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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Meteor shield dwindling (Page 4)

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Author Topic: Meteor shield dwindling
Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
So, you feel that my argument that "some atheists have a formed and developed atheist belief system" is incorrect?
Rather, that it's irrelevant. Because what you were previously claiming was that atheism was itself a belief system, not that some atheists have a belief system that is compatible with a lack of belief in any gods. The first is more rhetorically useful, but is untrue. The second is accurate, but also entirely irrelevant.


Okay, too many posts and too many posters got out of hand. In my first post, I certainly claimed that. Long ago (perhaps back in the 1970s), however, I qualified that atheism was only elevated to a belief system by SOME (not all) atheists. Again, this was stated in the basic definition in Wikipedia . . . as there are differing practical definitions of the term atheism.

If we want to get all lawyer-y the Merriam Webster definitions of the word "atheism" are as follows:
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity

And the Merriam Webster Student Dictionary definition:
- The belief that there is no God

Doctrine and belief. You may get definition a. But I think I get at least half-credit.

[Wink]

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stilesbn
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quote:
But, seriously, let's go back to the "maximize squirrels" bit for a second to discuss why all morality has to be subjective
The real question is who would win in a fight?

1000 squirrels or a horse?

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I consider Objectivism to be just another form of utilitarianism, albeit one that's not quite as rational.

But, seriously, let's go back to the "maximize squirrels" bit for a second to discuss why all morality has to be subjective: because even if your goal is to maximize happiness (as just an example of one moral goal a utilitarian might set), you still have to decide whether your goal is to reduce sadness, maximize individual happiness, increase the average level of happiness, or increase the sum total of happiness (by some metric). Each of these results might look very different. Heck, Objectivism might be said to be utilitarianism with a core goal of "maximize personal self-determination."

But there is no way to establish which of these goals is best, because the very definition of "best" depends on choosing a goal ahead of time. There's no objective indicator you can use -- despite Rand's insistence otherwise, mind -- to determine which of the very many things you might want humanity to accomplish is in fact the ultimate thing.

I don't understand why you need an "ultimate" thing.
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TomDavidson
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Because if we're going to talk about objective morality, it means that -- again, just as an example -- one of those happiness outcomes is objectively better than the other three. You don't just get to pick your favorite one and work towards it; one of those has to be better.

So imagine a world where everyone has been surgically modified so that sadness is impossible, then kept in small nutrient-rich vats that keep them safe from all harm. Imagine a world where only six people live, surrounded by robots that fill their lives with luxury and endless novelty. Imagine a world where there is no inequality and no squalor; people have all their needs met and occasionally get a bit of luxury on a regular schedule designed to minimize jealousy, but very few if any people are perfectly happy with their lot. Imagine a world of six hundred billion people, all of whom are locked in nutrient vats and spend most of their time controlling robots that do labor while their waking brain hallucinates the equivalent of modern TV shows.

These are all possible products of a objective morality that has chosen one form of "maximize happiness" as its goal. Rand rails against all of these, herself, when she posits self-actualization as being superior to all of them. But of course there are many potential dystopias you can build out of self-actualization, too.

Morality depends entirely on context, and context changes from person to person and society to society.

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Destineer
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I believe in objective morality, but the idea that there's any moral significance to minor everyday mistakes is ludicrous.

It is sometimes morally important to develop skills and attentiveness, but that's a different thing, although your reactions to specific small mistakes can help or harm that process.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
I believe in objective morality, but the idea that there's any moral significance to minor everyday mistakes is ludicrous.

Mistakes in general are not bad, they're learning experiences.

What I was trying to say has some moral significance is ignoring and repeating one's mistakes and living irresponsibly.

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Destineer
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What if it's a mistake at a game or something of equally little significance? You always bid too aggressively at bridge, and you ignore the mistake and repeat it.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
What if it's a mistake at a game or something of equally little significance? You always bid too aggressively at bridge, and you ignore the mistake and repeat it.

