The Heathen Hub

A community where people can talk about atheism, religion, science, humanism, evolution, politics, Creationism, literature, reason, rational enquiry, logic, cooking, reading, travel and life.

Spacer
To select different styles:

Spacer Go Back   The Heathen Hub   >  General   >  Philosophy, logic and mathematics
Reload this Page Ethics:  Richard Carrier defying reality, does ethics to be magically discovered by science
Spacer

Spacer   Spacer

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reply

Richard Carrier defying reality, does ethics to be magically discovered by science

 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-Apr-2010, 08:03 PM (20:03)     31        38721
Gurdur
Very professional penguin
 
Gurdur's Avatar
 
administrator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5,332
Blog Entries: 1022
Default

WAR_ON_ERROR, I am also going to have to request something else here, in an official kind of way.

Please do leave out any negative personal comments about other members here (I do realize you have already begun to leave such remarks out, thanks for that); not only were your previous personal comments back in the thread quite often wrong, but they interfere with the logical argument.

You know you are welcome here; and you know that making your point of view known here on the logical argument is more than welcomed, and you've been invited to blog and post much more on this. But making unnecessary and irrelevant negative personal remarks is off.

Thank-you for your co-operation, and let's keep the logical argument going well and rolling,
~ Gurdur

Last edited by Gurdur; 04-Apr-2010 at 05:55 PM (17:55).
Gurdur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-Apr-2010, 03:38 AM (03:38)     32        38732
alicat
faithless and unreasonable
 
member


Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 586
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post

I think Sam Harris (as well as Carrier) are actually pushing for just a science of morality on its own terms regardless of its utility in fighting the evils of religion. Religion is obviously going to come up a lot since that is the frame that morality is most often seen in, but I think both of them would whole-heartedly agree that if religion dropped off the face of the planet tomorrow, a science of morality would be just as important a pursuit for helping to address life's most important questions with humanity's best methods of discernment.
Here we see some blatant bias on the part of a supposed scientist, "evils of religion." Is it really? Sure Harris points out religious atrocities, yet there are also many religious and charitable organizations that go out and Do Good. People find comfort and hope in faith. Most religions at their core include some simple teachings about love that can change lives more effectively than cold hard facts. So is religion evil? It's all how you stir the pot. Of course Pol Pot and Stalin don't prove atheist regimes are inherntly evil either. Most religions have some teaching about how knowledge of good and evil or duality is the root of guilt and suffering. So would a more complicated system of defining and labelling even promote harmony in society, how does Harris know a system based on experts and complex rules for behavior would promote happiness, historically this hasn't worked too well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
If the science of morality was a house that Sam Harris told you to break into, you guys would have to come back and report that the security system is just too tight. There was a paper clip on the driveway someone tripped on and broke their hip. The small stones surrounding the garden were in your way. You just couldn't figure out the timing on the sprinkler in order to not get wet. And it was just unfathomable to walk around it. And Sam Harris just has to *facepalm* at your report of failure. He points out that all your belongings are already inside. That the front door is wide open. Marks suspiciously resembling your footprints are already all throughout most of the house. He points out that he didn't even have to give you building schematics since you are strangely already familiar with many of the rooms in the house (though not all of them and not completely). And Harris is completely baffled that you were unable to walk from the street across your own lawn and into your own house and sit down to make yourself at home, while he is busy making plans to rigorously appraise every room, board, nail, and screw (and maybe do some renovating). Sam Harris as Xzibit: "Yo dawg. We put some science in your morality so you can be right about being right while you're still alright."
If the science of morality was a house Harris told me to break into??
Why would I try to do that? Why should anyone do what Harris tells them? Quit worrying about rules and which leader to follow and which commands are the right ones, just go and live your own life with integrity and compassion.

Fixed quote tag - Never

Last edited by Never; 05-Apr-2010 at 05:52 PM (17:52). Reason: oh, can't get the quotes right, oh well
alicat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-Apr-2010, 02:32 AM (02:32)     33        38775
Civil1z@tion
Member
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
And on the same topic, Civil1z@tion says:

Quote:
The only thing which sets a sociopath apart from the rest of humanity is their differing moral preferences.
Um no, something is actually physically wrong with their brains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy).
First off, that is psychopathy not sociopathy. The two are distinctly different mental conditions. Even if psychopathy is a brain malfunction (a point I'll cover later) it still doesn't relieve Carrier or Harris from dealing with sociopathy which still would present exceptions to the universality of their system.

