Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Morality in the Jungle

Posted by Jerry on September 23, 2007

A moral code is a set of integrated, non-contradictory body of principles that guide man’s actions. This implies the existence of a volitional consciousness to which a moral existence is an objective value (regardless of whether this is recognized or not).

Because there is no such conscious entity as a “group” or “society”, moral codes cannot be premised upon a society or group. In other words, a system of morality is applicable primarily and directly only to individual human beings.

Only individuals have consciousness, and only humans have a volitional and conceptual consciousness; therefore, only individual human beings can act as moral agents. This is why a proper moral system should be concerned with how an individual must act in a given situation–regardless of how many other people he is surrounded with.

However, moral systems like altruism and utlitarianism are flawed at their very foundations because they ignore this simple fact: they are “other-centric” and collectivist at the fundamental level; they disregard the fact that societies or groups are not moral agents; only a single individual human being can be a moral agent. They construct their theories on the premises of “society” or a group of at least two individuals while ignoring the fact that morality is not concerned with how many people exist in any given situation to practice it.

Other-centric moral theories focus upon an individual’s actions in relation to another as the basic framework of a moral situation. A lone individual presumably has no need for a moral system to guide his actions.

It is illogical to confuse the fact that men live and function in society with the false assumption that moral codes have to focus on this social nature of man and be derived from it. A moral code offers a guide to a man’s actions—one man’s actions; each man’s actions.

More fundamental than man’s nature as a social being is his nature as a rational being. A fundamental quality is that which accounts for or explains the greatest number of that entity’s characteristics. Therefore, a moral code should be derived from and be harmonious with this rational nature of man because that is his fundamental nature; the morality of social interactions are secondary and derivative to this.

First, we must answer what is proper and right for a man to do in order to survive on this earth given the nature and identity of his being. The answers to this question also contain the answer to how each man should interact with each other.

Notice that the moral codes of altruism and utilitarianism provide absolutely no moral prescriptions to an individual in the privacy of his own mind, except with regard to his existence among others.

To illustrate, think of a man alone on a deserted island; altruism, utilitarianism, Kantian duty ethics, and so on are useless moral systems to an individual who chooses to live alone or finds himself marooned on an island, because they are divorced from the reality he is faced with. All such moral systems ignore the fact that an individual human being is the most fundamental unit of a moral framework and the only agent of any moral action.

On a deserted island, one must either choose to act to survive for one’s self or choose to do nothing and die. If one chooses to live, he has chosen (implicitly) to be an egoist; this is the first and most basic meta-ethical act of choice, a choice that makes all other ethical acts possible. If you choose to live, you now have to discover the best and most efficient way for you to ensure your survival.

Egoism is the only moral theory that focuses properly on the individual–and how each individual should live his own life. Egoism points out that you should primarily hold yourself as the beneficiary of your actions, because it is in harmony with your meta-ethical choice to live; your own happiness is your highest moral purpose in life; the pursuit of values is predicated upon the standard of what is life-sustaining; and reason is your only most competent tool for evaluating the prudence of your actions.

Alone in the jungle, you must use your reason to ensure your survival and protection from animals and the elements. In fact, it doesn’t–shouldn’t–matter where you live; insofar as you choose to live and act according to the objective requirements of a life qua man, you are acting morally–egoistically–whether alone in a jungle or in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

In other words, egoism is not only a moral system that can be practiced consistently anywhere and without mutual conflict; it is also the only moral system that is useful, sensible, and practicable both in a society full of people as well as on a deserted island by yourself.

The moral is also the practical.

[Of course, living in a society of productive individuals is an immense source of value for an egoist because of all the products, discoveries, inventions, and services that are introduced into his life from the division of labor, i.e., a capitalist society; therefore, an egoist properly finds it in his self-interest to support, encourage, and foster a society of civilized and rational individuals, a society of laissez-faire capitalism.]

Related posts: Moral Evolution; Altruism and Egoism; The Right to Life

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58 Responses to “Morality in the Jungle”

  1. Monica said

    Wonderfully put!

  2. [...] Morality in the Jungle [...]

  3. [...] [Related post: Morality in the Jungle] [...]

  4. Vijay said

    Ergo,

    I have a question. Please take it as such and not as a statement against your argument.

    You’ve said “On a deserted island, one must either choose to act to survive for one’s self or choose to do nothing and die. If one chooses to live, he has chosen to be an egoist; this is the first and most basic moral act of choice, a choice that makes all other moral acts possible. If you choose to live, you now have to discover the best and most efficient way for you to ensure your survival.”

    According to my interpretation of objectivism, this statement does not sound as a truthful argument in support of morality and/or egoism.

    A WILL TO LIVE, to me is an absolute primacy to ANY ANIMAL. I don’t think that one really has a choice. You can argue that one can always commit suicide. But THAT according to me will be an act of morality , whether right or wrong.

    The moment a living being is born (And by that I mean any living being includuing a bacteria or a parasite), its natural reflexes are to protect ones self against every odd. And this phenomena is not exclusive to only Human being.What differentiate Human Being is their ability to think. Defination of Human being is a RATIONAL ANIMAL.

    So, a choice to live does not necessarily translate into his/her being egoist.

    There is a lot I can say on this. But I would appreciate your comments on my thoughts.

  5. Ergo said

    Vijay,

    First, I may have misunderstood your comment, but from what I can gather, your comment is mistaken.

    You said: “A WILL TO LIVE, to me is an absolute primacy to ANY ANIMAL.”

    Now, assuming you are using the word “will” in a simple sense to mean some kind of survival instinct, then yes, animals automatically act in ways consistent with the requirements of their survival or that of their progeny. I wouldn’t say it’s an act of “will” in the conceptual sense of the word; it’s automatic at the preconceptual level with animals.

    With humans, this is not the case. Humans have to make the choice to live: this is a meta-ethical choice which makes the whole system of Objectivist morality possible (read Peikoff in OPAR on this), and I have variably argued that although this choice is not made qua the choice to live at some specific point in one’s life, it is made implicitly in the nature and sum of every other act of living. (Read my post and the detailed expositions in the comments of “Why Choose to Live?” for more.)

    The point of my article is, when you reflect upon the nature of your existence and the requirements thereof, you realize that your first and most fundamental choice was to live–and to act in self-preservation, which for a human is not automatic. This means that the only possible system of morality consonant with your first meta-ethical choice to live is the moral system of egoism, i.e., a morality of self-interest.

  6. db0 said

    Aw fuck! browser crashed and I lost all I wrote…typical… There I go again :(

    There are various levels of egoism and I state that even altruism is just an expression of that. However some forms of egoism are worse than others as they can be a deterrent to your personal, your society’s or even the whole world’s well-being.
    Morality in the situation you describe is no more relevant than the sound of a falling tree in an empty forest.
    We do what we do. We do it because we believe it is good, i.e. in our best interests. If it was not, we would not be doing it. The morality of what we do is defined by the society around us based on the commonly accepted values. And while my and your morality maybe from slightly to highly deviant from the norm, it is still rooted to it. If what we do is defined as immoral by our peers, then it falls on us to defend our actions adequately, explain our reasoning and perhaps, if we are lucky, shift the paradigm.

    Some of us choose to escape from the self-centered egoism however and satiate our egoism via materialist altruistic actions. Same result, better for everyone.

    However, without society, there is no morality. There is egoism sure, but it is no more moral than the survival insticts of any other animal. Egoism, by itself, is not a moral system. It is just an urge coming from our evolved self-preservation insticts.

    Your statement that a person who has glorified egoism in such a way will “properly find it in his self-interest to support, encourage, and foster a society of civilized and rational individuals” does not seem based on any reasoning. I argue that an egoist would exploit the society of civilized and rational individuals for his personal gain, the same way that he would exploit a jungle.

  7. Ergo said

    Db0,

    I realize that there are various *kinds* of egoistic theories that have been historically presented. All of them are flawed to various extents, which has led the field of philosophy to practically discard egoism as a viable code of ethics (also given the massive influence of Judeo-Christian altruistic ethics exemplified by Jesus on the cross and ultimately defended by Kant.)

    Which is why I’d recommend that we define our terms explicitly. I use the concept of “altruism” as used by Auguste Comte, who coined the term in the first place. And I defend the theory of egoism as developed by Ayn Rand in her philosophy of Objectivism.

    The rest of your comment, I don’t even quite understand. You said: “altruism is just an expression of that.” By “that”, you mean altruism is just an expression of one kind of egoism?? Then you’re confusing concepts here.

    When you refuse to label the term “moral” to your statement that what we do alone in the jundle “We do it because we believe it is good, i.e. in our best interests”, you are in fact—perhaps unknown to you–professing Kantian ethics. Kant was the philosopher to divorce the concept of self-interest, i.e., pursuit of value to one’s self, from the concept of “good” or that which can be considered moral.

    He said that that which you do for yourself because it is good for you is hardly a moral or virtuous act. Incidentally, Jesus proclaimed a similar teaching in principle by saying that it’s hardly a virtue to love your friends; it is truly virtuous to love your enemies. Notice that both Kant and Jesus (both altruists) say that your own values are meaningless and not worthy of moral status: that what you value (like friends, or good food, or your lover) are values not connected with moral actions. It’s hardly virtuous to pursue that which you love already, or value already.

    This is what their ethics offers you: a constant life-long sacrifice of your own pursuits of values in exchange for some mystically endorsed label of “morality.”

    Objectivism rejects this dissection of value from valuer, of rational happiness from self-interest, of self-interest from good, of good from beneficiary, of beneficiary from life.

    I compare and contrast altruism and egoism in this post in more detail. Perhaps, if you’re intersted, after you have read this post, we can continue this discussion over at that thread.

    http://ergosum.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/altruism-and-egoism/

  8. db0 said

    Ergo, You are misunderstanding what I said, although I thought it was pretty self-explanatory with my examples of falling trees…

    The morality of your actions in the jungle is irrelevant. You can neither be moral or immoral unless there is someone to judge you as thus OR you have been raised in a society (as lichanos has very well noted in the other thread) which has implanted these moral notions to you with which you judge yourself as an external observer.

    I am not saying, as you thought, that morality is objective and handed from above. Like Lichanos, I see the morality as a societal concept which cannot exist without it. Thus, your point, in this article, is moot.

    I will see if I have anything to argue about altruism and egoism in your other thread so as not to derail this one.

    I have written about altruism before and I would have given you a link but unfortunately it is in Greek. Perhaps I should think about translating the whole thing…

  9. Ergo said

    I have misunderstood nothing. Indeed, you missed the whole point of my article by stating this:

    “I see the morality as a societal concept which cannot exist without it.”

    My article attacks and invalidates *exactly* the view carried by your statement above. What you have done is merely insist on your point that morality cannot exist outside the framework of atleast two individuals (since you insist that morality is a societal concept). However, you have not *demonstrated* this with a logical (inductive and deductive) series of statements nor have you refuted any of the specific propositions put forth in my article.

    Specifically, the manner in which I refute and invalidate your insistance that morality is a societal concept is–briefly–as follows:

    “Because there is no such conscious entity as a “group” or “society”, moral codes cannot be premised upon a society or group. In other words, a system of morality is applicable primarily and directly only to individual human beings.

    Only individuals have consciousness, and only humans have a volitional and conceptual consciousness; therefore, only individual human beings can act as moral agents. This is why a proper moral system should be concerned with how an individual must act in a given situation–regardless of how many other people he is surrounded with.”

    Read the rest of my article, again, carefully this time.

  10. Ergo said

    Also, this is quite an interesting revelation of your psychology with regard to morality:

    “You can neither be moral or immoral unless there is someone to judge you as thus”

    Do you steal when there’s no possibility of being caught or observed? And you don’t have a moral judgement either way about your action as such?

    P.S. And thanks for offering to link to your article on altruism, but I know I won’t be reading it, so don’t take the trouble. Mostly because I don’t forsee benefiting positively from reading it.

  11. db0 said

    Sorry Ergo, I mistakenly assumed that you might not be an intellectual elitist (not to use another word that comes to mind). I see that I was mistaken. Once again, I have to apologize for not majoring in something grand and spending countless hours in books before I am deemed worthy to offer you a link (like you just did before me).

    I see now that I am unworthy…

    On a more serious note, just read what lichanos has said where he just explained how there is no need for society to be a “unit”. Morality is something that is commonly accepted by society however and any significant deviation from that norm is deemed immoral by the society.

    This is why a proper moral system should be concerned with how an individual must act in a given situation–regardless of how many other people he is surrounded with.”

    Unfortunately morality is not something that is defined by commitee. It is an evolving concept that works through society. Without society, you would not have the basis on which to start your current morality deviations. Nobody would have taught you to be moral!

    No read the rest of your article, carefully again this time…

    Do you steal when there’s no possibility of being caught or observed? And you don’t have a moral judgement either way about your action as such?

    Obviously you totally blanked when reading the part where I said that morality is implanted on you during your life and then you judge yourself as an external observer would.
    Failing a society to teach you that stealing is immoral, then it would not be an issue for you either way.