If it's truly isolated to that one thing, then it's a ridiculously minor flaw. But... still a flaw, isn't it? What if you bet too aggressively at poker, and ignore the mistake? Or in the stock market?

What does it mean to have a flaw, or to be wrong about something?

Also... I think most of the time if one persists in a flaw or wrong idea, and resists improvement consistently, this is not an isolated phenomenon. What do you think?

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Destineer
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It seems to me like we do think very differently about different areas of life, depending on how much we care about them.

My fencing footwork isn't very good, for example, and I often lose because of that. But I don't fix the problem because I mostly do it for exercise and the work wouldn't be worth it, given how relatively unimportant the game is for me.

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King of Men
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quote:
Because if we're going to talk about objective morality, it means that -- again, just as an example -- one of those happiness outcomes is objectively better than the other three. You don't just get to pick your favorite one and work towards it; one of those has to be better.
I don't understand why this should be a counterargument for an objective morality. Why can't I just say "Yep, one of those three is the best one"? I do observe that in fact happiness as such is not the only human value, but that's not very relevant here.
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Aros
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I think we're assigning a little too much gravity to objective morality. Is a religious system going to dictate the happiest job? The best potential spouse? Even with an objective morality, there are still a million ways to satisfy a requirement. And there are always tradeoffs based on personal taste.

Is there a best car in Mario Kart?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Why can't I just say "Yep, one of those three is the best one"?
You certainly can. You can even assert that knowing which is the best one is impossible, but that a best one has to exist or else the universe wouldn't. Of course, anyone else can disagree with you. So all you've done at that point is re-invent religion.

--------

quote:
And there are always tradeoffs based on personal taste.
What do you think moral relativism is, Aros?
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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
And there are always tradeoffs based on personal taste.
What do you think moral relativism is, Aros?
When my relatives tell me to go to church?
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
It seems to me like we do think very differently about different areas of life, depending on how much we care about them.

My fencing footwork isn't very good, for example, and I often lose because of that. But I don't fix the problem because I mostly do it for exercise and the work wouldn't be worth it, given how relatively unimportant the game is for me.

Is your goal winning at fencing, or getting exercise?

In the left/right turn example, if you're driving around for fun, then turning right isn't a problem or a mistake at all.

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King of Men
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quote:
You certainly can. You can even assert that knowing which is the best one is impossible, but that a best one has to exist or else the universe wouldn't.
I could, but I won't. I'm just going to say that one of them is the best; currently I don't know which one, but I'm confident it's possible to find out; and that the existence of the universe has nothing to do with it. How about you not putting words in my mouth?
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TomDavidson
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That's fine, too. It's a completely unprovable assertion, and as long as we're okay with making those, you can. [Smile]
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King of Men
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It's just as unprovable as your assertion that morality is completely context-dependent, or whatever the phrase was.
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TomDavidson
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From one perspective, sure. But, again, you've just reinvented religion by declaring that there is something unknowably superior about a given option; you've just posited an ineffable moral arbiter. If you're okay with doing that, I won't tell you not to.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
If you want to create a spacecraft, there are good ways to try to do it, and there are bad ways to try to do it.

When you say good or bad are you speaking about good or bad in a moral sense, or do you mean effective versus ineffective. Does the effectiveness of a spacecraft-building method apply to whether it is good or bad in a moral sense.
...Yes?
Ok, so ... you use utilitarian morality, then. so what do you do if tomorrow you are presented with incontrovertible, total evidence that free trade produces terrible spacecraft, and prisoner slave labor produces excellent and cheap spacecraft? I assume at some point your position will short-circuit back from your (apparently non self-recognized) consequentialism to some kind of deontological ethic.
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King of Men
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quote:
unknowably superior
I did not say it was unknowably superior. I said it was currently unknown. I also asserted that it will eventually be known, which rather seems to rule out "unknowable", no?
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Destineer
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quote:

Is your goal winning at fencing, or getting exercise?

