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Author Topic:   Scientific Morality? - (The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris)
Panda
Member (Idle past 1099 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 16 of 34 (664648)
06-03-2012 9:33 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Dr Jack
06-03-2012 8:52 PM


Mr Jack writes:

When Harris is making claims about moral systems his moral viewpoints are not irrelevant personal attacks.


When you misrepresent his moral viewpoints, your personal attacks are worse than just simply irrelevant: they are misleading.

CRYSTALS!!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by Dr Jack, posted 06-03-2012 8:52 PM Dr Jack has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Dr Jack, posted 06-04-2012 2:47 PM Panda has responded

  
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 17 of 34 (664649)
06-03-2012 9:53 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by Dr Jack
06-03-2012 8:52 PM


When Harris is making claims about moral systems his moral viewpoints are not irrelevant personal attacks.

First of all, your claims about his viewpoints have been refuted. Harris himself has responded to those criticisms more than adequately at the link provided by Panda.

Second, a scientist does not destroy the idea of science as tool for discovery by himself holding irrational beliefs. By that same reasoning, Harris would not destroy the idea of the moral landscape should he suddenly become a mass murderer. Ideas have value independent of the people who think them. If they didn't, this world would not function.

So even if your perception of his moral viewpoints was correct, and they are not, it would in fact still be irrelevant.


BUT if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born --a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun; that pour down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to, us? Can our gross feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator? --Thomas Paine

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Dr Jack
Member
Posts: 3500
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 18 of 34 (664722)
06-04-2012 2:47 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Panda
06-03-2012 9:33 PM


I have in no way misrepresented him. He has advocated nuclear first strikes as rational and moral and defended torture, he has done so both in writing and in speech. He may later have tried to backpedal on some of his repellent views but by no means all of them. But note that even then he both advocates massive "collateral damage" while protesting that he "only" thing torture is no worse than "collateral damage".

But I really can't be arsed to play link footie over the views of a third party.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Panda, posted 06-03-2012 9:33 PM Panda has responded

Replies to this message:
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Kairyu
Member (Idle past 1010 days)
Posts: 162
From: netherlands
Joined: 06-23-2010


Message 19 of 34 (664731)
06-04-2012 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dr Jack
06-04-2012 2:47 PM


Could you refer to material that catches Harris in the act? Just to clear up the confusion regarding his viewpoints.
This message is a reply to:
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 20 of 34 (664734)
06-04-2012 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dr Jack
06-04-2012 2:47 PM


But I really can't be arsed to play link footie over the views of a third party.

This is a fight YOU picked. If the man's own response to people's ignorant criticism of his positions isn't good enough for you then there isn't anything that anyone else is going to be able to say to get you to put down your pitchfork.

I'll also note that this is your 3rd post failing to address the substance of the issue or why anyone else should give a damn about your shallow dismissal.


BUT if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born --a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun; that pour down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on. Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to, us? Can our gross feelings be excited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide? Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator? --Thomas Paine

This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Dr Jack, posted 06-04-2012 2:47 PM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Panda
Member (Idle past 1099 days)
Posts: 2688
From: UK
Joined: 10-04-2010


Message 21 of 34 (664750)
06-04-2012 6:12 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dr Jack
06-04-2012 2:47 PM


Mr Jack writes:

I have in no way misrepresented him.


Yes you have.
Repeatedly.

And now once more:

Mr Jack writes:

He has advocated nuclear first strikes as rational and moral and defended torture, he has done so both in writing and in speech.


I'll repeat my earlier quote, since you seem to be having comprehension problems.
Read it carefully:
quote:
While I think that torture should remain illegal, it is not clear that having a torture provision in our laws would create as slippery a slope as many people imagine.
...
It seems probable, however, that any legal use of torture would have unacceptable consequences.
'Advocating' does not mean what you think it means.

Mr Jack writes:

He may later have tried to backpedal on some of his repellent views but by no means all of them.