[
Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
B]Civil1z@tion added:[/B]

Quote:
Harris' presentation of the issue was far superior especially considering his view of the potential for multiple "peaks" or optimum positions. It was still fundamentally flawed, but I'd rather live in Harris' construction than Carrier's.
Carrier's presentation was much more philosophically articulate and hence had its own strengths. For example, if you read Harris' response to his critics one of the things that came up a bunch was Hume's guillotine. Well Carrier actually explained why his theory still works. Carrier and Harris are on the same page in terms of their being multiple peeks of happiness. I see no difference in substance between their respective positions. Though I'm more familiar with their writings in general.
I missed the part where Carrier talked about the peaks thing but that's quite possibly my bad not his.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
If the science of morality was a house that Sam Harris told you to break into, you guys would have to come back and report that the security system is just too tight. There was a paper clip on the driveway someone tripped on and broke their hip. The small stones surrounding the garden were in your way. You just couldn't figure out the timing on the sprinkler in order to not get wet. And it was just unfathomable to walk around it. And Sam Harris just has to *facepalm* at your report of failure. He points out that all your belongings are already inside. That the front door is wide open. Marks suspiciously resembling your footprints are already all throughout most of the house. He points out that he didn't even have to give you building schematics since you are strangely already familiar with many of the rooms in the house (though not all of them and not completely). And Harris is completely baffled that you were unable to walk from the street across your own lawn and into your own house and sit down to make yourself at home, while he is busy making plans to rigorously appraise every room, board, nail, and screw (and maybe do some renovating). Sam Harris as Xzibit: "Yo dawg. We put some science in your morality so you can be right about being right while you're still alright."

It would be truly a shame if even the secular world couldn't get on relatively the same page as far as moral objectivity goes. But I guess it just goes to show how necessary moral education really is, doesn't it? Bring on the next round!

Ben
Harris and Carrier both still fail on the idea humans must value certain things, things that we just so happen to be raised to like such as happiness. You can potentially show that many people like these things but you cannot show that it is good to like these things. Majority does not imply correctness (or else we all better give up being atheists).

You haven't really countered the sociopathy argument (bringing in psychopathy is not a counter to sociopathy and even that argument fails for reasons I'll get into presently) so if a person can have sufficiently divergent values to be sociopathic then there is no necessary universal system of human morality. As for psychopathy, even if the brain structure is different that does not prove a psychopath is wrong to want what he/she does. Since dualism is bs anyways all people have somewhat different brain structures from each other. So if you look hard enough you'll find anyone who disagrees with you have some level (probably minor and only involving neuron connections but still existent) of brain differences from you. As for psychopathy's differences being more severe, that still doesn't mean they must be wrong. The only reason we call it a disorder is because it is different from the majority.

Take this example. A poster in another forum I visit argues that homosexuality is a mental disorder. He argues this on the basis that it is outside societal norms and leads to depression/suicide/etc. Now, the only reason that homosexuality would lead to mental problems is because the rest of society rejects homosexuals but this does not change his definition. The fact is homosexuals are in the minority and thus they must be the one with the disorder according to this poster. However, I think we can agree that he's full of crap, there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. On the other hand the argument to exclude psychopathy's values from a moral code even acknowledging brain differences (homosexual brains aren't precisely the same as heterosexual brains in the same way that my brain isn't the same as yours) ultimately comes down to no more than the majority must be right. Maybe the psychopaths are the ones who are right and the rest of us have mental disorders. Ultimately the only argument for excluding them is the same argument the homo-phobic poster I mention used. Just because they don't value other humans' lives doesn't me they must be wrong.
Civil1z@tion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-Apr-2010, 05:01 PM (17:01)     34        39100
Makbawehuh
Doctor Ragnarok
 
Makbawehuh's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: The darkest corners of your imagination. Or maybe right next to you. I'm not telling!
Posts: 4,015
Blog Entries: 170
Default

It's amazing how bullies fall off the face of the planet when you call them on personal insults.

Carrier hasn't got much going for him if all he's got is one easily defeated troll.
__________________
"Time once again for an important GNR public service announcement! Don't feed the yao guai. That is all." ~Three Dog

"Remember kids, a smart man knows when it's time to run like a little bitch!" ~Kanta, Desert Punk
Makbawehuh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-Apr-2010, 10:00 AM (10:00)     35        39123
WAR_ON_ERROR
Junior Member
 
WAR_ON_ERROR's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 13
Default Pardon the break.

Gurdur,

Quote:
Please do leave out any negative personal comments about other members here
Understood.

ouinon,

Quote:
Am I right in thinking that the argument here is between believers in an absolute system of morality discoverable by science ( or religion, etc ), and those who believe that systems of morality are always subjective, their value depending on context, ( time, place, etc ), their nature necessarily changing/open to change?
Incorrect. That is the argument everyone *else* is having (as both Gurdur and Makbawehuh enthusiastically confirm). The argument *I'm* having is to show there is an in between and that those who choose to engage in that false dichotomy already know it is a false dichotomy. "Objective" does not mean "absolute." It just means there is something objective to it to the meaningful extent that there is. If people are just going to react to buzz words apart from context, we're going to have to invent new words that mean the same things in order to get the ball rolling.

Makbawehuh,

Quote:
It's amazing how bullies fall off the face of the planet when you call them on personal insults.
Actually, I'm just really busy. I'm sorry you felt bullied and trolled by my previous comments. I will improve my tone.

Mainly, it's my frustration that no matter what I say, I'm constantly misunderstood and not for any good reason. For example, you said:

Quote:
You ask those questions like offering- and taking- the advice of others is entirely a good thing.
Why would that have to be the case? I'm pointing out that we already have active social venues for looking for help on our own personal understanding of human happiness in some very uncontroversial ways.