In the left/right turn example, if you're driving around for fun, then turning right isn't a problem or a mistake at all.

The notion that an action is done with a particular goal in mind is a useful idealization, but that's not really how we think. When I'm driving I might be interested in getting home, but there are also many other goals that are more important to me (just not salient at that time).

In the fencing case, I would say my goal is to win as much as I can without spending more time on the sport than I'd like.

quote:
From one perspective, sure. But, again, you've just reinvented religion by declaring that there is something unknowably superior about a given option; you've just posited an ineffable moral arbiter.
Why does the existence of an objective answer to moral questions have to involve an "arbiter"?

There's an objective fact about what beliefs are rational, given the evidence you've seen. Does that mean there has to be an ineffable belief arbiter?

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TomDavidson
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Because moral questions involve asking "should" and "why," not "how" and "what." Dan has asserted that "why" should be answered "most efficiently how," but that is itself a "should" question. It's turtles all the way down.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
unknowably superior
I did not say it was unknowably superior. I said it was currently unknown. I also asserted that it will eventually be known, which rather seems to rule out "unknowable", no?
I'm not sure I get this. It seems to me that you've basically said the equivalent of "When the Second Coming happens, everyone will know that Christianity is true."
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Destineer
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quote:
Because moral questions involve asking "should" and "why," not "how" and "what." Dan has asserted that "why" should be answered "most efficiently how," but that is itself a "should" question. It's turtles all the way down.
But very often there are facts about what you "should" believe, which are somewhat independent of whether your belief is actually true.

For example, suppose there is actually a God. Nonetheless, you (the atheist) are following the evidence you've seen to the best of your ability, and thus believing what you "should." It's not your fault you were wrong, since you responded appropriately to the available data.

Do you disagree with that?

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Destineer
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quote:
Dan has asserted that "why" should be answered "most efficiently how," but that is itself a "should" question. It's turtles all the way down.
One thing to notice is that it's a different "should" question, one that can be phrased in different terms without the "should." Dan could just say that the word "why" means "most efficiently how."

Also, there are definitely theories of morality--very plausible ones--according to which "should" questions bottom out in questions about "what is." I recommend Michael Smith's The Moral Problem.

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Destineer
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To give you an idea of Smith's view:

quote:
As a solution to the problem, Smith proposes a form of "moral rationalism," the heart of which is an analysis of moral rightness in terms of what we would want ourselves to do if we were fully rational. Smith's rationalism is derived from two theses: first, the moral rightness of an action is a matter of its being called for by reasons; second, there is a reason for an agent to do something just in case, if the agent were fully rational, she would want herself to do it.
(The definition of "rational" he uses doesn't involve the notion "should." Fully rational just means possessing as many mental faculties and as much information as you possibly could.)
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you disagree with that?
Possibly. In a scenario in which God exists and is the supreme moral arbiter, whether I believe there is sufficient evidence for God may or may not morally justify my lack of belief; if He thinks it's immoral to disbelieve even in the absence of evidence, it's immoral.

-----------
quote:
One thing to notice is that it's a different "should" question, one that can be phrased in different terms without the "should." Dan could just say that the word "why" means "most efficiently how."
That doesn't actually remove the "should." It just turns a premise into an axiom.
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Destineer
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quote:
Possibly. In a scenario in which God exists and is the supreme moral arbiter, whether I believe there is sufficient evidence for God may or may not morally justify my lack of belief; if He thinks it's immoral to disbelieve even in the absence of evidence, it's immoral.
My question wasn't about moral justification, it was about epistemic justification.

My point was that there are other notions of "should" aside from the moral one--like the notion of which beliefs are fitting given your evidence (which is distinct from the notion of which beliefs are true). And you're already committed to living in accord with these non-moral notions of "should."

