The debate "Moral nihilism is a stronger theory than objective morality" was started by
May 21, 2015, 10:04 pm.
47 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 29 people are on the disagree side.
That might be enough to see the common perception.
It looks like most of the people in this community are on the agreeing side of this statement.
Sosocratese posted 17 arguments to the agreers part.
I_Voyager posted 29 arguments to the disagreers part.
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I don't see why you couldn't just create a computer with abstract enough abilities, and a database of human media - from philosophy to art to history - which, by inference, could come up with ideas better than a human due to being better able to remember and connect quantities of data. I'd love to be able to take the whole database of human philosophy and merely know it. A computer can have that ability, and it can run its calculations millions of times faster than a human. If it has enough computational power it could even simulate a human brain. And I strongly believe this will be possible within 40 years given the rate of advancement of technologies.
As for the resistant individual... I can relate this also to dogs in a vet clinic who are consciously aware of what's going on, but they do not understand that they are being cared for and so they resist the vet. So - is the subject consciously aware and capable of understanding, even limitedly, what is going on? I can imagine if so, you must honor the will of the patient, even if the patient is too stupid to make the correct decision. But if the agency not capable of understanding what is in their best interest when that which is in their best interest is being applied to them, then their resistance can be attributed to an ignorant, emotional or instinctual response.
Of course, it's just as immoral to test your newest hair growth product on those bunnies too. I fully believe the tradition of using animals for studies like that comes from the Christian view that animals are soulless, but humans aren't. Insofar as a "spirit" and mind/consciousness are the same thing, I'd say it's obvious bunnies do have such a thing. All those baldies out there - including myself -will just have to go longer without hair.
Studies of chemicals effecting biology can be done without testing on living mammals.You can grow the tissue of an organ with a small circulatory system in a chip and run analytical tests on those chips. It's plausible to replace animal testing with such systems. Being able to combine stem cells and 3D printed collagen structures is a helpful tool too. But we tend to want to rush to get things done, when we ought to be more patient with our societies growth.
If you had five men dying of separate cases of organ failures you could harvest the organs of one dying man to save the other four. If instead you had a perfectly comatose patient you could conceivably do the same. But I think you'd need the direct relationship of an environment and conscious action to save those people, so it wouldn't be the same if you had a medical market of harvested organs being transited for use.
yeah; I don't really wanna post my email address here. You can find me on Debate.org (they have a messaging system)
user name at Debate.org Sosoconfused
moral nihilism doesn't imply rational nihilism, nor does it lead to rational nihilism....all claims of nihilism must rest on their own logic about the subject. Simply saying that concepts of right or wrong don't exist because, x, y, z. Doesn't translate into rational thought doesn't exist because of the reasons given above. You would have to justify rational nihilism on it's own merit.
Moral nihilism also doesn't preclude you from ascribing to a moral philosophy. It simply means that the concepts of right and wrong are imaginary; you can still say that you prefer a society with values x,y,z though and state the reasons for why you have those preferences. If anything, moral nihilism leads to intellectual honesty without a necessity to invoke claims of absolutes.
If morality is a human construct, then morality is neither right nor wrong, it just is. It's simply a theory of how we ought to act. The only concept moral nihilism implies is that the following is wrong: "there exists a meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other distinguishing feature" - objective morality presents a false state which imposes the concepts of right and wrong on actions which is independent of the will of the agent who either acts or is acted upon.
So moral nihilism isn't a rejection of morality, it's a rejection of the concepts of "right and wrong" as a universal, independent value.
it actually turned more into a production than being productive....although everything seems to be running now....head gasket, valve stem gaskets, valve cover gaskets, new plugs and wires, O2 sensor, catalytic converter, and because we didn't have enough fun already a pesky vacuum leak that I had to build a smoke machine for in order to find it....enough ranting on to more fun things.....philosophy.
I'm just gonna reply to each of these posts separately; for ease of use.
Computers being better philosophers:
I certainly think there will be a time and a place for computers in philosophy; however, coming up with philosophical theories pertaining to the human experience will probably remain a exercise of the human brain for quite some time to come. You'd have to create a computer which doesn't know that it's a computer and can experience existence as though it were human.
The two kinds of research subjects.
1. non-consent by repulsion.
-Does this mean they have the right to refuse treatments which may be life saving but are uncomfortable. I've spent a number of years on the ambulance and can tell you first hand; people with severe brain injuries will shrug away when I try and start an IV. Should i take that as a sign of non-consent.
2. the comatose patient
Ok, so I couldn't test my newest hair growth product on a comatose patient....darn; I was gonna safe all the lab bunnies....
