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 Replies to “objective morality, for the umpteenth time”

  1. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    hey walto,

    If the physical universe did not exist would the proposition “Plaid is evil” still be considered an objective rather than subjective concern?

    peace

  2. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman:
    hey walto,

    If the physical universe did not exist would the proposition “Plaid is evil” still be considered an objective rather than subjective concern?

    peace

    On first thought, I guess so. Why?

    BTW, on an unrelated subject which should really go in some thread on presuppositionalism rather than here, I was thinking last night about your regular question, “Couldn’t an omniscient being bestow revelations on me so that I could know things?” (roughly–if that’s not quite right, feel free to fix it)

    I think I’ve mentioned before that the answer to that shouldn’t be taken to be obvious. But I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that it seems like one problem with it is that the answer might be Yes without it providing much benefit to your argument, simply because there might be only a particular type of proposition that is of that type. That is, I’m actually not sure that it’s possible to provide ANY kind of knowledge in this peculiar sort of revelatory fashion, but, if it is possible, it might be possible only with respect to things like mathematical truths, which don’t seem to require particular sensual pathways.

    So for example, it MIGHT be the case that an omniscient being could “instill the knowledge in somebody that the square root of 144 is 12, but still be impossible for it to instill the knowledge of any a posteriori propositions, just because empirical knowledge simply MUST be acquired in particular sorts of ways. If that’s right, one could answer YES to your question, and you’d have to fashion your proof using purely formal propositions exclusively–like those of math and logic. And (like all the most fashionable people) being a doubter of ontological arguments, I don’t think you can get anywhere with that concession.

    OTOH, if you DO think some version of an ontological argument is sound, you can probably prove the existence of some sort of impersonal God, without needing any epistemological argument like the one you’re depending on. But you could never get anything like the sort of God you’re interested in.

    I apologize to keiths for the thread hijack. If you’d like to reply elsewhere, or keiths or a moderator prefers that, I’m sure I’ll be able to find it.

  3. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: On first thought, I guess so. Why?

    I’m just wondering if you think of objective truths as necessary truth.

    I am in a rush so I did not have time to look at the rest of your post I’ll get to it later

    peace

  4. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    I don’t think objective truths must be necessary. E.g., “I am riding on a train as I post this” is objective, true, and contingent.

  5. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I’m actually not sure that it’s possible to provide ANY kind of knowledge in this peculiar sort of revelatory fashion, but, if it is possible, it might be possible only with respect to things like mathematical truths, which don’t seem to require particular sensual pathways.

    I think you are saying that there are types of knowledge that are not transferable from one individual to another even in principle.

    Is that what your claim is?
    If so I’d like to explore it. Do you have some examples to start.

    peace

  6. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Depends what you mean by “transferable.” If you tell me your name is Fred, I can learn that that’s your name (supposing it’s true and and I have reason to believe you’re trustworthy). But there are a lot of prerequisites for that kind of interaction. E.g., we both must have learned to communicate verbally, in this case have acquired English language skills, etc.

    You can’t just implant this knowledge in me. Once all the pre-reqs are in order, you vibrate your vocal cords in certain ways; there are consequent effects on my eardrums, I make certain inferences, perhaps believe you, etc.

    You may call this a revelation, but it’s a little stretchy to do so, IMO. Learning is a slow, (at least largely) physical process. The sort of “revelation” I could get from an immaterial “god” could, as I suggested above, MAYBE get me an understanding of some formal proposition of math or logic, but that’s it. Unless this “god” uses burning bushes or something.

  7. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: You can’t just implant this knowledge in me.

    I’m not suggesting that God just implants knowledge. far from it.

    When you reveal something to me you don’t not implant that knowledge. Surely an omnipotent God is as capable as you.

    walto: Learning is a slow, (at least largely) physical process.

    I would agree. So is revelation in the main anyway.

    walto: The sort of “revelation” I could get from an immaterial “god” could, as I suggested above, MAYBE get me an understanding of some formal proposition of math or logic, but that’s it. Unless this “god” uses burning bushes or something.

    Have you read the Bible?

