointed out that when two individuals have different specific interests (or goals/ambitions/desires/needs), these are not always necessarily equally important. Point taken. This is where judgement comes in. But I hope that you can accept that where those specific interests (or goals/ambitions/desires/needs) are identical, then, from an objective perspective, and all else being equal, both are equally important, and that in a more abstract sense - each person's interest in avoiding harm and in attaining the beneficial - again the interests of others are, from an objective perspective, equally as important as those of our own selves.
So in the case of eating animals, there is my interest in nourishment for my body compared to their instinct for survival. Those are not identical goals. If the animal and myself have different specific goals here, then you're saying judgment plays a role. How is that objective?

Laird said:
From there, and based on what I outlined in the first substantive paragraph above, it is more or less a rational or semantic "manoeuvre" to get to (one of) the fundamental moral principle(s): that we "ought" to "do unto others that which we would have done to ourselves", which in the negative sense, that we "ought" not to "do unto others that which we would not have done to ourselves" I have expressed as (or in a closely compatible sense as) "the harm avoidance principle".
Except that I wouldn't want to impose my dietary practices on you, whereas you would be fine with imposing your dietary practices on me. So from my perspective, based on my reasoning, we ought not impose extreme unnatural dietary practices on people, but you disagree. How is this objective?

Laird said:
So, if all of that is unacceptable to you as a justification of the objectivity of the fundamental moral principle(s), then let's just call it quits, because I can't add much to it.

Now, you say that (and from my perspective I would add "in practice"), our moral judgements and behaviour are driven largely by our affective systems, and you also suggest that if it is the case that there is a unified consciousness behind all beings, then moral judgements have more weight or meaning or legitimacy (I'm not sure which word best paraphrases your view, please feel free to correct me).

Perhaps I have been a little brusque in responding to these ideas of yours, which has led you to some degree of frustration, especially since you were (kindly) trying to bridge a gap between Grorganic and me, the expression of which (your frustration) perhaps led me in turn to some unwarranted hostility. I'm sorry for that. I will try here, then, to respond to them more fully and hopefully more kindly:

Yes, it might very well be true that in practice, our moral judgements are largely drive by our affective systems, in particular by the empathy that we feel for others. If so, then we are lucky to have those systems! But: let's also recognise (if you are willing to) that, by the reasoning I laid out above, empathy is rational from an objective perspective, and our affective systems are very much helping us overcome our irrational but natural sense of self-importance which is (perhaps) inherent in having a subjective perspective, or at least in the default human subjective perspective. That psychopaths, lacking this assistance from their affective systems, are overcome by their self-importance simply shows how difficult it is to overcome it by reason-backed-willpower alone.
I'm still not quite sure I understand what you mean by "rational from an objective perspective." From a non-subjective, totally objective perspective, I don't really get what feelings or suffering mean at all, let alone how that is an objective basis on which to make judgments towards living organisms.

I am straddling both positions here, because I feel for the objective side in that I do see a rationality with the involvement of emotional systems in decisions and judgment, and I also see that core harm-based moral judgments are pretty universal to humans, giving a relative objectivity to them. But Grorganic also makes good points of how moral judgments can be wildly relative with different cultures, and since we have no evidence for anything objective even within science, I cannot see how moral principles have gained this status within your epistemology via plausible reasoning. Even if you were to produce a formal logical proof for moral principles, that still really wouldn't prove any objective existence. It would only prove that within the logical framework constructed that you have proved your postulate via tautology.

Laird said:
Yes, if consciousness is ultimately unified, then we have extra incentive to behave morally (i.e. with consideration not just for ourselves but also for others): after all, if we harm them, then we are ultimately harming ourselves, and thus our subjective sense of self-importance turns out in this case to actually be of benefit rather than a hindrance! Nevertheless, the ridiculous implications of hard-core materialism aside, even believing that our consciousnesses are separate commits us to moral behaviour given the reasoning outlined above. So, sure, if we are all unified at base, then hooray, let's celebrate the boost that that gives to moral commitment, but if not, let's not reject morality, because morality has anyway a rational objective basis.
My point was really that I feel a person's worldview is vitally important for how they act and how they treat others. A classical mechanistic worldview is, in my opinion, very damaging, and part of that is due to that, within the logical framework of classical mechanics, there is no basis for morality. And from my point of view, consciousness being primary and that we are all one isn't really the basis for morality. From the perspective of the absolute consciousness, it really doesn't matter if I kill an animal for food because consciousness itself never suffers. This is the basis of liberation in Buddhism and Hinduism.