Could I harvest them for organs and tissue without their consent (Assuming of course there is no family to oppose)? I would be saving lives without destroying an intelligence....
Can I send you my paper on metaphysics and epistemology? I need valuable criticism outside the context of a debate regarding my concepts as I've strung them together. We have no messaging system here so I'd need an e-mail or social media contact.
Moral nihilism certainly has something to contribute to the conversation. Doubting a claim is valid. It’s the claim which must defend itself.A claim cannot defend itself unless the challenge is made and moral nihilism offers a very specific rejection. I’m just pointing out the contradiction that a theory is a claim to explain how a thing works, wherefore a rejection cannot be a theory.
think that moral nihilism always begs the question of more nihilism. If you have moral nihilism, why not have rational nihilism? All your reasons not to kill murder are equally true as false. I may as well kill the person because your reasons are just the product of some abstraction of rationalization. We’re just matter in entropy, why pretend to be more? Matter annihilates other forms all the time, consciousness is just a state of form and is inherently meaningless. I can’t see a logical cut-off line from one part of a nihilism to another. I can accept that you don’t personally accept other kinds of nihilism, but I think nihilism always begs the question to more nihilism. Eventually nihilism itself should postulate a non-thinking system is equal to a thinking system and life may as well go extinct.
With regards to your rather fine thought experiment,
I think you are not responsible for the actions of others. This reminds me of the problems some people have with some kinds of charity. If you give a homeless man $300 and he goes and takes enough heroine to kill himself, was it your fault? Are you a murderer? You cannot control the choices of people, nor ought you I suspect. But you can have a general set of good values, which can only be distorted into an evil if someone goes out of their way to. Ignorance is a universal; ignorance permits manipulation. You could say the drowning man was given another chance at life, but he wasted that chance and did evil. You may be right that knowledge of the man would make saving his life an amoral or immoral act and you might not have moral cause to save his life. Does the essence of a person alone have a moral value which factors into the moral equation?
You cannot control entropy. Entropy is another universal we are all struggling through. The more human social entropy passes through time the more the influence of your action diffuses into the entropy of events. There must be a logical cut-off line where you are, and then you aren’t a part of the essence of the situation.
Furthermore you can influence a person directly by teaching them, but if you are not informing their actions you may not be a part of their essence when they take a life. If you knew they would take a life you may still be prompted to save the person’s life but you would have to take the responsibility by acting on your knowledge to stop the murders, either by contacting the authorities or influencing the person’s behavior by some educating method. But what responsibility do you have for a person’s behavior? If a man came up to you on the street and said to you “I am going to murder a family tonight.” Wouldn’t you have a responsibility to contact the police? Or would you have a responsibility to kill the man?
Shame on you; doing practical things when philosophy abounds… Diogenes is spitting in his cheap-ass grave!
Certainly “not useful yet”. I’m fine with that… I’m not determining philosophy to apply to my politics. I’m determining philosophy for myself first. The pure truth of physics is not engineering. There may be principles of physics which are irrelevant to engineering. This doesn’t make those principles in physics incorrect. Just “not useful yet.” There are a lot of good models which aren’t useful because they don’t fit in the current paradigm. Very small changes unlike what I’ve got in mind in politics, education have to happen before any such a “morality machine” could be well made or used. But consider how many intellectual tasks have been deferred to computers, and how many more shall. It’s not unreasonable to think eventually computers will be better philosophers than us.
If the person is able to determine their own interest even instinctively then they can reject an impulse and that rejection can be considered to be an unconsenting perspective. Consider a dog which hasn’t learned any commands and cannot consent to “come here boy”. But when you pull the dog by the leash he plants his paws and firmly resists. His behavior is akin to not giving consent to being moved.
However, if the person is incapable of interest or comprehending their own feelings or living on their own I think that’s the only case in which it’s moral to experiment on the human. You ask a good question as to what kinds of experiments can they be put to… It could be argued it is only ethical to experiment on a human without person to solve the problems linked to the non-person. It could be argued it’s good to have a state which can do good, therefore we should work to repair non-person humans so they have a personage capable of doing good. A danger of creating a open market for testably perfectly comatose humans is you incentivize creating perfectly comatose people.
You come upon a drowning man, desperately trying to get back to shore. You save the man's life. Two weeks later you find out that the same man kidnaps and kills 4 children. Your act, may initially be thought of as benevolent, however, the unforeseen consequences, produced a net loss of intelligence thus, the act of saving that man is therefore amoral at best, and immoral at worst. It would seem that the only differentiating factor is prior knowledge to the man's character.
If you knew the man was a murderer, it would seem you would be compelled to allow him to drown and if you didn't you would be compelled to save him.