    God uses burning bushes, bushes that don’t burn and literally everything in the physical universe to reveal stuff.

    He could use anything that exists or could possibly exist if he needed to.

    That is the sort of thing an omnipotent God can do.

    peace

  8. walto walto
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    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Surely an omnipotent God is as capable as my wife.

    Well, I suppose an omniscient God could compel your wife to say this or that to you, if that’s what you mean. But there’s a limit to your wife’s abilities on that front–because there’s a limit to what a person can reveal and to what another person can understand.

    You really need magical implantation to get the sort of knowledge you claim you have. Can’t get that from your wife or a bush or anything else.

  9. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Well, I suppose an omniscient God could compel your wife to say this or that to you, if that’s what you mean.

    That is not at all what I mean.

    An omniscient could create my wife with the desire and ability and proclivity to reveal something to me voluntarily. God could even become flesh himself if he wanted to.

    He could do anything whatsoever at all that is possible. That is what omnipotence means

    walto: But there’s a limit to your wife’s abilities on that front–because there’s a limit to what a person can reveal and to what another person can understand.

    I could possibly agree with that.

    Some knowledge might be impossible even in principle but if it’s possible then God can do it.

    walto: You really need magical implantation to get the sort of knowledge you claim you have.

    Exactly what sort of knowledge do you think I claim to have?

    peace

  10. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    It’s especially odd that you’re having trouble with the concept of objective morality now, when in an earlier discussion you actually tried to argue for the existence of an objective morality of exactly the kind that I’m talking about in this thread: that is, a system in which some things are objectively right and other things are objectively wrong.

    I think you confused yourself during the writing of that prudential values paper.

  11. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    walto,

    It’s especially odd that you’re having trouble with the concept of objective morality now, when in an earlier discussion you actually tried to argue for the existence of an objective morality of exactly the kind that I’m talking about in this thread:that is, a system in which some things are objectively right and other things are objectively wrong.

    I think you confused yourself during the writing of that prudential values paper.

    Thanks for your concern, Keiquivocation!

  12. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Some knowledge might be impossible even in principle but if it’s possible then God can do it.

    The knowledge that is possible in principle God can HAVE. But it doesn’t follow from the fact that it is possible to for S1 to know P that it is also possible for S1 to impart the knowledge of P to S2. Furthermore, it may be impossible for anybody/anything but you to know precisely what you can know (e.g., how artichokes taste to you). It’s not clear that even God can know that, unless you’re part of God in some sort of pantheistic way.

    Anyhow, it’s all angels on a pin stuff. You can’t get anything you want from any of it.

  13. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    Thanks for your concern, Keiquivocation!

    That’s an odd charge. What am I supposedly equivocating on? I’ve been quite clear on what I mean by “objective morality”, and it hasn’t changed.

    As I just pointed out, you’re the one who has changed his tune.

  14. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: But it doesn’t follow from the fact that it is possible to for S1 to know P that it is also possible for S1 to impart the knowledge of P to S2.

    I think I might agree there could be knowledge that is nontransferable even in principle.

    But I have strong reservations, the believers union with Christ seems to make even that sort of personal knowledge transferable. Christ would know how artichokes taste to me because he is in fact united to me and his Spirit dwells in me.

    The ability to know this sort of seemingly nontransferable knowledge would be unique to the Christian God. Allah is not united to the Ummah in this way.

    Anyway it’s interesting speculation

    walto: it may be impossible for anybody/anything but you to know precisely what you can know (e.g., how artichokes taste to you).

    With a strait face I would ask if I can really know “how artichokes taste to me” with out revelation.

    I’m interested in how you would describe that process and justify it from your perspective.

    walto: Anyhow, it’s all angels on a pin stuff. You can’t get anything you want from any of it.

    I agree we are on the bleeding edge of speculation here. But it’s better than arguing about whether God exists.

    peace

  15. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    walto,

    That’s an odd charge.What am I supposedly equivocating on?I’ve been quite clear on what I mean by “objective morality”, and it hasn’t changed.

    As I just pointed out, you’re the one who has changed his tune.

    No. You’ve meant at least three different things by “objective” in this thread and have glided between them willy-nilly.