But what does matter is the recognition of the reality of conscious agency. This is something that cannot exist within classical mechanics, and even within a quantum frame it is seen as non-existent. This is a serious problem, in my opinion, because it is exactly conscious agency which is the basis of morality. This conscious agency has the freedom to choose (in varying degrees, but freedom nonetheless), and this gives a basis for responsibility in choosing actions. It also allows me to recognize that the other person really is a conscious agent just like me that thinks and feels, and that to harm such a being will cause a negative reaction that motivates me to choose properly and behave morally (more or less). Rational considerations can be used, but plausible reasoning is the basis or such discussion, not logic. Plausible reasoning can help one to consider things differently, and it may make someone feel that something is right or wrong, and will trigger another response in the brain. So plausible reasoning is itself guided by conscious experience and affective systems to make rational judgments (it is fallible, but that is beside the point). One could make an awfully good case for much of what you're saying here on the basis of plausible reasoning, but my real disagreement at least on this particular issue is the enormous leap from saying that such a concept is right based on plausible reasoning to saying that it is based on objective existence of such concepts, which makes them correct. This postulates a platonic realm of existence for ideas and concepts, and I say that there really is no evidence to support this notion.
 
Last edited:
#33
Laird,

As an addendum I would like to add a few things. The first is, I thank you for the time and effort put into this exchange. Believe it or not, I have found it quite valuable. Whether or not either of us end up disagreeing, there can be value on both our sides, because discussing with an opposing view, especially if it is quite different, can be quite fruitful for the individual. For myself, personally, while I have not changed my mind to think that moral principles are objective, I have changed my views a bit, and some things have been clarified (for me). I hope that at the very least the same has occurred for you as well.

But one thing I would like to get at, is to be a little more on your side here on one aspect. As mentioned in my last post, my main disagreement is on the jump from supposing something is right based on plausible reasoning to asserting that it is right because the moral principle exists objectively. Let me give you a bit of my casual opinion here, not meant to be any type of "debate," but rather to share my ideas because I think they are in a way, not too far from what you're saying.

I reject absolute relativism. I think there are very good reasons to think that with a relative objectivity that there are certain aspects of humans that we know from neuro, cognitive, and social psychology to say whether some things are more right or wrong. My personal epistemology is based primarily on conscious experience and plausible reasoning. Plausible reasoning has a basis on the understanding that comes from conscious experience, which, for example, a computer could not have. The information gained is of a different logical type than a computer could possibly have through symbol manipulation, since we experience things. I suggest that this understanding based on conscious experience also gives us a basis to understand truth. Logically, understanding and truth have no basis, but when basing ones epistemology from plausible reasoning based on conscious experience, they have a basis. One can use the understanding from conscious experience to evaluate situations, even comparing incommensurable terms, to be able to rationally decide on what is more true. I don't mean "more true" in some empty sense, but literally that those things seem more true. That's not to say that this reasoning is infallible, and also not to say that logic plays no role in this reasoning since it certainly does. It should also be clear that plausible reasoning is not intuition. It is based on conscious rational consideration, based on conscious information and understanding.

I suggest that on this basis, we really do have a basis to evaluate what moral values are more true than others. It is on this basis that I reject a complete moral relativism that is based on attempting to find a logical basis for moral values. The same goes for theory evaluation in philosophy of science. If one tries to find a logical basis for science and theory evaluation, one will surely fail. This leads to extreme views of some sociologists of scientific knowledge that say all scientific truths are social constructs. I reject this notion, since while we may not have a logical basis for our scientific theories, this does not mean we do not have a rational basis to think that they are more or less true, and that some theories are more or less true than others. Similarly, if we use plausible reasoning, which can consider rational judgment from evidence on, just for example, corporal punishment, we can make a more rational judgment of how moral it is. If the evidence says that it has a negative effect in various areas of behavior and it causes physical pain and suffering to the child, then we have a rational basis to say that it is immoral. I suggest that my perspective on the reality of conscious agency offers a rational basis on which to evaluate many aspects of morality, since if we can understand the degree to which we are free, we may understand that we are not as free as we might think, nor are we biological robots, and this could have implications for attributions of responsibility and guilt. It is also on this basis that I feel moral judgments can be quite rational, in that there is something much worse about harm-based violations than just conventional rule violations, and that considering this in criminal sentencing is not something that should be rejected as some claim it should be (that morality should be rejected in sentencing since it is based on emotion making it irrational).

Perhaps this will help you understand where I am coming from, and maybe even you make like some of the things I have to say. I must admit, the concept of plausible reasoning and its clear differentiation from logic has been tremendously helpful for me, and has clarified many issues in philosophy of science and understanding the concept of understanding (hah!) and truth.
 
#34
Grorganic, let me first say that I value that you are typically in a "pro" position, and I am sorry that we are trapped in a critical opposition, and that you are forced in a sense into a negative "anti" stance, at least with respect to my views. That said, I am not going to let you off the hook!

You seem now to be backtracking: you now seem to accept (at least implicitly) that torturing kids for fun (genuinely doing so) would be universally accepted as immoral, given that you reference a "real purpose" to rites of passage i.e. you seem to accept that "fun" alone is not a "real" purpose i.e. that torturing for "fun" alone is (universally accepted as) immoral.

I am sorry to keep hammering at you on this point but it really is key. Once you (implicitly, or, preferably, explicitly) accept this, then we can hope to bridge our differences.

