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Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
#31
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
I feel the emotional entanglement is a bit quixotic. If moral propositions didn't have an emotional component, then they wouldn't be felt as imperatives compelling us to act or not act depending upon its valence. A proposition about homicide is just a neutral abstraction without some emotional sense of should or shouldn't attached to it. So, on the one hand, the entanglement with emotion presents epistemological difficulties, yet without the entanglement with emotion the intuition is no longer moral.

Does this mean that morality necessarily entails epistemological issues? Maybe.
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#32
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
Well, intuitions can be moral without being emotional - at least as far as objectivism contends. We can't be, though. We literally can't be emotionless. We can expect astronomers to feel some way about their observations, too.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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#33
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 7, 2021 at 2:01 pm)Angrboda Wrote: I feel the emotional entanglement is a bit quixotic.  If moral propositions didn't have an emotional component, then they wouldn't be felt as imperatives compelling us to act or not act depending upon its valence.  A proposition about homicide is just a neutral abstraction without some emotional sense of should or shouldn't attached to it.  So, on the one hand, the entanglement with emotion presents epistemological difficulties, yet without the entanglement with emotion the intuition is no longer moral.

Does this mean that morality necessarily entails epistemological issues?  Maybe.

This is the line of criticism I pursued in my private thinking. Stich wants to present our moral intuitions as a cluster of "kluges" (a bunch of sociallity-related internal processes that were kind of crammed together by evolution to generate our moral sense). In a way, he is right about that. But as one of the attendees responded after the lecture: "The eye is a kluge."

Almost every product of evolution is a kluge of some sort. The eye allows us to perceive the world more or less accurately. Maybe not perfectly, but we can compensate for the eye's imperfections. I want to say we can do the same with our moral intuitions.

@DLJ

Working on a response. Gimmie some time.
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#34
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 7, 2021 at 4:29 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
@DLJ

Working on a response. Gimmie some time.

No worries.
The PURPOSE of life is to replicate our DNA ................. (from Darwin)
The MEANING of life is the experience of living ... (from Frank Herbert)
The VALUE of life is the legacy we leave behind ..... (from observation)
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#35
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 7, 2021 at 4:29 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: Almost every product of evolution is a kluge of some sort. The eye allows us to perceive the world more or less accurately. Maybe not perfectly, but we can compensate for the eye's imperfections. I want to say we can do the same with our moral intuitions.

Not just moral intuitions, but reason itself...

"Eventually the attempt to understand oneself in evolutionary, naturalistic terms must bottom out in something that is grasped as valid in itself - something without which the evolutionary understanding would not be possible. Thought moves us beyond appearance to something that we cannot regard merely as a biologically based disposition, whose reliability we can determine on other grounds. It is not enough to be able to think that if there are logical truths, natural selection might very well have given me the capacity to recognize them. That cannot be my ground for trusting my reason, because even that thought implicitly relies on reason in a prior way." - Thomas Nagel, Mind & Cosmos
<insert profound quote here>
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#36
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 4, 2021 at 7:35 am)Spongebob Wrote: My take on objective morality since exiting the church has been that there is none; all morality is subjective and subject to exactly the things you're talking about, culture, society, experience and so on.  This comes up often in debates with Christians about morality because they see god as the source of all morality and it is absolute and objective in their view despite the many variations in morality that humans have displayed, even within Christianity.  I'm less familiar with this notion of intuitive morality.

Great topic.  About 10 levels deeper than the usual fare on this forum.

This is indeed a great topic. I don't know a whole lot about moral philosophy, but my reading on the subjects of anthropology and sociology indicates that most humans are informed by their culture's mores and values as how they behave within their social structures and what their own personal moral code is usually informed by, largely influenced by religion. That is not to say that there is no variation, as there is where individuals sometimes modify the accepted codes of behavior and values to greater or lesser extent, or in a few cases, like we heatherns, reject them. T
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."--Thomas Jefferson
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#37
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
Massively informed by our society - descriptive relativism. The difference between descriptive relativism and metaethical relativism is that descriptive relativism says that this is what people do (and we certainly do). Metaethical relativism says that's what morality is. That what is right and wrong is determined by your society - not that your society holds common opinions with varying levels of assent which inform you.

