Saturday, May 27, 2017

Scientistic epistemology and same-sex marriage

Can you both believe that all knowledge is scientific, and that we can know that same-sex marriage is morally justified? 

Here is what Russell had to say: 

While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.

Bertrand Russell Religion and Science (1935), Ch. IX: Science and Ethics

It follows from Russell's statement that a statement like "Legalizing same-sex marriage is a good thing to do," is something we cannot know. 

My claim is epistemological. Some people have a scientistic epistemology, but they also claim to know that we ought to allow same-sex couples to marry. That, I am arguing, is an incoherent position. 

29 comments:

Stardusty Psyche said...

Please define:
Knowledge
Truth
Ought

"It follows from Russell's statement that a statement like "Legalizing same-sex marriage is a good thing to do," is something we cannot know.

My claim is epistemological. Some people have a scientistic epistemology, but they also claim to know that we ought to allow same-sex couples to marry. That, I am arguing, is an incoherent position. "

Since your claim is epistemological, and you claim a particular position is incoherent with respect to a certain asserted knowledge, we would have to first, it seems to me, define knowledge/truth/ought in the terms the scientist would use, examine the precise claim the scientist is making, and then make a determination whether the claim is incoherent.


Stardusty Psyche said...

I confess I have not studied the works of Russel on knowledge. Here are a few links:
https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/en/russell1.htm
http://www.iep.utm.edu/knowacq/
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-acquaindescrip/

It also seems to me that citing work from one particular atheist philosopher of about 100 years ago and applying that to modern scientists or atheists generally could be conflating viewpoints to some extent.

Which atheist exactly claims to "know" that we "ought" to do any particular thing? Can you cite that individual's definition of knowledge and ought?

For myself knowledge is functionally a personal probability estimate of comporting with reality, ought is an evolved social sensibility. So, I can know to some probability that a proposition will align with my social sensibility. On this sort of analysis I don't see how a claim of incoherence could be sustained.

Zgob ermn said...

Dear Dr Reppert, grace to you and peace. i am a PhD student, and my plan is to do my dissertation on CS Lewis, and a major argument that i will include in the dissertation is Lewis' AFR. I'm way out here in the Philippines (Davao City, Mindanao-- in the news lately because of local terrorists activities in Marawi, government forces in the process of eliminating these groups who wants to connect with ISIS, but my city, Davao City, is far from the conflicts and is the safest city in the country in terms of low criminality). I don't have any help in terms of advising me on how to work on Lewis. I've read a good number of his works. Also read sections in Miracles and actually summarized his arguments for AFR. If you're willing to give me some tips, can i have your email address so i can communicate with you personally on these matters? My email is zgobaddu@yahoo.com. Would greatly appreciate your inputs.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn
All the best to you in your PhD efforts. Here are some relevant materials I think would be worthwhile for you to study.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/reppert.html

https://infidels.org/library/modern/darek_barefoot/dangerous.html

https://richardcarrier.wikispaces.com/Reply+to+Reppert

http://maverickphilosopher.blogspot.com/2004/10/argument-from-reason-reppert-replies.html


Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty, many thanks! When reading Nagel's Mind & Cosmos, at certain points I was quite struck by the similarity of his critique of what he calls physico-chemical reductionism with Lewis' argument against naturalism (after reading and summarizing Lewis' arguments in his Miracles. Of course, Nagel's a bit more detailed and more conversant with contemporary discussion, but the gist or their arguments (some at least) are really similar. I am well aware that Nagel disturbed the hornet's nest of naturalist-materialist thinkers and the vicious attacks did not come as a surprise. But defenders of Nagel came to his defends. More importantly for me is the danger of scientism's and scientistic 'groupthink' that crucify's anyone who betrays the naturalist faith. I am intereseted in surveing the similarity of the arguments between Lewis and Nagel and see where it goes (still in the early pages of Nagel).

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

" Stardusty, many thanks!"
--You are quite welcome.

Have you had a chance to consider the post Victor made on this thread and my replies to it?


May 28, 2017 9:09 PM

Zgob ermn said...

will certainly look it up, im still at the early stage of thinking about the project, and of course, trying to collect materials (which is tough out here in our place!). when i'll be articulating arguments will certainly be tracking conversations in this site. at this stage, i guess i need to deal with primary materials (Lewis' and perhaps Nagel, if i choose to follow up on that track), then will deal with secondary literature and discussions.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

" will certainly look it up, "
--Hmmm, I'm not sure what you mean by that. The post by Victor is right here.