    In addition, the fact that I have also defended the claim (on other threada) that we can make objective moral claims with evidential support is neither here nor there. I indicated above that I didn’t want to get into those epistemic matters here. I make it possible for objective claims to be made incorrectly, you do not. Your position doesn’t allow the following statement to make sense: “Of course he’s not really Napolean, but there’s no doubt that he thinks he is.” That is because, on your view, a statement can’t be both objective and about a particular individual, so you elide those two obviously distinguishable remarks. You’re confused and arrogant, as well as all over the place, insulting, annoying, etc.

    In a word, you’re now you’re channeling not only FMM but also William. You refuse to learn, will never admit anything, answer only those questions you feel like answering, repeat yourself ad nauseam, and are obno to boot! Why would I (or anyone, really) want to continue conversing with you?

    If you can bring yourself to the cut the shit, we can talk, otherwise no. Suit yourself.

  16. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: With a strait face I would ask if I can really know “how artichokes taste to me” with out revelation.

    I’m interested in how you would describe that process and justify it from your perspective.

    I think you’re more in KN’s wheelhouse than mine there. I don’t think they need “justification,” but I don’t have much more to say about them.

  17. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: As indicated, you prefer to use these terms in such a way that nojudgment can be objective unless it is true; I just note again that that’s rigging this issue in much the same way that FMM wants to.Above, for example, you say the number of Obama’s legs is an objective matter. But the reason you think that is that there’s a decision procedure you like for determining whether a judgment regarding whether some number for Obama’s legs is true or false.In this way, you “epistemologize” the entire matter.

    The thing is, whether or not some proposition is objective should not be a function of whether you happen to like the procedure for determining whether or not it is true.That’s just a confusion–and a postivistic one at that. It’s much better to allow that there may be true or false objective judgments, just as there may be true or false subjective judgments.E.g., I may say that it’s true that I enjoy mozzarella cheese: that’s a subjective claim whether or not it’s true.I may say that plaid + stripes is evil for everybody, whether or not anybody agrees with this claim or not. I may even say that I don’t really believe this, but that I’ve found it out from somebody I trust. That’s an objective claim that seems to me false.I can tell it’s objective in several ways–first, it has nothing to do with anybody in particular; second, I concede I could be wrong about it.These show that I’m not making a subjective claim.But in your rigged plan, it must be subjective, simply because you don’t think it’s true.

    Anyhow, you can continue using words just as you like as far as I’m concerned.I’ve said my piece here.

    I’ve been busy with my real job this week, but I wanted to chime in here.

    It seems to me that walto is interested in the kind of form or structure an utterance (or unuttered thought) must have in order to count as being about objective morality.

    As he sees it, an utterance or unuttered thought will be about objective morality just in case (1) it has the form of an assertion or claim (as distinct from expressing an opinion or making a request) and (2) it involves a moral value.

    That all seems quite right to me.

    The important point is that such judgments have what John McDowell would call “objective purport”: they purport to be what is really the case, independent of what anyone takes to be the case.

    As walto noted (though apparently no one else here acknowledged), there’s no inconsistency in holding that there are objectively valid moral judgments but that they are all false. (This would be a version of Mackie’s error theory, I think.) The idea would be that we can make judgments of the requisite form, but none of those judgments have truth-makers. There are no states of affairs to which those judgments correspond.

    For that matter, it’s quite possible that some objectively valid moral judgments are true and others are false.

    It would all depend on what theory we end up accepting as to what the truth-makers are of objectively valid moral judgments. Facts about God’s will? Facts about human nature? Facts about what would chosen by an ideal observer? And figuring out what the truth-makers would be for objectively valid moral judgments is (I think?) the same as figuring out what the decision procedures would be for classifying them as true or false.

    In any event, it’s no argument against walto if one were to hold that all objectively valid moral judgments are false, since he seems to allow for that possibility.

    However, one would be arguing against walto if one were to argue that there are no objectively valid moral judgments because the seemingly cognitive character of such judgments conceals a pragmatic function different from that of assertions. For example, one might argue that objectively valid moral judgments have the pragmatic function of indicating disapproval, or issuing that an act is socially sanctioned.