In fact, when we subtract your uncharitable interpretation of my position and leave in the obvious fact you've presented (as though it was somehow counter to my position), we actually have evidence a science of morality is desirable. Since we often enough can use good advice and that advice can be bad, wouldn't it make a great deal of sense to subject that territory to rigorous investigation?

I find myself in a number of instances where I am in no position to verify a moral hypothesis. My limited personal expertise tapers off and plausibly an advanced scientific investigation would be in order. Science can pool more people, gather more data, and do a lot better than my personal best guess (and even the more advanced guesses of my moral elders). The same is true on just about any other subject. I would think we are all science enthusiasts here (at least, that is the atheist stereotype) and so this should be no surprise. Am I the only one here runs into that impasse? That's puzzling.

Quote:
Not everyone is happy just having the basic things being met.
I agree, and so that's why I don't understand why you don't think this adds to Harris' position rather than yours. You agree that happiness is a great deal more than just having your basic needs met. It's a skill and an art with a great deal many pitfalls to navigate around.

There are even underlying principles to the more subjective aspects of it. We may arbitrarily enjoy completely different superficial things, and yet so many people have trouble not feeling guilty about their leisure time. The underlying principle of just how to morally frame your subjective leisure time is an important tool that not everyone has developed. So even though we can easily point out the differences, there are always similar underlying principles to elaborate on.

Quote:
And yes, I do think it's inconceivable that science could tell what would make every person on the face of this earth what they need to be happy, because that science would need to track down and be applied to individuals. You can't take an "overall something" and apply it to everyone and tell them it's going to make them happy.
Quote:
There's no workable "one right way" for everyone. There never is.
See, that's a strawman. Harris, Carrier, and myself have never advocated such a thing. In fact, Harris went way out of his way to advocate the exact opposite. That's what the whole "many peaks" thing was about. I don't understand why there is a misunderstanding.

If we use the nutrition analogy once again, we would not expect science to be able to dispense a perfect specially catered diet to absolutely everyone on the planet. But that doesn't stop us from learning about nutrition. That doesn't keep the scientific nutritional square one at "it's a complete nutritional free for all as long as its not poison." We are not stuck having to figure that kind of thing out for completely for ourselves.

Quote:
And unless you can bring them around to the understanding on their own, it's pointless. They -must- figure it out on their own. If they do not figure it out on their own it means nothing to them.
That's true, and yet this is where preemptive education comes into play. We don't tend to teach our kids about the many kinds of abusive relationships that are typical. Moral education is a taboo unless it's in Sunday School. Obviously, as you say, once stuck in the mud, people at some level have to figure it out for themselves, but even that isn't absolute. I'm sure you are well aware that many people in abusive relationships will half admit it, yet persist anyway just like so many smokers who are always trying to quit.

You cannot possibly hope to argue persuasively that a well rounded moral education (in tandem with academics) would have zero positive impact on the future relationships people will get into later in life. We already know that is not true just from that CNN article I linked to earlier. My prediction is that whatever evidence you will offer to the contrary will be bad (or good evidence will be illogically applied). And I will just be showing you what you already know, because these are not mysteries. I leave that up to you to figure out why you persistently resist the conclusion.

Quote:
Stalin tried it
Remember when I said:

Quote:
hehe, oh no! The scientific takeover of morality! Down with Carrier-Care! Death panels for everyone who science declares is immoral! Where's Carrier's birth certificate!?!!
And then you got insulted by it (even though I *told you* I was teasing)? You responded:

Quote:
Wow, I should hand you my Troll-hat. That pissed me off just a little bit. Congratulations, for whatever it's worth. I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet, so it could be that my temper is still first-thing-in-the-morning hair-triggered.
Equating all possible versions of early moral education with Stalin is superficial and adds nothing to the conversation. I'm sure you are smarter than that.

Quote:
Moral education? That sounds suspiciously like Catechism. Thank you, I'd like to not attend classes to tell me things that I don't agree with. Did that once, don't want to do it again.
You had bad experiences in Christian moral education therefore all moral education is evil? That hardly follows any more than people who had good experiences with moral education of some kind refutes the fact that you didn't.

Quote:
You know, you keep wanting to insist that I'm not living in the real world, and that I spend all my time gaming, and you keep focusing on my lack of a social life like it's some sort of an insult. Well you know what? I'm a gamer in my spare time... Is that supposed to be sad? Is it abormal? Am I supposed to be ashamed of this? Do you think I'm detached from reality because I choose to not spend time with people, because after working all day long WITH PEOPLE, I'm not overly in the mood to deal with them? Is -that- why you keep ragging on it?
Actually quite the contrary. I think you are living in the real world and I think you know most of the same things I do about the topic. It would be surprising if I could introduce something new. Harris and Carrier certainly didn't bring up anything new. We're not trying to invent morality from scratch in 2010. Hence, the "it's like you don't live in the real world" comments are meant to be rhetorical. It's meant to jog you into the obvious fact that we live in the same world and that these things are not mysteries.