Can you define these terms?:

Knowledge
Truth
Ought

Can you either defend or refute this claim?:
"My claim is epistemological. Some people have a scientistic epistemology, but they also claim to know that we ought to allow same-sex couples to marry. That, I am arguing, is an incoherent position. "


May 28, 2017 9:38 PM

Zgob ermn said...

So you're referring to your responses to the OP. i haven't read the OP actually, so i can't answer the "incoherence" question for now. But some quick questions to your points come to mind--

“knowledge is functionally a personal probability estimate of comporting with reality” – I guess that definition is not controversial. But can you say that that “personal probability estimate” is true (though not complete or exhaustive of course), i.e., expresses or articulates an objective insight or insights of the subject known?

“ought is an evolved social sensibility” – Does this “evolved social sensibility” actually reflect an objective 'ought', uncovering an ethical, moral reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking? Or simply an local and ad hoc? (Nature-nurture, where the nurture part may produce different, even conflicting, social sensibilities.)

I may be chasing another rabbit here, i apologize. I need to go for now.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...


SP “knowledge is functionally a personal probability estimate of comporting with reality”
" – I guess that definition is not controversial."
--One fairly common definition for knowledge is a justified true belief, so my definition is controversial to those who hold one cannot hold knowledge of an untrue proposition, whereas one can hold an untrue belief.


" But can you say that that “personal probability estimate” is true "
--I anticipated this question when I asked you to define "truth".

" i.e., expresses or articulates an objective insight"
--What is an objective insight and how does one determine that a proposition is objectively true?

I define truth as that which is actually real. However, I lack the capability to objectively determine reality outside of my own self awareness, so the definition of knowledge as a justified true belief leads to a lack of knowledge beyond cogito ergo sum and a few related absolute truths I am objectively certain of based on my self awareness.

Thus, my more complete definition of knowledge is a belief substantially justified on the postulates of logic and the basic reliability of the human senses, or alternatively, a belief justified beyond a speculative doubt.

SP “ought is an evolved social sensibility”
"– Does this “evolved social sensibility” actually reflect an objective 'ought',"
--No. Perish the thought!!!

" uncovering an ethical, moral reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking?"
--No.

"Or simply an local and ad hoc?"
--No.

Our sense of ought is an evolved mechanism to drive social behavior in a social species. It is a correlation score, a brain process, an internal predictive estimate.


May 28, 2017 11:43 PM

Joe Hinman said...

Russell's world view was limited, there are different kinds of knowing

Stardusty Psyche said...

Joe Hinman said...

" Russell's world view was limited, there are different kinds of knowing"
--Russell understood that as would have been apparent to you if you had read the links I provided May 28, 2017 10:37 AM.

Russell not only distinguish between Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description he also commented at length on belief (as opposed to knowledge), truth, our senses, and probability considerations.

If you think Russell had some sort of monolithic or simplistic view of knowledge you obviously have not read his work on the subject.

Perhaps Victor is oversimplifying in a similar way you are, and thus creating a false incoherence by mischaracterizing both Russell and the scientifically minded person's position.

From the OP:
"While it is true that science cannot decide questions of value, that is because they cannot be intellectually decided at all, and lie outside the realm of truth and falsehood. Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.

Bertrand Russell Religion and Science (1935), Ch. IX: Science and Ethics

It follows from Russell's statement that a statement like "Legalizing same-sex marriage is a good thing to do," is something we cannot know.

My claim is epistemological. Some people have a scientistic epistemology, but they also claim to know that we ought to allow same-sex couples to marry. That, I am arguing, is an incoherent position. "

Our sense of ought, on the scientific materialist naturalist view, is not a factual knowledge of some object or some event, rather, a personal sensibility. Our sense of ought is an evolved behavior mechanism, a dynamic brain process, an emotion which drives us to act, an internal computational result.

In more conventional philosophical terms our sense of ought could be called simply a belief, or an emotion, or a feeling of knowing, as opposed to a justified true belief (the traditional definition of knowledge). In this language Victor's supposed dilemma of incoherence is simply malformed and not a dilemma at all.


