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Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
#41
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
@vulcanlogician

Thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated.

I haven't watched all of Stich's lectures so I don't know if he attempts to move beyond the descriptive. But I will.

To do so, I need to introduce a new model - already referred to as the GMO/OMG thingy. Give me a little while though. My notes on this are at home in Malaysia so I've have to recreate it (good practice for me) and it's late here so I'll tackle it tomorrow.
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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#42
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 15, 2021 at 9:20 am)DLJ Wrote: @vulcanlogician

Thanks for the feedback.  Very much appreciated.

I haven't watched all of Stich's lectures so I don't know if he attempts to move beyond the descriptive.  But I will.

To do so, I need to introduce a new model - already referred to as the GMO/OMG thingy.  Give me a little while though.  My notes on this are at home in Malaysia so I've have to recreate it (good practice for me) and it's late here so I'll tackle it tomorrow.


I think your model is accurate. 100% accurate or thereabouts... so I don't think you can improve it.

Stich's work is similarly accurate and enlightening. Stich wonders if there can be an "ought" except from the norm box (norms acquired from proximal cues-which could be anything). It's a good question. Moral nihilists propose a good (and honest) challenge to moral realism. I agree with you (and Stich). The arguments for moral nihilism are strong.

When I say we can use reason/logic to objectively discern good actions from bad, it isn't a criticism of you guys' models. I think the models are good. It's a counter-challenge to moral nihilism.
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#43
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
You are talking about the process in which mores and norms (including ethical norms) are impressed upon the individual.
...

Yes.  And since it's a system, also the way in which mores and norms accumulate via culture into the wider group/organisation/society

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
And, as far as I can tell, your model is accurate. You could also describe mathematical "norms" in this way.
...

Yup.  I hadn't thought of that specifically, but sure, why not:  It's the development of the baseline (normals) and the building of a body of knowledge (BoK) within and without the individual.

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
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.
...

Indeed.  For the individual.  Although this does seem a little too behaviourist/Pavlovian, it probably would be the way we learn during our early stages.  
Add (in later years) also the red-pills of life whereby we discover e.g. ontology vs. epistemology and how one leads to another as we have our childhood epiphanies e.g.:
1. Santa does not exist therefore people I trust can deliberately lie to me and
2. Souls/ghosts/gods do not exist therefore people I trust can lie to me without knowing that they are lying.
Both lead to an epistemological conclusion that Authority is not always a reliable source of knowledge.
We learn:
Disinformation:  Santa
Misinformation:  God(s)

Your maths example can add a third regarding not just filtering (of data) and whether or not to doubt an authority but also framing (context).
4 / 2 = 2 and 2 + 2 = 4 until we learn about base 3.  We will believe Pythagoras's theorem is true (JTB) until we discover non-Euclidean geometry.  

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
The question is, when we ask the question "How can I do good to another person?" can we come up with an objective answer?
...

No.

And you know what I think about the word "objective" and its polysemantic nature... my subjective objection to Objective.

[But for the casual reader, here it is again:
“An object or objective can be objectively measured using objective metrics.”
Translation; An thing or goal can be independently measured using quantitative metrics.”]

"Good" is a value judgement so already we've left the realm of objects.  Once "goodness" is qualified then perhaps it can be measured with objectivity (unbiased metrics) - see also that previous list of Information Quality Criteria; Objectivity is on there as an Intrinsic criteria.

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
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.
...

This is reminding me of Jonathan Haidt (again) and his Foundations of Morality... "doing bad" would relate to Harm/Care, slavery would relate to Liberty/Oppression.

[Image: MoralFoundationsListing+%25281%2529.jpg]

I'm also noting an anthropomorphising of "societies" as though they had agency / are units of self-determination.  We humans do this a lot e.g. Apple released a new iPhone; Russia turned the 2016 US election by spending a few grand on facebook memes.  But then, corporations have free speech in the US too.  

BBC wildlife docos are notoriously bad at this.  There was one I noticed recently where the narrator marveled at the macaque monkeys being "almost human-like".  Nope.  It's the other way around.  

Of course, we can even do this with abstract art.

I've arrived at the notion that we have 'anthropomorph software'.  An app, maybe, that gets uploaded when we are quite young.  We even anthropomorphise anthropoids.  Which means we also anthropomorphise ourselves.