I think that our ability to disagree with our cultural mores is a pretty good demonstration that even as descriptive relativism is undeniably true, metaethical relativism is demonstrably false. It's a pretty simple failure condition. All we need to do is point to some thing our society deems so and so, and genuinely disagree. We don't even have to get it right, just disagree. Easy peasy for people.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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#38
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 6, 2021 at 9:24 pm)DLJ Wrote:
(October 4, 2021 at 10:08 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
The next bit is counts a serious argument against the efficacy of moral intuitions. The norm box is empirically verified to influence emotional states. For example, you, as a young tribal boy go on the hunt with the men, and you see (for the first time in your life) that a woman has come along for the hunt. This causes an emotion in you (ie... this doesn't SEEM right... this isn't NORMAL... there is something WRONG with this...) and this in turn (solid line) affects your judgment.
...

I'm guessing you meant "counts as"?  Or did you mean "discounts"?

Yeah bit of a typo there. I don't think Stich successfully "discounts" the efficacy of moral intuitions. I think the best he does is demonstrate that they are imperfect... prone to prejudice... susceptible to influence from cultural cues.


Quote:On my diagram I've included these "moral intuitions" or gut-feels (see the green lines on my diagram) because I think all organisms have this ability in various ways.  It's a very rudimentary stimulus-response system that we just happen to connect with words like 'emotion' and 'morals' and most likely has its origins in Centre of Gravity:
Lean too far and you'll fall out of the tree became stray too far from what the social group expects and pariahdom awaits you.

You are talking about the process in which mores and norms (including ethical norms) are impressed upon the individual. And, as far as I can tell, your model is accurate. You could also describe mathematical "norms" in this way. The 3rd grade student is told by the teacher that 4 divided by two equals 2. And when the student recalls this to the teacher in class, the teacher praises the student. That's all stimulus response.

But there is also a mathematical truth being conveyed. Does 4 divided by 2 really equal 2? Does the way that mathematical information conveyed in classrooms (stimulus/response) make mathematics subjective? Student seeks praise from teacher, therefore comes to "believe" 4 divided by 2 equals 2.




Quote:And this is the main reason for having different words for the different parts of the system.  Yes, nihilism is correct.  Yes, moral-alerts (intuitions) happen.  Yes, societies have developed ethics (standards of right/wrong).  Yes, individuals jump between different justifications (sometimes in the same sentence).

Societies have developed standards, yes. Some of them involve the welfare of people. Others work contrary to the welfare of people. A society may allow slavery. Another society may forbid it.

The question is, when we ask the question "How can I do good to another person?" can we come up with an objective answer? Can we run 4 divided by 2 equals X. Can we determine objectively that it is bad for a person to be enslaved, and good when a person is freed from slavery? I think we can.

Societies kind of suck at figuring this stuff out because they adhere to power structures. Some people have power. Others don't. Fact of life. Societies aren't the idealistic, orderly things we take them to be. They are ruthless at times, benevolent at other times. But societies don't just enact cruelty and benevolence. They impress these values upon members who participate via social means.

That doesn't mean we can't back away, look at a society objectively and determine if they are doing good or doing bad to the members within it.


Quote:Let's use 'ethics' for the 'standards of behaviour' and leave 'moral' as the first part. This removes part of the polysemantics issue.  

Right. I don't know if I can break the habit of using morals and ethics interchangeably, but either way, I mean ethics, as you define it, in all cases. Standards of behavior. But the definitions goes deeper than simply "what standards there are." We can talk about what standards there ought to be. What is good? Can the ethical standards we now have in our society be improved upon? Can we figure out good standards and recognize bad ones?





Quote:This would now mean that we can say that "morality is about how you live with yourself whereas ethics is about how you live with others".
Although having said that, ethics (unlike morals which can be reserved for the individual) is applicable at both the individual level and the community/organisational level.

One question concerning the ethical/moral division. This situation below involves individual ethics according to your schema, correct?

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT-
It's just you, a hot babe, some other dude on a desert island. Post apocalypse, everyone is sterile. There is no need for society, plenty of coconuts to go around.

You and hot babe have been getting along nicely. But suddenly, you notice her taking an interest in "other dude." You aren't sure if "other dude" is interested in return. Other dude seems like a nice chap. In no way a threat to either of you (except in that hot babe may like him more).