In defense of Nihilism:
Moral nihilism is a part of the moral discussion just as Atheism plays a role in religious dialog. The potential of a third side which claims the absence of a concept is still of great importance to the dialog. It shifts the criticism of theories into a different realm. Rather than claiming truth and knowledge on a subject it states that there is no truth or knowledge on the subject. We must then discuss whether we have reason to believe something or act in a certain way. It's not a framework of knowledge but of reason. That's why it is a relevant framework for moral discussion.
Nihilism moves the traditional thinking of "right and wrong" from an objectively true or subjectively true realm into a realm of reason and logic. So statements like "murder is wrong" become "we have reason not to commit murder". It allows for a more flexible sense of morality which can not only shift with time and social norms but also be adapted to new technology and even yet unforeseen ethical dilemmas. It relies on the ability of humans to reason rather than some obscure rule of ethical decision making.
Sorry; I have been a little busy lately. Spending too much time wrenching on old cars.....
But yes, I do have some criticisms for you.
I'm gonna leave my criticism of utility alone, since it's not my favorite kind of criticism. However, I would just like to say, relying on a computer in order to make ethical decisions seems cumbersome. I don't know what technology will bring, but at least for now, this seems like a theory that is at best "not useful yet".
The mentally disabled:
I guess my criticism was more about consent. If they are unable to consent, can we still "use" them? Meaning can we treat them as a means rather than an end, as Kant would say?
What makes experimenting on the mentally disabled ethical? Is it simply a matter of pain and suffering? Is consent not a factor since their intelligence is such that it doesn't allow for it?
The persistent vegetative state patients:
Can we use them for experiments beyond their condition? Since they have no self interest, no intelligence, and no ability to consent, can we test new drugs on them? If the family has decided to "pull the plug" if you will or they are abandoned (happens more often than you think), can we use them to test drugs, surgical procedures, etc... that are not part of their condition. Can test various chemical exposures to see when we see organ failure etc.... ultimately leading to death? It doesn't sound like there is anything wrong with Himmler type experiments on vegetative patients.
On to some of the deeper questions.
I like your answer about intent for immorality. I can certainly live with that. However, that means that all actions are either immoral or morally neutral. There is no such thing as benevolence in your theory. Since actions may have unforeseen consequences and actions are thus at best morally neutral; benevolence is a term that can no longer exist. If you can't judge an action right because you can't foresee it's consequences, you can't every say that a person is acting benevolently. Here is the thought experiment:
I was wondering if you had a chance to think about my argument, friend?
For scales of intelligence, this isn't a philosophy which compares amounts of intelligence or numbers of intelligence pound by pound. There are people associating. They use thought-constructs to organize themselves into nations, economies, etc... With goals founded on philosophies that describe codes of action. Or otherwise merely by way of mere intuition and response. Humans who are injured are still humans, and their intelligence-level is just part of the equation which would describe all human states. The person of a lower intelligence should be able to have whatever information their mind can comprehend, and ought to have the freedom to act to achieve some good. This may include subjecting themselves to ethical experiments which leave them unharmed in order to better understand the root consequences of these disorders.
Where-as humans who have truly lost all consciousness - who are in a vegetative state and lack any internal consciousness (as there are some who fulfill only the first condition) - may be valid subjects for experiment towards understanding the nature of the illness or injury.
It is a moral necessity to find the root causes of mental dysfunctions without firstly destroying intelligent human life.
The problem with moral nihilism as I can tell is that it can't be considered a moral framework or a theory of morality. Nor can atheism be considered a theory of god or a theological position or a faith. It's a rejection of the validity of the principle. I'm not trying to make some clever semantic argument to prove wrong the premise, I'm fine with the given premise. I just think morality can be said to be objectively true and that uncertainty isn't a good re-enforcement for the truth of moral nihilism. Then we may as well say quantum nihilism is true because we can't observe quantum mechanics, even though despite our ignorance we can act on it with some competence. So too can we act on an objective morality we can never truly describe. Morality becomes holographic, theoretical. The impossible standard for which we keep striving.
Yeah, I'm enjoying this. Too few philosophers abound. I've recently started believing that we atheists need to stop engaging in debates with the religious and start internal dialogues about what a good human philosophy must look like in a godless world. After all philosophy has for a long time been the realm of religion, save for a minority of philosophers from the Renaissance to today.