    That is, objectively valid moral judgments don’t have the same pragmatic function as assertions, so we shouldn’t be misled by their semantics. (I believe Simon Blackburn’s “quasi-realism” has roughly this sort of view, though I know his work only through Huw Price’s use of it.)

  18. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: That is because, on your view, a statement can’t be both objective and about a particular individual, so you elide those two obviously distinguishable remarks.

    I would like you to expand on this point. I think it’s important and in fact speaks to the simplicity rabbit trail in the other thread.

    If the object of my contemplation is a another individual I find Myself in an oddly Edwardsian framework of a singular simple unit of thought.

    subject—- Me————–Father
    verb——–My judgement—–Holy Spirit
    object——another individual——Son

    Three “poles” one singular thought.

    you don’t have to respond. I just wanted you to know what your observation brings to mind.

    peace

  19. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: I’ve been busy with my real job this week, but I wanted to chime in here.

    It seems to me that walto is interested in the kind of form or structure an utterance (or unuttered thought) must have in order to count as being about objective morality.

    As he sees it, an utterance or unuttered thought will be about objective morality just in case (1) it has the form of an assertion or claim (as distinct from expressing an opinion or making a request) and (2) it involves a moral value.

    That all seems quite right to me.

    The important point is that such judgments have what John McDowell would call “objective purport”: they purport to be what is really the case, independent of what anyone takes to be the case.

    As walto noted (though apparently no one else here acknowledged), there’s no inconsistency in holding that there are objectively valid moral judgments but that they are all false. (This would be a version of Mackie’s error theory, I think.) The idea would be that we can make judgments of the requisite form, but none of those judgments have truth-makers. There are no states of affairs to which those judgments correspond.

    For that matter, it’s quite possible that some objectively valid moral judgments are true and others are false.

    It would all depend on what theory we end up accepting as to what the truth-makers are of objectively valid moral judgments. Facts about God’s will? Facts about human nature? Facts about what would chosen by an ideal observer? And figuring out what the truth-makers would be for objectively valid moral judgments is (I think?) the same as figuring out what the decision procedures would be for classifying them as true or false.

    In any event, it’s no argument against walto if one were to hold that all objectively valid moral judgments are false, since he seems to allow for that possibility.

    However, one would be arguing against walto if one were to argue that there are no objectively valid moral judgments because the seemingly cognitive character of such judgments conceals a pragmatic function different from that of assertions. For example, one might argue that objectively valid moral judgments have the pragmatic function of indicating disapproval, or issuing that an act is socially sanctioned.

    That is, objectively valid moral judgments don’t have the same pragmatic function as assertions, so we shouldn’t be misled by their semantics. (I believe Simon Blackburn’s “quasi-realism” has roughly this sort of view, though I know his work only through Huw Price’s use of it.)

    That’s very helpful. Thanks, KN. I doubt it will do much good but I appreciate the trouble–and the references too!

  20. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    KN does a beautiful job of clarifying what I’ve been trying say: see directly above.

  21. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: KN does a beautiful job of clarifying what I’ve been trying say: see directly above.

    I agree that KN does a good job of summarizing the argument.
    It seems pretty convincing to me as far as it goes but then I agreed with you from your first post.

    walto: It would all depend on what theory we end up accepting as to what the truth-makers are of objectively valid moral judgments.

    Truth is what God (the ultimate and only infallible subject) believes, whether we accept that is really immaterial as to it’s objective validity.

    peace

  22. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    Just want to point out that I don’t remember writing the paragraph you attribute to me above that begins ‘It would depend…’

  23. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: Just want to point out that I don’t remember writing the paragraph you attribute to me above that begins ‘It would depend…’

    Oh sorry,

    In my haste instead of going to the original source I quoted your quote of KNs comment.

    My response probably should have been addressed to him directly.

    I do assume that you would agree with what he articulated in the paragraph especially since you endorsed it. Am I wrong?

    peace

  24. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:

    That’s an odd charge. What am I supposedly equivocating on? I’ve been quite clear on what I mean by “objective morality”, and it hasn’t changed.

