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Thread: Moral vs. Factual Belief

  1. #11
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    The problem I have is that evolution began its life as a descriptor of mechanistic biological systems. At some point the pursuit of naturalistic explanations had to bring morality into its cupboards in order to preserve epistemic and ontic consistency within a the naturalist framework. But morality, because it’s categorically separate from mechanistic/empirical systems places “evolutionary morality” in the same boat as supernatural claims for morality—i.e., from a naturalist’s POV, pure speculation. Will you concede this point?

    IÂ’m not dismissing evolutionary morality on this point, mind you, just calling it what it is in light of your stating moralityÂ’s dependence on evolution as a foregone conclusion as if itÂ’s knowledge any intelligent person should know. A fundamental component of my own view of reality and existence consists in a similar marriage of categorical disassociates; I hold that value [abstract quality] inheres both abstract and material existents and this produces, among other things, moral judgments, propositions and motives resulting in primarily value-based behaviors. One reason for the op is to see if reasonable accounts can be given for the existence of value apart from mindsÂ….what is your position on this?

    Given that both your and my beliefs about morality necessarily tread the rim of the speculative, what remains seems to be whether either view has a reasonable mechanism in place sufficient to grant warrant for belief. Speculative is okay if there’s enough logical evidence to connect that logic to behavior and states of affairs in the ‘real’ world (whatever that is).

    For instance, Greene and Haidt made a splash a few years ago correlating normative judgments with neuroimaging in efforts to establish evolutionary causes for morality. Their work has since been criticized by others in the field citing the imprecision of neuroimaging to allow assignment of specific patterns of thought to local areas of the brain beyond the most general of senses, and other logical problems with the presentation. Of course every view is going to have faults. At the end of the day the best we have are the formations of worldviews as far removed from reasonable doubt as we can get.

    IÂ’m curious, how would you respond to the points in my second post?
    In what sense would you suggest that morals have existence outside of minds?

  2. Amen Tassman amen'd this post.
  3. #12
    tWebber shunyadragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    Why do moral and ethical thoughts, beliefs, propositions, motivations, etc. seem different than purely descriptive or factual ones? Consider the following statements:
    1. It is okay to rape someone as long as this is done as part of a study to determine first hand the psychological effects the act has on victims.
    2. There is nothing wrong with believing 40 + 16 sometimes equals 55.

    My point is that Q1 draws a stronger inner response than Q2. I see this in qualitative terms; falsity in purely descriptive propositions raises only a mild tension, but moral proposals produce a more robust resistance, one familiar form of which is ‘moral indignation’, which I propose can reasonably be said to be a type of response unavailable to inert factual falsehoods. The propositions “the capital of Italy is Barcelona” or “40 + 16 = 55” carry no such dynamic as false moral statements.

    I sometimes use this thought experiment as an example of this distinction:

    Imagine holding a heavy baseball bat. The following items are placed in front you in the following order:

    1. A 300 pound boulder.
    2. A flowering lilac bush.
    3. A grasshopper.
    4. A kitten.
    5. A human infant.

    Beginning with item 1, imagine swinging hard with your bat, striking each in turn three times as hard as you can. Observe your feelings as you strike each object. Unless you're psychologically defective, you likely won't be able to complete these tasks.

    This suggests to me that the late philosopher Mortimer J. Adler (1902-2001) was correct when he made the following distinction,
    "In Book VI of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle, clearly cognizant of what he himself had said about the character of descriptive truth, declared that what he called practical judgments (i.e., prescriptive or normative judgments with respect to action) had truth of a different sort. Later philosophers, except for Aristotle's medieval disciples, have shown no awareness whatsoever of this brief but crucially important passage in his writings." (Ten Philosophical Mistakes, 1985)

    One might need to substitute a sledge hammer for the bat for use on the boulder in order to cause any damage to it, but the point remains; it seems the corruption of organisms (the bat produces the falsification of the health--probably the maximum falsification of death in some cases--of each organism) produces stronger dynamic of resistance. Adler identifies two distinct kinds of truth, descriptive (material, factual) and prescriptive (moral, normative). What was posted above seems to support Adler. I’d be interested to hear thoughts.