A criticism of applicability is good against utilitarianism. If you espouse a philosophy of utility, but fail to provide utility you are failing to achieve your own goal. Mine is not a utilitarianism. I think of it as a new form of objectivism influenced not by capitalism but by information theory, physics and computer science. I am working towards describing what the objective philosophical state for a person is and what the ideal philosophical state for a person ought to look like by necessity. I'm also trying to prepare a philosophy which encompasses human philosophy, without being restricted to human philosophy to anticipate the rise of AI and/or transhumans.
Computer simulations are becoming more and more powerful continuously. There will likely come a time in our lifetimes where we can think about restructuring the human mind with nanomechanics. If this allows our brain to utilize computer-like methods of cognition our thought processes will accelerate dramatically. Consider the project put forward by Playstation to use a cloud-based server to run the game's AI. The purpose is that massive super-computers can crunch predictions about the player's reactions faster than the player reacts. This can happen because computers calculate nearly at light-speed while we are bogged down by biology. A computer-simulated human mind would be able to produce something like 20K hours of normal intellectual labor every day.
Philosophically speaking, no matter what we do (assuming certain things) we'll never have thoughts which run ahead of time. There will always be several observational barriers which even in the most ideal state will stop us from having a perfect knowledge. Therefore a perfect moral principle for action is by its definition impractical. But there could be described a difference between failure to be moral and immorality where in the latter you are consciously choosing to do evil and in the former your ignorance fails to achieve good.
This is why morality is necessarily rooted in how information is transferred, expressed, determined, etc...
Thoroughly enjoying this conversation by the way. Glad to see other philosophy nerds abound.
I understand where you're coming from. It was obvious right away that you wanted to get into the tech and societal merger. It's inevitable and will bring about a lot of challenges to some the older philosophies.
The reason why "too cumbersome" is a good criticism is that it brings into question utility. How can you make a useful system that requires that much forethought in everyday life. So it's really a criticism on the use rather than the content.
As to your explanation of this. I believe that technology will eliminate some of the problems with your theory, but not all. I don't believe, for example, that technology will enable us to see the outcomes of our actions, ever. However, it may eliminate the problem of lying by giving us lie detector type abilities.
However, that eliminates only one aspect. We still have a lot of grey areas that are too important to leave ambiguous. What about the treatment of our severely mentally ill or brain dead? They are a lower intelligence, and in some cases not an intelligence at all anymore. Can we treat our mentally ill like cattle is they display similar mental capacities? Can we perform experiments on them like we do primates?
It's one of the strong points of moral nihilism. We don't have to worry about a system to complicate things. We can live lawfully under a social contract, we can live by cultural norms, but those are also fluid concepts since right and wrong are essentially meaningless and thus we aren't bound to their permanence when things change or get murky.
While I agree that all philosophies are
flawed in some way, it's the degree of challenge that you can produce against a theory that determines it's strength. If a theory becomes utterly unusable after criticism, then it's obviously weak. If you can only point out a few inconsistencies and technical flaws, you have a pretty strong theory.
Of course, we're entering into a new age where we will be able to expand and improve the human condition by way of genetic modification and technological aides. The old limitations will soon not apply. Why I'm developing a philosophy is not merely to enjoy philosophy, or to come up with a philosophy which is applicable now. All our philosophies are collectively incompetent to usher in the future some futurists are certain will come. Though they'll be wrong about specific details, we are (and have been) in an age where old limitations don't apply. I'm trying to come up with a philosophy of living which will be relevant 20-40 years from now when perception and memory are augmented by cheap and powerful wearable computers, sensors and genetic enhancements. If the criticism is simply that the objective morality is too hard to determine because reality is too complex, I'd just as soon shrug off the criticism as the prevailing intellectual laziness modern philosophies enable.
That's not an insult by the way. I'm not calling you intellectually lazy. I find you challenging. I'm just pointing out that "It's too hard" isn't a criticism. There are big, heavy things I can't lift on my own. That doesn't mean they're too heavy to be lifted even though it's expedient for me to say it is. After all, if I get a crane suddenly that obstacle no longer exists.
It occurred to me last night my moral system may excuse the Noble Lie, if a lie could be proved noble. But entering into this I realized immediately honesty isn't always morally right. And there are a great many more kinds of actions and communications which simply have no moral quality. This doesn't concern me. What is objectively true will be true whenever its circumstances arise. Quantum mechanics are objectively true, but that doesn't mean asteroids are entangling and tunneling across the universe. Because such mechanics are relevant to the scale of discreet packets of energy interrelating.
So with lying you're never really morally right, you are at best not "morally wrong yet ". Since the false knowledge of a lie may simply not be actionable yet. You have no way of knowing whether or not the knowledge will become actionable in the future.
