objective morality, for the umpteenth time

Another discussion of objective morality has broken out, so I thought I would provide a home for it.

579 thoughts on “objective morality, for the umpteenth time

  1. keiths: walto:

    Several dozen of your posts on this thread according to which nothing can be objectively moral unless it is both true and known

    keiths: Where have I made that claim?

    OK, I’ll give you a couple from the scores of them, but as anyone who has followed this thread knows, it’s been your position most of the time (although you’ve certainly resisted my numerous requests for an unambiguous definition). I’ve attributed those properties to your fuzzy theory many times, and you’ve never contradicted it once until now.

    I’ll also add that that I’ve been down these types of keiths ratholes before and I’m only playing this absurd game now because I have a lot of free time today, and I find your pecadillos kind of interesting. So I’m quite ready for anything I post that corroborates my claim to be simply ignored–just like the hundreds of questions I’ve asked you. Or, alternatively, if you do bother to take notice, you may say they mean the opposite of what they clearly say. But what the hell.

    keiths: I don’t know how you managed to decouple truth from objectivity, particularly in a thread about objective morality.

    keiths: Suppose someone examines some photographs and decides “Barack Obama has eight legs”. That person is making a judgment about an objectively existing entity — Barack Obama — but the judgment is anything but objective.

    keiths: Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    And, of course, your favorite definition of objectivity (from IEP), which you posted and endorsed no fewer than three times, was this:

    The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.

    The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    According to these posts, where there is a “possibility of error,” a judgment can only be subjective. In order for it to be objective, there evidently must be no such possibility.

    So, there you have it. Truth and knowledge are required for objectivity on your (or one of your) views.

    It is from posts such as those, in addition to your failure to deny that to make an objective claim requires both the truth of what is asserted and the knowledge of the asserter when I’ve attributed that view to you (as I have, numerous times), that has lead me to understand that to be your view.

    That you also contradicted that position in a conversation with Sean Amis (which I did not follow) is neither here nor there. (I was wondering what happened to him: did you drive him off??) If you no longer think the IEP definition is any good (which, FWIW, it isn’t), I remain quite interested in hearing how you now understand the term “objective.”

  2. Haha. You couldn’t find a single place where I made that claim.

    That’s pitiful, walto.

    “Several dozen posts”, my ass.

  3. Wheee! Just as I predicted!

    You predicted that you wouldn’t be able to find a single example? Then why did you make the claim in the first place?

  4. Seriously, walto — why didn’t you check before making your claim? You are your own worst enemy.

    According to you, there are “several dozen posts” in which I say that objective morality requires knowledge. You couldn’t come up with a single one. What is it with you and false claims?

  5. walto: walto
    February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm
    Ignored
    keiths: walto:

    Several dozen of your posts on this thread according to which nothing can be objectively moral unless it is both true and known

    keiths: Where have I made that claim?

    OK, I’ll give you a couple from the scores of them, but as anyone who has followed this thread knows, it’s been your position most of the time (although you’ve certainly resisted my numerous requests for an unambiguous definition). I’ve attributed those properties to your fuzzy theory many times, and you’ve never contradicted it once until now.

    I’ll also add that that I’ve been down these types of keiths ratholes before and I’m only playing this absurd game now because I have a lot of free time today, and I find your pecadillos kind of interesting. So I’m quite ready for anything I post that corroborates my claim to be simply ignored–just like the hundreds of questions I’ve asked you. Or, alternatively, if you do bother to take notice, you may say they mean the opposite of what they clearly say. But what the hell.

    keiths: I don’t know how you managed to decouple truth from objectivity, particularly in a thread about objective morality.

    keiths: Suppose someone examines some photographs and decides “Barack Obama has eight legs”. That person is making a judgment about an objectively existing entity — Barack Obama — but the judgment is anything but objective.

    keiths: Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    And, of course, your favorite definition of objectivity (from IEP), which you posted and endorsed no fewer than three times, was this:

    The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.

    The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    According to these posts, where there is a “possibility of error,” a judgment can only be subjective. In order for it to be objective, there evidently must be no such possibility.

    So, there you have it. Truth and knowledge are required for objectivity on your (or one of your) views.

    It is from posts such as those, in addition to your failure to deny that to make an objective claim requires both the truth of what is asserted and the knowledge of the asserter when I’ve attributed that view to you (as I have, numerous times), that has lead me to understand that to be your view.

    That you also contradicted that position in a conversation with Sean Amis (which I did not follow) is neither here nor there. (I was wondering what happened to him: did you drive him off??) If you no longer think the IEP definition is any good (which, FWIW, it isn’t), I remain quite interested in hearing how you now understand the term “objective.”

  6. As I said, you weren’t able to find a single example. Not one. That’s not surprising, because I don’t hold the view you are trying to attribute to me.