I use video game analogies because those are examples you are familiar with (and I like video games). Apparently this conversation has become a hurt-each-other's-feelings contest, and for that I apologize. I originally started out with an improper tone because Gurdur said to be brutal. So I was brutal. Apparently he didn't mean it. But that's my fault. I knew better and I let my frustrations get the best of me as I said above.

Quote:
Question though- How would you react if someone decided it was scientifically morally correct to do something you don't agree with? Would that make you happy?
That's a great question. And it's the same answer that I give to any other time when my personal convictions conflict with science on any topic. I reconsider my personal convictions. Don't you? I learn to listen to better evidence that has been accumulated with better methods than I personally have access to. And I seek to find out as much as I can about a particular conflict if it is important to me to understand just why exactly I'm so grossly mistaken. Just because it snows in Spring, and just because I don't understand the science behind global climate change, doesn't mean I side with the science deniers against a consensus of experts.

Why should I assume that following the advice generated from a science of human happiness would make me unhappy in the long term? Did they do the science wrong? I'd have to make a fallacious argument to the future that our science of morality would be a failure and I have no reason to presume that at this time. And if it would be a failure, then obviously I would agree with you and there wouldn't be an issue in the first place.

And if I just don't want to listen to even good advice, presumably, that'd be at my own expense. It's just like nutrition. I should probably be eating more vegetables, and I know that if I ignore that advice, I will probably be less healthy in some way. That's my choice. But at least it's an *informed* bad decision.

alicat,

Quote:
Here we see some blatant bias on the part of a supposed scientist, "evils of religion." Is it really?
Where did I say "Religion is all evil?" I could just as easily (and consistently) have said "...regardless of its utility in fighting the evils of [insert any topic here that has a down-side]." All I see is that blatant worst constructions are being applied to everything I say because my opponents here don't like (and don't understand) my conclusions.

Quote:
So would a more complicated system of defining and labelling even promote harmony in society, how does Harris know a system based on experts and complex rules for behavior would promote happiness, historically this hasn't worked too well.
I've already pointed out the success of teaching emotional eduction to kids. That's proof of concept enough and I don't think you can label that as some kind of evil communist regime. It just makes more well rounded kids.

If "too complicated" means "doesn't work" then that really isn't what an appropriate science of morality is going to generate isn't it? It's going to need to develop systemic tools to simplify it down to a useful level. I'm certain that will come up. I just don't understand why these criticisms never generate prescriptions for how to pursue a science of morality correctly.

Civil1z@tion,

Quote:
First off, that is psychopathy not sociopathy. The two are distinctly different mental conditions.
Sure. "Sociopathy" actually directs you to the "psychopathy" wiki article which says:

Quote:
Neither psychopathy, nor the similar concept of sociopathy, are nowadays defined in international diagnostic manuals, which instead describe a category of antisocial/dissocial personality disorder.
The principle is the same in any event. Persons are not unified beings to begin with. They are collections of many parts. Universal prescriptions only scale to the extent they actually correlate reasonably well with the terms they are meant to address. Someone who actually has brain damage or even is just too screwed up from years of abuse will simply not be applicable to whatever extent they are actually inapplicable. The same is true in any science. We can predict what will happen to the extent the conditions we are referring to actually hold up. That's not news and it doesn't stop science on any other topic.

Quote:
...it still doesn't relieve Carrier or Harris from dealing with sociopathy which still would present exceptions to the universality of their system.
I've already addressed this point with the nutrition analogy and the exceptions for people who shouldn't take the food pyramid as the gospel truth if in fact they are deathly allergic to peanuts. The rest of the food chart is still going to apply and still objectively useful for humanity in general.

I don't see why this is a problem. If we need to use another term for "universal" then so be it. It doesn't really matter as long as we are communicating and recognizing that a science of human happiness is not sunk because of exceptions.

Quote:
I missed the part where Carrier talked about the peaks thing but that's quite possibly my bad not his.
He may not have explicitly mentioned it (it's been a while since I've watched the video), but I'm certain he'd agree.

Quote:
As for psychopathy's differences being more severe, that still doesn't mean they must be wrong. The only reason we call it a disorder is because it is different from the majority.
I think there are more measures available than a popularity vote. There are coherency and quality issues as well. Let's say I'm stranded on an island, have never met another human before, and when I use 3 out of 4 of my limbs they hurt excruciatingly. But one of them doesn't and is perfectly useful. Obviously the majority does not win in this case and we don't need to see a whole population of humans to recognize there is something wrong with our other three limbs. People who have something wrong with their brains are able to make similar observations from obvious utility and extension. Of course, seeing a bunch of other people who flourish in the way they do not probably helps put that in perspective.