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Destineer
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quote:
That doesn't actually remove the "should." It just turns a premise into an axiom.
You'll have to elaborate a bit, I'm not getting this.
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MrSquicky
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That's not a theory of morality. That's the total absence of a theory of morality.

Step 1) Assume there is a God.
Step 2) Let God decide.

edit:

Actually, that may be a little too glib. Sure, the only answer to any moral question is "The right thing to do is whatever a perfect being would do.", but is does identify the qualities of that perfect being...which is actually a pretty big "should" just sort of slipped in there. We should do the most rational thing. Why? Because that's the axiom we're starting with.

So, not only do I not think it is compelling theory of morality, as far as I can tell, it doesn't get rid of the should question at all.

[ February 22, 2013, 09:35 AM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
My point was that there are other notions of "should" aside from the moral one--like the notion of which beliefs are fitting given your evidence (which is distinct from the notion of which beliefs are true).
I don't think there's actually a distinction to be made here. It's the same "should," as far as I'm concerned; the answer simply changes based on available information.

Saying that "why" means "most efficiently how" doesn't actually resolve the moral question at the heart of whether "why" should mean "most efficiently how;" it just asserts that it should. It's still answering the same "should" question, albeit by pretending that no other options exist.

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MrSquicky
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For example, why shouldn't "why" mean "least efficiently how"?
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Destineer
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quote:
Saying that "why" means "most efficiently how" doesn't actually resolve the moral question at the heart of whether "why" should mean "most efficiently how;" it just asserts that it should.
Do you think this is any different from the issues that arise when we say that "octopus" means "eight-legged cephalopod"? If so, what's the difference? Because the octopus definition is definitely the sort of thing that can be objectively right.

quote:
I don't think there's actually a distinction to be made here. It's the same "should," as far as I'm concerned; the answer simply changes based on available information.
It's definitely not the same "should." The epistemic should is about what you should do if you want to do the best you can at believing the truth. The moral should is about what you should do if you want to act as correctly as possible. Those can be totally different. For example, if Satan tells you he's going to kill a million people unless you stop believing that snow is white, you have excellent moral reason to believe that snow isn't white. But you don't thereby stop having epistemic reason to believe that snow is white. That's still the belief that your evidence supports.

quote:
That's not a theory of morality. That's the total absence of a theory of morality.

Step 1) Assume there is a God.
Step 2) Let God decide.

Not a God, an ideally capable version of yourself. And the theory doesn't "assume" there is such a person, except for rhetorical purposes. The right thing to do is what such a person would choose if they did exist.
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MrSquicky
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Yes, a entity that is omniscient, supremely powerful, and incapable of error. How is that not God?

Also, see my edit. From what I can tell, there is a huge implicit should there.

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Destineer
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quote:
Yes, a entity that is omniscient, supremely powerful, and incapable of error. How is that not God?
First, it's not omnipotent.

Second, what if it is God? Suppose the theory is, the moral thing to do is what God would want you to do, if there were a God (but there actually isn't). What's wrong with that, as a definition of what's moral?

quote:
Actually, that may be a little too glib. Sure, the only answer to any moral question is "The right thing to do is whatever a perfect being would do.", but is does identify the qualities of that perfect being...which is actually a pretty big "should" just sort of slipped in there. We should do the most rational thing. Why? Because that's the axiom we're starting with.
Not exactly. The idea is that the correct definition of "the right thing to do" is "most rational thing to do." Then we get into the question about whether definitions involve "should" in a problematic way. I think the octopus example shows that they obviously don't.

Similarly, the qualities of the perfect being are supposed to just be what we mean by "perfect," so again, we get into the question of whether assuming there's a correct definition is a problem.