  12. Ergo said

    1) “Morality is implanted on you during your life.” Who does the “implanting” of morality in society? Who gets the first implant? And from whom?

    2) Do you agree with Lichanos that “there is no need for society to be a “unit”.”?? If yes, then society can be broken up for analysis into its constituent parts, because it is not a unit. What are the constituent parts of a society? Individual human beings. Interestingly, that’s my starting premise. Do you still disagree with me?
    Moreover, Lichanos has been repeatedly contradicting him/herself over several comments: first, he/she argued that society is in fact an irreducible unit, and that individual existence depends upon a society. Now, you seeem to be reporting that Lichanos does not think society is a unit. In another instance, Lichanos claimed that Objectivism reduces to a certain set of first principles. Then, in a later comment, Lichanos claimed that Objectivism does not reduce to a set of first principle despite what Ayn Rand wished to claim (lichanos’ words). These are merely two examples of Lichanos’ repeated confusions, retractions, and reversals; for more examples, I pointed them out in the comments of Evanescent’s blog.

    3) “Nobody would have taught you to be moral!” So, you believe that somebody has to teach some person to be moral, implant it in them. By that argument, it would be impossible for philosophers to devise new moral and ethical systems, because the formulation of a new system is–by definition–a creation of a theory that was not existing before, that which was not taught or known before. Is that a position you really wish to defend?

    4) Perhaps, you wish to claim that society allows people to devise new moral theories: but even this relies on the assumption that an individual mind–alone–cannot grasp a principle of morality all by himself, i.e., an individual can never–in isolation–ever figure out what is good for him, what is the right course of action to take, what is in his survival’s best interest. In other words, were a baby to be born and raised in a jungle all alone only surrounded by animals, the human would have no clue how to survive, would not know how to act in self-preservation, indeed would find it impossible to decide a right course of action (species of the moral) from a wrong course of action (species of the immoral). In sum, you wish to claim that an individual mind qua individual is an inefficacious, impotent mind. This view is actually not too far from that held by many prominent philosophers in history.

  13. db0 said

    1) From your parents and your environment around you. The rest of the sentence is a chicken/egg analogy.

    2) Individual human beings, commonly accepted morals/ethics, laws (usually stemming from the former).

    3) This is a loaded question. Philosophers do not reinvent the wheel. They start from the taught morality and then proceed from there. Some of them evolve or modify it and some of them, reject parts of it and put their own ideas in their place. Most of them do both. The moral system then works as a meme and the most powerful its attributes in an evolutionary conflict the more probable it is to become dominant and thus “commonly accepted”.

    4) Once again, morals do not equal survival. Survival does not equal morals. Unless you believe that a wolf-child would be moral, in the same way you expect a civilized person of the western nations.
    The human raised in a jungle surrounded by animals, would of course know how to survive (it was raised so it must) but it would not be moral in many of the commonly accepted parts. KNowing how to gather berries does not a morality create.
    The right course of action is the species of the moral?! I would assume that this is called logic. “Getting food to eat or not?” There is no morality issue here. But on the other hand : “Getting food for your whole pack vs saving it all for yourself for later”. Therein lies a moral choice which apparently requires an existing society (even of animals) to be even considered.

  14. evanescent said

    db0 said:

    From your parents and your environment around you. The rest of the sentence is a chicken/egg analogy.

    So it’s an infinite regress then? Isn’t that a problem for your position though? At what point did morality pop into the evolutionary line? And how did it get there?

    Individual human beings, commonly accepted morals/ethics, laws (usually stemming from the former).

    So what ever is commonly accepted determines a thing’s morality? Isn’t that moral subjectivism?

    They start from the taught morality and then proceed from there. Some of them evolve or modify it and some of them, reject parts of it and put their own ideas in their place.

    To be honest db0, I think this evades Ergo point. Who teaches it to the person who then teaches it? How far back does it go? Where does it start?

    The moral system then works as a meme and the most powerful its attributes in an evolutionary conflict the more probable it is to become dominant and thus “commonly accepted”.

    This sounds like moral subjectivism again; whatever a culture at any point in time deems acceptable is the moral, and I don’t think I am putting your words in your mouth at all. So, when slavery was the accepted norm, that made it ok?

    Once again, morals do not equal survival. Survival does not equal morals. Unless you believe that a wolf-child would be moral, in the same way you expect a civilized person of the western nations.

    No, survival does not equal morals. The need for survival tells man what he NEEDS to do in order to live. In order to live, man needs to act. In order to act man needs to think. In order to think he needs to have a rational code of values to guide his decisions and actions; that is, a morality. Man’s right to exist demands a moral system, and it has its basis in individual rights; the only kinds of rights that actually exist.

    The human raised in a jungle surrounded by animals, would of course know how to survive

    Who was it raised by? Either way, if man survives it’s because he reasons. So we come back to the point I just made.

    KNowing how to gather berries does not a morality create.

    But knowing that one MUST eat berries in order to survive means that berries are GOOD.

    “Getting food to eat or not?” There is no morality issue here.

    If morality is a code of values to guide man’s actions, and values are that which one acts to keep and/or gain, then seeking food to sustain your life is GOOD. So morality does enter into it.

    This is the basis of morality: the individual. Eating is good, whether you are alone or in a group. Finding happiness, pleasure, etc is good whether alone or in a group. Morality is not a mystical ethereal entity that arises from people living together.

  15. db0 said

    So it’s an infinite regress then? Isn’t that a problem for your position though? At what point did morality pop into the evolutionary line? And how did it get there?

    Of course it is an infinite regress. It’s not a problem at all. Morality poped into the evolutionary line at the point where a specific behaviour gave the group of humans a competitive advantage. It’s been proven through research emulations that altruism and group solidarity provide just such an advantage. It’s also been proven that egoism and tolerance also provide an advantage.
    Eventually a group of humans started being altruistic to his own people and aggressive against other tribes. They got the competitive advantage and expanded more. This altruism then was formulated into unwritten rules which have been evolving ever since.

    So what ever is commonly accepted determines a thing’s morality? Isn’t that moral subjectivism?

    Of course. Morality is definitely subjective.

    To be honest db0, I think this evades Ergo point. Who teaches it to the person who then teaches it? How far back does it go? Where does it start?

    See first reply. As far back as it has to.

    This sounds like moral subjectivism again; whatever a culture at any point in time deems acceptable is the moral, and I don’t think I am putting your words in your mouth at all. So, when slavery was the accepted norm, that made it ok?

    Of course it is moral subjectivism. Morality is subjective. When slavery was the accepted norm then, of course, that made it ok for the people in that society. Slaves at that time were giving a competitive advantage, which is why countries that used slaves almost always became more powerful (at least until the industrial revolution which marked the end of slavery). This competitive advantage eventually seeped into the culture and because a morally accepted act, for owners and slaves.

    No, survival does not equal morals. The need for survival tells man what he NEEDS to do in order to live. In order to live, man needs to act. In order to act man needs to think. In order to think he needs to have a rational code of values to guide his decisions and actions; that is, a morality. Man’s right to exist demands a moral system, and it has its basis in individual rights; the only kinds of rights that actually exis

    I don’t think you’ve really thought this through.
    I agree until the “Rational code of values”. In order to think, a man needs to have a brain that’s it. In order to survive, he must been taught and trained to do so. He must be taught what is edible and what is not. How to protect against cold and enemies etc. This is not “rational code of values”, this is training. Training is provided by a society around him (in his case, the wolf or monkey pack or whatever). All that thinking does after this point is provide an evolutionary competitive advantage over his surroundings. Of course, living in a wolf or monkey lifestyle means that he is not naturally equipped with the right tools for the job and thus has a competitive disadvantage which probably will be larger than the advantage of “thinking”. A man of course if not meant to live in a wolf pack.

    Nothing of this translates into morals unless the man’s pack is concerned.

    Who was it raised by? Either way, if man survives it’s because he reasons. So we come back to the point I just made.

    You have got to be kidding me. You do know that a human baby is totally incapable to care for itself until a suitable age? In order to reach that age, it must be raised by someone or something which will also provide it with the training it needs to care for itself. If it survives it is because it is trained not because it reasons. Reason might provide a competitive advantage as I said above, but no morality.

    But knowing that one MUST eat berries in order to survive means that berries are GOOD

    And who taught you that berries are good? Which berries are good and which are bad (There are poisonous berries after all)

    If morality is a code of values to guide man’s actions, and values are that which one acts to keep and/or gain, then seeking food to sustain your life is GOOD. So morality does enter into it.

    What? No! You are trying to give morality a different meaning in order to make your point and then return to the previous meaning of it in order to extrapolate from there to the superiority of Objectivism.

    Morality is what you use to decide if something is right or wrong according to the training you’ve been given by society. It usually affects your actions but it is not as strong to force you to do something. You may think something is immoral but still do it in order to survive or whatnot. However without having morality implanted on you, your actions are, by default, neither moral or immoral. They are just beneficial to you. Perhaps an external observer will find them immoral depending on his own subjective morality but there is no universal objective morality as you seem to try to imply in your whole response. Not unless you believe in a God.

    This is the basis of morality: the individual. Eating is good, whether you are alone or in a group. Finding happiness, pleasure, etc is good whether alone or in a group. Morality is not a mystical ethereal entity that arises from people living together.

    Morality is indeed that. A meme that arises from people living together. Without society, morality is irrelevant.

  16. Ergo said

    “Morality is definitely subjective.”

    [There is no logically consistent basis for individual human rights on the basis of subjective morality. In this view, the Nazi's were perfectly moral in exterminating millions; it was their societal morality and it gave them competitive advantage, for some time.]

    “In order to think, a man needs to have a brain that’s it. In order to survive, he must been taught and trained to do so. He must be taught what is edible and what is not. How to protect against cold and enemies etc. This is not “rational code of values”, this is training.” [I wonder who trained the trainees.]

    “Morality is what you use to decide if something is right or wrong according to the training you’ve been given by society.”

    [But if the training has already been given by society, then what is the need for morality? Just refer to the societal "book" or "manual of conduct" or--dare I say, the Bible of society--on what should be done. But then, who wrote the Bible? Everyone? Who gets to decide what stays in the book and what gets erased? Does anyone even care about maintaining logical consistency in this society book of conduct and not contradicting what others--say, our ancient ancestors--have written before?]

    “However without having morality implanted on you, your actions are, by default, neither moral or immoral.”

    [I guess morality is come kind of society chip. A mechanistic view of human existence.]

    “there is no universal objective morality”

    [It's okay for some men to rape and molest 10 year old girls. At least in some parts of the world. Even though he might be punished by society on some arbitrary standard of law, he is actually not immoral if he does not believe that his rape was immoral, since morality is subjective.]

    “Morality is… [a] meme that arises from people living together.”

    [What kind of a mystical concept is a meme anyway? I know Dawkins came up with this whole meme rubbish, but do people really take this seriously!? So, morality just mystically emerges in people's minds as they live together--sounds like some supermystical intervention of sorts.]

  17. [...] Comments Ergo on Morality in the Jungledb0 on Morality in the Jungleevanescent on Morality in the Jungledb0 on Altruism [...]

  18. evanescent said

    db0, I wasn’t aware that you were a moral subjectivist. There is no point discussing what morality is or where it comes from unless we agree at least that morality is or can be objective.

    If morality is subjective then you have the problems raised by Ergo: rape is ok SOMETIMES. Theft, murder, arson, slavery, are acceptable, SOMETIMES.

    Objectivism rejects this fundamentally because morality arises from individual human rights. If you are a moral subjectivist you reject individual human rights, but since there are no other rights, you concede that nobody has any real rights, including yourself. I can see no other corollary of your position.

  19. db0 said

    db0, I wasn’t aware that you were a moral subjectivist. There is no point discussing what morality is or where it comes from unless we agree at least that morality is or can be objective.

    What?! I just explained to you where morality comes. Your response to me reads like: “I can’t refute what you said and nor can I continue supporting objectivist morality on that level. So either agree that morality is objective or we stop talking”

    Bah and bah again…

    If morality is subjective then you have the problems raised by Ergo: rape is ok SOMETIMES. Theft, murder, arson, slavery, are acceptable, SOMETIMES.

    Given a society where there acts are moral, then these are moral. History is fucking backing me up on this people! You are judgding these acts by your own subjective morality which you then verify by reason. Your mistake is that you think that reason guides morality. Yes, these acts are deplorable for us and we can reasonably see why because in the current society they are unnecessary and/or act as hindrances to society.

    However in a society which needs these or some of these to function, They will be considered moral

    Objectivism rejects this fundamentally because morality arises from individual human rights. If you are a moral subjectivist you reject individual human rights, but since there are no other rights, you concede that nobody has any real rights, including yourself. I can see no other corollary of your position.