    Learn to exercise some self-discipline, walto.

  7. walto: walto: walto
    February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm
    Ignored
    keiths: walto:

    Several dozen of your posts on this thread according to which nothing can be objectively moral unless it is both true and known

    keiths: Where have I made that claim?

    OK, I’ll give you a couple from the scores of them, but as anyone who has followed this thread knows, it’s been your position most of the time (although you’ve certainly resisted my numerous requests for an unambiguous definition). I’ve attributed those properties to your fuzzy theory many times, and you’ve never contradicted it once until now.

    I’ll also add that that I’ve been down these types of keiths ratholes before and I’m only playing this absurd game now because I have a lot of free time today, and I find your pecadillos kind of interesting. So I’m quite ready for anything I post that corroborates my claim to be simply ignored–just like the hundreds of questions I’ve asked you. Or, alternatively, if you do bother to take notice, you may say they mean the opposite of what they clearly say. But what the hell.

    keiths: I don’t know how you managed to decouple truth from objectivity, particularly in a thread about objective morality.

    keiths: Suppose someone examines some photographs and decides “Barack Obama has eight legs”. That person is making a judgment about an objectively existing entity — Barack Obama — but the judgment is anything but objective.

    keiths: Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    And, of course, your favorite definition of objectivity (from IEP), which you posted and endorsed no fewer than three times, was this:

    The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.

    The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    According to these posts, where there is a “possibility of error,” a judgment can only be subjective. In order for it to be objective, there evidently must be no such possibility.

    So, there you have it. Truth and knowledge are required for objectivity on your (or one of your) views.

    It is from posts such as those, in addition to your failure to deny that to make an objective claim requires both the truth of what is asserted and the knowledge of the asserter when I’ve attributed that view to you (as I have, numerous times), that has lead me to understand that to be your view.

    That you also contradicted that position in a conversation with Sean Amis (which I did not follow) is neither here nor there. (I was wondering what happened to him: did you drive him off??) If you no longer think the IEP definition is any good (which, FWIW, it isn’t), I remain quite interested in hearing how you now understand the term “objective.”

  8. walto,

    Do you think that if you keep reposting that, my comments will magically transform themselves and start saying what you want them to say? If that’s the idea, it isn’t working.

    Why not do the grown-up thing and admit that you were wrong?

  9. KN:

    In terms of how folks are using “objective morality” here, is that supposed to be moral cognitivism plus moral realism? Or just one of those? Or both and something else?

    walto:

    I’ve been trying to find out what keiths means by the term since the beginning of the thread.

    No, you haven’t. I’ve made my position quite clear, and you are only pretending not to get it.

    For example, I indicated my complete agreement with the Wikipedia definition of “ethical objectivism” that you quoted:

    According to the ethical objectivist, the truth or falsehood of typical moral judgments does not depend upon the beliefs or feelings of any person or group of persons. This view holds that moral propositions are analogous to propositions about chemistry, biology, or history, in so much as they are true despite what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels. When they fail to describe this mind-independent moral reality, they are false—no matter what anyone believes, hopes, wishes, or feels.

  10. KN,

    I think that one of the harder problems lurking here about is, if anything like moral realism is true, what is the nature of those moral facts, and how would we find that out? The view I’ve been urging here is that those facts are facts about the conditions that facilitate cooperation and flourishing.

    The problem, as always, is that your choice of “human flourishing” as a criterion is a subjective choice.

    Suppose a theist challenges you, arguing that “obedience to God” is the overarching criterion of objective morality. How could you show that the theist is wrong, and you are right, about the “moral facts”?

  11. keiths:
    walto,

    Do you think that if you keep reposting that, my comments will magically transform themselves and start saying what you want them to say?If that”s the idea, it isn”t working.

    Why not do the grown-up thing and admit that you were wrong?

    Dear everyone,

    I’m really enjoying life down in keiths’ rathole. Wouldn’t anyone like to join me? C’mon! The water (mostly rat pee, really) is fine!!

    walto: walto: walto: walto
    February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm
    Ignored
    keiths: walto:

    Several dozen of your posts on this thread according to which nothing can be objectively moral unless it is both true and known

    keiths: Where have I made that claim?

    OK, I’ll give you a couple from the scores of them, but as anyone who has followed this thread knows, it’s been your position most of the time (although you’ve certainly resisted my numerous requests for an unambiguous definition). I’ve attributed those properties to your fuzzy theory many times, and you’ve never contradicted it once until now.