    As I just pointed out, you’re the one who has changed his tune.

    walto:

    No. You’ve meant at least three different things by “objective” in this thread and have glided between them willy-nilly.

    Good. Then you’ll be able to list them, along with quotes.

    As I said, it’s an odd charge, because what I mean by “objective morality” hasn’t changed since I began posting at TSZ.

  25. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    In addition, the fact that I have also defended the claim (on other threada) that we can make objective moral claims with evidential support is neither here nor there.

    The fact that you’ve changed your interpretation of “objective morality”, while I have not, is entirely relevant. Remember, you are accusing me of equivocation.

  26. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    It seems to me that walto is interested in the kind of form or structure an utterance (or unuttered thought) must have in order to count as being about objective morality.

    Oh, no, that’s not what he’s saying. If that were the extent of it, then I’d be in agreement with him!

  27. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    These earlier comments of mine sum up the disagreement:

    I can see what you’re aiming at, but you’re missing your target.

    The question in this thread is whether objective morality exists. If it doesn’t, then all morality is subjective.

    You are classifying Melania’s judgment (“It’s objectively evil to wear plaids with stripes”) as an objective judgment. That’s questionable to begin with — it seems like the epitome of a subjective judgment to me! Her judgment is about objective morality, but that doesn’t make the judgment itself objective.

    But even if you were right, it isn’t objective in the sense that matters in this thread.

    And:

    When we speak of objective morality, we are talking about whether something is objectively right or wrong, independent of a person’s biases. Melania thinks it’s wrong to mix plaids and stripes, and she even thinks it’s objectively wrong, but that doesn’t transform her statement into a statement of objective morality.

  28. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    It seems to me that walto is interested in the kind of form or structure an utterance (or unuttered thought) must have in order to count as being about objective morality.

    As he sees it, an utterance or unuttered thought will be about objective morality just in case (1) it has the form of an assertion or claim (as distinct from expressing an opinion or making a request) and (2) it involves a moral value.

    That all seems quite right to me.

    The important point is that such judgments have what John McDowell would call “objective purport”: they purport to be what is really the case, independent of what anyone takes to be the case.

    As walto noted (though apparently no one else here acknowledged), there’s no inconsistency in holding that there are objectively valid moral judgments but that they are all false. (This would be a version of Mackie’s error theory, I think.) The idea would be that we can make judgments of the requisite form, but none of those judgments have truth-makers. There are no states of affairs to which those judgments correspond.

    For that matter, it’s quite possible that some objectively valid moral judgments are true and others are false.

    Seriously? You think that if a statement is merely about objective morality, that automatically means that it’s “objectively valid”?

    So the following two statements are both “objectively valid”?

    It’s objectively immoral to eat pork.
    It’s objectively moral to eat pork.

  29. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    The weirdness there is what comes of taking ‘objective’ to mean ‘true’ when it suits you. As I’m using ‘objective’ (for purposes of disambiguation), claiming pork to be an evil food may be either an objective or subjective judgment and either one of those may be either true or false. And I have suggested a way to tell whether claims are made subjectively or objectively.

    Can you please stop pretending not to understand this? It’s not that hard. Is it really this important to you that people use words in an imprecise fashion? Wouldn’t yo prefer to be able to argue sensibly that there is no ‘objective reality’ rather than simply browbeat your adversaries or foolishly insist that we shoul all continue to use ‘objective’ in such a way that ‘I have the flu’ may be both an objective claim and false?

  30. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    The weirdness there is what comes of taking ‘objective’ to mean ‘true’ when it suits you.

    I don’t waffle. Where on earth did you get that odd idea?

    Is it really this important to you that people use words in an imprecise fashion?

    I’m arguing for the standard usage, which isn’t imprecise.

    or foolishly insist that we shoul all continue to use ‘objective’ in such a way that ‘I have the flu’ may be both an objective claim and false?

    Dude, you just mocked your own position!

    You have some serious confusion to work through.

  31. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Seriously? You think that if a statement is merely about objective morality, that automatically means that it’s “objectively valid”?