    We have rights as defined by society. We can try to expand these rights but there is no mystical power above (for the sake of argument, I will call this power, the Ayn Rand avatar) independently granting us rights. You may state that these are your rights until you turn blue in the face but it is only your opinion. If you want however to argue philosophically that these rights by themselves will make society or the world a better place for everyone and thus challenge the currently accepted social system, you have to state how. Until now, in the other thread where me an lichanos are arguing with you, you have failed to do so.

  20. Ergo said

    The reason moral subjectivism is logically inconsistent, I’ll let the encyclopedia of philosophy explain it to you:

    “Moral subjectivism is that species of moral relativism that relativizes moral value to the individual subject.
    In ethics, this amounts to saying that all moralities are equally good; in epistemology it implies that all beliefs, or belief systems, are equally true. Critics of relativism typically dismiss such views as incoherent since they imply the validity even of the view that relativism is false. They also charge that such views are pernicious since they undermine the enterprise of trying to improve our ways of thinking.
    Perhaps because relativism is associated with such views, few philosophers are willing to describe themselves as relativists. Although there are many different kinds of relativism, they all have two features in common.

    1) They all assert that one thing (e.g. moral values, beauty, knowledge, taste, or meaning) is relative to some particular framework or standpoint (e.g. the individual subject, a culture, [a society], an era, a language, or a conceptual scheme).
    2) They all deny that any standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.”

    – Internet Encyclopedia on Philosophy.

    Also, look up the Stanford Encyclopedia on Philosophy for more on ethical theories. You will notice–hopefully, if you use your mind–that subjectivism/relativism is an indefensible, self-refuting, and therefore, contradictory view of morality, which is why most philosophers don’t even both with it anymore.

    Finally, Db0, save yourself the embarrassment of publicizing your intellectual mediocrity on my blog. You have zero knowledge of philosophy and no background in logical thinking. Consider taking an ethics and logic course in college. You’re not welcome to comment on my blog anymore. I like to maintain a minimum standard of decorum and intellectual quality to the comments here, which you don’t meet, with your repeated use of expletives and wild (bold typed) tirades, all of which simply exacerbate the poor quality of thinking.

  21. [...] it seems that after heavily commenting on the subject of Morality in the Jungle and trying to explain how morality is an irrelevant issue when living alone, the discussion [...]

  22. D.J.R. said

    I hope Db0 can clearly see after presenting his argument for moral subjectivism why some people could see religion as an actual alternative. Any victory religion can sustain in the war of ideas is only because people easily realize how impoverished Db0′s position is.

    Moral subjectivism is also self refuting in the sense that morality can be anything so long (as you asserted) a “society” judges it to be good or evil. This means that good or evil can be anything any society accepts, essentially that good and evil do not exist independent of 2 or more peoples judgment. Can you see why moral Objectivists do not even want to bother to discuss the subject with you? Why even bother calling an action good or evil? What do those words even mean if a society can ascribe any behavior to them? Why not just call an action “accepted” or “unaccepted”?

  23. martino said

    Hi Guys

    This is a fascinating thread with some interesting points raised which I do not see being resolved yet.

    Primarily I have yet to see a satisfactory answer to db0′s main challenge to quote: “Morality in the situation you describe [alone on a desert island] is no more relevant than the sound of a falling tree in an empty forest.” I agree with this yet I disagree with db0′s moral subjectivism – here I agree with Ergo. I am saying this point can be made without db0′s moral subjective approach.

    To clarify my understanding of morality and since Ergo appears to like using online encyclopedias I would like to quote from that the refereed Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy where they do provide a definition of Morality, but it is a whole essay, however of relevance here is the paragraph:-

    “The claim that morality governs behavior that affects others is somewhat controversial. Some have claimed that morality governs behavior that affects only the agent herself. Examples of behavior that supposedly affects only oneself, often include taking recreational drugs, masturbation, and developing one’s talents. The German word for morality does include behavior that affects only the agent herself, and Kant may provide an accurate account of the German concept of morality. This concept of morality is more closely tied to its religious origin. However, the English concept of morality is more completely secular and almost all who distinguish morality from religion regard morality as governing only that behavior that directly or indirectly affects others. It is likely that regarding self-affecting behavior as governed by morality is a holdover from the time when morality was not clearly distinguished from religion… ”

    I agree with this view and take the English approach. Of course I am not arguing that because of its religious origins the German approach should be rejected, that would be to commit the genetic fallacy but still I am unconvinced here, yet, that this is a justifiable basis for morality as Ergo appears to be attempting.

    Another related point, that was raised by Evanescent and db0 “But knowing that one MUST eat berries in order to survive means that berries are GOOD.” to quote Evanescent. I disagree – it is an error to argue that Berries are good. First there are no such things as intrinsic values and second there seems, in this thread, to be equivocation over generic good and moral good – the later is a sub-species of the former. This equivocation pertains to the Man alone on an Island argument. Whatever he does to survive he can deem good but is not a moral good.

    Over to you guys

  24. evanescent said

    Another related point, that was raised by Evanescent and db0 “But knowing that one MUST eat berries in order to survive means that berries are GOOD.” to quote Evanescent. I disagree – it is an error to argue that Berries are good. First there are no such things as intrinsic values and second there seems, in this thread, to be equivocation over generic good and moral good – the later is a sub-species of the former. This equivocation pertains to the Man alone on an Island argument. Whatever he does to survive he can deem good but is not a moral good.

    You’re right, berries are not intrinsically good. They can only be valued by a rational agent that VALUES them. Value cannot be divorced from consciousness. But if eating food is a rational good to a man then it is objectively good. There is no such thing as good without relation to a moral being.

    I do not agree with you that there is a difference between “good” and “moral good”. In effect, what you’re saying is that some things are good without any reference to any agent that can value them, which is a contradiction. Inasmuch as a volitional agent can value something rationally as beneficial or necessary to his existence it is MORALLY good. Morality does not exist only in reference to other people. Morality is a code of values to guide a man’s action. Which means it could be one man, or many men.

    Perhaps I’m right or wrong on this. It will be interesting to see Ergo’s response to you.

  25. Ergo said

    “Morality in the situation you describe [alone on a desert island] is no more relevant than the sound of a falling tree in an empty forest.”

    First, I don’t understand what an empty forest is. I suspect, the objection is that where there’s no one to hear a falling tree, there is no sound.

    However, the analogy is simply false and actually incoherent in the context of morality being discussed here.

    Man does not exist in a vacuum (so much for the tree in an empty forest). A man on a deserted island is still existing in *reality*: he has to act in reality if he chooses to survive. Insofar as he is an acting agent, he is interacting with his environment. All living organisms do this. The difference is, other living creatures are equipped with sufficient and automatic knowledge that invariably lead them to pursue what’s in their “interest”; that is, other creatures act in a goal-directed fashion automatically (whether or not they are alone in their habitat or surrounded by other living organisms).

    Humans are not equipped with this sufficient and automatic knowledge: but we are equipped with a far, far, far more powerful tool of survival: our faculty of reason. We do not have claws; therefore, we reason out our strategies of survival–discover fire, sculpt sharp tools out of blunt rocks, place them on long sticks for hunting a dangerous beast from a distance, etc.

    However, this process of reasoning requires wilful, deliberate choice: the choice to focus on the task of survival. To choose to focus on solving the problem of survival implies a decision to live, i.e., the choice is made to live. Fundamentally, the lone man is making the choice to live goal-directedly or the choice to just let reality take its toll on him randomly (and perhaps die of poisoning or as prey).

    Volition introduces the element of morality based on the meta-ethical choice to live: life is the standard of value–it creates a framework of values by which you decide what is good for you and what is not good for you. (This still requires no other human beings around the lone man on the island, merely a reality around him with which he has to interact if he chooses to live, since we never live in a vacuum.)

    Man’s conceptual faculty allows for the integration and creation of concepts, and the ability to project our strategies of survival over the long range; this opens the door for the possibility of long-range planning and flourishing, i.e., rising from the necessities of brute survival to the level of survival qua conceptual being, rational being. This is man’s survival qua man.

    The concept of good cannot be divorced from the interest of the person making the judgement, and a “good” without a standard is whimsical subjectivism. Since morals are a species of facts, the moral good is a type of factual value-judgment. Therefore, to create a dichotomy between moral good and the generic (or practical/factual good) is a false dichotomy and precisely the error of severing the relationship between the judging agent and the object being judged.

    I agree fully with Evanescent’s response to you.

    Further, I have yet to see a proof for the following assertion that has cropped up repeatedly in this discussion:

    Morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals.

    Also, while attempting to construct a proof for the above, please do not confuse morality with the concept of rights.

  26. martino said

    You’re right, berries are not intrinsically good. They can only be valued by a rational agent that VALUES them.

    Ok so we agree that there are no intrinsic values, good (!).I am still unclear as to what you do mean by value. You seem to be implying that they are subjective as in “They can only be valued by a rational agent that VALUES them.” I disagree with this and I suspect you will to. I don’t think there are any subjectivists left in this thread :-)

    Value cannot be divorced from consciousness.
    What do you mean by consciousness?

    But if eating food is a rational good to a man then it is objectively good.

    Why is eating food a *rational* good? Animals eat food without anything like the equivalent of our rationality.Now we have good, rational good and moral good – how do they relate?

    There is no such thing as good without relation to a moral being.

    It is morality we are trying arrive at. This is question begging to assert that a moral agent is required in the first place. This is made clearer by the following:

    I do not agree with you that there is a difference between “good” and “moral good”. In effect, what you’re saying is that some things are good without any reference to any agent that can value them, which is a contradiction.
    I am saying nothing of the sort. All goods require reference to an agent who can value them. So no contradiction. You stil have not shown why all goods are moral goods with circular reasoning (e.g moral agent)

    Inasmuch as a volitional agent can value something rationally as beneficial or necessary to his existence it is MORALLY good.

    There are plenty of things that are beneficial that are not morall goods – e.g aesthetics. I like sorbet and I don’t like ice cream. It is good if I can eat sorbet and bad if there is only ice cream. There is no moral issue in that. Your statement is an assertion where is you argument for it?

    Morality does not exist only in reference to other people. Morality is a code of values to guide a man’s action. Which means it could be one man, or many men.

    Of course this is the point the led me to enter this thread. Merely repeating this assertion does not make it true. It might be but I am looking for an argument to support or confirm this definition of moral – to paraphrase Ergo where is your proof?

  27. martino said

    Sorry unfamiliar with how wordpress does quoting. I followed standard HTML practice and they all got nested. Pity there is no preview function.

  28. martino said

    (Trying a different quoting method this time, without preview I can only hope it works.)

    Addressing Ergo now not much to disagree with until you get to:

    Volition introduces the element of morality based on the meta-ethical choice to live: life is the standard of value–it creates a framework of values by which you decide what is good for you and what is not good for you. (This still requires no other human beings around the lone man on the island, merely a reality around him with which he has to interact if he chooses to live, since we never live in a vacuum.)
    Choosing to live is choosing to live, it is not a moral choice, certainly not on a deserted island unless you define it so. However you seem to think this is a matter of proof not definition (see below) so where is your proof of this?

    The concept of good cannot be divorced from the interest of the person making the judgement, and a “good” without a standard is whimsical subjectivism.
    We both reject subjectivism but what is this standard you are talking about?

    Since morals are a species of facts, the moral good is a type of factual value-judgment.
    Whoa, what about the fact-value distinction? You first need to show that morals are indeed a species of fact. None of the assertions above have shown this. Could you please show this?

    Therefore, to create a dichotomy between moral good and the generic (or practical/factual good) is a false dichotomy and precisely the error of severing the relationship between the judging agent and the object being judged.
    None of this follows even if you can show that moral is a species of fact since even if you do this still does not follow as it is possible that certain values -inclusive of moral values but not exhaustively so – are a species of fact. However I am not making either claim, you are (making at least one), please show me how you do this.

    Further, I have yet to see a proof for the following assertion that has cropped up repeatedly in this discussion:

    Morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals.
    And I have yet to see a proof that morality does not require the interaction of at least two individuals. You are making the unorthodox claim I am asking you how you do this so I can understand your position.

  29. Ergo said

    Evanescent said: There is no such thing as good without relation to a moral being.

    Martino said: This is question begging to assert that a moral agent is required in the first place.

    Martino,

    You find it question begging because you have confused categories. Evanescent is referring to a “moral being” as a metaphysical fact of reality, not as a statement in ethics. To illustrate, “man is a rational being” is to make a metaphysical claim about man’s nature by appeal to the characteristic that explains the greatest number of his other traits and differentiates him from other species. Do not confuse this with an ethical assessment that “man is a rational being”, which would be simply false, since some men are irrational.

    Martino said: There are plenty of things that are beneficial that are not morall goods – e.g aesthetics.

    Aesthetics is most certainly morally relevant to man. Just as food is nourishment for man’s body, art and aesthetics are the nourishment for man’s mind, his consciousness, his spiritual health. Therefore, there is indeed a moral value-judgment involved in your relation to the kind of aesthetic pursuits you indulge in and the art you value. This moral judgement is made by yourself upon your own premises–whether implicit or explicit–from which you react to aesthetics.