Quote:
Take this example. A poster in another forum I visit argues that homosexuality is a mental disorder. He argues this on the basis that it is outside societal norms and leads to depression/suicide/etc. Now, the only reason that homosexuality would lead to mental problems is because the rest of society rejects homosexuals but this does not change his definition. The fact is homosexuals are in the minority and thus they must be the one with the disorder according to this poster. However, I think we can agree that he's full of crap, there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. On the other hand the argument to exclude psychopathy's values from a moral code even acknowledging brain differences (homosexual brains aren't precisely the same as heterosexual brains in the same way that my brain isn't the same as yours) ultimately comes down to no more than the majority must be right. Maybe the psychopaths are the ones who are right and the rest of us have mental disorders. Ultimately the only argument for excluding them is the same argument the homo-phobic poster I mention used. Just because they don't value other humans' lives doesn't me they must be wrong.
Your example completely backfires unless you are going to say that homophobia is just a meaningless difference of opinion. Obviously you don't actually believe that or you'd have no basis for confronting that guy on the other forum.

So, what is the difference between homosexuality and psychopathy? I'll bet you can tell me, but I'll humor you anyway. Are all brain differences created equal or are we using the same metric of "not hurting anyone" vs "hurting someone" when the brain differences happen to entail that people will be hurt as a result? If their ability to care about others is messed up (for whatever reason), that isn't prejudice on our parts. We have just as much a right to defend our interests as they do simply because of the brute fact that we do. We live in the moral wild. If aliens show up who have anti-human values based on their brain structure that can't be changed, that's just an extreme conflict of interests that can only be resolved by war. Tough oats.

Incidentally (if I'm allowed to go off on a sci-fi tangent) this issue came up in the Stargate Atlantis series with Wraith (who where basically an advanced species of alien vampires). Humans were their food. Unfortunately humans are smart food and so they were constantly at war. It appears it's not actually that great of an idea to have a craving for a sentient (and capable) lifeform as food since they are just as likely to kill you as you are to successfully eat them. And so, even though it was deeply ingrained in Wraith culture (the culling of humans), there were some Wraith who were willing to recognize that gene therapy to de-vampire them actually made a lot of sense (even though it was humiliating). So even that extreme example isn't necessarily an absolute and common ground can still be found to the extent that it can.

None of this impacts the feasibility of a science of human happiness.

Ben
WAR_ON_ERROR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-Apr-2010, 12:52 PM (12:52)     36        39127
ouinon
Senior Member
 
ouinon's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 118
Blog Entries: 9
Default

WAR ON ERROR; I don't understand where "science" comes into any of that. It sounds like old fashioned political philosophy mixed with various approaches from the social sciences. What exactly is "scientific" about it?

Why does Carrier use the word "science" about his proposals?
ouinon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-Apr-2010, 03:05 PM (15:05)     37        39131
WAR_ON_ERROR
Junior Member
 
WAR_ON_ERROR's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 13
Default Why science?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ouinon View Post
WAR ON ERROR; I don't understand where "science" comes into any of that. It sounds like old fashioned political philosophy mixed with various approaches from the social sciences. What exactly is "scientific" about it?

Why does Carrier use the word "science" about his proposals?
Have you watched the videos? Carrier discusses which facts he thinks are relevant to grounding a real moral paradigm and why science should investigate.

I think it should be obvious to any scientifically literate person that if morality is about the facts of the real world, and if we are already doing our own personal best to distill the best way of life, then science should be able to piggyback on every part of that process and improve the quality of the conclusions by eliminating the personal bias.

Presumably the 4 or 5 people I'm responding to here do not find that obvious at all, and I don't know why that is. If they are familiar with the moral terrain (as they have shown they are) and they are familiar with the scientific process (which presumably they are), and if I've at all cleared up any misconceptions (which I don't see why that can't happen), then I don't see why those two worlds couldn't commingle effectively. I don't think I have to spell out exactly what scientists are going to do in order for people to move from their incredulity to plausibility from the sidelines.

A prominent example in the Sam Harris video (where I think Harris failed to get into enough detail) is female ultra modesty in the Muslim world versus female immodesty in the Western world. He claims that both probably represent deficient expressions of the best that female mental health and edification are capable of. I think that if we are familiar enough with the concepts of modesty and female self image and all the abuses that seem typical of either extreme, it shouldn't be too hard to agree with Harris in a general sense. That's just general orientation to show that we have something objective to work with, but science presumably could narrow it down and give us more definitive measures of just how much modesty in a culture promotes the most human happiness. Perhaps it leans one way or the other. How would we know unless we actually put it to the test?

We might hasten a guess, but hypothetically it could turn out that the overall balance that Sharia law provides the human experience is the most profitable for our psychology. I highly doubt that is the case, but it is possible. Morality is about desire management and factoring in the broad scape of human desires for all sorts of things. It is very difficult to judge explicitly and that's probably why most people back away into subjectivity land even when they shouldn't. If the goal is a proper balance of modesty and other factors, we can then set out to find out who is actually attaining that nest of goals best (assuming anyone is). Wouldn't you want to know if Muslims happen to have it right? I certainly would. Or rather more likely, wouldn't it be great if we have some definitive evidence that Allah (and associates) doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about?