    Yes, because I’m using the term “objectively valid” to mean “having objective purport” or “purporting to be about what is really the case.” If that seems like an abuse of language to you, all I can say is that that’s how Kant uses the phrase.

    So the following two statements are both “objectively valid”?

    It’s objectively immoral to eat pork.
    It’s objectively moral to eat pork.

    Indeed, both would be objectively valid without the word “objectively” in there. They are both objectively valid because they both purport to be about what is really the case.

    As I said earlier, objectively valid judgments can be false — whether they are about morality or about planets.

    The interesting question is whether there are any objectively valid moral judgments that are true. You think there aren’t any, and FMM thinks that there are if and only if they conform to God’s will. I’m inclined to think that facts about human nature are the best candidates we’ve got for what makes objectively valid moral judgments true or false. I don’t know what walto thinks.

  32. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    Just to forestall the inevitable denials, some quotes in which you defend the position you are now mocking:

    Melania’s judgment is objective just in case she can’t be sure she’s right about it… Melania is an objectivist in this case, but she could be dead wrong.

    And:

    I say Melania’s “plaid +stripes is evil” is an “objective judgment”; you say it’s not objective (how could it be?!).

    And:

    As I’ve said, I believe it’s useful to allow objective judgments to be false as well as true.

  33. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Dude, you just mocked your own position!

    You have some serious confusion to work through.

    Ok, we’re done.

  34. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto:

    Ok, we’re done.

    Be a grownup, walto. Objectivity is an important philosophical concept that you need to get right. You’ve just contradicted yourself, confirming that you are deeply confused about the topic.

    Work through it instead of pouting.

  35. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I think I might agree there could be knowledge that is nontransferable even in principle.

    But I have strong reservations, the believers union with Christ seems to make even that sort of personal knowledge transferable. Christ would know how artichokes taste to me because he is in fact united to me and his Spirit dwells in me.

    The ability to know this sort of seemingly nontransferable knowledge would be unique to the Christian God. Allah is not united to the Ummah in this way.

    Anyway it’s interesting speculation

    With a strait face I would ask if I can really know “how artichokes taste to me” with out revelation.

    I’m interested in how you would describe that process and justify it from your perspective.

    I agree we are on the bleeding edge of speculation here. But it’s better than arguing about whether God exists.

    peace

    I’m going back to this revelation biz, FMM–since nobody seems to have objected to the hijack.

    Let’s say you’ve got agreement on something like this (I mean, I think I’m OK with it, myself):

    1. If we can learn of the existence of something/someone that is “physically manifested” (if I may use that) from a pathetically weak human being or animal, then if there were an omnipotent entity that could physically manifest itself, it could reveal its existence to me if it wanted to (though this might not involve much more to me than the fact that X “whatever it is” exists).

    2. I have learned of the existence of my cat from my cat.

    3. Therefore, I can learn the existence of a physically manifested person or animal from that person or animal.

    4. Therefore, if there were an omnipotent God that could physically manifest itself, it could reveal to me of its (bare) existence.

    5. If there were an omnipotent God it would be able to physically manifest itself if it wanted to.

    6. Therefore, if there there were an omnipotent God it could reveal its (bare) existence to me if it wanted to.

    That argument seems sound to me–but keep in mind that by “bare” I mean to indicate that this “revelation” doesn’t entitle you to knowledge of this hypothetical being’s omnipotence, or any other “godly” feature.

    So now, where do you think you can go with it?

    Thanks.

  36. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: They are both objectively valid because they both purport to be about what is really the case.

    For me it’s easier to get my head around objectivity by focusing on “what exists apart from me” instead of “what is really the case”

    I would say a statement is “objectively valid” if it’s truth is not dependent on me.

    peace

  37. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: For me it’s easier to get my head around objectivity by focusing on “what exists apart from me” instead of “what is really the case”

    A statement is objective if it’s truth is not dependent on me.

    peace

    That seems about right to me.

  38. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    The important point is that such judgments have what John McDowell would call “objective purport”: they purport to be what is really the case, independent of what anyone takes to be the case.

    You and I agree that they have “objective purport” — that is, they purport to be objective. Walto thinks they are actually objective, even if they are false!