    All goods are judged as such by a person. However, proper judgements are a species of factual identifications. That which is properly assessed as good or bad for oneself–obviously implying some standard by which the object is assessed–is identified as a fact of reality in relation to man.

    In elaboration, I’ll just quote an excerpt from Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff’s essay “Fact and Value.” Beyond this, there really is nothing new in terms of an argument that I can offer you. If you still remain unconvinced after honestly evaluating all that’s been said, then I’d refer you to the original sources of the philosophy I am defending: Ayn Rand’s works, or to the links on my page “Learn about Objectivism”

    FACT AND VALUE

    In the objective approach, since every fact bears on the choice to live, every truth necessarily entails a value-judgment, and every value-judgment necessarily presupposes a truth. As Ayn Rand states the point in “The Objectivist Ethics”: “Knowledge, for any conscious organism, is the means of survival; to a living consciousness, every ‘is’ implies an ‘ought.’” Evaluation, accordingly, is not a compartmentalized function applicable only to some aspects of man’s life or of reality; if one chooses to live and to be objective, a process of evaluation is coextensive with and implicit in every act of cognition.

    This applies even to metaphysically given facts (as distinguished from man-made facts). Metaphysically given facts, Miss Rand points out, cannot as such be evaluated. Sunlight, tidal waves, the law of gravity, et al. are not good or bad; they simply are; such facts constitute reality and are thus the basis of all value-judgments. This does not, however, alter the principle that every “is” implies an “ought.” The reason is that every fact of reality which we discover has, directly or indirectly, an implication for man’s self-preservation and thus for his proper course of action. In relation to the goal of staying alive, the fact demands specific kinds of actions and prohibits others; i.e., it entails a definite set of evaluations. For instance, sunlight is a fact of metaphysical reality; but once its effects are discovered by man and integrated to his goals, a long series of evaluations follows: the sun is a good thing (an essential of life as we know it); i.e., within the appropriate limits, its light and heat are good, good for us; other things being equal, therefore, we ought to plant our crops in certain locations, build our homes in a certain way (with windows), and so forth; beyond the appropriate limits, however, sunlight is not good (it causes burns or skin cancer); etc. All these evaluations are demanded by the cognitions involved — if one pursues knowledge in order to guide one’s actions. Similarly, tidal waves are bad, even though natural; they are bad for us if we get caught in one, and we ought to do whatever we can to avoid such a fate. Even the knowledge of the law of gravity, which represents a somewhat different kind of example, entails a host of evaluations — among the most obvious of which are: using a parachute in midair is good, and jumping out of a plane without one is bad, bad for a man’s life.

    Just as there can be no dichotomy between mind and body, so there can be none between the true and the good.

  30. Ergo said

    “And I have yet to see a proof that morality does not require the interaction of at least two individuals.”

    I have indeed offered my proof: in the first three paragraphs of my posted article. Read it. And what’s more, I have then elaborated it extensively in the comments. My demand still stands, and this discussion is over until I see a proof for what I asked.

  31. martino said

    Evanescent said: There is no such thing as good without relation to a moral being.

    Martino said: This is question begging to assert that a moral agent is required in the first place.

    You find it question begging because you have confused categories. Evanescent is referring to a “moral being” as a metaphysical fact of reality, not as a statement in ethics.
    The turn of phrase “metaphyscial fact of reality” was on first reading a philosophically puzzling phrase but is explained in your quote below. I am interested in how this is derived from prior evidence rather than just asserted. Certainly there is no such thing as “good” without human agency. I still have yet to see the step from this to moral being. It is the apparent obfuscation between good and moral good that I am questioning and merely labeling certain human agents as moral beings does nothing to help resolve this. It is something to be shown and not assumed.

    To illustrate, “man is a rational being” is to make a metaphysical claim about man’s nature by appeal to the characteristic that explains the greatest number of his other traits and differentiates him from other species. Do not confuse this with an ethical assessment that “man is a rational being”, which would be simply false, since some men are irrational.
    Nothing wrong with this but this does not deal with my point.

    Aesthetics is most certainly morally relevant to man. Just as food is nourishment for man’s body, art and aesthetics are the nourishment for man’s mind, his consciousness, his spiritual health. Therefore, there is indeed a moral value-judgment involved in your relation to the kind of aesthetic pursuits you indulge in and the art you value. This moral judgement is made by yourself upon your own premises–whether implicit or explicit–from which you react to aesthetics.
    You are again obfuscating moral and generic good. The challenge I am asking is how to you justify this definition? Restating it does not help, I do understand what you are trying to do and remain unconvinced that it is legitimate in this situation. Of course one can define moral anyway one wants but that that does not alter the underlying reality. Many definitions of moral good are simply false or always in error such as those based on intrinsic value theory. I think you would agree with this. I am asking how you to justify your definition here.

    All goods are judged as such by a person. However, proper judgements are a species of factual identifications. That which is properly assessed as good or bad for oneself–obviously implying some standard by which the object is assessed–is identified as a fact of reality in relation to man.
    It is still unclear what your theory of value is here and so with your theory of judgment.”All goods are judged as such by a person” agreed but we have not reached moral goods yet.”However, proper judgments are a species of factual identifications.” But accepting this type of argument then so are improper judgments – one can be objective about mistakes as well as accurate assessments. Cognitive psychology is full of such analysis. “That which is properly assessed as good or bad for oneself” here I take “proper” to mean without error. “obviously implying some standard by which the object is assessed” no this is not obvious, a requirement yes, a standard no that is too strong a requirement, so to speak!”is identified as a fact of reality in relation to man”
    Apart from my quibbles here I roughly agree with this. Still nothing yet about morality.

    Oh and then you stop! So still waiting as to why you define all values as moral.

    In elaboration, I’ll just quote an excerpt from Objectivist philosopher Leonard Peikoff’s essay “Fact and Value.” Beyond this, there really is nothing new in terms of an argument that I can offer you. If you still remain unconvinced after honestly evaluating all that’s been said, then I’d refer you to the original sources of the philosophy I am defending: Ayn Rand’s works, or to the links on my page “Learn about Objectivism”
    A pity I would have thought since you seem so certain of this approach that you could defend it from first principles.

    FACT AND VALUE

    In the objective approach, since every fact bears on the choice to live, every truth necessarily entails a value-judgment, and every value-judgment necessarily presupposes a truth. As Ayn Rand states the point in “The Objectivist Ethics”: “Knowledge, for any conscious organism, is the means of survival; to a living consciousness, every ‘is’ implies an ‘ought.’” Evaluation, accordingly, is not a compartmentalized function applicable only to some aspects of man’s life or of reality; if one chooses to live and to be objective, a process of evaluation is coextensive with and implicit in every act of cognition.

    This applies even to metaphysically given facts (as distinguished from man-made facts). Metaphysically given facts, Miss Rand points out, cannot as such be evaluated. Sunlight, tidal waves, the law of gravity, et al. are not good or bad; they simply are; such facts constitute reality and are thus the basis of all value-judgments. This does not, however, alter the principle that every “is” implies an “ought.”
    Ok where is this shown to be the case. This is an assertion again. Still waiting for a theory of value. Not difficult to make given everything you have said, but nowhere does it follow that values and morals are identical, which is the additional claim I am challenging and have seen no argument for.

    The reason is that every fact of reality which we discover has, directly or indirectly, an implication for man’s self-preservation and thus for his proper course of action. In relation to the goal of staying alive, the fact demands specific kinds of actions and prohibits others; i.e., it entails a definite set of evaluations. For instance, sunlight is a fact of metaphysical reality; but once its effects are discovered by man and integrated to his goals, a long series of evaluations follows: the sun is a good thing (an essential of life as we know it); i.e., within the appropriate limits, its light and heat are good, good for us; other things being equal, therefore, we ought to plant our crops in certain locations, build our homes in a certain way (with windows), and so forth; beyond the appropriate limits, however, sunlight is not good (it causes burns or skin cancer); etc. All these evaluations are demanded by the cognitions involved — if one pursues knowledge in order to guide one’s actions. Similarly, tidal waves are bad, even though natural; they are bad for us if we get caught in one, and we ought to do whatever we can to avoid such a fate. Even the knowledge of the law of gravity, which represents a somewhat different kind of example, entails a host of evaluations — among the most obvious of which are: using a parachute in midair is good, and jumping out of a plane without one is bad, bad for a man’s life.
    Still none of this remotely answers my key question. I am asking what in addition to any of this makes all values moral.

    Just as there can be no dichotomy between mind and body, so there can be none between the true and the good.
    Non sequitur. I agree with the former and still asking about the latter. Anyway good here does no necessarily mean moral good and my question still stands.

  32. martino said

    First still having difficulty wiht the wordpress quting mechanism some of my response in my previous post is hidden in the quoted quote.

    I have indeed offered my proof: in the first three paragraphs of my posted article. Read it. And what’s more, I have then elaborated it extensively in the comments.
    I will re-read this again in the light of my clearer question to see where you prove that all values are moral.

  33. martino said

    Lets look at your three paragraphs at the beginning of your post again:

    A moral code is a set of integrated, non-contradictory body of principles that guide man’s actions.
    A definition. I will accept this for now

    This implies the existence of a volitional consciousness to which a moral existence is an objective value (regardless of whether this is recognized or not). I think more assumes than implies a “volitional consciousness” (although I don’t particularly like the term consciousness but will go with it for this debate and wiht your usage of it). However it does not imply is “to which a moral existence is an objective value”. Of course this assumed (or implied) by many as in intrinsic value theory but there are no intrinsic values so they are in error (I know you reject intrinsic value theory too but just showing the dangers such “implications” ).

    Because there is no such conscious entity as a “group” or “society”, moral codes cannot be premised upon a society or group. This does not follow. It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.

    In other words, a system of morality is applicable primarily and directly only to individual human beings.
    This does not follow given my objection in the previous sentence.

    Only individuals have consciousness, and only humans have a volitional and conceptual consciousness;</cite. So

    <cite therefore, only individual human beings can act as moral agents. Yes

    This is why a proper moral system should be concerned with how an individual must act in a given situation–regardless of how many other people he is surrounded with. The above two points are trivially true – at least we agree on them – but this conclusion does not follow.

    It seems my main objection to this line of thinking is, to requote you and me:
    Because there is no such conscious entity as a “group” or “society”, moral codes cannot be premised upon a society or group. This does not follow. It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.

    Until this is resolved nothing else follows. This is now an additional question on top of how you show that a theory of values is only and nothing but a theory of morals.

    It might be simpler for you to make your argument without using terms such as moral, good, bad and ought – which have many meanings must of them false – since if you, like me, agree in an objective analysis then these are labels and useful shortcuts for communication but not necessary to describe the underlying facts of reality. Why not just stick to the metaphysical facts alone :-) ?

  34. Ergo said

    Martino,

    You’re still confused about the “man is a moral being” statement. It’s a metaphysical fact, not an ethical assessment. It does not mean that *some* men are moral beings. It refers to the fact that only men are capable of acting as moral agents, just as only men are capable of rationality. Thus, just as only men are rational beings, only men are moral beings.

    “So still waiting as to why you define all values as moral.” “prove that all values are moral.”

    I wonder why you would wait for something I have no intent of defending. Nowhere have I stated that all values are moral. That’s your invention. Your claim sounds like values have some instrinsic quality to them that make them all moral.

    “good here does no necessarily mean moral good”

    I’m not sure how you are defining the term “moral good”. To me, it sounds like a redundancy. Therefore, offer your definition of “good” and differentiate it from “moral good.”

    “I would have thought since you seem so certain of this approach that you could defend it from first principles.”

    Nothing is defended in Objectivism from first principles; ultimately, all Objectivist principles are derived from reality. However, do not confuse Objectivism with empiricism or realism.

    “every “is” implies an “ought.”
    Ok where is this shown to be the case. This is an assertion again. Still waiting for a theory of value.”

    That was answered in the immediate next sentence. I wonder why you overlooked that. Here it is:

    “…every “is” implies an “ought.” The reason is that every fact of reality which we discover has, directly or indirectly, an implication for man’s self-preservation and thus for his proper course of action. In relation to the goal of staying alive, the fact demands specific kinds of actions and prohibits others; i.e., it entails a definite set of evaluations.”

    I’m still waiting for your proof that morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals.

  35. martino said

    You’re still confused about the “man is a moral being” statement. It’s a metaphysical fact, not an ethical assessment. It does not mean that *some* men are moral beings. It refers to the fact that only men are capable of acting as moral agents, just as only men are capable of rationality. Thus, just as only men are rational beings, only men are moral beings.
    This is besides the point but anyway fine I can for the purposes of this argument accept that only man (presumably humans) are *capable* of being moral as a metaphysical fact. Still the point is not all our volitional actions are moral, this is the claim you are making and am still waiting for proof.