And on my part I am quite willing to accept that colonial/imperial forces have misunderstood the purpose behind various cultural practices that they have mistakenly deemed immoral. More than willing in fact!

You mention that killing/eating animals in various cultures is "what they do - it's not good or bad to them". Very well, that's from the perspective of the victor - but how do you think it feels from the point of view of the one being killed/eaten? How would you feel if your people were being killed and eaten with the justification that it's just what is done - that it's not good or bad?

Finally, in answer to your question: "my" objective morality comes from the nature of experience; it is baked into and follows from - can be derived from - the nature of experience. I laid this out as best I could in my last post. Yes, I expect that God's morality too is objective, and no doubt our innate sense of morality owes much to spiritual sources.
 
#35
Neil,

Your posts were very helpful. I think I now understand our (I think minor) difference on the objectivity of the fundamental principles of morality. I say that our differences are minor because this from your second post is very much along the lines of what I've been arguing, only using different words:

"My personal epistemology is based primarily on conscious experience and plausible reasoning. Plausible reasoning has a basis on the understanding that comes from conscious experience, which, for example, a computer could not have. The information gained is of a different logical type than a computer could possibly have through symbol manipulation, since we experience things. I suggest that this understanding based on conscious experience also gives us a basis to understand truth. Logically, understanding and truth have no basis, but when basing ones epistemology from plausible reasoning based on conscious experience, they have a basis. One can use the understanding from conscious experience to evaluate situations, even comparing incommensurable terms, to be able to rationally decide on what is more true. I don't mean "more true" in some empty sense, but literally that those things seem more true. That's not to say that this reasoning is infallible, and also not to say that logic plays no role in this reasoning since it certainly does. It should also be clear that plausible reasoning is not intuition. It is based on conscious rational consideration, based on conscious information and understanding".

Very good, we're close to seeing eye to eye. Our main sticking point remains "objectivity". I think you are looking at, for example, what it feels like to be harmed, and saying, "Sure, from a subjective perspective, being harmed feels bad, but from an objective perspective it is meaningless; it simply is what it is; we can't attach any significance to it *objectively*". On the other hand, you accept that being harmed *does* feel bad no matter who you are, and that this can, via "plausible reasoning", provide a good case for morality if we drop the term "objectivity".

So, OK, I see what you're saying with respect to objectivity, and my response is really just to clarify what that means to me. You seem to see "objectivity" as being agnostic to experience. I take a different view. "Objective" to me simply means not biased or prejudiced or based on opinion i.e. not "tainted" by one's subjective perspective, but instead based in what actually is the case when we "step outside of ourselves". And in this sense, the nature of experience can be viewed from an objective perspective which includes - rather than remains coldly agnostic towards - its personal implications. Why? Because of our goal! Recall that (by the definition I gave in my last post) we are trying to determine what we "ought to" or "should" do, in general, with respect to not just ourselves but more particularly others - and in this sense we are presupposing that the personal matters. After all, what "we" ought to do to "others" is a very "personal" question in the sense of "concerning persons, personhood and the implications of personhood".

I think then that I understand what you're saying by the objectivity of, for example, mathematical truths being contingent on axioms of the system in which they operate (I'm paraphrasing from memory, I haven't looked up what you actually said), and thus, in a way not "really" objective, but I also think that you are using a limited definition of "objectivity" there. Mathematical truths are "objective" in the sense that - given the axioms of their system - they can be derived independently of anybody's opinion, bias or prejudice, just as the fundamental moral principles are "objective" in the sense that - given that we are dealing in the personal and its implications - they too can be derived independently of anybody's opinion, bias or prejudice.

For example, given that we are concerned with the personal, we can say objectively with respect to that personal that there is a potential for suffering, with all of its negative connotations, and that sentient beings seek for self-evident reasons to avoid suffering unless they have a higher reason to submit to it, and that these premises can form the basis of objective reasoning ("beyond our personal concerns") as to what "ought" to be done given these facts.

So, perhaps we after all are seeing the same thing, but preferring to describe it with different terms. What I describe as "objectively true" you might like to describe with a term such as "inter-subjectively valid", or something like that (I noticed that you used "inter-subjectivity" or a variant of it in a past post). If so, am I kind of getting over-optimistic or do you think we might then be able to agree to this joint statement?:

"Whilst the fundamental moral principle(s) is/are ingrained in non-pathological human beings at birth, and our everyday general adherence to them is heavily backed up by our affective systems, it is / they are not arbitrary, and can in fact be derived with inter-subjective validity from the basic facts of conscious experience".

Perhaps given all of the above you can see that when in your first post you write: 'Remember, you are trying to look from "God's eye perspective" or from an objective stance, not from considering the point of view of the person or animal being harmed' this is not quite accurate. A God's eye perspective includes the experiences and points of view of all, and in asking what "ought" to be done we are asking in a sense "How do we reconcile fairly all of these different personal interests?"