    I’ll also add that that I’ve been down these types of keiths ratholes before and I’m only playing this absurd game now because I have a lot of free time today, and I find your pecadillos kind of interesting. So I’m quite ready for anything I post that corroborates my claim to be simply ignored–just like the hundreds of questions I’ve asked you. Or, alternatively, if you do bother to take notice, you may say they mean the opposite of what they clearly say. But what the hell.

    keiths: I don’t know how you managed to decouple truth from objectivity, particularly in a thread about objective morality.

    keiths: Suppose someone examines some photographs and decides “Barack Obama has eight legs”. That person is making a judgment about an objectively existing entity — Barack Obama — but the judgment is anything but objective.

    keiths: Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    And, of course, your favorite definition of objectivity (from IEP), which you posted and endorsed no fewer than three times, was this:

    The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.

    The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    According to these posts, where there is a “possibility of error,” a judgment can only be subjective. In order for it to be objective, there evidently must be no such possibility.

    So, there you have it. Truth and knowledge are required for objectivity on your (or one of your) views.

    It is from posts such as those, in addition to your failure to deny that to make an objective claim requires both the truth of what is asserted and the knowledge of the asserter when I’ve attributed that view to you (as I have, numerous times), that has lead me to understand that to be your view.

    That you also contradicted that position in a conversation with Sean Amis (which I did not follow) is neither here nor there. (I was wondering what happened to him: did you drive him off??) If you no longer think the IEP definition is any good (which, FWIW, it isn’t), I remain quite interested in hearing how you now understand the term “objective.”

    I’m only sorry that I won’t have as much time for this fun tomorrow. 🙁

  12. keiths:

    And if perceptions truly are mostly veridical, then evolution really occurs and selective pressures do in fact matter.

    walto:

    No, that doesn’t follow at all: perceptions could all be veridical whether or not there were any such thing as evolution. Evolution is simply an explanation of why that might happen.

    You’re confused. I’m not saying that evolution is the only possible explanation of veridical perception. That would be silly. Design is another possible explanation, for one.

    What I’m saying is that all the science we’ve done, establishing evolutionary theory as the explanation for life’s diversity, depends on the veridicality of perception. If perception is mostly veridical, then we have reason to trust the science and we can conclude that evolution actually occurs and that selective pressures are therefore important.

    keiths:

    That’s a problem for you, because there is no reason to expect selective pressures to align themselves with your “aggregating function”, and thus no reason to expect our consciences and emotions to be accurate indicators of your objective morality.

    It’s a fatal flaw in your model.

    walto:

    No, as I’ve already explained twice, it wouldn’t be a problem anyhow. The two views are completely consistent.

    No, they aren’t. If you disagree, then address my objections instead of pretending that you already have:

    First of all, not all desires promote reproductive success: an obvious counterexample is the choice to use contraceptives.

    Second, you forget that you’re aggregating across the desires of all sentient creatures. What’s good for one organism’s reproduction won’t necessarily be good for another’s.

    There’s simply no reason to expect selective pressures to line up with your proposed aggregating function.

  13. walto,

    Oddly enough, even you have argued against the idea that selective pressures align with objective morality:

    In any case, I don’t hang my hat on productiveness-of-evolutionary success: if one takes that as fundamental, one seems to me to be proposing it as a moral standard. And it doesn’t seem like a particularly plausible one to me.

    If there’s no selective pressure for consciences and emotions to sense objective morality, then why would they? Your model simply doesn’t work.

  14. keiths: Do you think that if you keep reposting that, my comments will magically transform themselves and start saying what you want them to say? If that’s the idea, it isn’t working.

    What might work is if you lay out your position on what constitutes an objective fact.

  15. You think it’s MY turn to answer YOUR questions? Hunh. See my last few posts. I haven’t seen a single answer to anything there. Do I need to post it again?

    Fortunately, even if it WERE my turn, I guess I’d be OK since you’ve just reposted stuff I’ve already answered!

    [Still looking for playmates everyone!

    Anyone? Feh–no takers. 🙁 ]

  16. Hey wait!! Newton’s burrowing down!! YAY!!!
    Let’s see how long s/he lasts in this dark, rancid place….

    🐀🐀🐀

  17. walto,

    If you can’t defend your model of objective morality, that’s fine. We established that the first time around.

    I was just interested in hearing whether you had resolved any of the problems and addressed any of my criticisms. Evidently not.

  18. What? You’re not flouncing are you!?!?

    walto:
    walto: walto: walto: walto
    February 15, 2018 at 1:58 pm
    Ignored
    keiths: walto:

    Several dozen of your posts on this thread according to which nothing can be objectively moral unless it is both true and known

    keiths: Where have I made that claim?

    OK, I’ll give you a couple from the scores of them, but as anyone who has followed this thread knows, it’s been your position most of the time (although you’ve certainly resisted my numerous requests for an unambiguous definition). I’ve attributed those properties to your fuzzy theory many times, and you’ve never contradicted it once until now.