"It doesn't matter if he claims that he was misunderstood and then explains in detail what he actually thinks because we only accept initial statements!"
This shows that you are knowingly misrepresenting his opinions.

Mr Jack writes:

But I really can't be arsed to play link footie over the views of a third party.


Yes - you would prefer your lies to go unchallenged.

CRYSTALS!!

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 Message 18 by Dr Jack, posted 06-04-2012 2:47 PM Dr Jack has not yet responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2859
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 22 of 34 (677027)
10-26-2012 11:54 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jazzns
06-01-2012 3:08 PM


Just Morality
Hello Jazzns,

Thanks for the shameless plug you made in Message 33. Without that I would have missed this thread.

I don't think I fully understand Harris' ideas, so I may be projecting something onto him that he doesn't actually promote. If such is the case, then I apologize in advance.

I think Harris is saying that good/bad is kind of like healthy/un-healthy in that they both have gray areas, but they also both have obvious areas.
I think that such a view is fatally flawed in such that it doesn't give morality the sway it requires. I think this description of morality can lead into too many potentially false views ("a busted leg is always a bad thing") which is the problem with any prescriptive method of morality.

In health, the goal is to "stay alive." Therefore, if someone's heart stops, it is always right to try and start it again.
Harris says "Once we admit that the extremes of absolute misery and absolute flourishing are different and dependent on facts about the universe, then we have admitted that there are right and wrong answers to questions of morality." Which sort of hints to me that he is thinking that there are situations (regardless of the people involved) that are always right to do something specific.

I think that this general idea is fatally flawed as to what morality involves.
Harris uses this idea of "absolute misery" and "absolute flourishing" in order to avoid having to define "good" and "bad." But, in so doing, he still relies on each individual to describe their personal idea of absolute misery/flourishing and then use that as a guideline in how they act towards other people.
Harris' moral goal is to get closer to his idea of "absolute flourishing." To think that there is one ideal "aboslute flourshing" that would actually work for all people is... orwellian-ly evil.

I must admit that the idea is simple, and better than an absolute moral law-book. But I do not think it captures the important aspect of morality.

I think morality must depend on what other people think about your actions in order for it to be a genuinely valid moral system.

That is, if a situation occured where I did something to another person... and that person (honestly) says "Hey, that wasn't nice of you!"
That's the end of the moral judgement. That was a bad action.
Regardless if I'm able to say "If I did this same action to 99.9% of the rest of the population... then it would get us closer to "absolute flourishing"... therefore it is actually a good action... you're just weird."
It doesn't matter, and it cannot matter. It is still a bad action.

The way I see it, morality is our judgement in how we treat other people. Therefore, we need to get the feedback from those other people to see if our actions were good or bad. Because of this, we never have to perscribe our definition of "good or bad" onto other people... we just let other people define it the way they want to. Because it is subjective. We need to accept that it's subjective, not fight against the reality of the fact.

I also think it is very important for us to make it a personal choice to want to try to be good rather than trying to be bad.
If this is not a peronal choice (if some God charges us with a duty...) this then takes away personal responsibility for being a good person. Therefore, you're not really ever "being good" so much as you're just "following orders." This removes all the hard work that goes into actually being a good person (caring about other people's feelings... empathy... etc.) and removes all honour from it as well.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Jazzns, posted 06-01-2012 3:08 PM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by Jazzns, posted 10-27-2012 4:59 PM Stile has responded

    
Tempe 12ft Chicken
Member (Idle past 210 days)
Posts: 436
From: Tempe, Az.
Joined: 10-25-2012


Message 23 of 34 (677089)
10-26-2012 5:05 PM


Atheism leads to immorality?
So, I am currently halfway through with the second of these videos, the debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig. I find Harris' ideas extremely interesting as far as I have heard at this point. I have some major issues with a lot of what William Lane Craig is stating though. As he makes his arguments, he claims that we will make two points, the first is that with God, there is objective morals and the second is that without God, there cannot be objective morals.