Benevolent lying is also a problem in your theory. If a known murderer came to your house and asked whether or not your brother is home so he could kill him, you know you won't be able to call the police, you know you can't win in a fight, etc... Would lying to him about your brother's whereabouts be morally wrong? Would telling the truth be morally wrong? Assuming your brother in this scenario is at home.
I'm basically arguing that your philosophy is outcome based rather than a objective guide to morality since good and evil are judged based on the impact they have on other intelligences. All the same criticisms that apply to things like utilitarianism will apply. It's too complicated to be practical, considering all possible outcomes in order to determine if you'd violate some tenant of the philosophy is too cumbersome and time consuming. Not all outcomes can be considered.
Lying about actionable knowledge relevant to the aforementioned conditions are evil. Lying about other kinds of knowledge isn't evil. If I lied to you about what happened in Lord of the Rings, it's not evil. If I lied to you about how to get a job and in doing so you failed to get a job and now have no way to act towards your own survival it was surely evil.
Murder is wrong because an intelligent form is destroyed. This may relate even to the unnecessary murder of animals when we destroy their habitats or when we hunt them for sport.
Infidelity is not necessarily immoral. I haven't fully explored the topic of honor in relationships yet and have no moral opinion about honoring contracts. It could be argued that emotional stability is necessary to function, and if your infidelity scarred your loved one and hindered their ability to live consciously then it might be evil. But the infidelity itself might not be evil.
It is OK to eat animals if we need to eat animals to survive or to maintain active intelligence. And it is necessary as certain chemicals in meat are important neurotransmitters in intelligence. But if a science can create artificial meat which does the same job, then it would become immoral to eat animals even if the financial cost of artificial meat was greater.
No worries. Take your time.
I'll get to this, I promise. I'm enjoying this chance to test my developing philosophy.
I'm gonna try and use your system, please tell me if I get something wrong. I'll dive into criticism once I know I understand it correctly.
Lying is wrong because it causes another agent to act on false knowledge and/or conveys false knowledge.
Murder is wrong because an intelligent form is destroyed.
Infidelity is wrong because it causes the other party to hold a false believe about the level of commitment that is expected.
It's OK to eat animals because we are a superior intelligence which is furthered by the eating of lesser minds.
Am I understanding you correctly?
Truth is the result of a questioning, when the result corresponds to the object of inquiry. Something which is not true but perceived to be true is a case of misinformation.
I would submit then that a good action is any action which is taken upon true knowledge to propagate a state which enables the intelligence to acquire true knowledge and act upon that true knowledge in such a way that continues the cycle, while an evil action is always one which leads to a state where an intelligence can no longer remain in the form of an intelligence, or which causes an intelligence to act upon false knowledge and by doing so propagate a state less conducive to the existence of an intelligence or intelligences.
It flows from these assertions that a state of “more minds” is the better state over “less minds” in relationship to minds. The ideal state of the universe to minds which exist would be one in which all matter on every scale exists in some state of intelligence without compromising the state of intelligence of any other intelligence on any other scale.
Thus the greatest challenge to any perceptive intelligence is to be able to determine whether knowledge is true knowledge or false knowledge.
Actually, I was debating over which of my versions of the epistemology to send over. Preceding ones commented on morality, but this one I shifted around because I wanted to prepare something larger. I'm sure my views on "truth" seem very subjective in nature, but that's in part because it's a new idea I was playing with (which I felt "eureka" over, but am now not so sold over) and which I used to replace the section I was discussing morality over. Hold on, I'll dig up the portion on morality I took out.
I suspect there are conditions depending on the scale. Every scale has different properties. This isn't a subjective fact, it's a fact of a divisible universe. One person is a kind of scale. Two people are a kind of scale. A world, a solar system, a galaxy are scales. Different nations of population and size are scales. Different scales have different properties. Nations may not be conscious, for example. So nations themselves may be immoral, because they take the conscious states and enslave them to the non-conscious system of nationalism. But this may not always be the case. Running internet networks around the world, and scientifically altering the consciousness of humans and connecting them to that network may take humans and turn them into neurons in a larger consciousness. A nation mind, what we might crudely call an artificial intelligence.
I think I can explain why murder is generally wrong. If the condition in which good exists is predicated on actionable minds, the extinction of life is the extinction of the condition of good. If the extinction of life depletes the conditions of good, it can be concluded to be the opposite of good, which is evil.
Oh,we're gonna have some fun talks.... But.....That still doesn't give me a process by which we can determine right from wrong.....how do we get to something like "murder is wrong"?
It also doesn't clarify how universal the outcomes of that system are. When we apply the system, do we get something like "murder is wrong for me to do" or "murder is wrong"?