  39. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Worth repeating:

    walto,

    You’re doing exactly what you criticized FMM for in the other thread: ignoring the standard meaning of a term and insisting on your own idiosyncratic definition.

    By your definition, both of these are statements of objective morality:

    It’s immoral to wear plaids with stripes.
    It’s moral to wear plaids with stripes.

    …and both of these are objective statements about Barack Obama:

    Barack Obama has eight legs.
    Barack Obama has two legs.

    You’re missing something crucial, which is the link between objectivity and truth.

    Objectivity is not independent of truth. Here’s Wikipedia:

    Objectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to reality and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Generally, objectivity means the state or quality of being true even outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings.

    Here’s the IEP:

    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.
    [emphasis added]

    When we speak of objective morality, we are talking about whether something is objectively right or wrong, independent of a person’s biases. Melania thinks it’s wrong to mix plaids and stripes, and she even thinks it’s objectively wrong, but that doesn’t transform her statement into a statement of objective morality.

    Melania’s judgment purports to be objective, but it isn’t. It’s very much shaped by her personal biases and sartorial obsessions.

  40. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: That seems about right to me.

    Sure, me too, with some qualifications.

    One kind of “subjectively valid judgment” would be “looks talk”. If you say, “that looks like a cardinal to me,” then your utterance has a kind of ‘subjective validity’. It’s false if you’re lying about how things look to you. In that sense the truth-conditions of the statement depend essentially on facts about the speaker’s perceptual state.

    I’m sure there are lots of other kinds of subjectively valid judgments besides ‘looks-talk.’ I just wanted to put that example out there to focus our minds on what it is we’re saying when we say that the truth-conditions depend on, or are independent of, the person making the claim.

    In that light, there’s no problem at all with the idea that moral judgments have truth-conditions independent of the person making the claim.

    That’s quite consistent with also thinking that all objectively valid moral judgments are false, and the only true moral judgments are those that are subjectively valid.

  41. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: That’s quite consistent with also thinking that all objectively valid moral judgments are false, and the only true moral judgments are those that are subjectively valid.

    Yes I agree, but I think that the statement that “all objectively valid moral judgments are false” is obviously self refuting

    peace

  42. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Yes I agree, but I think that the statement that “all objectively valid moral judgments are false” is obviously self refuting

    “All objectively valid moral judgments are false” is not itself an objectively valid moral judgment.

  43. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: “All objectively valid moral judgments are false” is not itself an objectively valid moral judgment.

    Wait a minute, doesn’t it purport to be about what is really the case?

    peace

  44. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: Wait a minute, doesn’t it purport to be about what is really the case?

    Yes, but it’s not about morality. It’s a second-order claim, a claim about moral claims. Claims about moral claims are not moral claims.

  45. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: It’s a second-order claim, a claim about moral claims.

    What distinguishes a moral claim from a claim that is not moral?

    peace

  46. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Claims about moral claims are not moral claims.

    What If I claim that it is evil to make moral claims?

    judge not and all that

    peace

  47. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    I think claims about truth are inherently moral and since they are about what exists independent of me I think they are objectively valid.

    What am I missing ?

    peace

  48. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: What distinguishes a moral claim from a claim that is not moral?

    There are claims that are about what people should do, and then there are claims that aren’t about what people should do.

  49. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: There are claims that are about what people should do, and then there are claims that aren’t about what people should do.

    People should endeavor to embrace the truth and shun falsehood. To say something is true is to say it is morally right to accept it.

    quote:
    For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
    (Joh 18:37b)

    and

    You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
    (Gal 5:7)

    end quote:

    Truth seems like a moral imperative to me.

    peace

  50. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: People should endeavor to embrace the truth and shun falsehood. To say something is true is to say it is morally right to accept it.

    To say that something is true is to say one ought to accept it. And you would be right if all oughts were moral oughts. But they aren’t. There are norms of belief as well as norms of conduct. Modus ponens is not a moral norm, but it is a norm of thought nevertheless. And there are many kinds of norms of conduct that aren’t moral norms (e.g. taboos, etiquette, manners, procedures, policies, rules, laws).

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