Now, looking at his first argument, it seems that we are then torn by the idea of which God is actually determining these objective morals. Without knowledge of a rule giver's actual wishes, should he/she/it exist, it seems that each individual society will simply make up its own objective morals for that specific society, based off what the culture's deities wish. There is simply no objectivity within this ideal unless we were to force all individuals on this planet to worship the same rule giver. Likewise, with his argument that with atheism there can be no objective morals, I find this argument lacking as well. Harris describes a perfectly objective basis for morals when he states that it is the minimum that can be done so that not all sentient beings suffer. True, this is not a moral ground that we would like people to live in, since it leaves a large amount of room open to interpretation, but when looked at less as a structure for all of society and more as the basic guidelines for personal interaction, you can see how this idea works. By looking at only two individuals involved in a moral dilemma, we see that if each individual is doing the minimum for this decision, then they are both trying to ensure that the minimum number of sentient beings suffer. Since only two are involved, it should be easy to find a moral solution that can benefit each person involved.

In retrospect this gives morality with a God no objectivity because there is no baseline that fits across the board because there are too many different gods. Whereas, morality without God begins with the objective baseline of that which can eliminate some suffering from some of the sentient beings on the planet. After that, this baseline can be used to build other moral ideals upon this by looking at how many would suffer in varying degrees.


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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 24 of 34 (677165)
10-27-2012 4:59 PM
Reply to: Message 22 by Stile
10-26-2012 11:54 AM


Re: Just Morality
I don't think you are characterizing Harris' argument correctly.

In health, the goal is to "stay alive." Therefore, if someone's heart stops, it is always right to try and start it again.

That is an incorrect basis in which to see his analogy. I am going through a problem myself at the moment where there is no hope of a cure for my condition. There is only the hope of managing a chronic condition until the day that I die. So sometimes the goal of improving health is not just to avoid dying and in all those areas the ambiguity has almost the exact same difficulties as morality.

And the BIG point I think which that analogy attests to is the point that we OFTEN make decisions to improve health without complete certainty of the downstream consequences. We are used to working with this ambiguous quality called "health" which is not only very hard to measure objectively but also a moving target that has changed greatly over time.

Harris uses this idea of "absolute misery" and "absolute flourishing" in order to avoid having to define "good" and "bad."

I think you are focusing too much on one end of the spectrum. The idea of the moral landscape is that there is this one hypothetical point of absolute misery but that there is NOT necessarily a single point of absolute flourishing. Harris repeatedly speaks about multiple peaks on the landscape and that while at the top of one peak we may never know if we are at an absolute peak or just a local maximum. There also may be many equal peaks of flourishing. I think this point goes to your final criticism.

I think morality must depend on what other people think about your actions in order for it to be a genuinely valid moral system.

An action that increases the misery of some would be represented on the landscape by a path that doesn't go straight up the hill toward a fitness peak. A totally morally ambiguous situation would be represented by moving laterally at a given elevation on the landscape.

But the point is, just because there are ambiguous moral decisions, they do not discount the existence of the peak or valley. We should assume for our own sake that the path up to the peak is discoverable with the same techniques that we have used to "improve" "health", namely science and reason.

If the youtube videos have sparked your interest, I would encourage you to read the book as Harris makes a much more complete argument in print. I was able to check it out at my local library.

Edited by Jazzns, : No reason given.


If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. --Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 25 of 34 (677166)
10-27-2012 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Tempe 12ft Chicken
10-26-2012 5:05 PM


Re: Atheism leads to immorality?
I think you have done a very good job summarizing the differences in the debate.

Since watching that debate I have wanted to look more into Craig's forceful assertions, based on Hume, that we can't get an "ought" from an "is". Some of this stuff gets into the philosophical weeds for me and just really doesn't pass the bullshit test but I can't quite articulate why.

If it IS true that murder causes suffering then we OUGHT to take measure to stop it. I don't see the illogic in that but I am no philosopher.