    I wonder why you would wait for something I have no intent of defending. Nowhere have I stated that all values are moral. That’s your invention.
    In your previous responses you have repeatedly implied that there are only moral values, such as:

    —-
    Therefore, to create a dichotomy between moral good and the generic (or practical/factual good) is a false dichotomy and precisely the error of severing the relationship between the judging agent and the object being judged.,/cite>

    Aesthetics is most certainly morally relevant to man. Just as food is nourishment for man’s body, art and aesthetics are the nourishment for man’s mind, his consciousness, his spiritual health. Therefore, there is indeed a moral value-judgment involved in your relation to the kind of aesthetic pursuits you indulge in and the art you value. This moral judgement is made by yourself upon your own premises–whether implicit or explicit–from which you react to aesthetics.
    —-
    are you now denying this?

    Nothing is defended in Objectivism from first principles; ultimately, all Objectivist principles are derived from reality. However, do not confuse Objectivism with empiricism or realism.
    That is what I meant. Still waitng for you do this, where is the evidence for your argument?

    “…every “is” implies an “ought.” The reason is that every fact of reality which we discover has, directly or indirectly, an implication for man’s self-preservation and thus for his proper course of action. In relation to the goal of staying alive, the fact demands specific kinds of actions and prohibits others; i.e., it entails a definite set of evaluations.” OK so this assertion is men to be justified by what follows. First there are plenty of facts that entail nothing about demanding or prohibiting actions – these facts are quite neutral. Second a rather dubious use of the term implication. Certainly one can witt effort probably make it so but not necessarily, that is an option and an additional imposition. Also to generalize this via “indirectly” means that you are redefinng ought so as to be empty of any useful meaning. With all honesty this looks like a lame solution to the fact-value distinction. Surely you can do better than that?

    I’m still waiting for your proof that morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals. This is wrong headed in so many ways. First you have made assertions and I have questioned them to discover their justification. Since you expect a proof that is why I am waiting for one from you. You have made extraordinary claim and I am asking you to defend it.

    It seems pointless to bounce back these semantic points back and forth. Still nothing answered yet but I live in hope. As I requested before lets avoid semantic confusions why not restate your argument without using terms like moral, good and ought. If your arguments works and correctly describes reality you will be able to do this, if not you wont.

  36. evanescent said

    Martino, what extraordinary claim do you think Ergo has made that requires defending?

    If you are completely unfamiliar with Objectivist epistemology and ethics I can understand your ignorance, but what you’re basically asking, it seems to me, is that Ergo state the entire basis of Objectivism to you from the ground up. But that is why he offered various links to you to understand this better. Your problem seems to be with Objectivism itself, but I think Ergo’s done a pretty good job stating his case; the rest is up to you. I think you made the extraordinary claim that requires defending:

    Prove that morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals.

  37. martino said

    Evanescent

    Yes I am unfamiliar with Objectivist epistemology but nothing here indicates, yet, that it is worth pursing. If Ergo cannot make a reasonable case for it then either he is a poor representative of it or he is regarded as a good one. Your comment indicates the latter, and following Plato’s Principle of Charity, that is what I am assuming here anyway.

    I have not made the claim that “Prove that morality requires the interaction of at least two individuals.” this is what Ergo asked me but that is changing the subject. From this, I am assuming that Ergo believes, by implication from his question, that he can indeed prove that morality requires only one individual. Therefore this is what I have been asking him. Now to expand I think the issue of proving it one way or another is absurd. Saying what morality is a matter of definition. It is how reality works behind this that interests me. Still it is Ergo who is making the extraordinary definition and, presumably, one he thinks he can prove. Fine. I am waiting for him to do this.

  38. Ergo said

    I’ll quote myself again, since you seem to have the nack for ignoring the inconvenient.

    “I have indeed offered my proof: in the first three paragraphs of my posted article. Read it. And what’s more, I have then elaborated it extensively in the comments.”

    Also, you’re not clear on exactly what you want to be proved: you make a series of claims (which use poorly differentiated and defined concepts like “good”, “values”, and “moral good” despite my earlier requests that you define your terms of use) asking me to prove a variety of things. I get the impression that you’re not sure yourself about what you want me to address.

    Here are some of your claims:

    “Prove that all values are moral” (I made no such claim, so you can keep waiting for this proof, but you won’t get it from me)

    “Prove that morality requires only one individual” (already provided, repeatedly. see comment above.)

    “Prove that there are only moral values” (Again, you can keep waiting. This has nothing to do with what I said.)

    Further, you seemed to have dropped your hold on the lousy “falling tree in empty forest” analogy, which seemed was your bases for claiming that moral issues arise only in the context of the interaction between at least two people. You did not disagree with my dismissal of this “empty forest” analogy.

    As I said, I am uninterested in this discussion hereon because you have not offered anything new for me to respond to. Offer me a proof of your argument, or state your position explicitly so that we can proceed from there. I have made my case to the extent possible and relevant here; for the entire metaphysical and epistemological foundations of the ethics being discussed, read the primary sources.

    Now it’s your turn: you can either choose to offer your premises, construct your proof, and defend them all, or you can move on.

  39. martino said

    We seems to be going round in circles but still there is progres, at least on my part.

    “Prove that morality requires only one individual” (already provided, repeatedly. see comment above.)
    So you agree that you think this is possible yet when I analysed your three pargraphs there seemed to be no such proof. Just restating that it is there is not conducive to expanding understanding and communicating your ideas which you appear confident are correct. I have asked questions about this and you have completely ignored this. I will expand on this below.

    “Prove that all values are moral” (I made no such claim, so you can keep waiting for this proof, but you won’t get it from me)
    “Prove that there are only moral values” (Again, you can keep waiting. This has nothing to do with what I said.)
    Yes I have asked for this, yes you have not explicitly made this claim but in my previous post I showed it was reasonable to infer you are making such a point whilst you have denied it, as you have merely repeated here. Still you have not dealt with my response at all and ignoring it and repeating yourself is, again, not the basis to progress in discussion.

    Further, you seemed to have dropped your hold on the lousy “falling tree in empty forest” analogy, which seemed was your bases for claiming that moral issues arise only in the context of the interaction between at least two people. You did not disagree with my dismissal of this “empty forest” analogy.
    Yes the riposte to your “Man alone on the Island” argument was badly put – but not by me – and no I have no dropped this at all, as the point it makes it still very interesting and is indeed it is still central to my query to your claims. It is usual in discussion to expand on an initial query and that is all that has happened here. We are now ready to return to this.

    you make a series of claims (which use poorly differentiated and defined concepts like “good”, “values”, and “moral good” despite my earlier requests that you define your terms of use)
    As I have requested twice and you have ignored twice that the best way to proceed is to avoid using terms such as “moral, “good” and “ought” in order to make your argument about the reality behind such terms. The reason I put is due the semantically laden and often confusing meanings applied to these terms. It is you making these claims, not me, and you from whom I am seeking clarification. Merely replying with a Tu Quoque argument just confirms this point that I am making. That we are better off making your argument without such terms. This is the best way to move forward but I have seen no movement on this on your part. A pity to say the least but I will persevere one last time without having this clearer requested argument available and give you the benefit of the doubt one more time.

    As I said, I am uninterested in this discussion hereon because you have not offered anything new for me to respond to.
    Really if this is the case then you should had had no trouble responding to my questions rather than ignore them. This indicates your claim is false and you are using it as an excuse to avoid answering me.

    Offer me a proof of your argument, or state your position explicitly so that we can proceed from there. I have made my case to the extent possible and relevant here; for the entire metaphysical and epistemological foundations of the ethics being discussed, read the primary sources.
    I am currently unconvinced there is anything to pursue further. I personally certainly would not make any argument in such a forum or blog without being confident I could deal with and answer any queries to it. If I felt I had to refer back to the primary literature all the time then I would not make such arguments. That is the standard I try to keep but it would be wrong for me to expect it from others. Anyway this thread to date has been illuminating and as noted above I am ready to return to your Man alone on the Island argument. There are two points here.

    I note you admire Searle so I will create an illustrative analogy assuming that you are also familiar Dennett as well as Dennett-Searle exchanges (but lets not get side tracked on that!). For sure whilst you should get the analogy I do not expect you to be sympathetic to it but I am honestly trying to make this fundamental point, and this is inspired by my unanswered questions above and can be taken to subsume them.

    Imagine that you or the people who inspired your views have written a book called “Morality Explained”. This is pejoratively called by its critics “Morality Unexplained” – why because these critics think this book leaves the “Problem of Morality” untouched and what is discussed under the term morality is a redefinition with an attempted solution of a different problem and one which avoids the problem (of morality) rather than solves it.

    This is what is going on here and your “Man Alone on the Island” argument illustrates it well. The two key points are

    1. The idea of *proving* that morality requires only one individual or a minimum of two individuals is absurd. For our purposes here, the problem of morality is about what a minimum of two people can effectively and efficiently conduct themselves in interactions with each other. The Man alone on on the Island argument shows you are not talking about the problem of morality at all. You have redefined the term to mean something quite different and am proceeding to solve a different problem with it.

    2. Still your definition still has a very interesting and obviously related problem that you are trying to solve, namely a theory of value. I think we would both agree that a theory of value is required to have a theory of morality and so this question is still worth pursing.

    However for now it seems running both in parallel is problematic. So my main objection to you as illustrated by your “Man alone in the Island” argument is you are not solving the problem of morality at all. Whilst I think it is absurd you think you can prove otherwise and so this is what I have been asking and am still waiting for.

  40. martino said

    Sorry correction to my last line in in my last post. I meant to say
    “Whilst I think it is absurd and missing the point to try to prove this one way or another, you do think you can prove otherwise and so this is what I have been asking and am still waiting for.”

    Anyway maybe you have been busy, but it looks like the comment conversations have moved on here. The evidence to date on a resolution to the these questions is that it is unlikely, given I have asked in a number different ways and that they have not been remotely answered so far. All I can tentatively conclude is that your claims are inadequate and this gives me no reason to investigate Objectivism further. Whether my objection is applicable, let alone original, to Objectivism or only your representation of it is a moot point. Maybe there will be an opportunity to resolve this in the future.

    Anyway thanks for spending the time on our dialog.

  41. evanescent said

    Hi Martino, I don’t think the conversation has dried up, and nor can I speak on Ergo’s behalf, but I will point out that he’s already addressed everything you’ve brought up, and you’ve not addressed what he asked you. So until this changes there is nothing to continue with…

  42. martino said

    Hi Evanascent

    If you think otherwise I will ask one you last time to answer what the key question I restated for the third or fourth time in my last one post. He is the one making the claims not me, I have asked him questions he has failed to answer them. His questions to me are changing the subject and not relevant to substantiating his claims. Merely claiming that he has answered these questions is not the same as answering them and is indeed an irrational argumentation method. Until he or you answers these questions there is no point continuing this conversation and my conclusion still stands that the arguments in this thread for Objectivism appear to be pseudo-rational, underwhelming and not worth pursing further.

  43. evanescent said

    You can find the answers yourself in the post itself and in Ergo’s comments! I don’t know what questions you’ve raised that you don’t think haven’t been answered.

  44. Ergo said

    Martino,

    You’re powers of sophistry are more impressive than your reasoning and comprehension skills. If you read through your comments above, you will notice two things (at least):

    1) You don’t really pay attention to the precise words and meanings of my arguments–either deliberately or because you’re sloppy.
    2) You come back with a rejoinder to an issue that has already been addressed in my earlier comments, demanding that I cover the same ground over and over again.

    As examples:

    1) I state that the choice to live is meta-ethical. Either you didn’t understand what that meant, or you ignored it, or you didn’t read that part carefully. Because, in response, you ask me: “Choosing to live is choosing to live, it is not a moral choice, certainly not on a deserted island unless you define it so.” Your comment here is irrelevant. To any rational person who’s paying attention, it should be clear from my statement that the choice to live is meta-ethical. So, your objection is not only irrelevant, it reveals your sloppy reading.

    2) I said that the concept of good cannot be divorced from the interest of the person making the judgement, and a “good” without a standard is whimsical subjectivism. To this, you responded with “what is this standard you are talking about?” Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention all along. In my immediately previous comment, I explicitly identified the standard of evaluation, of good, bad, moral, immoral: “life is the standard of value–it creates a framework of values by which you decide what is good for you and what is not good for you.”

    Just as existence cannot be evaluated on any standard beyond itself (i.e., beyond existence), life cannot be evaluated by any standard beyong itself: life gives meaning to the concept “evaluation” by providing the context and the standard. You distort the meaning of “valuation”, “morality” and “good” by demanding a standard of evaluation outside of life.

    3) I said: “To illustrate, “man is a rational being” is to make a metaphysical claim about man’s nature by appeal to the characteristic that explains the greatest number of his other traits and differentiates him from other species. Do not confuse this with an ethical assessment that “man is a rational being”, which would be simply false, since some men are irrational.”