    Not sure what the point is, but on the surface not meaningful. They are of course different regardless of what we personally believe.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  4. #13
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    The problem I have is that evolution began its life as a descriptor of mechanistic biological systems. At some point the pursuit of naturalistic explanations had to bring morality into its cupboards in order to preserve epistemic and ontic consistency within a the naturalist framework. But morality, because it’s categorically separate from mechanistic/empirical systems places “evolutionary morality” in the same boat as supernatural claims for morality—i.e., from a naturalist’s POV, pure speculation. Will you concede this point?
    No. I will not concede this point. There is no good reason for anything but a naturalistic explanation to explain the origins of morality and ethics. They are products of evolution inasmuch as they promote our survival as a social species. We see the precursors of such behavior among other social species such as the great apes. And there is evidence of similar codes of behavior among our hominid predecessors such as Homo erectus and Neanderthal man and other archaic humans.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  5. #14
    tWebber Anomaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    In what sense would you suggest that morals have existence outside of minds?
    I have a hypothesis that value (admixture of truth and falsity which creates moral mutability) is a non-empiric dynamic within being, that factual value interactions, while powerful in a material sense—assuming the resistance my macro level fist encounters striking a wall is in micro reality just a series of electromagnetic reactions—is wholly inert in prescriptive matters. This is testified to by the lack of normative pressure striking the boulder in the thought experiment in op. We can beat on rocks all day and no normative response will be forthcoming.

    The increasing pressure of resistance felt as each biological object is struck in its turn is consistent with Aristotle and Adler’s distinction of truth as two kinds as it would play out in value endued being in time and space. We understand intuitively that organic entities are in possession of increasing qualitative or quantitative (or both) levels of a life dynamic—life force or vital principle in theology. In striking each entity the truth (life) of each organic object is being violently falsified. In other words truth within being creates the good of health and life; each blow is a falsification of that truth-derived good in alteration of life to a corruption or evil of reduced health or death. Morality is in this view just the word we use to describe pressure the intellect experiences when it processes either actual or representational falsification of prescriptive truth, and organics are in Christian orthodoxy and in this view a union of descriptive truth (body) and prescriptive (soul).

    The fist hitting the wall works the same way. Descriptive attraction that truthbearing matter imposes holds hand and wall in their respective form and order. The force encountered when hand hits wall is repulsion of an attempt to falsify matter by trying to force like-charged constituents into the same space. This is an impossibility because matter is wholly true and can’t be falsified. The broken knuckles received is matter’s way of maintaining its immutable truth status. Matter is wholly and always true, it can’t be falsified as prescriptive truth can. The interesting thing is that matter and soul operate in opposite ways. Like charges in matter repel, opposites attract. But prescriptive likes attract and opposites repel. Truth in one thing seeks the unity of truth in the other. Same with falsity. But moral truth and falsity resist; this is obvious by the number of continual arguments and sometimes heated discussions on the subject and was demonstrated in the thought experiment.

    I understand this is pretty abstract and hard to grasp because of its unorthodoxy, but I feel it's actually pretty simple, coherent, logical and consistent with the way a value-based metaphysic would play out in existence.

  6. #15
    tWebber Anomaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    No. I will not concede this point. There is no good reason for anything but a naturalistic explanation to explain the origins of morality and ethics. They are products of evolution inasmuch as they promote our survival as a social species. We see the precursors of such behavior among other social species such as the great apes. And there is evidence of similar codes of behavior among our hominid predecessors such as Homo erectus and Neanderthal man and other archaic humans.
    Okay. But it seems to me all you’re doing is dogmatic parroting of doctrines you’ve been taught and come to accept. I don’t see any actual arguments. Christians who erroneously use their doctrine as the standard by which others must be judged—thus making their beliefs identical to truth itself—make the same circular error; they create little doctrinal fortifications into which they invite other Christians (or atheists or Muslims, etc.) to participate: “Let us debate one another, the only rule is, your beliefs have to be significantly indistinguishable from mine. Now, come tell me what you believe.”