You go on to ask "So in the case of eating animals, there is my interest in nourishment for my body compared to their instinct for survival. Those are not identical goals. If the animal and myself have different specific goals here, then you're saying judgment plays a role. How is that objective?" Well, let me ask you to for the sake of argument accept my assertion that vegan-fruitarianism is healthy, and to assume that you have ready access to vegan-fruitarian foods. Now, could there really be any doubt that your interest in satisfying your taste buds, or some other amusement (since that would be the only reason you could have to prefer meat to vegan-fruitarian foods given the assertions I've asked you to accept for the sake of argument) is in any way comparable to another being's interest in its very life; life itself being the very thing that allows you to taste in the first place, and thus being an obviously more primary interest? Is there really anything subjective about this judgement? Loss of flavour versus loss of life - it's a very unequal proposition, isn't it?
 
#36
Neil,

Your posts were very helpful. I think I now understand our (I think minor) difference on the objectivity of the fundamental principles of morality. I say that our differences are minor because this from your second post is very much along the lines of what I've been arguing, only using different words:

"My personal epistemology is based primarily on conscious experience and plausible reasoning. Plausible reasoning has a basis on the understanding that comes from conscious experience, which, for example, a computer could not have. The information gained is of a different logical type than a computer could possibly have through symbol manipulation, since we experience things. I suggest that this understanding based on conscious experience also gives us a basis to understand truth. Logically, understanding and truth have no basis, but when basing ones epistemology from plausible reasoning based on conscious experience, they have a basis. One can use the understanding from conscious experience to evaluate situations, even comparing incommensurable terms, to be able to rationally decide on what is more true. I don't mean "more true" in some empty sense, but literally that those things seem more true. That's not to say that this reasoning is infallible, and also not to say that logic plays no role in this reasoning since it certainly does. It should also be clear that plausible reasoning is not intuition. It is based on conscious rational consideration, based on conscious information and understanding".

Very good, we're close to seeing eye to eye. Our main sticking point remains "objectivity". I think you are looking at, for example, what it feels like to be harmed, and saying, "Sure, from a subjective perspective, being harmed feels bad, but from an objective perspective it is meaningless; it simply is what it is; we can't attach any significance to it *objectively*". On the other hand, you accept that being harmed *does* feel bad no matter who you are, and that this can, via "plausible reasoning", provide a good case for morality if we drop the term "objectivity".

So, OK, I see what you're saying with respect to objectivity, and my response is really just to clarify what that means to me. You seem to see "objectivity" as being agnostic to experience. I take a different view. "Objective" to me simply means not biased or prejudiced or based on opinion i.e. not "tainted" by one's subjective perspective, but instead based in what actually is the case when we "step outside of ourselves". And in this sense, the nature of experience can be viewed from an objective perspective which includes - rather than remains coldly agnostic towards - its personal implications. Why? Because of our goal! Recall that (by the definition I gave in my last post) we are trying to determine what we "ought to" or "should" do, in general, with respect to not just ourselves but more particularly others - and in this sense we are presupposing that the personal matters. After all, what "we" ought to do to "others" is a very "personal" question in the sense of "concerning persons, personhood and the implications of personhood".

I think then that I understand what you're saying by the objectivity of, for example, mathematical truths being contingent on axioms of the system in which they operate (I'm paraphrasing from memory, I haven't looked up what you actually said), and thus, in a way not "really" objective, but I also think that you are using a limited definition of "objectivity" there. Mathematical truths are "objective" in the sense that - given the axioms of their system - they can be derived independently of anybody's opinion, bias or prejudice, just as the fundamental moral principles are "objective" in the sense that - given that we are dealing in the personal and its implications - they too can be derived independently of anybody's opinion, bias or prejudice.

For example, given that we are concerned with the personal, we can say objectively with respect to that personal that there is a potential for suffering, with all of its negative connotations, and that sentient beings seek for self-evident reasons to avoid suffering unless they have a higher reason to submit to it, and that these premises can form the basis of objective reasoning ("beyond our personal concerns") as to what "ought" to be done given these facts.

So, perhaps we after all are seeing the same thing, but preferring to describe it with different terms. What I describe as "objectively true" you might like to describe with a term such as "inter-subjectively valid", or something like that (I noticed that you used "inter-subjectivity" or a variant of it in a past post). If so, am I kind of getting over-optimistic or do you think we might then be able to agree to this joint statement?:

"Whilst the fundamental moral principle(s) is/are ingrained in non-pathological human beings at birth, and our everyday general adherence to them is heavily backed up by our affective systems, it is / they are not arbitrary, and can in fact be derived with inter-subjective validity from the basic facts of conscious experience".

Perhaps given all of the above you can see that when in your first post you write: 'Remember, you are trying to look from "God's eye perspective" or from an objective stance, not from considering the point of view of the person or animal being harmed' this is not quite accurate. A God's eye perspective includes the experiences and points of view of all, and in asking what "ought" to be done we are asking in a sense "How do we reconcile fairly all of these different personal interests?"