    By responding with “merely labeling certain human agents as moral beings does nothing to help resolve this”, you confused yourself further. You wrongfully inferred that I was making the trivially true claim that some men are rational or moral and some are irrational and immoral. I see that you were unable to maintain the distinction between philosophic categories. I suspect here is the key to your confusion regarding the concepts “life” and “value.”

    Life entails values, and values make life possible: neither is possible in the absence of the other. In the metaphysical sense, life makes the pursuit of values possible; in meta-ethical sense, life makes the concept of morality possible; in the ethical sense, life itself is the ultimate value implicit in all acts of self-preservation that is proper to a human being. The specific actions and goals that an entity must undertake to sustain its own life are determined by the specific nature and identity of the entity. The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do.

    4) Despite explaining the above and excerpting from the essay “Fact and Value”, you state: “Still waiting for a theory of value.” Have you been reading anything at all?? Oh, but later you seem to admit that a theory of value was offered, because you derisively say “this looks like a lame solution to the fact-value distinction.” So, it appears that you first don’t realize what you’ve read, and then you change your mind to decide that whatever you’ve read is probably lame because you can lazily rest in the safety of the historical fact that no philosophy has ever bridged the fact-value gap, and Objectivism probably does not either.

    There’re many more examples that I could glean from your comments. It should be clear now why this discussion with you has been frustratingly repetitive for me. Besides, the whole point of this post (and of your disagreement) was my contention that morality is a private individual affair. Since only individuals have consciousness, only individuals can think. Since only individuals can think, only individuals can be rational or irrational. Just as thinking is a private affair, thinking about the morality of one’s actions (i.e., the rationality or irrationality of one’s behavior) is a private affair. This fact, you challenge, but fail to defend with any proof. I must see this as indication of your inability to provide one because you know you are wrong.

    And no, my claim is not extraordinary at all. Come to think of it, it is the position you hold–that morality is not a private individual affair–that is truly startling: because by examining its logical roots, it is evident that you wish to defend the view that thinking is not a personal, individual, private affair, that thinking is a collective activity, a group effort, and that moral concepts emerge from such group think(ing); interestingly, that’s what the collectivists wish to believe. But on mystical–non-factual–grounds.

  45. ThomTG said

    If I may enter the conversation, I will try to summarize my understanding of Martino’s position:

    You stated in #23 that you regarded morality, following the “English approach” and not the German’s, as secular and “governing only that behavior that directly or indirectly affects others” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Based on this description, you questioned whether morality governs behavior affecting the moral agent himself. And from this, you argued that: 1) that “Berries are good” is a fallacious conclusion, committing the intrinsicist fallacy; and 2) that whatever a man does to survive [anywhere] is good generically but is not a good morally.

    In #26, you disputed that valuation can be subjective. Specifically, you disputed that “[berries] can only be valued by a rational agent that VALUES them.” More specifically, you disputed the second usage of the verb as being subjectivist. In the same post, you further elaborated on the difference between beneficial things that are good but not morally good: aesthetics, liking various flavors of cold desserts and their fulfillments as good.

    In #28, you concurred with others about rejecting subjectivism, but you questioned “what is this standard you are talking about?” You also in this post asserted the distinction between fact and value, with value being noncognitive. In addition, you wanted to see how “morality does not require the interaction of at least two individuals.”

    In #31, you wanted to understand better the objective theory of value.

    In #33, you stipulatively accepted the definition of “a moral code [as] a set of integrated, non-contradictory body of principles that guide man’s actions.” Crucially, you then stated “It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.” And later, “It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.” Finally, you suggested to others to refrain in arguments from using terms such as moral, good, bad and ought, which are in dispute.

    In #35, you stipulatively accepted the metaphysical assertion that only human beings are *capable* of being moral. But you disputed whether all volitional actions are moral actions. In other words, you asserted that some volitional actions are not moral actions.

    In #39, near the end, you agreed “that a theory of value is required to have a theory of morality.” However, you said that both theories are not getting their respective attention in the discussion. And continuing to #40, you wanted to focus on the Objectivist theory of morality.

    On the assumption that I have distilled your posts (up through #42) accurately, I would summarize your position in the following structure of points:

    1. Morality as described by SEP is either religious and self-regarding (German), or else secular and other-regarding (English). Objectivists claim that this commits the fallacy of false alternative and bring up the possibility of morality as secular and self-regarding. This is what you, Martino, want to be shown.
    2. You agree that a theory of morality is built from a theory of value. To explain the German approach to morality, one would have to examine its theory of value. Likewise, to agree to the English approach to morality, you would have had to accept a particular theory of value. So, in order for anyone to argue for an Objectivist theory of morality, he would have to show why the other theories of value are false and why the Objectivist theory of value is true.
    3. In the present theory of value that you do hold, you believe that there are no intrinsic values. But you also believe that no personal, subjective valuation of something can be deemed as morally good. That something which satisfies a personal, subjective desire may be a generic good, as in fulfilling a personal preference; but it (the valuable) is not a moral good.
    4. On your theory of value, the term “moral good” is reserved for a social valuation. You believe that society (a group of two or more human individuals) can decide what is morally good. That is, one single individual’s personal valuation of something is subjectivist, but a multitude of individual’s (a society’s) valuation of it is not subjective. The multitude determines what is moral.
    5. On this account of morality, whatever a man does alone on an island (or even in the middle of society) to survive is good, in the generic sense of fulfilling his personal desire to survive; however, his action is not deemed moral. The English approach of morality tells you that his action becomes moral only if they affect others. On this basis, you conclude that some human, volitional actions are not moral; or, not all volitional actions are moral actions.
    6. You can accept the stipulative definition of a moral code because it says nothing about self-regarding versus other-regarding actions. It is just a set of principles to guide human agents in society. But you want to make sure that it is society that establishes the set, not any single, conscious individual. Thus, “Morality [must] be premised on such a group.”

    Is this an accurate description of your position? If it is, one word will suffice. If not, please correct or elaborate on these points.

  46. martino said

    @ThomasTG I would like to give an unqualified yes to your analysis, which is head and shoulders above Ergo’s understanding. However given what has been said more details is required and whilst an excellent analysis is not surprisingly not perfect (whose would be?). At least you understand the questions I have been asking and thank you for paying attention and doing so. There does not seem to be much point answering any of Ergo’s points most of which miss the point and appear to be diversionary so I will stick with your analysis here apart from answering Ergo’s last paragraph.

    @Ergo :And no, my claim is not extraordinary at all. Come to think of it, it is the position you hold–that morality is not a private individual affair–that is truly startling: because by examining its logical roots, it is evident that you wish to defend the view that thinking is not a personal, individual, private affair, that thinking is a collective activity, a group effort, and that moral concepts emerge from such group think(ing); interestingly, that’s what the collectivists wish to believe. But on mystical–non-factual–grounds.
    Actually there is nothing to answer as I do not hold any of these views and you are completely missing the point of my questions and inventing and constructing imaginary positions. These are your fears not mine :-) Anyway my positions are irrelevant, it is you making claims and it is up to you to defend them. It is about time you started doing this. The fact that ThomasTG, a fellow Objectivist I believe, was able to make the post that he did is all the evidence I need to confirm this, as any impartial lurker examining this thread would conclude too. I suggest that we work off his analysis to proceed further.

    @Thomas I will be brief but need to go through this step by step to avoid any misunderstanding – which sadly Ergo has displayed in bucket loads – and that I wish to minimize and avoid as we proceed. I also will clarify here and where possible not refer back to the original post. What I say here will stand. Finally lets take the response here plus my additions at the end as the template from which to proceed further.

    You stated in #23 that you regarded morality, following the “English approach” and not the German’s, as secular and “governing only that behavior that directly or indirectly affects others” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Based on this description, you questioned whether morality governs behavior affecting the moral agent himself. And from this, you argued that: 1) that “Berries are good” is a fallacious conclusion, committing the intrinsicist fallacy; and 2) that whatever a man does to survive [anywhere] is good generically but is not a good morally.
    1) Yes 2) No that this not a moral good but Ergo claims it is I would like proof of this.

    n #26, you disputed that valuation can be subjective. Specifically, you disputed that “[berries] can only be valued by a rational agent that VALUES them.” More specifically, you disputed the second usage of the verb as being subjectivist. In the same post, you further elaborated on the difference between beneficial things that are good but not morally good: aesthetics, liking various flavors of cold desserts and their fulfillments as good.
    OK

    n #28, you concurred with others about rejecting subjectivism, but you questioned “what is this standard you are talking about?” You also in this post asserted the distinction between fact and value, with value being noncognitive. In addition, you wanted to see how “morality does not require the interaction of at least two individuals.”
    No I do not assert that value is non-cognitive. The last line I tackle at the end of this post.

    In #35, you stipulatively accepted the metaphysical assertion that only human beings are *capable* of being moral. But you disputed whether all volitional actions are moral actions. In other words, you asserted that some volitional actions are not moral actions.
    No I am not asserting this but it is the default position required for the claims to be evaluated here. I am awaiting a proof of the assertion that all volitional actions are moral.

    In #31, you wanted to understand better the objective theory of value.
    Well more what actually is this Objectivist theory of value? This sounds like an ethical naturalist argument and so I expect the theory to show how value is derived from or reduced to non value components.

    n #33, you stipulatively accepted the definition of “a moral code [as] a set of integrated, non-contradictory body of principles that guide man’s actions.” Crucially, you then stated “It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.” And later, “It is irrelevant that a group or society is not conscious. What is relevant is that any such group comprises of two or more conscious agents. Morality can be premised on such a group.” Finally, you suggested to others to refrain in arguments from using terms such as moral, good, bad and ought, which are in dispute.
    You have recognized my key objection in Ergo’s so-called “proof” and am still awaiting an answer to this. Not sure if my use of the term “premise” is quite correct. I explore this further in my concluding comments below. I am not asking to refrain from using such terms as “moral” and so on, rather that if one claims to have a realist account of morality then one does not need to use such terms to make such claims and by avoiding doing so can make the arguments clearer. More importantly and this is somewhat noted in later posts, that being unable to do this, is a good indication that one does not have a fully realist account. Indeed I hold that this is one of two the acid tests for a realist account of morality (the other test set is noted below).

    In #35, you stipulatively accepted the metaphysical assertion that only human beings are *capable* of being moral. But you disputed whether all volitional actions are moral actions. In other words, you asserted that some volitional actions are not moral actions.
    Again it is not so much an assertion by me but a request to see such a proof that all volitional actions are moral, which requires one assumes that they may be different. I have also said that I don’t think such a proof is possible one way or another, I called this “absurd”. To expand it is a matter of our definitional practices and I prefer to keep to definitions closer to the standard meanings, to do as Ergo has done here is create too many opportunities for equivocation and sows seeds of confusion. Regardless a realist theory cannot be dependent on such definitions – that is putting the cart before the horse.

    In #39, near the end, you agreed “that a theory of value is required to have a theory of morality.” However, you said that both theories are not getting their respective attention in the discussion. And continuing to #40, you wanted to focus on the Objectivist theory of morality.
    I do not know if I agree so much as logic requires that this has to be so. The dispute seems to be if they coincide or not. I need to see some sort of a necessary argument that is not a questionable a priori definitional one that this is so. It is this that I call extraordinary and unorthodox, since it is contrary to the work and understanding of most contemporary and historical moral philosophy. (To avoid possible confusion an egoist theory of morality is a perfectly legitimate approach to the problem, this is not in dispute here).

    On the assumption that I have distilled your posts (up through #42) accurately, I would summarize your position in the following structure of points:
    I have not checked if you have accidentally or otherwise selectively missed other key points but am very happy with what you have done here compared to E squared’s efforts.

    1. Morality as described by SEP is either religious and[/or] self-regarding (German), or else secular and other-regarding (English). Objectivists claim that this commits the fallacy of false alternative and bring up the possibility of morality as secular and self-regarding. This is what you, Martino, want to be shown.
    Did not see quite it this way – certainly it is not an issue of false alternatives. Remember I did say I would not commit the genetic fallacy given the religious origins of self-regarding morality. My point was to emphasize that it is a matter of definition not proof as Ergo claims.

    2. You agree that a theory of morality is built from a theory of value. To explain the German approach to morality, one would have to examine its theory of value. Likewise, to agree to the English approach to morality, you would have had to accept a particular theory of value. So, in order for anyone to argue for an Objectivist theory of morality, he would have to show why the other theories of value are false and why the Objectivist theory of value is true.
    Correct although I would be happy at this stage just to see the Objectivist theory of value and how it works. We can worry later about showing the falsity of other theories. We probably agree on most of the latter anyway.

    3. In the present theory of value that you do hold, you believe that there are no intrinsic values. But you also believe that no personal, subjective valuation of something can be deemed as morally good. That something which satisfies a personal, subjective desire may be a generic good, as in fulfilling a personal preference; but it (the valuable) is not a moral good.
    We are starting to slightly awry here. I reject both intrinsic value and subjective value theories. As far as I can tell I am in agreement with Objectivists on this. What I want to see is the Objectivist theory of value that is an alternative to both those positions. The acid tests for any such theory is, at a minimum, how it resolves with the is-ought and naturalistic fallacies and the fact-value distinction. Nothing I have seen in this thread so far is remotely satisfactory at answering this.