May 29, 2017 7:10 AM

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty

A quick one—

“Our sense of ought is an evolved mechanism to drive social behavior in a social species. It is a correlation score, a brain process, an internal predictive estimate” – For the moment, I would not submit any objection to this descriptive (historical, biological) interpretation of moral convictions ie., sense of ought, except to raise the “nothing buttery” question; ok, but is it nothing but this?

I asked, " Does this “evolved social sensibility” actually reflect an objective 'ought'"? You answered, “No. Perish the thought!!!”

I asked if evolved social sensibility discover "an ethical, moral reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking?" You answered, “No.”

I like to put things into practical terms, so I’ll ask you this. I just finished watching The Wizard of Lies (Bernie Madoff story, brilliantly played by Robert de Niro).

Madoff “ought not” have done what he did, i.e., did things that he knew would lead to the destruction of the lives of many people. – Is this an objective “ought not,” an objectively unethical, immoral, and evil reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking, or is it not?

He “ought” to have stopped his fraudulent financial schemes (defrauding the government and people’s hard earned money). – Is this an objective “ought,” an objective ethical, moral reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking, or is it not?

Madoff willfully failed on both counts. The results were disastrous, destroying so many lives of people (his own son committed suicide because of his actions). Therefore, Madoff’s actions were evil, and he embraced evil (he knew what he was doing was wrong and destructive to the lives of many people, even his own family, yet he did it, he sacrificed so many so he could live like a king). – Is this moral judgment on Madoff an objective reality, i.e., just matter of fact true, or is it not?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty
“Our sense of ought is an evolved mechanism to drive social behavior in a social species. It is a correlation score, a brain process, an internal predictive estimate”
"– For the moment, I would not submit any objection to this descriptive (historical, biological) interpretation of moral convictions ie., sense of ought, except to raise the “nothing buttery” question; ok, but is it nothing but this?"
--Nothing but what I have described and further such elaborations. I don't pretend to have provided a comprehensive model in just those few words, but our sense of ought is nothing but such things as I began to describe.


" Madoff “ought not” have done what he did, i.e., did things that he knew would lead to the destruction of the lives of many people. – Is this an objective “ought not,” an objectively unethical, immoral, and evil reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking, or is it not?"
--It is not.

" He “ought” to have stopped his fraudulent financial schemes (defrauding the government and people’s hard earned money). – Is this an objective “ought,” an objective ethical, moral reality that universally obtains, humanly speaking, or is it not?"
--It is not.

",,, or is it not?"
--Not.


May 29, 2017 8:45 AM

Victor Reppert said...

OK, here we have, in Stardusty, moral nonrealism. Morality is an evolved sense of rules which we are perhaps evolutionarily disposed to follow, because, at least up to a point, social cooperation is beneficial, and so we have some cooperative tendencies built into us. But some of us have more of this than others, and there are, in many circumstances, strong tendencies within all of us to pursue our own interests at the expense of others. Madoff is a a great example. Not to mention all the Madoffs that didn't get caught, including some who hold high positions in banks, and maybe even the President of the United States. Ought they to pursue the interests of others even if it harms their self-interest? Is there an ultimate reality that ought to tell them to do the cooperative thing even if it might result in prison or impeachment?

For moral nonrealists like Stardusty, the answer is a resounding NO.

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty

“It is not.”
“It is not.”
“Not.”

I admire your consistency (unlike many secularists who romantically still hold on to moral objectivism while rejecting its historic Judeo-Christian roots, this is why I’ve always appreciated Nietzsche over Sam Harris et al.)

However, your position reminds me of a quote from Os Guinness, “while no thoughts are unthinkable and no argument is unarguable, some thoughts can be thought but not lived.”

I think any human being who looks intently in the face of actions done by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the modern terrorists who kill and rape the innocent (say your own daughter repeatedly raped and killed by these “losers,” to quote Trump), will not fail to see and feel the absolute evil of such things. I think there’s something seriously wrong with our humanity when our response to such horrors is that we ‘don’t agree’ or we ‘don’t like’ or that it is ‘not acceptable’ by modern democratic values, and stop there and can’t rise above these measures to declare such acts as evil, pure and simple.

This also reminds me of that oft quoted line from Philip K. Dick’s novel, The Man in the High Castle. The novel narrates the Japanese discussing which German leader to replace a vacated Nazi high position. As they reviewed candidates, their characters and their records (horrific!), a rational Japanese diplomat named Tagomi, could no longer stomach the stories of these Nazis, rushed out of the room, gripped with a terrifying angst, declaring,

“There is evil! It's actual, like cement.