At the very least Muslim women would know exactly what the worldly cost is of serving Allah (assuming they are willing to separate out Allah's will from the ideal of human happiness). People tend to accept the cultural norms they are immersed in, but they don't know what they don't know and that doesn't mean some cultures aren't better at human happiness than others.

Ben
WAR_ON_ERROR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-Apr-2010, 05:08 PM (17:08)     38        39134
ouinon
Senior Member
 
ouinon's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 118
Blog Entries: 9
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
Have you watched the videos?
I haven't, because I have real trouble listening to people talking at length about theories, on video or radio. I much prefer text based presentations. If you could give me a link, or ref, to read that would be great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
I think it should be obvious to any scientifically literate person that if morality is about the facts of the real world ...
Is morality about "facts of the real world" though? What connection is there between morality and "the real world", if any? And if there is one how does it work? How does what we think and believe affect our behaviour? Do our thoughts and beliefs in fact affect our behaviour, or are they just the side-effects/by products of behaving in a certain way, of our bodies moving in certain ways, of certain physical experiences, the wake of the boat rather than the steering wheel? Is there any proof that what we believe, our morals, etc determines what we do rather than being an almost automatic cognitive response ( in the presence of language ), a process of making sense of what we do, say and see, "after" or "during" the (f)act?

So long as science fails to provide proof that what we think and believe determines what we do, the only reason for a "science of happiness" to focus on morals/ethics at all, rather than exclusively on our physical environments, ( including diet, physical activity in infancy, clothing, transport, the laws governing how and where we are allowed to move, etc ) would be because it believed that what we think and believe has an effect on our mood/feelings, including whether we are happy or not. But I'm not sure that has been proven either; it may just be a correlation. Scientific experiments have shown that how happy we feel may have more to do with our physical actions and chemical states than what we might be thinking about things.

A "science of happiness" might therefore be justified in exploring what happens if eliminate gluten from the diet of 25% of the population, ( or dairy or sugar, or corn, or artificial colourings and flavourings ); if oblige schoolchildren to spend at least 50% of every school day outside, in the sunshine/daylight, ( gardening, building, using their hands, moving constantly, etc ), or if make car use illegal except for emergencies and certain service providers, etc among other measures. But I can not see the point in it interesting itself in morals/ethics ... unless new evidence comes to light which proves that our beliefs do impact on our happiness.

Have Carrier and colleagues chosen to focus on happiness because they believe that happiness is a measure of how well someone is functioning?

Is there any evidence that happiness correlates with "healthy", or helpful/constructive, or socially desirable, behaviour? It may be, ( if happiness does depend to any extent on what think/believe ), that people tend to feel happy if they can engage in the things that their society values, the things that they have been taught to value too, such that they can use socially-approved frameworks to make sense of their actions/behaviour, however fundamentally destructive they might in fact be, ( consumerism, for instance ), rather than having to come up with different ones of their own, but greater happiness might come from being forced to find ones own framework, in which case societies with apparently appallingly divisive and discriminatory value systems might be a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
Science should be able to piggyback on every part of that process and improve the quality of the conclusions by eliminating the personal bias. ... Presumably the 4 or 5 people I'm responding to here do not find that obvious at all, and I don't know why that is.
I can understand the idea of science investigating what makes people happy, but I don't see why Carrier etc have chosen ( a net global ) happiness as the goal, when it is clear that a great many people, the majority, apparently often feel very happy engaging in ( what looks to me like ) seriously destructive behaviour every day of their lives, unless it is because society very often depends on people feeling happy doing destructive things, and Carrier is interested in optimising this process. I really don't find the connection with morality/ethics obvious at all, nor do I understand why optimising happiness has been chosen as the goal. What is "moral" about happiness?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
Science presumably could narrow it down and give us more definitive measures of just how much modesty in a culture promotes the most human happiness. ... How would we know unless we actually put it to the test? ... We might [ hazard ] a guess, but hypothetically it could turn out that the overall balance that Sharia law provides is the most profitable for our psychology. I highly doubt that is the case, but it is possible.
It would be interesting to find out if the physical restraints/constraint associated with certain gendered or religious clothing customs had an effect on happiness, although it would probably depend on whether or not had use of a car to get about, whether were physically fit from other activities, etc. But again I don't see what that has to do with morality, except in so far as the morality serves to make sense of/"justify" the physical practice and its effects. I see the "modesty" that you refer to as simply the label that we have attached to the behaviour, rather than the reason for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
Morality is about desire management and factoring in the broad scape of human desires for all sorts of things. It is very difficult to judge explicitly and that's probably why most people back away into subjectivity land even when they shouldn't.
How do you know that morality has anything to do with "desire management"? How do you know that our bodies don't just get on with "desire management" according to the mixture of "rules" that they were born with and the purely physical lessons it has learned since? Maybe morality is just how our mind makes sense of what the body gets up to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR
People tend to accept the cultural norms they are immersed in, but they don't know what they don't know and that doesn't mean some cultures aren't better at human happiness than others.
How would you go about measuring happiness in order to find out which ones?