You go on to ask "So in the case of eating animals, there is my interest in nourishment for my body compared to their instinct for survival. Those are not identical goals. If the animal and myself have different specific goals here, then you're saying judgment plays a role. How is that objective?" Well, let me ask you to for the sake of argument accept my assertion that vegan-fruitarianism is healthy, and to assume that you have ready access to vegan-fruitarian foods. Now, could there really be any doubt that your interest in satisfying your taste buds, or some other amusement (since that would be the only reason you could have to prefer meat to vegan-fruitarian foods given the assertions I've asked you to accept for the sake of argument) is in any way comparable to another being's interest in its very life; life itself being the very thing that allows you to taste in the first place, and thus being an obviously more primary interest? Is there really anything subjective about this judgement? Loss of flavour versus loss of life - it's a very unequal proposition, isn't it?
Laird,

Thank you for your post. This has been most helpful. I think we may have come to essentially an agreement here. I do think the term "objective" has been the issue, as well as a few remarks surrounding its use.

If I understand you correctly, you mean "objective" in the sense of how science typically refers to evidence being objective. So in the case of core harm-based moral principles, there does seem to be pretty universal norms that I think have basis in our affective systems, or essentially the question comes down to how we function neurologically an psychologically. We have a built in aversion for suffering of others. Now, it is certainly the case that each individual will have a greater or lesser aversion to those core harm-based norms (and even entire cultures), and it is also certainly the case that a small percentage such as psychopaths may completely lack any aversion, but on average, people have an aversion to harm in others, which creates the distinction between a moral principle and a conventional rule.

I feel that moral judgments themselves happen automatically and function through our affective systems, which doesn't take away from their "objectivity," and they are fallible and prone to bias, and moral reasoning can then use conscious deliberation to consider different points of view, which may then alter the moral judgment. I may initially say that "oh, corporal punishment is right to do; it's good to teach the kid discipline," but then if I see scientific "objective" evidence that it actually does not help the child, and of course it makes them suffer, then this can then make me pause and say, "hmm, that doesn't seem right any more." The reasoning triggered a different automatic judgment, since if I don't see any benefit to something that harms a child, then it seems immoral to continue with it. Even though the judgment itself was subconscious and used my affective system, my rational consideration of evidence was able to make me see it from a different perspective and create a new judgment. So this as well lends some objectivity to the moral principles that science can give us evidence on which to base judgments. But this part will be a bit less objective in the sense that there will be issues that are not as clear, and there will be more leeway for interpreting data, but as science goes, this is where plausible reasoning plays a large role, and even if the moral concepts are not purely objective like mathematics, it will still help to shift general beliefs in moral values to being "more true."

However, we need to make distinctions as to levels of "objectivity," or inter-subjective verifiability in my usage. You have mathematics at the highest level of objectivity (logic is a subset of math), and then you can have something like evidence from physics as a lower level, and lower than that you can have evidence from neuroscience, then cognitive psychology, then social psychology, then you can have pretty difficult subjects at the lowest level such as mystical experience, which is inter-subjectively verifiable in principle, but given the nature of it, how difficult it is to obtain deep experience, as well as the content-less property and inability to communicate during the experience, it has the lowest ranking that I can think of off the top of my head of how "objective" it is and is most challenging to study.

With this considered, we should realize the level of "objectivity" of the evidence investigating moral principles. It certainly is not at the level of math or physics, but there is neuroscientific evidence and of course evidence from cognitive and social psychology (and moral psychology). So in considering this, I think it is important to see that we can study it and determine certain principles, but there can be significant variation in moral values outside a core of harm-based norms as Grorganic has pointed out. This is where it is much less objective, and there are many different perspectives and leeway for interpreting the data. But I do not have a problem with this, because in general, studying these things can at least give us insight to potentially improve consensus, or at least improve understanding of more harmless variations in cultural moral norms over time.

I think generally speaking, we have already done this automatically, and that science, if properly practiced, can contribute to further improvement and agreement. For example, just even with the passage of time without scientific involvement, we have seen a general decrease in the tolerance of the suffering of others. a couple thousand years ago, torture as punishment was much more common, and eventually over the course of time, the norms for the severity of these punishments for transgressions have decreased (generally, of course, since extremist muslims are still quite barbaric and behind the times).

So I do think that considerations from history, neuroscience, and various forms of psychology can help to guide us in moral values. But I am concerned about the overall picture presented by the larger scientific and academic community. Currently they are quite confused, and we really haven't come very far from either a purely materialist view that is based on 19th century physics, or at best an apparently contradictory dualist view, where there are certain branches of social psychology that use concepts of Emergent Interactive Agency to describe human behavior that is apparently in conflict with the current consensus within physics, biology, evolutionary biology, etc. The danger in the denial of free will and conscious agency from these fields is, in my opinion, dangerous, because these fields have tremendous influence in western cultures. It is troubling to see that these fields can make such profound claims of certainty on evidence that certainly does not warrant it, especially considering the social impact that it has. We have empirical evidence that denial of free will affects all kind of behavior negatively, including even racial prejudice, and claiming that racial prejudice is just an unconscious process increases its tolerance. There is, probably of interest to you, also evidence that moral relativism reduces prosocial behavior.