I can't believe it. I can't stand it. Evil is not a view ... it's an ingredient in us. In the world. Poured over us, filtering into our bodies, minds, hearts, into the pavement itself.” [Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, page 97]

Review of novel here http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/highcastle.htm.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Zgob ermn said...

" I think any human being who looks intently in the face of actions done by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the modern terrorists who kill and rape the innocent (say your own daughter repeatedly raped and killed by these “losers,” to quote Trump), will not fail to see and feel the absolute evil of such things. "
--Argument from incredulity. What absolute frame of reference are you using for this supposed "absolute"?

"I think there’s something seriously wrong with our humanity when our response to such horrors is that we ‘don’t agree’ or we ‘don’t like’ or that it is ‘not acceptable’ by modern democratic values, and stop there and can’t rise above these measures to declare such acts as evil, pure and simple."
--That is, in the literal sense, a simplistic argument. I don't mean to say you are generally incapable of complex thought, but you have fallen victim to simplistic thinking on this particular point.

" “There is evil! It's actual, like cement."
--This isn't an argument, just an emotional declaration.

" I can't believe it. I can't stand it. Evil is not a view ... it's an ingredient in us. In the world. Poured over us, filtering into our bodies, minds, hearts, into the pavement itself.” [Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, page 97]"
--See above.


May 29, 2017 8:17 PM

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty, “Argument from incredulity” – Really? For discussion, I’ll go with it. Contrary to many, I don’t immediately dismiss someone’s expression of incredulity (you can be guilty of a reaction of incredulity towards someone expressing an argument of incredulity without actually trying to understand the basis for his incredulity). There can be good reasons behind arguments from incredulity. What would dismiss an argument from incredulity is strong evidence exposing its inappropriateness in a particular matter. Until strong evidence demonstrates that, an argument from incredulity should be given its due place in a particular context.

“What absolute frame of reference… "absolute"?” – It’s found universally in the human experience. Human nature is qualitatively normative; we can never get out of our “skin” of normativity. When you make a value judgment such as, “That is… a simplistic argument… but you have fallen victim to simplistic thinking,” this actually expresses our normative itch; you’re saying, ‘You ought not to, or shouldn’t be making such a “simplistic argument.” There’s no room for “simplistic thinking” in these discussions.’ You’re saying that humans shouldn’t and ought to not engage in such bad thinking (compared to the ‘ought’ of good thinking); it’s unacceptable (compared to the ‘ought’ of acceptable thinking).’ And you’re right. This is an expression of our normative nature and existence.

Even the thief demands his fair share of the loot, and cries foul when he doesn’t get it—‘That’s not right! I put a bullet on that old man’s head, so why should I get only 15% instead of 50%? I demand my fair share!’ All of us one way or another deal with the normative seed in our nature. The “soil” has a lot of influence on how that seed develops (although I am not suggesting nurture is decisive, I reject determinism).

“in the literal sense, a simplistic argument… victim to simplistic thinking” – A number of questions immediately spring up:
“in the literal sense” – What can that possibly mean in the context of our conversation?
“simplistic” – According to who? By whose standard?
“simplistic thinking” -- According to what? By what standard do you measure this?

The problem with such value judgments is that it’s totally at the mercy of the vantage point we hold, or the axioms we take for granted. It’s obvious that I come from a different vantage point, and so your judgment of “simplistic” does not hold water for me. On the contrary, from my vantage point, I consider the position you hold (physico-reductive, psychological reductionism?) to be extremely poor compared to the richness of the human experience. To illustrate, consider the point that Victor Frankl makes in this statement--

“If we present man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present him as an automation of reflexes, as a mind machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drive and reactions, as mere product of heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone. I became acquainted with the last stage of corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment--or, as the Nazis liked to say, "of blood and soil." I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.”

I can also label your reaction as committing the fallacy of cavalier dismissal. You simply brush off the point I was trying to make without even engaging the motive and thought behind it.

"“There is evil…" --This isn't an argument, just an emotional declaration” – This wasn’t intended as an argument, but an illustration to emphasize a point.

I really have to move along now. But thanks for the links, and the stimulating conversation. Shalom.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

" “What absolute frame of reference… "absolute"?” – It’s found universally in the human experience. "
--False, different people have different senses of ought, even regarding what most of us might call evil.