Wouldn't a "Happiness Quotient" suffer from the same sorts of faults as the Intellectual Quotient has tended to, which is inherent, almost unavoidable, cultural bias? Even the most recent supposedly improved IQ tests discriminate against people brought up in the far east because of socially and linguistically conditioned different "gestalts", ( heightened or reduced perception of different kinds of data etc ).

Wouldn't one nation's happiness be quite genuinely, and inherently, because of different climate, physical types, food, language, etc, another nation's misery? But most of all, how does it have anything to do with morality?

.

Last edited by ouinon; 19-Apr-2010 at 05:19 PM (17:19).
ouinon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-Apr-2010, 01:05 AM (01:05)     39        39165
Gurdur
Very professional penguin
 
Gurdur's Avatar
 
administrator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5,332
Blog Entries: 1022
Exclamation

First off:

I am going to again ask everyone just to calm down and keep it non-personal. I've been away for a day, and unable to deal with matters, but I will split off any more personal stuff.

Since we do not edit posts here except for spam or truly grevious stuff, I will not edit posts to remove personal one-liners or the like; I will simply split off whole posts and send them to the Cellar. One can speak one's mind in the Cellar, if needs must.
Gurdur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-Apr-2010, 01:41 AM (01:41)     40        39166
Gurdur
Very professional penguin
 
Gurdur's Avatar
 
administrator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5,332
Blog Entries: 1022
Default

Hello WAR_ON_ERROR again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
.... I think it should be obvious to any scientifically literate person that if morality is about the facts of the real world, and if we are already doing our own personal best to distill the best way of life, then science should be able to piggyback on every part of that process and improve the quality of the conclusions by eliminating the personal bias.
Let's explore three aspects here. The first aspect is that your initial premise, "if morality is about the facts of the real world". What exactly is that supposed to mean? There is a great deal of ambiguity already in that one sub-clause.

Morality is about individual decisions and social agreements on ethical statements and judgments about the real world (and also hypotheses). The part that is about making individual decisions and social agreements about parts of the real world is exactly that; no more, no less. What exactly do you want to say with, "if morality is about the facts of the real world"?

The next aspect is, "if we are already doing our own personal best to distill the best way of life". This is crucial, because it is easily observable that ethics from different people and different groups come into conflict. There is no "objective" Ten Commandments written in our genes or written in the stars, upon the heavens, on tablets of stone, in any holy book or science textbook, or anywhere else to say which ethic from a collection of conflicting ethics is the "right" one.

It's extremely easy both to observe conflicts in the real world, and to make thought experiments to show this.

The search for "objective ethics" is in fact a very old one. It was called "natural theology" back from say around 1700 A.D. to 2000 A.D., and was a Christian affair; then from the atheist Objectivist direction, Ayn Rand had a big go at it, and so did Wikipedia link for Leonard Peikoff Leonard Peikoff (in fact one blogger blogged that reading Sam Harris on Harris' newest attempt was like reading an unattributed copying of Peikoff; a cruel observation, but an accurate one). Wikipedia link for Hilary Putnam Hilary Putnam had a much better go at it from a philosophy direction, lots of other people had a go at it. So far no-one succeeded.

All because of:

a) the is/should disconnect
b) the fact that humans can largely change their own behaviour and thoughts if they want to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
Presumably the 4 or 5 people I'm responding to here do not find that obvious at all, and I don't know why that is. If they are familiar with the moral terrain (as they have shown they are) and they are familiar with the scientific process (which presumably they are), and if I've at all cleared up any misconceptions (which I don't see why that can't happen), then I don't see why those two worlds couldn't commingle effectively.
The problem inherent in your whole approach (and in Harris', and Carrier's) is the fallacy of ambiguity, or if you prefer, the cognitive trap and failure, surrounding (here) the word "conmingle".

If I say, "eating human babies is utterly wrong", no doubt I can find some supporting evidence from science to say human babies feel pain. Fine, they feel pain. I can use that in support of my saying, "eating human babies is utterly wrong", but the science still does not actually prove that.

I can say, "if everyone eats all human babies, the human race will go extinct". Fine, the science will back that up, by showing any society going extinct where everyone eats all human babies. But the science still does not actually prove that eating all human babies is "wrong", or that going extinct for humans is necessarily morally "wrong". In fact, just that theme is often explored in science fiction.

Now, if you want to adopt crass utilitarianism, and first make the premise of, "the greatest good for the greatest number", then you can derive from science what ensure the maximum possible number of human lives. But science still cannot tell you what is wrong and what is right.

A very simple thought shows that. If say the German Nazis had gassed all Jews throughout Europe, say around 8 million at the time, then replaced them with 8 million True Aryans, what exactly does science say about that at all? Does science have anything to say about the morality of the genocides of the Australian Aboriginals, the Chechens during WW2, the Native Americans in South and North America, especially when large rises in population after those events have meant much more than replacement of the actual numbers?