Truth is the result of a questioning, when the result corresponds correctly to the object of inquiry. When I ask, “What is 2+2?” I can conclude “4”. The conclusion is true by the fact of my verification. It was not true prior to this. Some may think “But what is, is, and therefore what is, is true.” The problem here is that “truth” has to correspond to something which it is, and never anything which it is not. That two groupings of two objects make four objects as a sum may always be true, but they only share in common with the math the fact of the divisibility of something. Neither the math nor the matter contain something which is true despite themselves. Therefore, truth must be the experience of the fact of the thing. The fact of the thing precedes the experience of the fact; the truth is the conclusion we come to upon experiencing the fact. The universe exists, the truth is always the experience of the fact. It is a human hubris to thing something like “truth”, which pertains to our experience of it, is important enough to exist outside the human experience. We want things which relate to the human experience to be objectively true too. But the human experience is a conceptual knowledge which is always ever just true unto itself. Any other case where what you take to be true, is false, is a case of misinformation."
A conscious mind is a mind that possesses true knowledge and conceptual knowledge of itself, and is also aware of its moment-to-moment experience. An Actionably Conscious Mind is a conscious mind connected to a form called a body through which the mind can cause events. These events are called actions. Any mind which is not conscious is not acting; the mind of the form is simply an event, and those things which the mind and body do in tandem are mere events. Any mind which is conscious is acting. An action is always a substrate of “event”, but is adds to events the fact of determination.
This given, the primary interest of any consciousness is to continue being a consciousness. If the form of the consciousness is such that its existence is conditional of some state of events, then the propagation of these events becomes the prime interest of any consciousness. It can be said that every state of events is conditional of the virtue of any number of events, and since an action is an event, an intelligence ought make action which kindle those conditions, so that the state of events which brings about the condition of the continuation of the consciousness is as close to a constant as possible. If every event’s conditions are objective then a consciousness needs to make actions based upon true knowledge of the nature of those conditions.
True knowledge is knowledge which truly represents the events which formed it. Thus, by contrast, false knowledge is any information which does not accurately describe the event which formed it. Misinformation is a state of information which does not describe the events which formed it, but seems to instead describe events which never really occurred. Conceptual knowledge pertains to information formed within the mind which is not true knowledge in that it is not true to an object, nor false knowledge due to being true unto itself, and is not misinformation in that it does not appear to even try to describe an objective thing except itself. Given my Prime Assumption, all events occur independent of a conscious mind, except for actions. It could be said that knowledge of an action is either true or false, and regardless, the event which the information seems to describe will be either true or false regardless of whether the intelligence in possession of the information regards that knowledge as true or false.
When a computer concludes it’s calculations, whether the form of a transistor was set in the position “on” or “off” after receiving electricity dictates what the computer displays to us. When we want to validate the chemical composition of the sun we look at how its form effects the vibration of light, disturbing the color pattern with black lines that always correspond to how similar chemicals burnt in labs effect the light spectrum.
Any information is informing, for the informing event is the fact of the transition the form takes from previously being in its state, to being in its new state. But being informed is not enough to explain the phenomenon relevant to minds called knowledge. In order for there to be knowledge, there must be a mind to actively seek informing experiences.
A mind is a form that: possesses enough information which is subdivided between sufficiently complex parts and is capable of information transfer between those parts. Sensory organs are the prime method of biological to record information. All a sensory experience is, is an informing mechanism attached to a memory function. Eyes, for example, are impacted by photons – particles of light – which carry information from the object that released the photon. The eye, when impacted, sends a spark of information through certain neurological channels into the brain and the experience is encoded as a new kind of information which can be readily recalled as a memory. Biology does not appear to be the only kind of object which can do this, as numerous non-biological machines can sense, encode information as memory, and recall that memory in certain applications. Perhaps one day computers will have minds.
Knowledge is simply the information known to a mind. True Knowledge is knowledge which corresponds to actual events. Conceptual Knowledge relates only to information-types which are calculated or created by a mind. It may be so that no information is ever actually created, but that different information’s are compared against each other to form new concepts like art or math. False Knowledge is knowledge which doesn’t correspond accurately to an imaginary form designed by conceptual knowledge or accurately to an actual event or form in the universe.