" this actually expresses our normative itch;"
--An "itch" is a subjective judgement, not an absolute.

" Even the thief demands his fair share of the loot, and cries foul when he doesn’t get it—‘That’s not right!"
--Some thieves simply take it all and kill their partners in crime.

" The problem with such value judgments is that it’s totally at the mercy of the vantage point we hold, "
--Hence, not absolute.

" The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment"
--Ok, that really happened, hence, no moral absolutes.

" I can also label your reaction as committing the fallacy of cavalier dismissal. You simply brush off the point I was trying to make without even engaging the motive and thought behind it."
--Not so much, it is just that nobody has ever stated a demonstrably absolute moral proposition and I realized you would not be the first. I had no question about whether you would be wrong. My only question in debating moral realists is the particulars of each individual's errors.


May 30, 2017 7:48 PM

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty> Just got to respond --

"absolute" – found universally in the human experience. " – “False, different people have different senses of ought” – Doesn’t follow, and you missed it. I was referring to the universality of the “sense” itself— ALL have this sense of ought and ought not. To illustrate, people may have different tastes when it comes to food. But the absolute is that people do not debate whether they eat or not—all must eat! And that there are certain kinds of foods that your body actually needs—stuff the wrong food long enough and you get sick or die. This goes also for civilizations and ideologies too— look at the death and destruction caused by such ideologies as Nazism, Communism, terrorism, and compare that with the impact of the Judeo-Christian worldview on the West. Jurgen Habermas, eminent German agnostic/atheist philosopher, who as a young philosopher, was very much opposed to religion, critiquing it as an “alienating reality" and "control tool." But as his thinking grew more mature in both the extent and depth of knowledge about the subject, he “has recognized the positive social role of religion” in Western civilization. In an interview, he summarized the socio-political and cultural influence of the Judeo-Christian faith on the West and its values,

"Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk." See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%BCrgen_Habermas#cite_note-39, under ‘Religious Dialogue’.

Feed a civilization with a bad—like REALLY BAD!—ideology and you get the Gulag, the "Cultural Revolution" and Auschwitz. Feed it with a good one, and you have a Martin Luther King Jr and William Wilberforce dying to set people free.

"itch" is a subjective judgement, not an absolute” – Missed it again. I’m referring to the objectivity of the “itch” itself—this is part of our very nature, humans are normatively hardwired with oughts and ought nots (and this is not just a delusion foisted on us by our “selfish gene”). We can deny the itch, or scratch it the wrong way until it gets worse. But the itch is there and there is a proper response to it. “By their fruits you will know them.”

"value judgments… mercy of the vantage point we hold"—“Hence, not absolute.” – Missed again. I was referring to the kind of rational ought and ought not YOU were asserting, i.e., no no to “simplistic” argument and thinking, compared to “complex” thought. THIS is totally at the mercy of the axioms you take for granted, i.e., “If you follow my way of thinking (moral NONrealism, or better put, moral illusions) then your thought is “complex”. But if you disagree with my way of thinking, and entertain the idea that moral ideals refer to objective reality, then your thought and argument are “simplistic.” Now, THAT judgment is indeed subjective.

"The gas chambers of Auschwitz "--that really happened, hence, no moral absolutes.” Does not follow. Just because a bridge falls apart because of bad engineering does not mean good engineering for bridges doesn’t exist.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Zgob ermn said...

SP"itch" is a subjective judgement, not an absolute”
"– Missed it again. I’m referring to the objectivity of the “itch” itself—this is part of our very nature,"
--Pointing out that all human beings feel certain emotions does nothing to evidence moral absolutes. Just because everybody feels one thing or another it in no way follows that any of those feelings are objectively true.


Stardusty> "The gas chambers of Auschwitz "--that really happened, hence, no moral absolutes.”

"Does not follow. Just because a bridge falls apart because of bad engineering does not mean good engineering for bridges doesn’t exist."
--False analogy. I can show you large numbers of good bridges.

You cannot show me even 1 demonstrably true moral proposition.


June 01, 2017 9:40 PM

Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty...

"Just because everybody feels... it in no way follows that any of those feelings are objectively true" -- Really? I feel hunger, is that objectively true or not? I feel thirsty, is that objectively true or not? Sexual arousal? Need for friendship/relationship? Do i have to really list these things? How about love? Sense of purpose? Meaning? Justice? Moral convictions? Ought and ought not?