    The atheist circularity is similar: "Come, let's argue together; the only rule is that only things in time and space are real. Now then, come tell me all about your God!"

    I understand...everyone wants to hang on to their own worldview. It's a human thang.

  7. #16
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    I have a hypothesis that value (admixture of truth and falsity which creates moral mutability) is a non-empiric dynamic within being, that factual value interactions, while powerful in a material sense—assuming the resistance my macro level fist encounters striking a wall is in micro reality just a series of electromagnetic reactions—is wholly inert in prescriptive matters. This is testified to by the lack of normative pressure striking the boulder in the thought experiment in op. We can beat on rocks all day and no normative response will be forthcoming.

    The increasing pressure of resistance felt as each biological object is struck in its turn is consistent with Aristotle and Adler’s distinction of truth as two kinds as it would play out in value endued being in time and space. We understand intuitively that organic entities are in possession of increasing qualitative or quantitative (or both) levels of a life dynamic—life force or vital principle in theology. In striking each entity the truth (life) of each organic object is being violently falsified. In other words truth within being creates the good of health and life; each blow is a falsification of that truth-derived good in alteration of life to a corruption or evil of reduced health or death. Morality is in this view just the word we use to describe pressure the intellect experiences when it processes either actual or representational falsification of prescriptive truth, and organics are in Christian orthodoxy and in this view a union of descriptive truth (body) and prescriptive (soul).

    The fist hitting the wall works the same way. Descriptive attraction that truthbearing matter imposes holds hand and wall in their respective form and order. The force encountered when hand hits wall is repulsion of an attempt to falsify matter by trying to force like-charged constituents into the same space. This is an impossibility because matter is wholly true and can’t be falsified. The broken knuckles received is matter’s way of maintaining its immutable truth status. Matter is wholly and always true, it can’t be falsified as prescriptive truth can. The interesting thing is that matter and soul operate in opposite ways. Like charges in matter repel, opposites attract. But prescriptive likes attract and opposites repel. Truth in one thing seeks the unity of truth in the other. Same with falsity. But moral truth and falsity resist; this is obvious by the number of continual arguments and sometimes heated discussions on the subject and was demonstrated in the thought experiment.

    I understand this is pretty abstract and hard to grasp because of its unorthodoxy, but I feel it's actually pretty simple, coherent, logical and consistent with the way a value-based metaphysic would play out in existence.
    So, in what sense would you suggest that morals, in and of themselves, exist outside of minds?

  8. #17
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    Okay. But it seems to me all you’re doing is dogmatic parroting of doctrines you’ve been taught and come to accept.

    I understand...everyone wants to hang on to their own worldview. It's a human thang.
    Actually, I think this is what you are doing.

    The notion that species develop via the natural selection of variations to enhance survival (i.e. 'evolution') is beyond doubt. Equally there is no doubt that morality and ethics are a product of this process to enable our survival as cooperative intelligent social animals. We see the same process among other social species. The alternative view that ‘god did it’ for inscrutable reasons of his own is unsupported by evidence.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

  9. Amen JimL amen'd this post.
  10. #18
    tWebber Anomaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    So, in what sense would you suggest that morals, in and of themselves, exist outside of minds?
    Though P and Q are in various respects mutable, they are supervised by an “outside” immutable force. I call this Form (F). In the natural world F equates to the non-contact forces. The compatibilist structure is that mutable things have freedom to change only within the parameters imposed by F. You may argue that the non-contact forces can’t be proven immutable, but 1) this is not proven, only a cautionary offered by prudent scientists, 2) even if one or more of the four could be proven to change, the point is moot; the pattern remains. The mutable part of existence is supervised by limits imposed, for all intents and purposes, by unchangeable forces. Example: recorded values of gravity has been known to change slightly over time, but these changes could be caused by natural anomalies somewhere else in the universe that doesn’t affect permanence. Indeed, if any of the non-contact forces quit or started changing value one can only imagine what would happen to the structure of the universe….though I suppose a mathematician could come close to predicting outcomes.

    The descriptive pattern mirrors prescriptive reality.