So yeah, anthropomorphised philosophical zombies.  And perhaps the moral-alert (harm/care etc.) is the trigger.  Because there are plenty of occasions where we don't anthropomorphise others... we don't value all humans equally all the time and much of the time we don't notice them.

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
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?
...

There are two diagrams I'd like your view on.  The first relates to the ethical individual and is a modification of one of my favourites from best practice.  The second is my own creation regarding a generic moral-alert compass and I could with some help on it, but we can do that later if it's relevant.

Here's the first one, the GMO/OMG diagram:
The top one is the original from the text books and the other is my preference.

[Image: GMO-model.jpg]

It's useful in class because it helps students to visualise themselves in their organisation and see the wider picture.
The conversation usually goes something like this:
I take them from left to right and back to left again (mentioning that Management don't monitor the Governing Body they 'present to' the Governing Body).
I highlight the different levels of instrumentation / monitoring / dashboard (reader vs. that which is read - subject and object, if you prefer).
I then point out the scalability of it:
1. The applicability to a superstructure e.g. a business, is fairly obvious. I introduce one of the seven components of Governance: 'Principles, Policies, Procedures' and link them to G, M and O (Governance, Management and Operations).
2. The applicability to a superdooperstructure e.g. The USofA, comes next with the Supreme Court as the Governing Body, the guardians of the Constitution (Ethical Principles); Congress as the Law (Policy) makers; and the Executive Branch as Operations who will follow procedures (or are supposed to, most of the time).
3. The applicability to a individual.  The triune brain idea is useful here (not to explain the evolution/development of consciousness but to capture the different levels of conscious and subconscious information processing that we experience): G = Neo-mammalian, M= Paleomammalian and O = Reptilian.
Any correlation between the Exec Branch of the US and the Reptilian brain is purely accidental.

And now we've made a connection between the mind of a business (there isn't such a mind, of course.  It's just a supervenient term for all the information flows and information artefacts within the business as a whole) and the mind of a human (and again, there isn't such a thing).

For fun, the next bit is to look at the box on the left and discuss who might be the Owners and Stakeholders for:
1. Public and private companies (Karl Marx would have something to say about the last box also being the first box and Reagan/Thatcher would agree but with a different definition of 'public').
2. "We the people..." (where 'people' meant rich white slave/plantation owners).  And then what does the world look like if it was "We the oligarchs...", "We the monarchs...", "We the Party...", "We the citizens...", "We the gods..." etc. Oh, and "We the corporations..." (looking at you USA).
3. And it's worth pointing out that there are both internal and external stakeholders so for the individual it's our children etc. and our DNA and the bacteria inside without which our phenotypic machines would fail to run optimally.

By now, I suspect you're wondering, "Where's he going with this?" Big Grin    Well, having planted some seeds about this structure being potentially hierarchical, the script gets flipped with the question "What's your answer when asked "Who do you report to?"".  Most with give an hierarchical answer.  Some, will realise that another answer relates to the inputs and outputs of information processing whereby one reports functionally/procedurally too.

And now we can talk about the different levels of monitoring and reporting from right to left. Data becomes information becomes knowledge becomes wisdom.  So much so that we can equate the governance dashboard with perceived reality (Popper's World 2).

Which means that everything (all the patterns) above raw (sense) data is subjective.  Implying Idealism?  Well, no.  Being the smart monkeys we are, we've developed tools / instruments e.g. the Geiger Counter, the LHD, that enable us to collect data via means that the gods of evolution overlooked and thereby give is greater insight (although 'sight' is not the right word) into real reality (Popper's World 1).

Incidentally, this also means that one can not have knowledge (loosely defined in my world as "actionable information") without bias.  Neural nets / machine learning is the example here where weightings and biases are built-in to the mechanism.

Still with me?  Cool.  Here's the tldr version:
Operations:  Doing things.
Management:  Doing things right.
Governance: Doing the right things and doing things right.


In the best practices manuals ethics in not even a thing at the operational level.  It gets an almost dismissive mention in e.g. Service Management where producing outcomes equals "producing value or we're doing it wrong".  It's only at the governance layer that "doing the right things is discussed" and the answer is always "It depends..." (cheers Mr. Kant).

But, hang on.  And here's the reveal.  Remember the PPP bit? Principles, Policies and Procedures.
Operations are being ethical... by following procedure they are doing their duty (Nuremberg not withstanding).  
And Management are being ethical... by a) duty to policy (developing and enforcing policy based on the pre-defined principles) and by b) the consequentialism of focussing on value/outcomes (a subset of which is utility).
And Governance is being ethical be adhering to principles.  