"False analogy. I can show you large numbers of good bridges" -- You are really slipping badly Stardusty! Of course you can show me good bridges, but i can also show you bad bridges. Do i have to spell out the point? Just because there are badly engineered bridges (thus, bad bridges that fall apart) doesn't prove in any way shape or form that a good engineering for bridges (resulting in good bridges that last) do not exists. I hope that's clear.

"You cannot show me even 1 demonstrably true moral proposition" -- Ok, first you have to educate me on what you actually MEAN, and what you actually EXPECT, from the word "demonstrably." Somebody a while back threw down a gauntlet at me and demanded,

"If i want to show you a starfish, then i'll either bring you to the beach or hand you a starfish myself. So, show me God in the same way i can show you a starfish!"

The poor guy did not even know what he was talking about. I simply had to respond, "So, you think God and the starfish are on the same category? That they share similar characteristics?" He got the point.

So demonstrate to me what you MEAN and EXPECT from the word "demonstrably" in the context of demonstrating a "true moral proposition." Then perhaps we'll find ourselves in the same frequency here.

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Zgob ermn said...

Stardusty... "Just because everybody feels... it in no way follows that any of those feelings are objectively true" --

"Really? "
--Yes

"I feel hunger, is that objectively true or not?"
--No. You could feel a false hunger or a false lack of hunger. What makes hunger true when it is true is not your feeling, it is the actual physical state of your internal nutrition storage.

" I feel thirsty, is that objectively true or not? "
--No, see above.

"Sexual arousal?"
--No. There need be no reality outside your own fantasies for sexual arousal

" Need for friendship/relationship?"
--No. see above.

" Do i have to really list these things?"
--Your list is not even remotely a coherent argument.

" How about love? Sense of purpose? Meaning? Justice? Moral convictions? Ought and ought not?"
--No, no, no, no, no, no, and no, respectively. You cannot demonstrate a absolute standard of truth for any of these things.


"False analogy. I can show you large numbers of good bridges" --
"You are really slipping badly Stardusty! Of course you can show me good bridges, but i can also show you bad bridges. Do i have to spell out the point? Just because there are badly engineered bridges (thus, bad bridges that fall apart) doesn't prove in any way shape or form that a good engineering for bridges (resulting in good bridges that last) do not exists. I hope that's clear."
--It is clear to me that you do not know how to apply inductive reasoning and how to differentiate evidence based assertions from unevidenced speculations.

SP "You cannot show me even 1 demonstrably true moral proposition" --
"Ok, first you have to educate me on what you actually MEAN, and what you actually EXPECT, from the word "demonstrably." Somebody a while back threw down a gauntlet at me and demanded,"
--You can start by simply stating what your supposedly absolute moral proposition is.


Zgob ermn said...

"I feel hunger… objectively true or not?"—No” – O my! Let me try a bit slower and restate the question in a more explicit way: When I feel hunger—the phenomenon of the human experience of hunger, you know, the thing that humans feel when, as you said, “the actual physical state of your internal nutrition storage”? of hunger ITSELF—is THAT only an illusion (i.e., that ‘hunger’ does not really exist, that there’s no such a thing as ‘hunger’ in the real world)? And thus, the phenomenon of hunger as well as the phenomenon of the feeling/desire to satisfy this feeling of hunger (by satiating the hunger with good eatin) are all just illusions, without objective realities?

This should have been clear already in the previous exchange—

You said, “"itch" is a subjective judgement, not an absolute” – My response: “Missed it again. I’m referring to the OBJECTIVITY of the “itch” ITSELF—this is part of our very nature, humans are normatively hardwired with oughts and ought nots… We can deny the itch, or scratch it the wrong way until it gets worse. But the itch is there and there is a proper response to it.”

The whole point is the very phenomenon of the human experience of HUNGER (and all that is meant by that phenomenon). So, is that an illusion? I argue that THAT phenomenon is objective, and the satisfaction of that is also objective. The same goes for the rest.

Your error is painfully obvious when you responded to my question on the objectivity of sexual arousal. You said, “No. There need be no reality outside your own fantasies for sexual arousal.” Good grief Stardusty! I was referring to the phenomenon of sexual arousal ITSELF, and all that it means for human life and experience (if you are human, you would know what I mean). So, are you saying that sexual arousal and the object of its desire are illusions? So, SEX itself is just an illusion?!