If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. --Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by Tempe 12ft Chicken, posted 10-26-2012 5:05 PM Tempe 12ft Chicken has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 353 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 26 of 34 (677183)
10-27-2012 7:42 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Jazzns
10-27-2012 5:07 PM


Re: Atheism leads to immorality?
Thanks much for the thread, Jazzns. I've watched the first video in your OP, I'm pausing to post this before watching the second, and I'll get the book next week.

Jazzns writes:

If it IS true that murder causes suffering then we OUGHT to take measure to stop it. I don't see the illogic in that but I am no philosopher.

I nearly majored in philosophy, but ended up bookending my English major with minors in philosophy and anthropology (and an outlier in E. Asian studies ), partly because I concluded that, as Harris says, "We are being misled by language."

Thanks again.


"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 27 of 34 (677217)
10-28-2012 1:24 AM
Reply to: Message 26 by Omnivorous
10-27-2012 7:42 PM


Re: Atheism leads to immorality?
I am glad to have sparked your interest. I can't wait to hear what you think of the book.

I nearly majored in philosophy, but ended up bookending my English major with minors in philosophy and anthropology (and an outlier in E. Asian studies ), partly because I concluded that, as Harris says, "We are being misled by language."

That is a good point to remember and it goes to what I feel about some of these philosophical arguments. Sometimes it seems as though some of our constraints are artificially imposed by our inability to express things properly. In mid thought you rarely realize that a new word for some idea would be better than whatever stream of pseudo-sophistication you ended up trying to shoe horn your idea into.


If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. --Carl Sagan

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Stile
Member
Posts: 2859
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 28 of 34 (677330)
10-29-2012 9:11 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by Jazzns
10-27-2012 4:59 PM


Re: Just Morality
Jazzns writes:

And the BIG point I think which that analogy attests to is the point that we OFTEN make decisions to improve health without complete certainty of the downstream consequences. We are used to working with this ambiguous quality called "health" which is not only very hard to measure objectively but also a moving target that has changed greatly over time.

I like this point. It agrees with the system of morality that I prefer. (And maybe Harris' system and my system agree more than I think, even...)
I don't think the ambiguity exists because of some general "vagueness" about morality, though.
I think morality is very simple and easy to figure out if you've done something good or bad... you just have to ask the people you're dealing with.
However, that's where the ambiguity lies. Sometimes you are not able to consult others before you have to act. This leads us into having to make decisions and "hope" that we are making the right choices. We may not even be able to find out later if the action was good or bad (if the people affected are not available to find out if they liked it or didn't).
That's why I think morality is sometimes ambiguous.

But the point is, just because there are ambiguous moral decisions, they do not discount the existence of the peak or valley. We should assume for our own sake that the path up to the peak is discoverable with the same techniques that we have used to "improve" "health", namely science and reason.

I only think that this is the fatal flaw.
Science and reason are used to show us the single objective answer for the questions that are able to have single objective answers.
Like when dealing with health, if an arm is broken, science and reason tells us how to set it and restrict it's movement so that it can heal. This has one single, objective answer. There may be some aspects of health that are not so cut and dry, my point is that there are a few simple areas (like broken bones, small cuts...) where there are simple, objective answers that are correct all the time.

But this doesn't exist in morality at all. There is not one single simple example where science and reason can show us that there is always a "morally correct" course of action.
Even something as simple as opening a door for someone. On the surface, it may seem like this is always the right thing to do.
But it's not... whether or not it's the right thing to do depends on how the person reacts to the situation.
If I hold the door for someone, and they tell me that they did not like it because they have been trying very hard lately to work on their independence and really want to do some of these things for themselves, therefore it annoyed them that I held the door open...
That means that holding the door open for this person was a morally bad action.

I do like the "peaks and valleys" description. I just think it's important to understand that the peaks and valleys represented actually real people (who react differently to different situations). Not some sort of "inherently unknowable ambiguity." It is knowable (if you are able to communicate with the people you're dealing with). It's just different for different people.