If we take the materialist view seriously, and use that logical framework, you end up with no basis for moral values. However, like some areas of psychology, the fields may just go their separate contradictory ways, but the potential benefit that the other fields may have will be dampened by materialist views from the "harder" sciences. This is where my proposal comes in, because in my opinion, it unifies these disciplines and gives an explicit scientific basis to look at everything from physics to consciousness to psychology, and will help to improve our scientific knowledge so that the study of moral principles can have greater positive impact. We do have to be careful, though, because "objective data" is theory and value laden. We need to keep this in mind with interpreting data.

But to answer your last question, given the premise, I agree with you. It is the premise on which we disagree. This is a disagreement in health/nutrition research interpretation, and I must say that given the general state of these fields, it is admittedly difficult to have definitive answers due to an enormous number of factors. It is obviously clear that eating a large amount of candy bars is not good for anyone's health, but when you get into less definitive questions it becomes much more open to interpretation at this time.
 
Last edited:
#37
Neil, there seems to still be a little bit of a difference in perspective between us as to what grounds harm-based moral principles, but other than that we're in agreement judging by your last post - and other than on the original topic of this thread, veganism. And yes, I agree that (scientific) study can change our views of which choices lead to more harm, and thus "override" through rationality our default affective moral code. I understand that Sam Harris has written a book to this effect, The Moral Landscape, although I have not read it, and based on reviews there would be a lot in it with which I would disagree even though there would be much with which I would agree.

With respect to Grorganic's contributions as well as @Jim_Smith's via the videos he posted in starting a different thread, I'll say this: that aspect of morality which concerns harm is at root objective and non-discretionary, but it branches out from the root into the more subjective and contextual, and less clear-cut, and aside from that harm-avoidance-based aspect there are what I would refer to as "discretionary" areas of morality such as other of the five cross-cultural principles that Jonathan Haidt identifies in the video Jim posted. I'd suggest too though that if we wanted to be reductionist, we could go some way to reducing several of those other principles into terms of harm avoidance.
 
#38
Neil, there seems to still be a little bit of a difference in perspective between us as to what grounds harm-based moral principles, but other than that we're in agreement judging by your last post - and other than on the original topic of this thread, veganism. And yes, I agree that (scientific) study can change our views of which choices lead to more harm, and thus "override" through rationality our default affective moral code. I understand that Sam Harris has written a book to this effect, The Moral Landscape, although I have not read it, and based on reviews there would be a lot in it with which I would disagree even though there would be much with which I would agree.

With respect to Grorganic's contributions as well as @Jim_Smith's via the videos he posted in starting a different thread, I'll say this: that aspect of morality which concerns harm is at root objective and non-discretionary, but it branches out from the root into the more subjective and contextual, and less clear-cut, and aside from that harm-avoidance-based aspect there are what I would refer to as "discretionary" areas of morality such as other of the five cross-cultural principles that Jonathan Haidt identifies in the video Jim posted. I'd suggest too though that if we wanted to be reductionist, we could go some way to reducing several of those other principles into terms of harm avoidance.
Laird,

It's funny you mention Harris' book, since I literally just finished it. I have to admit, I went into reading it hugely biased against Harris, because I have read his book on free will and listened to his talks on free will and think his arguments are horrible. BUT, this book was quite good. Ignoring the section on free will, much of what was written about morality and how we can study it via science was very thought provoking and, I believe, very true. You might like it, too. As a side note, I do feel his stance on free will undermines the case of morality overall, since it leads to a more consequentialist approach, but that's for another time.

After finishing his book, I went back to a paper I read a while ago, and I was able to see the paper in a different light. I think you might like this paper:

http://reasoninglab.psych.ucla.edu/KH pdfs/Rai_Holyoak.2013.pdf

There are a number of other papers cited that you may find interesting. It is not a long paper, so I think you will find it worth your time. This supports other literature that moral relativism decreases pro-social behavior, somewhat similarly to the disbelief in free will.

I have also become fascinated by the is-ought problem, and I think I have found a way to solve it. It was inspired by plausible reasoning based on conscious experience from David Hodgson and this line from Harris' book: "Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds--and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe."

If our understanding and ability to discern truth is based on plausible reasoning derived from the information gained from conscious experience, and if morality is based on the experience of conscious minds, then I think we have a bridge between is and ought, that is entirely naturalistic. If our knowledge is based in experience, then there is no fallacy to take descriptive explanations of human behavior as it relates to our experience (of suffering or well-being) and derive the normative statements of at least core harm-based moral principles. In other words, if we know certain actions lead to the experience of suffering of conscious beings, and our very knowledge is based on conscious experience, then there is a basis to say that we ought to avoid suffering.