When you answer ‘no’ to all those very common, universal, and VERY HUMAN phenomena, I have to ask if you’re really human! You have denied your humanity for a reductive materialist theory/philosophy. CS Lewis was right, it’s the ABOLITION OF MAN.

You’re becoming Dr Manhattan (less the powers of course), who, when asked about the death of colleagues due to cancer—most likely because of cancer causing radioactivity emanating from Dr Manhattan himself—dryly retorts that it’s simply “irrelevant.” Why? Well, because, “a live human body and a deceased human body have the same number of particles. Structurally there's no difference." The movie does show how Dr Manhattan’s humanity slowly fades as he becomes more reductive in his thinking about reality and humanity.

(Scene starts a 2min here https://youtu.be/IoGi4BfFxjw.)

On “demonstrably”, your response, “You can start by simply stating what your supposedly absolute moral proposition is.” – No. You really have to tell me what you “actually MEAN, and what you actually EXPECT” when you said, I “cannot show even 1 demonstrably true moral proposition.” I am sure that your standard for a “true moral proposition” is constricted according to your reductive materialist theory of reality. I don’t hold to that theory. And the moment I begin to argue outside the boundaries of your reductionist worldview, you’d simply dismiss it. You don’t even believe in genuine moral reality! How can we even discuss a “true moral proposition” in the first place?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

" How can we even discuss a “true moral proposition” in the first place?"
--You are a PhD student? Well, university is for learning, I had assumed that by the time you got to your graduate studies you would be familiar with some of the basic terms on this subject.

I am personally certain I am experiencing the experiences that I experience myself experiencing, owing to my self awareness. That does not make the content of my experiences absolutely true (realistic, factually accurate, comporting with reality), it is only absolutely certain I am experiencing my experiences.

I suggest you search on the term "absolute morality". Here are a few results:

"Moral Absolutism is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act."

"Moral relativism is always about an individual's choice whether right or wrong. The individual determines what is wrong and what is right. Moral Relativism states that ethics are relative but moral absolutism teaches that ethics are not relative. The moral law is grounded in the very being of God"

You can also search on "moral realism":
"Moral Realism (or Moral Objectivism) is the meta-ethical view (see the section on Ethics) that there exist such things as moral facts and moral values, and that these are objective and independent of our perception of them or our beliefs, feelings or other attitudes towards them."


I don't prefer the word "objective" in this context because an "objective standard" can simply be a set of postulates one makes to be able to navigate objectively in the limited sense. This sort of objectivity is then confused with the sort in moral realism and moral absolutism.

So I prefer to use the term "absolute morality" to avoid the ambiguities of the word "objective".

Here Craig uses "objective" to mean "absolute" or "real":
"To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them."

"First, if atheism is true, objective moral values do not exist. If God does not exist, then what is the foundation for moral values? More particularly, what is the basis for the value of human beings? ...As a result of socio-biological pressures, there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of “herd morality” which functions well in the perpetuation of our species in the struggle for survival. But there does not seem to be anything about homo sapiens that makes this morality objectively true."

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/can-we-be-good-without-god


Do some research on the terms "objective morality", "moral absolutism", "moral realism", and "moral relativism". Then you will be less frustrated in your conversations with me.


June 03, 2017 6:38 AM

Zgob ermn said...

“you would be familiar with some of the basic terms on this subject” – Don’t worry, I’m quite familiar.

You keep bringing up the term “absolute,” while I only used that word in reference to the humongous evils of the mass murders and democides that happened early in the 20th century (response dated May 29)—and that I contend is absolute evil (if you can't see the evidence of its evil, then you simply just can't, no other argument will do).

Then you asked “What absolute frame of reference are you using for this supposed "absolute"?

To that I responded– “It’s found universally in the human experience. Human nature is qualitatively normative; we can never get out of our “skin” of normativity.” And I even cited YOU as illustrating this normative nature when you made a strong distinction between “simplistic thinking and argument” (the ought not) from “complex thinking” (the ought).

Note: I was not arguing about the moral absolutes pe rse, but rather of the OBJECTIVE REALITY of our normative nature (creatures innately sensitive to ought and ought nots). To quote myself, “I’m referring to the objectivity of the “itch” itself—this is part of our very nature."