    I’ll also add that that I’ve been down these types of keiths ratholes before and I’m only playing this absurd game now because I have a lot of free time today, and I find your pecadillos kind of interesting. So I’m quite ready for anything I post that corroborates my claim to be simply ignored–just like the hundreds of questions I’ve asked you. Or, alternatively, if you do bother to take notice, you may say they mean the opposite of what they clearly say. But what the hell.

    keiths: I don’t know how you managed to decouple truth from objectivity, particularly in a thread about objective morality.

    keiths: Suppose someone examines some photographs and decides “Barack Obama has eight legs”. That person is making a judgment about an objectively existing entity — Barack Obama — but the judgment is anything but objective.

    keiths: Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    And, of course, your favorite definition of objectivity (from IEP), which you posted and endorsed no fewer than three times, was this:

    The terms “objectivity” and “subjectivity,” in their modern usage, generally relate to a perceiving subject (normally a person) and a perceived or unperceived object. The object is something that presumably exists independent of the subject’s perception of it. In other words, the object would be there, as it is, even if no subject perceived it. Hence, objectivity is typically associated with ideas such as reality, truth and reliability.

    The perceiving subject can either perceive accurately or seem to perceive features of the object that are not in the object. For example, a perceiving subject suffering from jaundice could seem to perceive an object as yellow when the object is not actually yellow. Hence, the term “subjective” typically indicates the possibility of error.

    According to these posts, where there is a “possibility of error,” a judgment can only be subjective. In order for it to be objective, there evidently must be no such possibility.

    So, there you have it. Truth and knowledge are required for objectivity on your (or one of your) views.

    It is from posts such as those, in addition to your failure to deny that to make an objective claim requires both the truth of what is asserted and the knowledge of the asserter when I’ve attributed that view to you (as I have, numerous times), that has lead me to understand that to be your view.

    That you also contradicted that position in a conversation with Sean Amis (which I did not follow) is neither here nor there. (I was wondering what happened to him: did you drive him off??) If you no longer think the IEP definition is any good (which, FWIW, it isn’t), I remain quite interested in hearing how you now understand the term “objective.”

    I’m only sorry that I won’t have as much time for this fun tomorrow.

  19. walto,

    What? You’re not flouncing are you!?!?

    Of course not. If you change your mind and decide to defend your model of objective morality, I’m right here.

    I doubt that you will. Your model is seriously flawed. We’ve already talked about the evolutionary problem. Here are some additional problems related to the physical implemention of your “aggregating function”:

    Regarding the aggregating function, where does it happen, and how is it accomplished physically? Is it inside each of us, or outside somewhere? Are the desires of all sentient beings beamed to the aggregating point or points? Is it just the sentient beings within our light cone whose desires are aggregated? How do our consciences query the aggregating function to determine whether something is objectively moral?

    To come up with a viable model of objective morality, you’d need to answer relevant questions like those.

  20. The issue of the conscience is somewhat easier for theistic moral objectivists to deal with. After all, they can argue that the conscience is designed to be an indicator of objective morality.

    They still run into plenty of problems, however, including the huge variations in morality among groups in different times and places, plus the fact that theistic morality is just another variety of subjective morality, unless it can be established independently of God.

  21. walto: [Still looking for playmates everyone!

    Anyone? Feh–no takers. 🙁 ]

    I’d come to play if he would just list a short summary of the beliefs he now embraces that he rejected when was an atheist.

    Until he does that I can’t for risk that I will violate the rule that says I have to assume he is posting in good faith.

    peace

  22. fifthmonarchyman: I’d come to play if he would just list a short summary of the beliefs he now embraces that he rejected when was an atheist.

    Until he does that I can’t for risk that I will violate the rule that says I have to assume he is posting in good faith.

    peace

    I guess he does what he can do.

  23. fifth:

    I’d come to play if he would just list a short summary of the beliefs he now embraces that he rejected when was an atheist.

    That’s not why you’re hiding behind your Ignore button, fifth.

    I’m sure Jesus is proud.

  24. keiths:
    newton,

    If you want to know my position, read the thread.I’ve made it absolutely clear.

    What is the harm in doing it once more ? You certainly have repeatedly basically the same post to walto over and over again.

  25. walto:
    Hey wait!!Newton’s burrowing down!!YAY!!!
    Let’s see how longs/he lasts in this dark, rancid place….

    It is objectively true I am the possessor of a Y chromosome.

  26. newton,

    What is the harm in doing it once more ?

    I don’t want to indulge walto’s childish “I can’t hear you” move. The last thing he needs is encouragement for that sort of behavior.

    If you’re interested in my position, read the thread. As I remarked to walto:

    No intelligent person could read this thread and fail to understand what I mean by “objective” and “objective morality”.

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