    4. On your theory of value, the term “moral good” is reserved for a social valuation. You believe that society (a group of two or more human individuals) can decide what is morally good. That is, one single individual’s personal valuation of something is subjectivist, but a multitude of individual’s (a society’s) valuation of it is not subjective. The multitude determines what is moral.
    I have not provided a theory of value nor is there any need for me to do so. It is not based on any theory that I ask such a question, rather it is that the use of moral here appears to be identical with value – which Ergo both implies and yet explicitly denies – and this makes the term moral either redundant and have no illocutionary force or a contradiction and hence incoherent.

    5. On this account of morality, whatever a man does alone on an island (or even in the middle of society) to survive is good, in the generic sense of fulfilling his personal desire to survive; however, his action is not deemed moral. The English approach of morality tells you that his action becomes moral only if they affect others. On this basis, you conclude that some human, volitional actions are not moral; or, not all volitional actions are moral actions.
    I have not provided an account of morality nor need to do so, I am questioning Ergo’s one. To deem the actions of a man alone on he island moral rather than just pragmatic, prudential or otherwise is to highlight the unorthodox notion of moral that Ergo is using. It is not that I conclude that some volitional actions are not moral, rather that I am operating with the default null hypothesis and waiting for a proof, that Ergo claims he can do, that such volitional actions are indeed moral actions.

    6. You can accept the stipulative definition of a moral code because it says nothing about self-regarding versus other-regarding actions. It is just a set of principles to guide human agents in society. But you want to make sure that it is society that establishes the set, not any single, conscious individual. Thus, “Morality [must] be premised on such a group.”
    Not at all. And this brings me to yet again to the key point I have been trying to make throughout this thread and have gained some clarity about. I will use as much of Ergo’s definitions as I can stipulatively to make and focus on this point.

    The Problem of Morality is the the problem of how a minimum of two or more conscious rational agents can interact efficiently and effectively. There is a substantive jump in the problem space going from a single conscious rational agent interacting with one’s surroundings to two or more such agents where each agents surroundings now includes the behaviours and responses to other agents behaviours of other conscious rational agents. And this substantive jump is the distinguishing feature for defining the problem of morality. This is a very simple point and I am really quite surprised at how long it has taken to get to here. Hopefully someone will finally understand this and we can proceed to actually discussing this.

  47. ThomTG said

    Martino, I think I understand better your stated position, but I would like to make sure I am firm on the underlying ideas.

    Hence, from #23, 1) to say “berries are good” is to be subjective—to express a preference and nothing more. Moreover, the utterance cannot be derived from any conclusion, because there are no such things as intrinsic values. Similarly, 2) whatever a man does to survive in any setting, “he can deem good”—meaning, as a fulfillment to the requirements of survival—] but this judgment of goodness is a generic judgment and cannot be deemed a “moral” judgment.

    Passing by #26 and going to #28, since you claim to recognize the distinction between fact and value, and since you do not assert that values are non-cognitive, do you assert at least that values are not facts? By this, I mean (from Wikipedia): “The fact-value distinction is a concept used to distinguish between arguments which can be claimed through reason alone, and those where rationality is limited to describing a collective opinion. In another formulation, it is the distinction between what is (can be discovered by science, philosophy or reason) and what ought to be (a judgment which can be agreed upon by consensus).”

    In #31, you asked for the objective theory of value. But you already hold a certain theory of value yourself, from which you ask your questions. Namely, a theory of value should explain how values are “derived from or reduced to non-value components”.

    In #33, I take from your response that my interpretation is fine.

    In #35, I stand corrected, you want it shown that “all volitional actions are moral actions”. But you have to grant me that you have to have standing; you must hold the incompatible position. As you said, what if “one assumes that they may be different.” In other words, you are assuming “some volitional actions are not moral actions.”

    For #39, I take from your response that you agree.

    As I stated previously, my summary is a summary of your position based on your posts, including not only the stated but also the inferred (with due adherence to the principle of charity).

    3. I am ascertaining your underlying view of value. Do you accept this interpretation?

    4. I am synthesizing your underlying view of morality. Do you accept this interpretation? Whether you stated it explicitly or nor, by asking your question about the Objectivist morality, you are making a stand, and I am trying to understand where you stand, based on your posts.

    5 and 6. Do you agree that this is your position? You may operate on the null hypothesis, but as Aristotle reminds all (Post An. I.3), you are still operating on some thesis, namely, certain definitions.

    If you accede to these points as your position, as requested by Ergo in #38, I am sure others will proceed with the discussion.

  48. martino said

    @ThomasTG

    Martino, I think I understand better your stated position, but I would like to make sure I am firm on the underlying ideas.
    OK

    Hence, from #23, 1) to say “berries are good” is to be subjective—to express a preference and nothing more. Moreover, the utterance cannot be derived from any conclusion, because there are no such things as intrinsic values. Similarly, 2) whatever a man does to survive in any setting, “he can deem good”—meaning, as a fulfillment to the requirements of survival—] but this judgment of goodness is a generic judgment and cannot be deemed a “moral” judgment.
    1) No the use of the berries example I originally used to highlight the falsity of intrinsic value theory. I thought y’all agree in the falsity of intrinsic value theory? Nonetheless I do reject subjective value theory and again I thought we all agree on that? I am interested in realistic theories of value and want to know what your is. Can we get on with it please.

    2) The use of good as a fulfillment of the requirement of survival is a species of generic good. I am asking for how you make this a sub-set of or identical to moral good – another species of generic good. I am not saying it cannot I am just asking how you can justify this as a moral good. It appeared that Ergo has argued – although he explicitly denies this – that this is resolved since generic good and moral good are identical. I thought this was the main thesis underlying the headline post in this thread. However you look at it this is what I want to be shown one way or another.

    Passing by #26 and going to #28, since you claim to recognize the distinction between fact and value, and since you do not assert that values are non-cognitive, do you assert at least that values are not facts? By this, I mean (from Wikipedia): “The fact-value distinction is a concept used to distinguish between arguments which can be claimed through reason alone, and those where rationality is limited to describing a collective opinion. In another formulation, it is the distinction between what is (can be discovered by science, philosophy or reason) and what ought to be (a judgment which can be agreed upon by consensus).”
    No I do not assert that values are not facts. There is a distinction which I would call for the purposes here naive. And certainly ignoring it is also naive. The question is how to resolve this. You claim and i am waiting and very interested to see how.

    In #31, you asked for the objective theory of value. But you already hold a certain theory of value yourself, from which you ask your questions. Namely, a theory of value should explain how values are “derived from or reduced to non-value components”.
    No as I understand it any non-intrinsic and non-subjective theory of value would be of the form of an ethical naturalism argument. Either you provide one of that form – as I have repeatedly asked – or you show how my challenge is incorrect *and* provide your own non-reductive (to non-value components) argument.

    In #35, I stand corrected, you want it shown that “all volitional actions are moral actions”. But you have to grant me that you have to have standing; you must hold the incompatible position. As you said, what if “one assumes that they may be different.” In other words, you are assuming “some volitional actions are not moral actions.”
    No I do not hold any position here in this discussion. I am asking you to prove your claim – which only makes sense in the context that some volitional action *might* not be not moral actions. One way, you might have others, is for to you to show that such non-moral volitional actions do not exist.

    3. I am ascertaining your underlying view of value. Do you accept this interpretation?
    Huh? I am waiting here for a theory of value I can endorse. Do you have one that I can consider or not?

    4. I am synthesizing your underlying view of morality. Do you accept this interpretation? Whether you stated it explicitly or nor, by asking your question about the Objectivist morality, you are making a stand, and I am trying to understand where you stand, based on your posts.
    Again huh? Why is this an issue? It is quite irrelevant here. You (presumably you agree with Ergo) are making the claims, I am asking for substantiation of this claim.

    5 and 6. Do you agree that this is your position? You may operate on the null hypothesis, but as Aristotle reminds all (Post An. I.3), you are still operating on some thesis, namely, certain definitions.
    3, 4 and 5 and 6 here are diversionary. What position? I am asking two questions – if that is my “position” fine. It has been this all along. What is your theory of value and what is your theory of morality?

    If you accede to these points as your position, as requested by Ergo in #38, I am sure others will proceed with the discussion.
    There is nothing to accede. You are being diversionary. I have already answered Ergo #38 in subsequent comments and he has failed to respond to my queries. If you recognized Ergo’s request you can see blatantly that I have analyzed what he said asked questions in replies which have not been answered and ignored. Are you going to answer these questions or continue avoiding answering them? If you do the later then I and any impartial observer can only conclude that you have no real arguments to make your case. Please show me otherwise.

  49. ThomTG said

    My contribution to the conversation so far has been to uncover and translate your position so that others can proceed to answer your requests. The structure of my comment has been 1) to distill your posts accurately and 2) to integrate the distillation into your position—a structure of six points. That is, with all the digressions back and forth, I feel everyone got frustrated that no mind-to-mind contact has been made. It’s like—someone worthwhile is lost in the forest; stop moving so others can find you.

    Have I found your position with the summarized six points?

  50. evanescent said

    I’m going to pick up and address this point because I thought it had already been clarified and I believe Martino is still labouring under a misapprehension:

    No the use of the berries example I originally used to highlight the falsity of intrinsic value theory. I thought y’all agree in the falsity of intrinsic value theory? Nonetheless I do reject subjective value theory and again I thought we all agree on that? I am interested in realistic theories of value and want to know what your is. Can we get on with it please.

    2) The use of good as a fulfillment of the requirement of survival is a species of generic good. I am asking for how you make this a sub-set of or identical to moral good – another species of generic good. I am not saying it cannot I am just asking how you can justify this as a moral good. It appeared that Ergo has argued – although he explicitly denies this – that this is resolved since generic good and moral good are identical. I thought this was the main thesis underlying the headline post in this thread. However you look at it this is what I want to be shown one way or another.

    Martino here seems to be drawing a distinction between generic good and moral good. This is where he is going wrong (one of many places). There is no such distinction. Good and bad depend on an objective set of values, therefore there must be a VALUER since there is no intrinsic value, on which we all agree. Since morality is a code of values to guide one’s actions, there is only moral good or moral bad; there is no sense in using the words good or bad, moral or immoral, unless in relation to a consciousness that can value. That which benefits and sustains the life of a rational being is therefore good and that which has the opposite effect is bad.

    Therefore, to eat food is not just generically good (that means nothing), is it MORALLY good! Music, art, love, friendship, pride, ambition, these are good because they enrich and sustain the life of a man; they are therefore morally good. To be moral is to act consistently with one’s rational values.

    I hope this clears things up Martino. If you happen to disagree with this, then you should be able to cite an example of something that sustains and/or benefits the life of a rational being that IS NOT good, or conversely, something that is GOOD and/or moral that DOES NOT have a positive effect on a rational being.

  51. Tim R said

    A quick clarification request from a novice objectivist –

    Is ALL volition moral or immoral according to objectivism?
    Is there such a thing as a choice that has no positive or negative benefit to your life?

    Objectivist morality for me was initially quite confusing because I had the incorrect idea that immoral acts should be illegal. Judging by the large amount of private acts that are illegal in our society, (abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriage, drug taking, certain types of gambling etc etc), I’m sure that other people would think the same thing. ie: If something is immoral, then the state should make it illegal.
    This led to me having two ways of evaluating something, both as either right/wrong and either good for you/bad for you.

  52. Ergo said

    Tim,

    Objectivism identifies free will with the choice to focus: this choice to focus or not is the most basic and irreducible act of volition. All acts that arise from a focused awareness (including erroneous acts evaluated against an objective standard) are open to moral evaluation. Likewise, all acts that arise from a mind out of focus, or from the evasion of focus and an acceptance of mindlessness as an epistemic policy, are also open to moral evaluation.

    In brief, all volitional actions (and only volitional actions) are open to moral evaluation; but not all actions are volitional; the latter kind include acts arising from the preconceptual (like undifferentiated perceptions of an infant) or the non-conceptual level (like our digestive processes).

    Is there such a thing as a choice that has no positive or negative benefit to your life?

    Look at it this way. There are some volitional acts whose moral status is directly relevant to your survival, some volitional acts that are only indirectly relevant. I think of it as a heirarchy, where some actions in pursuit of values have immediate or direct implications/consequences to your life, thus, they are toward the base of the hierarchical structure of values (like reason, self-esteem, freedom, etc.). Other actions are in pursuit of values (what Objectivists call “optional values”) that are farther up your value-heirarchy and have indirect implications to your life, often having more impact on your “flourishment” in stead (like reading an interesting book instead of getting getting homework done, which might affect your grades in school, etc.).