    So purely in terms of value, since in this hypothesis all existents are valuebearers, truth requires immutable conventions, rules, laws or parameters that mutations (falsification) can operate within. The answer to your question is that “morals” such as they are, exist in and of themselves by virtue of some Form of absolute external truth. And this brings us back to the questions asked in a previous post: is there a natural explanation for absolute truth [ t ] acting as F necessary to maintain the compatibilist structure or does absolute t require a mind? I admit my bias. I believe value requires at least one mind to exist and that mind must be extra-natural; God. But maybe a natural explanation is possible.

    The reason I stated “morals such as they are’ is because on this view morals aren’t nouns, they’re verbs or effects created by tension and resistance between t and f. There are only degrees of truth created by the imposition of falsity. Morality is an effect created by degrees of truth. Truth itself is arguably the only real absolute in existence. I can think of no possible world in which it would ever be better or beneficial or good and proper or desirable to abandon seeking truth to pursue the false. Your question is tough to answer because morality, even though it depends on a sum of internal and external forces, doesn't "exist" outside of minds. In the realm of immutable truth, the notion of morality is incoherent because morality is just an expression of tension between truth and falsity...and falsity doesn't exist "outside", in the absolute truth realm.

    Every prescriptive or normative outcome is based on agreement of what is true and rejection of what is false. Morality represents the measure of the truth of any prescriptive proposition or set of propositions exists in a given belief. Moral beliefs, though typically expressed as single ideas [abortion is wrong, I should pull the switch (trolley experiment), I am obligated to love my neighbor, etc.] are actually formed from a pool of theoretically true subordinate presuppositions and propositions.

    A moral belief is a macro level (intellectual) product of interactions between billions of value constituents in the same way consciousness is sometimes said to be an emergent product of billions of atoms that have taken on a configuration necessary to host an intellect. At the level of a single “iota” of information [roughly comparable to single parts of an atom] value is simply either t or f. In accretion, the sum of attractions of a given set of t – t connections—where the first denomination is an actual value state in the information of agent intellect and the second either an actual or represented value state in information being processed by said agent—and the resistances of t –f or f – t connections applicable to a given moral proposition create a moral belief. So again with respect to your question: morals or moral beliefs are products of internal processing under the influence of one or more external absolutes.

    An analogy: trees stand in bright sunlight. Sunlight is absolute truth, trees are individual intellects. (1) Some beliefs unite or connect completely with the sun and are on top of the tree’s leaves getting their tan-on. (2) Some connect partially and are partly in sunlight and partly in shade. (3) Others are at complete tension and resistance with the sun and are completely in the shade on underside of the leaves. Every tree has some mixture of each of these, theist and atheist alike, which is why I take the position that atheists can be as moral or more moral than theists on any particular of the wide variety of moral beliefs available to all.

    t – t connections are 1
    t – f or f – t are 2
    f – f are 3.

    Most are 2 in all persons. The admixture of tensions and resistances imposed by t and f creates “gray” areas: faltering belief, unknowing, ambiguity, defects in the moral cognitive processes, etc.

  11. #19
    tWebber Anomaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    Actually, I think this is what you are doing.
    Well, you are obviously quoting the opinions of others whose format has been well developed over time and is abundantly available to anyone with a computer and internet connection. So where have you seen the "mechanism of value" I contend for in the Christian metaphysical literature? I thought atheists were supposed to be the "free thinkers"...?

    The notion that species develop via the natural selection of variations to enhance survival (i.e. 'evolution') is beyond doubt. Equally there is no doubt that morality and ethics are a product of this process to enable our survival as cooperative intelligent social animals. We see the same process among other social species. The alternative view that ‘god did it’ for inscrutable reasons of his own is unsupported by evidence.
    As to my charge of dogmatic parroting, see my emphasis above. I rest my case, Tassman.