One day, you are walking up on the high cliffs with him, and an opportunity presents itself. You could push him off the cliff and not have to worry at all about hot babe's divided affections. You're certain that hot babe would buy the story that he fell, and you're also certain she'd be happy with just the two of you.

Does this dilemma REALLY relate to society in any way? There really is no real society (much less culture) between the three of you. With all the free coconuts around, no need for other dude's labor. So why not push him off? Well, if there is an objective way of seeing right and wrong, it wouldn't matter the social circumstances of pushing this fellow off a cliff. If you push him, any sensible person would say, "You have not done good to him." You have wronged him. Moral objectivists want to say that (once you care about doing right and wrong) objective answers to the question "Is it right to push this person off a cliff?" will emerge.

These values don't have to be absolutist. Maybe some circumstances would permit you pushing him... other circumstances may not. That's just variables being present in the equation. After all, the physics equation d=rt has variables. But once you know two of the variables, there is one objectively correct answer for the remaining variable.


Quote:



Was that enough of an explanation or did I miss something?

I think your explanation works fine. Feel free to correct me where I might have misinterpreted things.

I think the main difference in our approaches is that your model (and Stich's) is descriptive. It explains 'why' and 'what' typical ethical judgments look like given the relation of ideas between societies and persons. (ie. What sort of things constitute ethics?... well, when you examine human behavior you have cultural norms x that influence judgments Y and behaviors Z. When describing how ethics work in societies, this model apprehends what is happening without error.)

My approach seeks prescriptive conclusions. (ie. if you care about doing right to another human being, and these are the circumstances, can you find an objective X that determines one action right and another wrong in those circumstances.) I think you've ruled out objective normative conclusions from the git-go and since you are starting with that premise, that premise expresses itself in your conclusions. I disagree with that premise.

PS: I got weary trying to hammer out this reply. Maybe a little sloppy at some parts. I think I might have tried too hard. Let's try to take things piece by piece from here, clarifying as we go.
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#39
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
My general take is that, to avoid debilitating inner conflict, we have no choice BUT to trust our moral intuitions. 

To use a classic example, you find a wallet stuffed with cash in the street. Your moral intuition tells you to contact the owner and return the wallet. But what if the owner turns out to be a paedo who drugs and rapes children? What if he beats his wife? What if she won the money betting on dog fights?  Not trusting an intuitive morality seems as if it would lead to a paralysis of action, based on the gnawing doubt that any action you take might have immoral consequences or support a non-moral outcome that is beyond your control.

Just return the wallet.

Boru
‘Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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#40
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
"Just return the wallet" may be closer to moral deontology than moral intuition. Moral intuition would be your answer to the question "what if this money was dirty, or would be used for something terrible, should it be returned?" We seize druglords shit all the time, despite telling our children to just return the wallet. The heuristic works because it applies to most cases.

As for outcomes beyond our control, here again, we may have a moral intuition about that. Are we morally responsible for what we don't know and have no control over. Alot of people would say no. In that particular case, it's not so much that not trusting our moral intuitions would lead to paralysis as we have a moral intuition that absolves us of personal responsibility in those circumstances for whatever a person may do with the money, while maintaining a personal responsibility on our end, not to steal it.

Moral intuition should not be taken to mean our best guesses in uncertain situations or with limited information. The term was used to denote something that's contended to be a fact, but perhaps not a natural fact..and this again, is novel use of the term natural.
I am the Infantry. I am my country’s strength in war, her deterrent in peace. I am the heart of the fight… wherever, whenever. I carry America’s faith and honor against her enemies. I am the Queen of Battle. I am what my country expects me to be, the best trained Soldier in the world. In the race for victory, I am swift, determined, and courageous, armed with a fierce will to win. Never will I fail my country’s trust. Always I fight on…through the foe, to the objective, to triumph overall. If necessary, I will fight to my death. By my steadfast courage, I have won more than 200 years of freedom. I yield not to weakness, to hunger, to cowardice, to fatigue, to superior odds, For I am mentally tough, physically strong, and morally straight. I forsake not, my country, my mission, my comrades, my sacred duty. I am relentless. I am always there, now and forever. I AM THE INFANTRY! FOLLOW ME!
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