Harris also makes excellent points about various problems such as the Value Problem, the Persuasion Problem, and the Measurement Problem, and I think makes an excellent analogy to that of health, where just because I can't make someone value health, or that I couldn't always persuade someone to want to be healthy, or even how to exactly measure "health," doesn't undermine that we can study it and improve our knowledge and understanding and improve our practices with respect to health. An extreme example, that I just thought of off the top of my head, is that the Value, Persuasion, or Measurement Problems don't take away from the fact that mercury is not good medicine, and it is actually quite harmful.

Further, it seems that many that argue against a moral objective position wish to hold moral objectivity to a higher standard than even physics. I disagree with Harris that a science of morality will not be on par with that of physics, but rather it would be in the category of psychology, economics, etc, but that doesn't take away from the point that we can learn more about what is and isn't right. Plus, any type of extreme skepticism which seems to be directed at moral objectivity can be applied to any science, and one could deny the basis for all knowledge including mathematics (Gödel himself thought that either we have a Platonic mathematical understanding or that perhaps we are entirely deluded about our mathematical understanding). This sort of extreme skepticism isn't taken very seriously in other sciences, and indeed I think that while logically it is true and we have no completely solid logical basis for any knowledge, it is quite unreasonable to use this to say that we cannot understand anything or make any statements that may correspond to the world.

Harris' book also has a bit of a consequentialist tone to it, but I argue that the "greater good" and "individual good" are related reciprocally, and even if their terms are incommensurable on an objective scale, a balance can be reached via plausible reasoning (which has the ability to compare incommensurable terms via conscious thought).
 
#39
Neil, I take back what I wrote in my previous post ("there seems to still be a little bit of a difference in perspective between us as to what grounds harm-based moral principles"), because you have perfectly articulated what has been my position in this thread all along with this:

I have also become fascinated by the is-ought problem, and I think I have found a way to solve it. It was inspired by plausible reasoning based on conscious experience from David Hodgson and this line from Harris' book: "Morality and values depend on the existence of conscious minds--and specifically on the fact that such minds can experience various forms of well-being and suffering in this universe."

If our understanding and ability to discern truth is based on plausible reasoning derived from the information gained from conscious experience, and if morality is based on the experience of conscious minds, then I think we have a bridge between is and ought, that is entirely naturalistic. If our knowledge is based in experience, then there is no fallacy to take descriptive explanations of human behavior as it relates to our experience (of suffering or well-being) and derive the normative statements of at least core harm-based moral principles. In other words, if we know certain actions lead to the experience of suffering of conscious beings, and our very knowledge is based on conscious experience, then there is a basis to say that we ought to avoid suffering.
Yes, yes, yes. If I hadn't managed to communicate that this is where I have been coming from too, and all along, then my communication skills are lacking, otherwise the fault lies in your comprehension! I thought I'd been communicating exactly this to you all along, and had been disappointed that you'd been rejecting it. Most recently I expressed it in the first four paragraphs of this post, where I here direct your attention especially to these quotes amongst those four paragraphs:

"And given our understanding and experience of harm, which almost by definition is that which a sentient being would desire to avoid, we are also especially committed to recognising that the interest others have in avoiding harm (and in attaining that which is beneficial) is no less (nor more) objectively important than that which we have for ourselves.

[...]

From there, and based on what I outlined in the first substantive paragraph above, it is more or less a rational or semantic "manoeuvre" to get to (one of) the fundamental moral principle(s): that we "ought" to "do unto others that which we would have done to ourselves", which in the negative sense, that we "ought" not to "do unto others that which we would not have done to ourselves" I have expressed as (or in a closely compatible sense as) "the harm avoidance principle".
"

Thank you also for your mini-review of Sam's book, and also for the link to the paper - I read its abstract but right now lack the concentration to do more than that, but it sounds plausible. In any case, I am very pleased (dare I say "thrilled"?) that we seem to - finally - be on exactly the same page with respect to moral grounding: what I have been referring to as "the objectivity of the fundamental moral principle(s)" but which could very well also be described as "the naturalistic solution to the is-ought problem", as you've rightly indicated. It only goes to show the value of continued discussion. Nice one!
 
#40
Neil, I take back what I wrote in my previous post ("there seems to still be a little bit of a difference in perspective between us as to what grounds harm-based moral principles"), because you have perfectly articulated what has been my position in this thread all along with this:



Yes, yes, yes. If I hadn't managed to communicate that this is where I have been coming from too, and all along, then my communication skills are lacking, otherwise the fault lies in your comprehension! I thought I'd been communicating exactly this to you all along, and had been disappointed that you'd been rejecting it. Most recently I expressed it in the first four paragraphs of this post, where I here direct your attention especially to these quotes amongst those four paragraphs:

"And given our understanding and experience of harm, which almost by definition is that which a sentient being would desire to avoid, we are also especially committed to recognising that the interest others have in avoiding harm (and in attaining that which is beneficial) is no less (nor more) objectively important than that which we have for ourselves.