And, all this is 'objectively' measurable.  

But what are the principles?  What is "doing the right thing?"  

At any given moment, depending on a number of factors, an individual may vacillate between O-brain ethics, M-brain ethics and G-brain ethics.
Yes there are echoes of Frued here: G = das Über-Ich, M = das Ich and O = das Es.

It's these factors that I'm attempting to map out in an ethics (or moral if you prefer) compass which is the diagram I've yet to show unless you saw an early draft that I published on TTA in 2107.  I'd very much value your input on this.

And, of course, nihilism is still correct from a real reality perspective.  It's just that once we have monitoring systems (and monitoring of the monitoring systems and a social context) we have created the need for ethics and ethical constraints.


(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
One question concerning the ethical/moral division. This situation below involves individual ethics according to your schema, correct?


...

Well, I'm antisocial, non-competitive and asexual so I'd leave them to it but OK let's go with this.

I would argue from the earlier diagram that culture is aggregate behaviour so it would only take two for a (what shall we call it?), 'coconut abundance culture' to manifest.
There would be a difference in Robinson Crusoe's behaviour after Friday arrived (he wouldn't need ethics on Thursday Big Grin )

The word 'society' does imply grand-scale institutions and stuff but on a small scale maybe the word 'group' or 'social group' is more applicable.  

The Ops-brain (das Es) might well have no issue with pushing the potential rival off the cliff since it is Continuity-driven. But being human and presumably having some memories of life before the apocalypse and thus having already developed an individual code of ethics there would already be some version of M-brain and G-brain, would there not?

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
My approach seeks prescriptive conclusions. (ie. if
...

If?

(October 15, 2021 at 5:58 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: ...
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.

I started with "how does it work?" and came to a 'if>then' conclusion.

If 'harm/care' is a premise then sure, objective metrics are applicable for that criteria.
Of course, philosophers have been debating these Principle (goodness, pleasure, suffering etc.) for 2.5k years.
It's still 'if>then'.

(which is, incidentally, also a partial answer to the freewill question).

I think you'll like picking apart the moral compass diagram.  As mentioned it's my attempt to map the underlying structure for all principles and wouldn't work if we didn't 'care'. So yes, I'm not entirely disagreeing.

I'm working on an explanation for the diagram (some scaffolding, kinda).  Happy to share when you're ready.
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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#44
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
@DLJ

W-w-w-wow! My reply is gonna take some time. But I dig it. This is the kind of analysis the subject deserves.
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#45
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
Dang! I can't edit it. I'm seeing loads of typos now I re-read it. Sorry.

Anyway, yes, please take your time, it will take me a while to write up the ideas behind the next bit: the moral-compass diagram.
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)
Reply
#46
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 17, 2021 at 6:11 am)DLJ Wrote: But what are the principles?  What is "doing the right thing?"


That's an open question. I think any rational person can attempt to answer this, and much of the time it isn't going to be a simple regurgitation of cultural norms. A rational person who grew up in a system of cultural norms may end up criticizing those very same cultural norms. When this happens, is it some kind of aberration? I think it's the product of freethinking. I see value in it. But then the question remains, what makes it valuable?

There are many situations where "good" and "bad" are assessments based on objective criteria. "Kobe Bryant is good at basketball." This is NOT my opinion. It's a fact. Even though I'm assessing value. Sure there are many variables involved, but (just like an algebraic equation) that doesn't mean it isn't an objective statement. I want to argue that morality is in the same camp as "good at basketball" where valuations have an objective referent. Is there one thing that makes someone "good at basketball"? Is it entirely clear exactly what things make someone good? For every example of a "good at basketball" trait (can dunk, is tall) you can find another example that also works (is short, but can rebound).

Ethics is much the same. Many discussions to be had about what principles are at work in morally good actions. But that doesn't make it subjective. And that doesn't make it fantasy. "Kobe Bryant is good at basketball." Is an objectively true statement, and also a valuation.
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#47
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(November 4, 2021 at 12:05 am)vulcanlogician Wrote: That's an open question. I think any rational person can attempt to answer this, and much of the time it isn't going to be a simple regurgitation of cultural norms. A rational person who grew up in a system of cultural norms may end up criticizing those very same cultural norms. When this happens, is it some kind of aberration? I think it's the product of freethinking. I see value in it. But then the question remains, what makes it valuable?