    Thus, all volitional acts can be morally evaluated; however, some acts are in pursuit of optional values that are only distantly relevant to your ultimate value of life. With regard to such values, the moral evaluation of acts in pursuit of such depends heavily on your individual context, its relationship to other values along the spectrum, and your psycho-epistemology.

    With regard to immorality and illegality, the distinction is between that which applies to the private sphere of a man’s mind and that which governs the behavior of men in a social setting. Morality is a private affair. Rights are the conditions that allow a man to practice his morality and pursue his values in a social context. Therefore, the concept of rights is a political and social concept. All that’s immoral is not judged as such against a social context, but against an objective context comprising of the individual and his relationship to reality. This means that all that’s immoral is not necessarily illegal, since illegality requires the necessary violation of rights.

  53. Tim R said

    Much appreciated Ergo.

    I think my understanding is all coming together. And I should commend you on a fine blog site.

    Actually, I seem to be someone that is much more interested in the big questions of life than most other people. This must just be due to my upbringing and life experience.

  54. martino said

    @ThomasTG

    My contribution to the conversation so far has been to uncover and translate your position so that others can proceed to answer your requests.
    What does my position matter. It is quite irrelevant and diversionary to answering these requests. Any impartial observer would ask these types of questions in order to understand your claims. What are you afraid of?

    The structure of my comment has been 1) to distill your posts accurately and 2) to integrate the distillation into your position—a structure of six points. That is, with all the digressions back and forth, I feel everyone got frustrated that no mind-to-mind contact has been made.
    Yes for sure. I have asked questions to find out more about and understand Objectivism and all these questions have been ignored and avoided. Instead I see a range of diversionary techniques employed a.k.a. rhetorical devices and therefore irrational to boot – ironic considering your emphasis onto be moral is be be rational! Now If you are confident of your position as you appear to be you should have no problem answering these questions. I have stated them a number of times and there is no point repeating them here.

    It’s like—someone worthwhile is lost in the forest; stop moving so others can find you.
    A poor analogy. I have consistently asked the same questions but in the different same ways so you can understand what I am asking. It is everyone else who is moving around the forest and spend more time doing this than standing still and showing where we are. I am still waiting.

    Have I found your position with the summarized six points?
    No. If you want a position from me I will state it again only differently. I am looking for a non-subjective and non-intrinsic value theory, you claim to have one hence I am here. I have looked at others and found them either unconvincing or false – yet I am convinced the correct position can only be found in this area – what I call moral realism – specifically to differentiate from the standard definition of moral objectivism (and non-naturalism) – by which I specifically mean intrinsic value theory – Moore et al. – which we all agree is false. If what I call moral realism you call moral objectivism, different to the standard theories – fine I have no issue with that, providing I have the means to explain what you and possibly I could mean by this. However I have no clear, consistent idea what yours is in order for me to try it on for size. The questions I have been asking are to achieve this clarity and consistency namely these are ones that a) help me understand what it is b) enable to see how I could tentatively adopt it and defend it against challenges.

    So could you stop beating about the bush and answer these questions? And since you and others seem to want to impose conditions on the questioner I can be quite justified – there are no double standards are there here? – in also imposing conditions on the answerer – given the history of this thread

    1) You don’t claim you have already answered them and refer back to posts and comments I have read and questioned where those questions in turn have and still remained unanswered. Instead answer the questions

    2) You don’t refer texts elsewhere, you first have to show that it is interesting and worthwhile for me to pursue this further – which is what I naively expected in the place, this whole thread is quite a surprise to me – and you can do this by answering my questions.

    Actually these are not impositions or conditions but part of what it means to have a rational debate, after all you do agree that to be moral is to be rational and therefore to do otherwise is immoral which presumably you think you are not?

  55. [...] Comments martino on Morality in the JungleFO on Why Choose to Live?Ergo on Why Choose to Live?ThomTG on Why Choose to Live?Tim [...]

  56. martino said

    @Evanescent :’m going to pick up and address this point because I thought it had already been clarified and I believe Martino is still labouring under a misapprehension:
    Fine. I am here to understand the claims being made and I ask questions that yes could be driven by misapprehensions and and am waiting for answers that might relieve me of such misapprehensions. Lets see:

    @Martino :2) The use of good as a fulfillment of the requirement of survival is a species of generic good. I am asking for how you make this a sub-set of or identical to moral good – another species of generic good. I am not saying it cannot I am just asking how you can justify this as a moral good. It appeared that Ergo has argued – although he explicitly denies this – that this is resolved since generic good and moral good are identical. I thought this was the main thesis underlying the headline post in this thread. However you look at it this is what I want to be shown one way or another.

    To which you replied:
    @Evanescent :Martino here seems to be drawing a distinction between generic good and moral good.
    As I have said before and was being very careful in my above quote, and I will be even more explicit here (but thought this was obvious as part of the basis of rational discussion, oh well) if one wants to scrutinize a position and critically appraise it one needs to consider alternatives and then evaluate them. It is not so much I am making a distinction here as much as if you claim value and moral are these (contra to Ergo’s contradictory denials which we will ignore here) and I want to evaluate that claim then *logic dictates* that the alternative is they are not the same (but presumably related of course). Now given this I have been asking for an argument that they are the same. I even suggested an approach – that was to show that values that are not moral do no exist. The evidence of your initial response here indicates you are laboring under a misapprehension as you completely fail to get this 101 rational point but still there is progress in your reply, so there is still hope!

    @Evanescent : This is where he is going wrong (one of many places).>/cite>
    Oh really? Rather than make an apparently empty rhetorical claim, show where I have gone wrong.

    There is no such distinction
    This is what I am waiting to shown or are you merely defining it that way.

    Good and bad depend on an objective set of values, therefore there must be a VALUER since there is no intrinsic value, on which we all agree
    Yup we do

    Since morality is a code of values to guide one’s actions, there is only moral good or moral bad;
    It does not follow. You have asserted morality as *a* code of values, you have not a) defined morality as to how this works – what is the code of values – b) that this is the *only* means of evaluation, so your conclusion does not follow. Lets read further

    there is no sense in using the words good or bad, moral or immoral, unless in relation to a consciousness that can value.
    Agree but beside the point given my questions just asked.

    That which benefits and sustains the life of a rational being is therefore good and that which has the opposite effect is bad.
    OK reading between the lines is this your basic definition of the codes of values that you think is morality? I am beginning to think it is.
    Going back to my questions (a) and (b) am I correct take this as an answer to (a)? Am I correct in so assuming? I think the answer to my previous request for the undefined standard is that this standard is the life of a rational being? I don’t want to take this too much further in case I am still labouring under misapprehensions about what you are talking. Still I do not see how this makes point (b) above although we are getting somewhere. So if I am right in guessing what you mean by morality it would be nice if you could state clearly what this standard is and specifically as show why this exhausts any other alternatives that is to answer point (b). This would certainly be sufficient to make your case that I have been asking for all along.

  57. ThomTG said

    Martino,

    Why does your position matter? Because knowledge according to the Objectivist philosophy is contextual, and the fact that someone asks some questions does not necessarily mean that the same answers should be given. After all, you would want the answers be tailored to your current state of knowledge. Isn’t that why you refuse to be referred elsewhere for pretty much the same answers? To tailor something, one would need accurate measurements. Thankfully, the procedure is nearly done.

    The prior responses to your questions have been quite good, actually. I have learned a few things from reading them—given my context. That you think them to be nonanswers is an estimate of how much of your context you need to alter and of how much in credibility your interlocutors need to earn from you.

    You said in #56, “I am looking for a non-subjective and non-intrinsic value theory, [which] you claim to have one; hence I am here.” Congratulations for having found this place!

    Changing some punctuations, I will take the following as your reasoning for the inquiry: “I have looked at others and found them either unconvincing or false—yet I am convinced the correct position can only be found in this area—what I call moral realism—specifically to differentiate from the standard definition of moral objectivism (and non-naturalism)—by which I specifically mean intrinsic value theory—Moore et al.—which we all agree is false. If what I call moral realism you call moral objectivism, different to the standard theories—fine. I have no issue with that, providing I have the means to explain what you and possibly I could mean by this. However I have no clear, consistent idea what yours is in order for me to try it on for size. The questions I have been asking are to achieve this clarity and consistency; namely, these are ones that a) help me understand what it is b) enable to see how I could tentatively adopt it and defend it against challenges.”

    And, given your #48, I will take the structure of points 1 through 6 in my #45 to be an approximate position (not necessarily yours) to argue for or against. There may be other points to be raised, but the present set will be the primary foil.

    For definitions, whenever the term “fact-value distinction” is used, the Wikipedia version is stipulated (from #47) which implies (from comment in your #48) that a value is not a fact. In replying to Evanescent’s #50, you caught on (in #56) that the term “morality” is defined as a code of values to guide one’s choices and actions.

    Still unclear for me, however, are the following: 1) To what do you mean by “a realistic theory of value”? Better yet, what are some “realistic theories of value you have encountered? (#48 and quoted again by Evanescent in #50) 2) What do you mean by “intrinsic”? 3) What do you mean by “subjective”? I ask for these last two because you have said repeatedly that you agree with Objectivists, but I am not sure. I am not sure we are all agreeing for the same reasons, for the terms “generic good” and “moral good” are obviously still unsettled.

  58. martino said

    @ThomasTG Why does your position matter? Because knowledge according to the Objectivist philosophy is contextual, and the fact that someone asks some questions does not necessarily mean that the same answers should be given. After all, you would want the answers be tailored to your current state of knowledge. Isn’t that why you refuse to be referred elsewhere for pretty much the same answers? To tailor something, one would need accurate measurements. Thankfully, the procedure is nearly done.
    This is so long winded and what on earth are you afraid of, just having a normal debate? :-) In normal debate each side asks questions and gives answers whilst both try, in an ideal world, to keep to the topic at hand and not to change the subject. Of course in this process there are going to be misunderstandings, accidental or otherwise, but it is through the reciprocal Q&A that these might be resolved. Now here we are having not a Q&A but you changed to this (IMHO) absurd “establishing position” diversion and now we are having a discussion about the validity of this! A meta-meta discussion!! I am wondering if this is just a clever way to change the subject? :-) :-)

    The prior responses to your questions have been quite good, actually. I have learned a few things from reading them—given my context. That you think them to be nonanswers is an estimate of how much of your context you need to alter and of how much in credibility your interlocutors need to earn from you.
    Fair enough on both sides but I can only add that each time this does the rounds the “credibility your interlocutors need to earn from you.” is going down!! :-)

    Me from previous posts: “I have looked at others and found them either unconvincing or false—yet I am convinced the correct position can only be found in this area—what I call moral realism—specifically to differentiate from the standard definition of moral objectivism (and non-naturalism)—by which I specifically mean intrinsic value theory—Moore et al.—which we all agree is false. If what I call moral realism you call moral objectivism, different to the standard theories—fine. I have no issue with that, providing I have the means to explain what you and possibly I could mean by this. However I have no clear, consistent idea what yours is in order for me to try it on for size. The questions I have been asking are to achieve this clarity and consistency; namely, these are ones that a) help me understand what it is b) enable to see how I could tentatively adopt it and defend it against challenges.”

    Still unclear for me, however, are the following: 1) To what do you mean by “a realistic theory of value”? Better yet, what are some “realistic theories of value you have encountered? (#48 and quoted again by Evanescent in #50) 2) What do you mean by “intrinsic”? 3) What do you mean by “subjective”? I ask for these last two because you have said repeatedly that you agree with Objectivists, but I am not sure. I am not sure we are all agreeing for the same reasons, for the terms “generic good” and “moral good” are obviously still unsettled.
    The standard philosophical meanings for all the above and should be quite clear from your quote of me from my previous post. You can see this all in the relevant wikipedia sections, which you seem to like, where, for once, this is reasonably accurate and debating is the best way to get more detail as and when required. The last point is the key so this is the only questions I want answered.

    For our purposes the issue of fact-value distinctions and realistic value theories I can grant what I think you mean. Luckily I bumped into an Objectivist friend in London in a bookshop who then, very conveniently, bought me Selfishness by Ayn Rand. I have read the Objectivist Ethics chapter and still this does not answer the key question, so brilliantly highlighted by Ergo’s man in the Jungle argument. If we grant that there is only one value system and all ends are evaluated according to the sustaining or survival of that individual’s life as the only ultimate value, I am still waiting for you to **justify** calling this moral. One could just as easily **not make such a move**, the choice seems **arbitrary and just convenient** unless there is some additional justification. As it is it does not answer what everyone else regards as what I have caricatured as the “The Problem of Morality” in previous posts. If you use your definitions – regardless of any English versus German uses of the term – it currently appears to be a case of equivocation. That is when Objectivists talk about morality they mean something quite different to what everyone else means. Indeed lacking such justification one could say that Objectivism has no theory of morality and performs a redefinition move to hide this.

    Now what is your answer to this question or are you unable to give one?

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