This is my paper on epistemology:
Knowledge is not the key to understanding reality. Information is the key. If properly defined then from this definition all else follows. I assert this is the correct definition: Information is the imprint of some event left upon a form, or is the spacing between forms, or is both simultaneously. A form is any object that exists in reality with a finite shape and place. An event is the moment of interaction between at least two forms, with the smallest form (as far as we know) being a sub-atomic particle, and the greatest form (as far as we know) being the universe. These two forms can be considered as existing on the smallest and largest material scales respectively. Scales are groupings of matter in finite places in space. I cannot express the number of scales which must exist, but I believe every scale will have a slightly different set of causal properties, and at certain scales certain abilities or potentials dissipate, and others appear. Events like quantum entanglement can only occur on a finite number of material scales, beginning with a single quanta and as far as I know increasing to include incredibly small objects. At that scale, it is possible to escape the constraints of space or Newtonian continuity to a degree. But once matter solidifies into larger objects, they appear to become more tied to the implications of space and mass and force and act in more predictable ways, spatially speaking.
When climate scientists want to know what the effect of atmosphere was on the ancient earth they drill ice-core samples from the arctic. Compressed in every band over long-time is the effect of the atmosphere upon the ice. This is an Antarctic icy form. When we look for a virus on a human we look for its impression upon our form in the way of symptoms. When we look for signs of quantum entanglement we look for the effect of motion of one subatomic particle in one given space upon another in another given space. When we read a book, we see the impressions of ink on the form of the book, which is a system of language we've developed and retain and interpret within our brains in tandem with our sensory organs. The particulars of the form also include the spacing between those symbol-impressions. When an atom collides with another atom, it imbues that atom with two tiny units of information - velocity and direction.
I'm still not sure I agree with you on this being objective or not. However, I'm willing to concede the point to move on, because the theory you put up is an interesting debate in itself.
I have a few questions before I can start to play with it though.
I get that you ground the metaphysics in physics, but how do you ground the epistemology? Meaning, how do we get from physics to knowledge of right and wrong?
Is the method by which we determine right from wrong universally applicable and produce equal outcomes for everyone, basically is it something like the categorical imperative (if it is, then disregard my criticism of this being subjective and feel free to call me an idiot for not getting it)?
If the method is not universally applicable, then is right and wrong a personal concept rather than a public critique?
I can accept the conversation about philosophy which other people have undertaken, but I still can't see how I'm defending a subjective view of morality. I can see why it would seem so if you're adamant that an objective standard must also be a universal standard. But if objectivity in philosophy is to pertain to that which is certainly true regardless of the perception of it, as I understand it to be, then it relates to the facts of reality. We cannot divide our morality from our metaphysics. If our metaphysics are informed by modern physics, we will know that every point in spacetime is conditional of its properties, which range across the spectra of physical properties in motion from void to matter. These variables create state-thresholds which are in flux. A morality, to be truly objective, must pertain to the object and therefore must account for this flow. If morality also pertains to action, then the objective human equation includes the total sum equation of morality. Moral philosophy would have to naturally refer to the possibilities of interactions of conscious matter within the equation at different points in spacetime.
If morality is determined, it must be in relation to actions by subjects.
An action is caused by a neurological event which is dependent on the external stimulus to prompt it.
The neurological and biological states are objective with limited thresholds of what can and will happen. But the total-sum is a human consciousness.
The theory must conclude that exposure to knowledge of actions and consequences informs and causes actions. This is still not subjective, even if the subject is component, because the root is still the fact of the objective reality and its nature. This is enough to say actions which create states of increased actionable knowledge are good. I am defending an objective moral system with a scientific approach, relying on the observed objects and their fixed potentials to determine how a moral philosophy would get its framework.
And the hypothesis of the theory is that actions which produce actionable knowledge may often be good or that there are spectra of good actionable knowledge and bad actionable knowledge. Objective cannot be universal, except for a thin fabric of physics.
I see where you're coming from, however, objective vs subjective morality theories don't mean the perception or experience of morality is subjective or objective, what they mean by objective vs subjective is the standard being used to judge actions.
So in the case of theological morality, the standard is God. Each action is determined to be good or bad by God and that then becomes the standard.
In Kant's theory, the categorical imperative is that objective standard.
You won't see an objective moralist say that lying is wrong under certain circumstances. A objective moralist will say lying is always wrong, no matter the circumstances.
A subjective theory will judge actions not against a constant standard like objective theories, but rather tie some other, fluid standard to the act to judge it.
For the cultural relativist that standard would be culture. So actions are right or wrong because they're seen as appropriate or inappropriate in that culture. That also means you can't judge another culture by your standard, but must use theirs to evaluate their actions.
Again, utilitarianism uses consequences as their subjective standard.
So a subjectivist can say an action is right in one scenario, but wrong in the other.
That's why you some times hear objective morality referred to as moral universalism. Because the morality is universal across all cultures and all times regardless of circumstances.
It has nothing to do with how acts are perceived.