Or IOW, the saying, "the greatest good for the greatest number", leaves one hell of a lot unaddressed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
I don't think I have to spell out exactly what scientists are going to do in order for people to move from their incredulity to plausibility from the sidelines.
What exactly do you think "scientists" can do here? Hypothesize on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
At the very least Muslim women would know exactly what the worldly cost is of serving Allah (assuming they are willing to separate out Allah's will from the ideal of human happiness). People tend to accept the cultural norms they are immersed in, but they don't know what they don't know and that doesn't mean some cultures aren't better at human happiness than others.
1) You need to look at why Muslim women in northern Europe and in the USA have begun dressing much more conservatively, adopting the niqab, hijab etc., in a backlash reaction.

2) On "happiness"; many Third World societies show a greater "happiness" amidst economically deprived conditions than do some First World countries with very high standards of living.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
.... In fact, Harris went way out of his way to advocate the exact opposite. That's what the whole "many peaks" thing was about. I don't understand why there is a misunderstanding.
Harris' "many peaks" admission actually undermines his entire argument.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
.... If we use the nutrition analogy once again, we would not expect science to be able to dispense a perfect specially catered diet to absolutely everyone on the planet. But that doesn't stop us from learning about nutrition. That doesn't keep the scientific nutritional square one at "it's a complete nutritional free for all as long as its not poison." We are not stuck having to figure that kind of thing out for completely for ourselves.
And people have been researching and experimenting in the real world on ethics for thousands of years. No amount of neuoscience can actually act as substitute for old sociology, anthropology and philosophy on that score.

If I want to set up a postive conditioning operant experiment on myself, I know how to do that; but to decide what to condition myself into means using history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and then logic to decide just what would be good to condition myself into.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WAR_ON_ERROR View Post
.... That's true, and yet this is where preemptive education comes into play. ....

You cannot possibly hope to argue persuasively that a well rounded moral education (in tandem with academics) would have zero positive impact on the future relationships people will get into later in life.
.....
Is anyone here arguing the opposite? However, a well-rounded ethics education is going to come from history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy and then logic, not from neuroscience.

Not even operant conditioning comes from neuroscience.

Quote:
.... None of this impacts the feasibility of a science of human happiness.
To some degree such sciences of human happiness already exist. I'll be blogging on that very soon too.
Gurdur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-Apr-2010, 03:25 AM (03:25)     41        39248
Makbawehuh
Doctor Ragnarok
 
Makbawehuh's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: The darkest corners of your imagination. Or maybe right next to you. I'm not telling!
Posts: 4,015
Blog Entries: 170
Default

...I have a half-written post, eventually I'll finish it.
Makbawehuh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-Aug-2010, 08:04 AM (08:04)     42        40479
Gurdur
Very professional penguin
 
Gurdur's Avatar
 
administrator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5,332
Blog Entries: 1022
Default

I've now started what will be a series of blog posts on Sam Harris and his approach to ethics. I plan to be very comprehensive.
Gurdur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-Aug-2010, 05:37 PM (17:37)     43        40493
Makbawehuh
Doctor Ragnarok
 
Makbawehuh's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: The darkest corners of your imagination. Or maybe right next to you. I'm not telling!
Posts: 4,015
Blog Entries: 170
Default

...And I still haven't finished my post, LOL.
Makbawehuh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-Aug-2010, 08:23 PM (20:23)     44        40497
Gurdur
Very professional penguin
 
Gurdur's Avatar
 
administrator


Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 5,332
Blog Entries: 1022
Default

tsk
Gurdur is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-Aug-2010, 08:48 PM (20:48)     45        40500
Makbawehuh
Doctor Ragnarok
 
Makbawehuh's Avatar
 
member


Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: The darkest corners of your imagination. Or maybe right next to you. I'm not telling!
Posts: 4,015
Blog Entries: 170
Default

I know, I know.

I'm starting to feel better now, though. I'm going on vacation week after next, hopefully I can start to pull stuff together after that.
Makbawehuh is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 07:52 PM (19:52).

       

Credits and thanks:
Basic Style design: Design By: Miner Skinz.com
(much altered by Gurdur)

For smilies:

Koloboks, including Aiwan, ViShenk, Just Cuz, Laie, Connie, snoozer, Viannen,
and especially Mother Goose too.
KitKatty. and PederDingo, and phantompanther.

For help, coding, and/or modifications:

Different people at vBulletin.com, and a whole lot of people -- too many to be individually named, sorry -- at vBulletin.org

For artwork, avatars, backgrounds and so on:

KitKatty, and verte, and britpoplass


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright is asserted for the Heathen Hub itself and for its owner by its owner, from 2008 onwards. Copyright of individual posts remains the property of the original poster, however by posting on the Hub the poster grants the Hub the rights to host and present the posted messages for perpetuity. The Hub is in no way responsible for opinions or messages posted in any way on the Hub by its members. Please also see this here. Copyright of individual icons and other graphics, as for individual vBulletin styles, remains the property of the original owner/creator. Copyright for the vBulletin software itself, and the vBulletin Blogs software, remains with Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd, as in the copyright notice above.
Welcome to a place to talk about atheism, religion, science, humanism, evolution, politics, Creationism, literature, reason, rational inquiry, logic, cooking, reading, and travel - the Hub: a community for everyone.