May be related to (or actually be) niche exploitation.  Being able to see the good (or bad) where your peers can't can be advantageous.  Not just for themselves, but for any society that so much as notes their insight.   I point you in the direction of philanthropic venture capitalism, the stock market, or any pump and dump.  To the warlord who knew exactly how to crush his enemies in spirit, not just militarily.  Draw it back even further.  To the guy who looked in the bush every other starving schmuck had written off.  

It's useful, we're a utilitarian species in every sense of the word.  We value utility. Not too much, though, you know..won't keep us from cutting out your tongue or burning you alive. Tolerance is the aberation in that respect. There have been alot of people who mouthed off to their society that it just didn't end well for. Most of them, historically. It's only fairly recently that societies have begun to be expected to let dissidents live.
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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#48
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(November 4, 2021 at 12:05 am)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(October 17, 2021 at 6:11 am)DLJ Wrote: But what are the principles?  What is "doing the right thing?"
...
"Kobe Bryant is good at basketball." Is an objectively true statement, and also a valuation.

An operational one... "doing things right".

Mr. Bryant is good at following the basketball procedure.  (I assume.  I don't know anything about him.)

'Good at basketball' could also relate to policy: a) good at creating/deciding the rules/laws of basketball or b) good at refereeing/applying the rules/laws of basketball.
And 'good at basketball' could relate to management i.e. using time-outs, professional fouls, techniques for demoralising the opposition etc. to win (utilitarian/consequentialism).

But from an ethical (principle) perspective... Is it a good thing (ethically) to be good at basketball (from any or all of the above perspectives)?

And... good for what?

Does it bring you closer to god?

Big Grin

Not joking with that god comment btw.  
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)
Reply
#49
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
(October 3, 2021 at 6:18 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: Psychological study suggests our moral intuitions are heavily influenced by norms acquired from our cultural environment. Why does this matter?

I just want to add a few minor thoughts.

First, people are heavily influenced by social norms in part to keep out of trouble with the law when making ambiguous decisions.  They are not primarily motivated to think for themselves and do what is right in some more abstract way.

Second, in actual situations which require immediate responses, we are not likely to have the time to think at all.  You may say this is a good reason to think such things through, in case certain real situations arise.  But I tend to dislike hypotheticals exactly because there are always too many unknowns.  So I try to avoid ambiguous situations and concentrate on what I know more about.

Third, it seems to me that when moral choices are unclear, you may as well flip a coin to make a decision.  There are likely evenly divided pluses in minuses on each side.  In other words, we too often assume there are right and wrong answers, and that we can somehow puzzle them out if we think about them long enough.

Those are my intuitions, such as they are.
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#50
RE: Can we trust our Moral Intuitions?
That's why we have moral deontology. For the times when you need to know what to do, but don't have the time to figure that out.

It's an imperfect tool, but better than being completely unprepared. I know what I would need to do if I got smacked with a sucking chest wound to ensure that I wouldn't die and would get informed treatment before someone found my collapsed and unconscious body....for example.

Wouldn't want to have to ponder that shit in the moment.

That out of the way, you said something I think is interesting. Do you really think that moral decisions amount to a coin flip? That would suggest you had no moral intuitions at all (this, ignoring and not asserting the accuracy of those intuitions)? Pick some charged scenario, give me the moral pluses and minuses, presumed to be just about equivalent, as you see them? Or, in contrast, give me an example of something you think has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and explain why the presumption fails in that specific case?

I've staked this one out a few times, just so we don't have to worry about some aha or gotcha moment...but..I think that our moral intutions are as flawed as any of our intuitions..but look at the world around you as a product of intuition. Moral and otherwise. It's not exactly a low bar. My unaided human intuition can predict the location of a target beyond visual range and hit it while moving. Moving for it's life, even*. Our "intuiters" are highly developed, whatever else they are. That might seem abstract, but it informs my view on why we suppress dissent (even when we do so in error), for example.

*I;ve seen rounds fly in arcs where both the trace and the intended contact seemed to be moving together to the point of collision, of all of the paths they could take - I tend to intuit that a thing running will show me it's ass and not it's cheek - in the theater of mind. It transfixes me when it happens. IRL, video games, more abstract real world comparisons..you name it.
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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