If you think that assuming there's a correct definition of a word requires assumptions about the moral "should," (a) that's pretty weird and (b) I guess you must be really skeptical about what all of our words mean.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you think this is any different from the issues that arise when we say that "octopus" means "eight-legged cephalopod"? If so, what's the difference?
I do. In fact, I think it's a categorically different sort of question -- or, rather, a categorically different sort of answer.

quote:
The epistemic should is about what you should do if you want to do the best you can at believing the truth. The moral should is about what you should do if you want to act as correctly as possible. Those can be totally different.
Of course! But we can safely ignore epistemic shoulds altogether, because they're just moral shoulds with worse access to information. An epistemic should for someone with perfect information is indistinguishable from a moral should, which is as it should be.

Your example makes things murkier, of course, because the issue isn't that a moral "should" is in conflict with an epistemic "should;" it's whether there is moral value inherent in a truth value. If there is not, whether or not Satan is threatening to kill people, there's no particular reason why you should believe something is true; it simply doesn't matter. The ultimate expression of this is the whole "brain in a box" issue, of course.

--------

I have no idea why you're getting hung up on the use of the word "should," as if it's the definition of "should" that's the problem and not the existence of the question. Saying "should" means "X" is to answer the question, which is -- to use your analogy -- to repeatedly assert to someone that the pulpy mass they found on the beach was undoubtedly once an octopus, when they're not sure whether it was a giant squid or even whether it's identifiable at all. You are, in other words, asserting the very thing that is being questioned.

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Destineer
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quote:
I do. In fact, I think it's a categorically different sort of question -- or, rather, a categorically different sort of answer.
Clearly you missed the part where I said, "If so, what's the difference?"

quote:
Of course! But we can safely ignore epistemic shoulds altogether, because they're just moral shoulds with worse access to information. An epistemic should for someone with perfect information is indistinguishable from a moral should, which is as it should be.
No, if you had perfect information in the snow example it would still be the case that believing snow is white fits your evidence best (since snow is actually white), while believing snow is not white saves the most lives. So it would still be epistemically rational for you to believe snow is white, and morally rational for you to believe snow is not white.

If I may make a broader point: it sounds like you're denying that there is an epistemic should (since you claim that it's just the moral should with less information [Confused] and you don't believe in the moral should).

So do you think it's false that theists should not believe in God? It's false to say they're making an epistemic mistake in not following the evidence against God's existence?

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MrSquicky
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quote:
quote:
Yes, a entity that is omniscient, supremely powerful, and incapable of error. How is that not God?
First, it's not omnipotent.
In the way that matters here (rationality), it is.

quote:
Second, what if it is God? Suppose the theory is, the moral thing to do is what God would want you to do, if there were a God (but there actually isn't). What's wrong with that, as a definition of what's moral?
That's fine, but it's not a theory. It's a tautology. The right thing to do is whatever a perfect entity who only does the right things does.

quote:
quote:
Actually, that may be a little too glib. Sure, the only answer to any moral question is "The right thing to do is whatever a perfect being would do.", but is does identify the qualities of that perfect being...which is actually a pretty big "should" just sort of slipped in there. We should do the most rational thing. Why? Because that's the axiom we're starting with.
Not exactly. The idea is that the correct definition of "the right thing to do" is "most rational thing to do." Then we get into the question about whether definitions involve "should" in a problematic way. I think the octopus example shows that they obviously don't.

Similarly, the qualities of the perfect being are supposed to just be what we mean by "perfect," so again, we get into the question of whether assuming there's a correct definition is a problem.

If you think that assuming there's a correct definition of a word requires assumptions about the moral "should," (a) that's pretty weird and (b) I guess you must be really skeptical about what all of our words mean.

I'm not sure I follow that. If I get you, you are saying that defining perfect as the most rational thing doesn't rest on assuming that what we should do is the the most rational thing?

That makes no sense to me. That's the literal meaning of defining it that way.

Your example with the octopus doesn't work for me. You're trying to apply definition in the context of labeling something "That thing is an X" into the completely different context of equating two established things. Saying something is perfection means that it is the thing to aspire to, that is is the goal.