[...]

From there, and based on what I outlined in the first substantive paragraph above, it is more or less a rational or semantic "manoeuvre" to get to (one of) the fundamental moral principle(s): that we "ought" to "do unto others that which we would have done to ourselves", which in the negative sense, that we "ought" not to "do unto others that which we would not have done to ourselves" I have expressed as (or in a closely compatible sense as) "the harm avoidance principle".
"

Thank you also for your mini-review of Sam's book, and also for the link to the paper - I read its abstract but right now lack the concentration to do more than that, but it sounds plausible. In any case, I am very pleased (dare I say "thrilled"?) that we seem to - finally - be on exactly the same page with respect to moral grounding: what I have been referring to as "the objectivity of the fundamental moral principle(s)" but which could very well also be described as "the naturalistic solution to the is-ought problem", as you've rightly indicated. It only goes to show the value of continued discussion. Nice one!
Laird,

Thanks for sticking with the discussion. I have learned a lot and I think my views of morality have really been improved and refined. This has been really helpful.

For what it's worth, I think that from my perspective, it was the way in which the word objective was originally used that I was hung up on, since it seemed to me, at least, that it was meant in the Platonic sense, and that it was independent of human experience. To me, with how I understand the world, everything is based on human experience as practiced through science, so nothing is purely objective in a Platonic sense. Rather, I think that we have degrees of inter-subjectively verifiable information based on experience, which gives a sliding scale of a relative objectivity, in the sense that the contents of conscious experience (I include phenomenal states) are objects of experience, which has varying degrees of verifiability. A science of morality surely wouldn't be on the same level as physics, but few sciences are. As with psychology, we can use the 'objective' methods of science to question, test, and develop statistical rules for aspects of what makes us tick. It doesn't seem to be a problem to use psychology along with cognitive and neuro sciences to help to gain understanding of what makes us tick, and I see no reason why a science of morality wouldn't be very much the same.

It is actually interesting for me to think about why the is-ought problem seems to be so powerful for scientists and philosophers. If I may, I would like to offer my preliminary thoughts on this as I continue to work this out in my head. To me so far, it does seem like the metaphysical worldview on which the analysis is framed, and the requirement for what type of basis we would find acceptable to support the distinction or lack thereof, is what has led the is-ought problem to seem so profound and intractable for what seems to be most academics and scientists.

So if I frame the question by assuming that there is an objective world "out there," independent of human experience, and if I require a logical basis on which to bridge the is-ought distinction, then it seems that the is-ought problem would indeed be a problem.

I am trying to figure out exactly how it may be, but I also get a feeling that a mechanistic view of our brains is also at work here. If conscious agency is denied (which is almost universal with academics), and the mind is seen as reducible to physical processes of a mechanistic brain, then phenomenal states of the mind, if not outright denied as some do, would be reduced to physical states and arrangements of molecules that operate purely by physical laws. If phenomenal states are reducible to physical laws that exist objectively, then there is no logical basis on which to say that this physical state ought to be anything.

But if conscious agency is recognized, and phenomenal states are not seen as reducible to physical brain states, then we start to alter this problem. We have conscious agents that exist and they experience the felt emotions like pain, suffering, and well-being, and this is not reducible to purportedly objective physical brain states. And if we recognize that science itself is based on conscious experience, and not just in a trivial sense that it is in classical mechanics that someone has to see the result, but in a much more profound sense that quantum theory tells us (I think), then this begins to further alter the situation.

Now the next step is questioning the assumption that a logical basis for justification of bridging the is-ought problem is required. This seems normal and reasonable at first, at least for most, but we must consider the problems from philosophy of science and mathematics, especially over the last hundred years. The goal of logical positivists failed, and even David Hilbert's goal of a fully axiomitized system of mathematics was proved to be impossible via Gödel's theorems. Popper's attempt at a logico-deductive method of theory evaluation was shown to not be deductive (although it is still a stronger method). Hume's problem of induction is still logically true, yet obviously science has allowed us to gain an understanding of the world that seems more true than previous theories.

I suggest that Hume's problem of induction shares the same logical basis as the is-ought distinction, and both are true in terms of logic, yet it is quite evident that logic is not and cannot be a basis for our understanding of the world. If we realize that logic cannot be used as a fundamental basis for our epistemology, then the force of the is-ought problem is diffused. In other words, how can you require an entirely logical basis for the is-ought problem when even mathematics cannot be entirely justified by logic? And to further support this point, if one frames this question in the sense of the tautological nature of deductive logic, it becomes even more clear: why would we think that our knowledge of the world could be based on tautology?

In being forced to abandon a purely logical basis for our epistemology, and recognizing that we learn to understand the world via plausible reasoning, and seeing that plausible reasoning is based on conscious experience, and that conscious experience has a firm mathematical basis in contemporary physical theory, we can now recognize the reality of conscious agency and have a basis to bridge the is-ought distinction and recognize the is-ought fallacy fallacy.
 
Top