Science and reason cannot deal with these sorts of situations. That's because morallity is subjective. Whether or not we help or hurt someone is dependent entirely on how that person views the situation... not on how we view it. We can make our best guess, we can try to do what we think is best... but other people are the final authority on how our actions affect them. How can it be any other way?
A genuine moral system needs to accept this subjectiveness. Recognize it and understand it, not try to work around it.

Science cannot predict subjectiveness. It can help us in trying to do our best to help others. But we can never us it as an excuse. I can never say "well, maybe you didn't like me holding the door open for you, but everyone else likes it so there's nothing I could do... therefore I didn't do anything wrong."
That is rationalizing away the error in the situation. Starting down that road is morally bad. It can lead to worse rationalizations that "seem okay given certain facts."
It's okay to screw up, it's okay to be wrong, the correct course of action is to acknowledge we did something wrong, learn from it, and do better next time (that is, stop holding the door open for that particular person). It is not correct to rationalize away other people's feelings when the entire point of morality is how to deal with other people!

If the youtube videos have sparked your interest, I would encourage you to read the book as Harris makes a much more complete argument in print. I was able to check it out at my local library.

Thank-you for the tip, but I'm not that interested in it
Perhaps one day I will have the time, but not in the foreseeable future.
I like to talk (ramble?) about morality, but research isn't exactly my cup of tea. I don't intend my posts to be "arguing against you, personally" so much as I intend them to be a simple discussion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by Jazzns, posted 10-27-2012 4:59 PM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by Jazzns, posted 10-29-2012 9:57 AM Stile has responded

    
Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1297 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 29 of 34 (677337)
10-29-2012 9:57 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Stile
10-29-2012 9:11 AM


Re: Just Morality
I think you are operating under a different, more narrow definition of morality. I don't think we are limited to just how people perceive things at all. That is an artificial constraint that only seems to arise in the subset of morality dedicated to personal human interaction. But there is much more to morality than that.

First of all, more things can be ascribed as moral or immoral than just the personal decisions we make. Abolishing the state sanctioned ownership of people is clearly moral while the genocide is clearly not. I don't think that what you are claiming is that we can't make a moral distiction between these extremes is it?

Again, to Harris' point, it may actually be quite vague to proclaim any particular personal act to be more moral than another, many may be equally moral. But it is quite easy to declare some acts to be universally and objectivly immoral. There is no situation where throwing acid on the faces of young girls trying to go to school such that it increases our fitness on the landscape.

So straining over some gray area about opening doors or the proper way to greet someone seems to somewhat miss the point. There are much more interesting gray areas such as if we should allow abortion!

I also have a problem with one thing you said:

Science and reason are used to show us the single objective answer for the questions that are able to have single objective answers.

I wonder if reading that now you might want to rephrase that statement? Science and reason quite OFTEN end in multiple ambiguous and tentative conclusions based on a known insufficiency of evidence. That is why we may have multiple peaks on the landscape. While there may be a "right" answer, we may never be in a position to know it and in the mean time we will not be able to see the crests of various fitness peaks to decide which is the tallest.

Again, knowing this does not eliminate the existence of the peaks or our ability to notice the local gradient of moving up or down it.


If we long for our planet to be important, there is something we can do about it. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers. --Carl Sagan

This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Stile, posted 10-29-2012 9:11 AM Stile has responded

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 Message 30 by Stile, posted 10-29-2012 10:43 AM Jazzns has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 2859
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 30 of 34 (677348)
10-29-2012 10:43 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by Jazzns
10-29-2012 9:57 AM


Re: Just Morality
Jazzns writes:

I don't think we are limited to just how people perceive things at all. That is an artificial constraint that only seems to arise in the subset of morality dedicated to personal human interaction.

Ah... "personal" human interaction vs. non-personal?

Abolishing the state sanctioned ownership of people is clearly moral while the genocide is clearly not. I don't think that what you are claiming is that we can't make a moral distinction between these extremes is it?