In this case, say that someone doesn't accept that what a person should do is the most rational thing, that they have some other standard of perfection. How do you argue against that?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
So it would still be epistemically rational for you to believe snow is white, and morally rational for you to believe snow is not white.
And that's a moral "should" question: which should be more important? Epistemology has no inherent moral value unless you assert (or argue) that it does.

I don't think there's an epistemic should at all; I think there is a moral should that argues you should be able to accurately enough model reality with your worldview that your behavior does not become excessively costly or irrational as the predictive value of your model falls. But I have no moral interest whatsoever in whether or not a given belief is true -- except of course when that belief is itself positing the existence of a higher moral authority -- beyond whether that belief will lead to behavior calculated on faulty models.

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Destineer
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quote:
I have no idea why you're getting hung up on the use of the word "should," as if it's the definition of "should" that's the problem and not the existence of the question. Saying "should" means "X" is to answer the question, which is -- to use your analogy -- to repeatedly assert to someone that the pulpy mass they found on the beach was undoubtedly once an octopus, when they're not sure whether it was a giant squid or even whether it's identifiable at all. You are, in other words, asserting the very thing that is being questioned.
Whether there is good evidence about what the right definition is, is one question. (This seems to be what your beach example is getting at.)

Whether giving a definition in the first place involves the concept of "should" is a second, separate question.

You advanced an answer to the second question.

quote:
Dan has asserted that "why" should be answered "most efficiently how," but that is itself a "should" question. It's turtles all the way down.
I gave an example to show it was wrong.
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TomDavidson
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Except that it really isn't. Your point was that you can say "for the purposes of this conversation, let's define X as Y." And sure, you can. We can point to a sandwich and say, "let's call that an octopus for the nonce." But when we are discussing the properties of octopi, you cannot say, "all octopi are made of some substance pressed between two or more pieces of bread" and then, when questioned, just declare that all octopi share the properties of sandwiches. It's the difference between specifying a label for something and trying to equate two different things by forcing them to share a label.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
In this case, say that someone doesn't accept that what a person should do is the most rational thing, that they have some other standard of perfection. How do you argue against that?
To follow up on that, for many people, moral perfection is defined as doing what is in the Bible. How is your definition any different from theirs?
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Destineer
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quote:
That's fine, but it's not a theory. It's a tautology. The right thing to do is whatever a perfect entity who only does the right things does.

In a sense you're right. A true definition is always a tautology, so that's no dig against the Smith theory.

Now, the theory would be circular in a problematic way if it said "the right thing to do is whatever a being who always does the right things would do." But the theory doesn't say that. It says "the right thing to do is whatever a being who is as intelligent and knowledgeable as possible would do."

That's the definition of "perfect being" that Smith uses.

quote:
I'm not sure I follow that. If I get you, you are saying that defining perfect as the most rational thing doesn't rest on assuming that what we should do is the the most rational thing?

That makes no sense to me. That's the literal meaning of defining it that way.

Sorry, I think I was unclear here. "Perfect" was supposed to mean the attributes of the ideal judge that features in Smith's theory (perfect knowledge and intelligence), while "rational" is the feature actions have when Smith's ideal judge would choose them.

quote:
In this case, say that someone doesn't accept that what a person should do is the most rational thing, that they have some other standard of perfection. How do you argue against that?
Someone might also have another standard of what counts as an octopus. They might be misled into thinking that squids are also octopi. I would argue against them by giving examples of how the word is actually used.

The same goes for the word "should." If someone says that what you (morally) "should" do means "the thing that will maximize happiness," I would point out to the person that we don't actually use the word "should" (in the moral sense) in a way that's compatible with that definition.

quote:
I don't think there's an epistemic should at all;
I don't think I believe you. I mean, how many times have I seen you criticize someone for not forming their beliefs in the way that best explains their evidence? How many times have I seen you call someone's beliefs irrational? That was you, using the epistemic should.