Then you said that I “cannot show even 1 demonstrably true moral proposition.” And I answered, “demonstrate to me what you MEAN and EXPECT from the word "demonstrably" in the context of demonstrating a "true moral proposition." Note carefully that the series of questions I asked referred to their OBJECTIVITY. But then you respond, “No… respectively. You cannot demonstrate a (sic) ABSOLUTE standard of truth for any of these things.” (My emphasis.)

YOU keep shifting the discussion into ABSOLUTE moral standards, when my discussions centers on the OBJECTIVITY of the ought and ought not of human nature. It appears that you’re the one who is quite confused about these things. You do know that there are moral realists and/or objectivists who do not necessarily hold to total moral absolutism. William Lane Craig is a moral objectivist who does not argue for moral absolutism (he is very aware that in this present age there are degrees of moral imperatives, and that there are situations when some moral principles override other moral principles in terms of priority, like lying to a Nazi officer to save Jews hiding in your basement).

The definitions you listed were not really necessary. It seems clear now that, contrary to the definitions you quoted, you insist on not making a distinction between moral absolutism and moral realism and/or moral objectivism. I disagree. There are nuances that needs to be kept conspicuous. Kantian morality is absolutism. I prefer moral objectivism and/or moral realism.

The curious thing is that you never even identified which camp you sympathize with. You mentioned moral relativism but then you never said you were a moral relativist. So what are you then?

It seems clear that we approach these matters using different lenses. I understand pretty much the argument you are making (encountered it before), I just don’t think it holds water in real life and experience, and the lessons of human history. Of course, you can always say the exact opposite.

I am happy to give you the last word. I apologize for any offense given from my part, totally not intended. None taken here. Shalom

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...

" YOU keep shifting the discussion into ABSOLUTE moral standards, when my discussions centers on the OBJECTIVITY of the ought and ought not of human nature."
--"Objective" is ambiguous. It can mean absolute, or real, or merely in accordance with specified postulates.

" It appears that you’re the one who is quite confused about these things. You do know that there are moral realists and/or objectivists who do not necessarily hold to total moral absolutism. William Lane Craig is a moral objectivist who does not argue for moral absolutism "
--Wrong, god is the absolute source of morality in that case. Without god there is no objective morality, as Craig plainly states. On a god morality is objectively true, real, and therefor absolute. To claim there is a god with perfect moral sense, yet those morals are not absolutely true is nonsense.


" The definitions you listed were not really necessary. It seems clear now that, contrary to the definitions you quoted, you insist on not making a distinction between moral absolutism and moral realism and/or moral objectivism. I disagree. There are nuances that needs to be kept conspicuous. "
--Those supposed nuances are illusory.

" So what are you then?"
--An atheist. On atheism then can be no moral realism, absolutism, or objectivity. Atheists who make such distinctions are engaging in wishful thinking.


June 03, 2017 11:43 PM

Zgob ermn said...

" So what are you then?" -- An atheist. On atheism then can be no moral realism, absolutism, or objectivity"

Just to be crystal clear; correct me if i'm wrong, but is it accurate to describe your position in the ff.--

1) You fully affirm Richard Dawkins' statement as absolutely true that, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference,” and

2) you apply that universally as your epistemological interpretative/hermeneutical grid to understand all reality, life, and human life and experience.

3) Ergo, "morality" is an illusion, and those who hold to any ethical 'ism' that affirm the objective reality of morality as "engaging in wishful thinking" (theist, agnostic, atheistic).

Would that be a fair and accurate summary of your position?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Zgob ermn said...


" 1) You fully affirm Richard Dawkins' statement as absolutely true that, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference,” and"
--Remove your words "absolutely true" and I have strong agreement with the rest.


" 3) Ergo, "morality" is an illusion,"
--Morality is an emotion. We really feel our emotions. On atheism there can be no coherent basis to assert the external objective reality of our personal sense of ought.

" and those who hold to any ethical 'ism' that affirm the objective reality of morality as "engaging in wishful thinking" (theist, agnostic, atheistic)."
--Of various sorts, yes. For me, the atheist moral objectivist is the most egregious sort. The theist at least starts with a premise, albeit irrational, and follows that premise to its logical conclusion.

The atheist moral objectivist hold an incoherent position, in stark opposition to itself.


June 04, 2017 9:20 PM