Of course not.
What I'm saying is that the distinction depends on the people involved, though.
When the state-sanctioned ownership of people was abolished, wouldn't you agree that there were many people voicing their opinion that they did not want to be owned?
Let's say (for some strange reason) that no one ever complained about being owned... that people even liked being owned. Do you think that the abolishment would still have been created? Who would have proposed the idea? Who would have backed it, and pushed it forward?

Again with genocide. Are you saying that people have never voiced their opinions that they would not like to be killed?

But it is quite easy to declare some acts to be universally and objectivly immoral.

I do not think that it is.
I think it is simply quite easy to guess-correctly that people do not want to be hurt.

There is no situation where throwing acid on the faces of young girls trying to go to school such that it increases our fitness on the landscape.

But... you've included my pre-requisite right in your example.
If the girls are trying to go to school then obviously they do not want acid thrown on their faces. Communication is more than just speech.

If you want to frame horrible situations, then we would have to do so in context:

Let's say there's an evil all powerful overlord controlling some place.
Let's say there's a young teenage mother with a child that does not like this land.
Let's say the evil overlord will allow the mother and child to leave and live elsewhere if you throw some acid on the mother's face.
Maybe then the young girl would want you to throw acid on her face.

We might have to guess at what other people want. And most the time we do.
My point is that sometimes we don't have to, and always, always, the people being affected have the final, highest authority on whether or not the action being done to them was good or bad. Regardless of whatever you or I may think, regardless of whatever background experience you or I may have.

There are much more interesting gray areas such as if we should allow abortion!

Agreed. Using my method, we would have to ask the mother and the baby how they feel about it. Without being able to communicate with the baby, we would have to seek such guidance through the mother (as we do with living babies). And because we sometimes cannot trust our communication with mothers and children, we have certain laws and restrictions in place to attempt to protect children until they reach an age where we are able to communicate with them as an adult.

I'm certainly not saying that there's an answer for every question (or that we have everything right). In fact, I'm saying the exact opposite. I'm saying that a whole lot of moral questions simply do not have answers available to us (if we cannot communicate with those being affected). That doesn't mean we can call our actions good or bad based on anything else.
This simply means that the action will remain "morally unknown" until we can get such communication. It may very well remain morally unknown forever.

I think it is important to identify when something is morally unknown and make sure that we do not allow others to call something "good" or "bad" when it is unknown. That is a rationalization which leads to bigger problems. We can talk about our best course of action... our best guess to help as much as we can... but to suddenly switch and say "I know that this is actually good to do!" without having the proper communication to actually know such a thing... is fundamentally ignoring what morality is about.

I wonder if reading that now you might want to rephrase that statement? Science and reason quite OFTEN end in multiple ambiguous and tentative conclusions based on a known insufficiency of evidence. That is why we may have multiple peaks on the landscape. While there may be a "right" answer, we may never be in a position to know it and in the mean time we will not be able to see the crests of various fitness peaks to decide which is the tallest.

No, I wouldn't rephrase my statement as it was, but if we're going to add "incomplete information" into it, then obviously science and reason may only be able to lead us to a best guess.

I actually do endorse using science and reason to form our "best guess" for moral situations.
My point is to recognize the limits here. Science and reason can never be used to identify something that is actually good or actually bad. When morality is involved, science and reason will always have incomplete information.
The final piece of information is the communication from those affected.. if they feel helped or hurt. And science can never determine such a thing.

Science and reason are an excellent tool to track our experiences to help us form our best moral "guesses." But the answers are sometimes not linear or logical because they are subjectively dependant on other people's subjective feelings. That is why science and reason cannot ever be our "final tool" in reaching a conclusion. We have to understand that morality is about people, and people are subjective. Therefore, the only way to reach a final conclusion is to communicate with those people.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by Jazzns, posted 10-29-2012 9:57 AM Jazzns has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 31 by Jazzns, posted 10-29-2012 6:11 PM Stile has responded

    
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