  12. #20
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
    Though P and Q are in various respects mutable, they are supervised by an “outside” immutable force. I call this Form (F). In the natural world F equates to the non-contact forces. The compatibilist structure is that mutable things have freedom to change only within the parameters imposed by F. You may argue that the non-contact forces can’t be proven immutable, but 1) this is not proven, only a cautionary offered by prudent scientists, 2) even if one or more of the four could be proven to change, the point is moot; the pattern remains. The mutable part of existence is supervised by limits imposed, for all intents and purposes, by unchangeable forces. Example: recorded values of gravity has been known to change slightly over time, but these changes could be caused by natural anomalies somewhere else in the universe that doesn’t affect permanence. Indeed, if any of the non-contact forces quit or started changing value one can only imagine what would happen to the structure of the universe….though I suppose a mathematician could come close to predicting outcomes.

    The descriptive pattern mirrors prescriptive reality.

    So purely in terms of value, since in this hypothesis all existents are valuebearers, truth requires immutable conventions, rules, laws or parameters that mutations (falsification) can operate within. The answer to your question is that “morals” such as they are, exist in and of themselves by virtue of some Form of absolute external truth. And this brings us back to the questions asked in a previous post: is there a natural explanation for absolute truth [ t ] acting as F necessary to maintain the compatibilist structure or does absolute t require a mind? I admit my bias. I believe value requires at least one mind to exist and that mind must be extra-natural; God. But maybe a natural explanation is possible.

    The reason I stated “morals such as they are’ is because on this view morals aren’t nouns, they’re verbs or effects created by tension and resistance between t and f. There are only degrees of truth created by the imposition of falsity. Morality is an effect created by degrees of truth. Truth itself is arguably the only real absolute in existence. I can think of no possible world in which it would ever be better or beneficial or good and proper or desirable to abandon seeking truth to pursue the false. Your question is tough to answer because morality, even though it depends on a sum of internal and external forces, doesn't "exist" outside of minds. In the realm of immutable truth, the notion of morality is incoherent because morality is just an expression of tension between truth and falsity...and falsity doesn't exist "outside", in the absolute truth realm.

    Every prescriptive or normative outcome is based on agreement of what is true and rejection of what is false. Morality represents the measure of the truth of any prescriptive proposition or set of propositions exists in a given belief. Moral beliefs, though typically expressed as single ideas [abortion is wrong, I should pull the switch (trolley experiment), I am obligated to love my neighbor, etc.] are actually formed from a pool of theoretically true subordinate presuppositions and propositions.

    A moral belief is a macro level (intellectual) product of interactions between billions of value constituents in the same way consciousness is sometimes said to be an emergent product of billions of atoms that have taken on a configuration necessary to host an intellect. At the level of a single “iota” of information [roughly comparable to single parts of an atom] value is simply either t or f. In accretion, the sum of attractions of a given set of t – t connections—where the first denomination is an actual value state in the information of agent intellect and the second either an actual or represented value state in information being processed by said agent—and the resistances of t –f or f – t connections applicable to a given moral proposition create a moral belief. So again with respect to your question: morals or moral beliefs are products of internal processing under the influence of one or more external absolutes.

    An analogy: trees stand in bright sunlight. Sunlight is absolute truth, trees are individual intellects. (1) Some beliefs unite or connect completely with the sun and are on top of the treeÂ’s leaves getting their tan-on. (2) Some connect partially and are partly in sunlight and partly in shade. (3) Others are at complete tension and resistance with the sun and are completely in the shade on underside of the leaves. Every tree has some mixture of each of these, theist and atheist alike, which is why I take the position that atheists can be as moral or more moral than theists on any particular of the wide variety of moral beliefs available to all.

    t – t connections are 1
    t – f or f – t are 2
    f – f are 3.

    Most are 2 in all persons. The admixture of tensions and resistances imposed by t and f creates “gray” areas: faltering belief, unknowing, ambiguity, defects in the moral cognitive processes, etc.
    Well, that was a bit of a difficult read for an uneducated philosopher. But in so far as I understand you the question I have is what is the basis for the idea that the immutable form of morality upon which the mutable forms, or constructs if you will, arise, is external or distinct from the mutable forms. Take your example of gravity for instance. Why assume that the ultimate or immutable form of gravity, is not inherent in the nature of the universe itself? I equate morality with being those behaviors that best support the living conditions and survival of the group and I don't see how those behaviors would be dependent upon the existence of an external form.

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