quote:
I think there is a moral should that argues you should be able to accurately enough model reality with your worldview that your behavior does not become excessively costly or irrational as the predictive value of your model falls. But I have no moral interest whatsoever in whether or not a given belief is true -- except of course when that belief is itself positing the existence of a higher moral authority -- beyond whether that belief will lead to behavior calculated on faulty models.
Me neither, but I think a lot of people are making horrendous mistakes in weighing evidence. Think of Steven's dietary theories. Are you really willing to say there's nothing wrong about the way he's settled on his ideas?
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Destineer
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quote:
Except that it really isn't. Your point was that you can say "for the purposes of this conversation, let's define X as Y." And sure, you can. We can point to a sandwich and say, "let's call that an octopus for the nonce." But when we are discussing the properties of octopi, you cannot say, "all octopi are made of some substance pressed between two or more pieces of bread" and then, when questioned, just declare that all octopi share the properties of sandwiches. It's the difference between specifying a label for something and trying to equate two different things by forcing them to share a label.
OK, I think we've been talking past each other the whole time. I didn't mean that the definition could be adopted for the purposes of the discussion, I meant that Dan was saying it was the correct definition.

I would suggest that we drop this line of discussion and focus on the other issues where we've been making more sense.

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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
In this case, say that someone doesn't accept that what a person should do is the most rational thing, that they have some other standard of perfection. How do you argue against that?
To follow up on that, for many people, moral perfection is defined as doing what is in the Bible. How is your definition any different from theirs?
The question of what makes a definition correct is very difficult. You bring up a good puzzle. There are analogous puzzles about everyday words like "octopus." It's a tough question, but I don't think it's especially a problem for ethics as opposed to other areas of inquiry.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I mean, how many times have I seen you criticize someone for not forming their beliefs in the way that best explains their evidence? How many times have I seen you call someone's beliefs irrational? That was you, using the epistemic should.
Nope. That was me, using a moral should. Ill-formed beliefs can be dangerous, and dangerous things are, from a moral perspective, to be avoided. In other words: I am making a moral assertion, which is that a well-formed epistemology has positive value; given two equally effective behaviors, the one that is grounded in a higher truth value is better than the one that is not, specifically because it produces fewer poorly-modeled predictions.

The idea that you should believe something which is more correct is an entirely moral proposition, not an epistemological one.

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
quote:
unknowably superior
I did not say it was unknowably superior. I said it was currently unknown. I also asserted that it will eventually be known, which rather seems to rule out "unknowable", no?
I'm not sure I get this. It seems to me that you've basically said the equivalent of "When the Second Coming happens, everyone will know that Christianity is true."
Or alternatively, "When the LHC finds the Higgs, we will know that the Standard Model is correct about how particles acquire mass." Or "if we continue doing physics for long enough, we will eventually unify gravity and the other forces".
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TomDavidson
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How would you test for the superiority of a moral priority?
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I mean, how many times have I seen you criticize someone for not forming their beliefs in the way that best explains their evidence? How many times have I seen you call someone's beliefs irrational? That was you, using the epistemic should.
Nope. That was me, using a moral should. Ill-formed beliefs can be dangerous, and dangerous things are, from a moral perspective, to be avoided. In other words: I am making a moral assertion, which is that a well-formed epistemology has positive value; given two equally effective behaviors, the one that is grounded in a higher truth value is better than the one that is not, specifically because it produces fewer poorly-modeled predictions.

The idea that you should believe something which is more correct is an entirely moral proposition, not an epistemological one.

OK. I'm having a bit of a hard time believing that you're being serious about this, but let's assume for the sake of argument that you're right and the only "should" that applies to belief is the moral should.

I was originally trying to prove that "should" questions can have objective answers (without the existence of a privileged arbiter like God).

Do you think that it's objectively true that theists don't believe what they should, given the evidence before them?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you think that it's objectively true that theists don't believe what they should, given the evidence before them?
Nah. It depends on the belief, mainly -- and partly (but only partly, since correct(er) epistemology is not inherently moral in itself) on the evidence.
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