As I understand subjective morality, often the perspective or experience of the person matters more than the fact of the thing. So murder might not be immoral, if for the murderer it was good. If it felt good and brought happiness, then from their perspective it was good. It was only evil from the perspective of the murdered (or others). Subjective morality strikes me as often "from the perspective of the person". The person themselves and their experience matters.
Where-as happiness and perspective are non-factors. What I think or feel is irrelevant.
What I argue is that those things which are subjective, are ultimately objective. Every perspective is rooted in a fact of neurological exchange. Neurological exchanges are just facts of biology, which are facts of chemistry, and then ultimately physics. So pertaining to the human, are universal processes of atomic exchange.
Since the person is an object, and in the context of action morality is found, a state of action is necessary for there to be morality. It is good if there is good. Therefore it is good if there is human life.
Now, utilitarianism would say as you said, maximum happiness for the most people. Similar philosophies might state it's morally necessary that people have the resources to stay alive.
The stuff of it however still functions under those universal principles of exchange. It's vain to say all people ought to have enough food to stay alive, because it may not be achievable. So objectively it's not good - subjectively it's good. From the perspective.
However, if anything brings about anything, it's action. Information moves at light-speed cheaply. The prevalence of information about correct action is an objective concept, which fulfills a universal necessity among all human minds - to know how to act to further the chances of survival. Maximum amount of knowledge may be utilitarian. But happiness is not the object. Merely action.
In a way this may be utilitarian, but I don't think it's subjectiviism.
What you're describing is a form of subjective morality. You're trying to judge actions by the what they cause, causal morality. It's like utilitarianism, the action which is right is the one that causes the most amount of happiness. Objective morality is a school of thought which places an inherent value on an action which is independent of the environment in which the act is performed. So, for the objective moralist, lying is wrong regardless of consequences because we cannot know the consequences of our actions for certain.
I do understand what your getting at, but I think you slipped into defending subjective morality.
I think of the human cognition as a kind of event. Althought we may have a limited conditional will, we still have a will and make choices. These choices are merely a kind of event caused in part by consciousness. Neurologically speaking it's not improbable that our cognition has quantum mechanics applied to it (look up Hameroff and Penrose) so our choices can still be non-linear in their mechanics, which affords us an experiential flexibility in a universe which is mostly non-quantum (if I understand our lack of understanding of quantum mechanics well enough). Actions are an event caused upon the body and surroundings of a consciousness. Like any other event, actions inform the future. Actions are what would be thought to be good or evil. What is caused by them might be how we judge whether those actions were good or evil, and when looking into the future we can rationalize the possibilities of our actions, but until we've taken those actions there is no certainty that they are good or evil. This may sound like consequentialism, but I'm not so sure it is. It's not that the consequences themselves are good or evil. They only inform us as to which events appear to produce goods or evils. But I cannot say which actions or consequences are good or evil yet. All I can describe is the foundational moral framework for this system, which is the morality of informing minds, if informing a mind changes how events are caused.
So maybe objective morality never describes from what is what one ought to do, but instead from what was. Maybe it's always a judgement of what happened before. Maybe what one ought to do is informed by morality, but not described by morality. "Murder is evil, therefore on ought not murder" is informed by the past. "The murder was evil, therefore one ought not murder." This would mean you never need to get a "ought" from an "is", unless Damn3d's physics is true, in which case every "was" is also an "is". But that's fuzzy logic ;)
When considering what it must have meant for something to be "true" I had come to the conclusion that nothing is inherently true. "True" had to be in relation to preceding ignorance, which implies questioning and informing. Which are all subjective experiences yes, but still objective events. In order for there to be an event that concludes "true", there must be a thinking process with enough ignorance to have previously not known whether the object of inquiry was "true" or "false", but which had the perceptive and rationalizing ability to conclude so. But that fact of truth had to be in relation to the objective thing which was inquired of. Now, we might say "knowledge" is true justified belief... But I think this is a subjective claim which prioritizes the subjective experience over the objective reality which contains every subjective experience. They who possess what they believe to be true justified belief may still be misinformed. True knowledge must then be always informed by the objective state and not the subjective state.
A thing when defined truly is accurately capturing the thing as a unit of information that reflects the object of inquiry. If the object of inquiry is morality, good, and evil, then they must be properly defined in the context of reality. Has philosophy yet so defined morality, good and evil, with their root in the objective continuity of subjective beings relating with each-other?
When we begin by saying "is murder good or evil" I cannot answer your question, because the question is only true unto itself. You can create simulated scenarios and then judge them, but you won't capture the essence of what is true. Only what is true given a less than true instance. One may as well ask if Fëanor was in the moral right to pursue the Silmarils.
There are no truths preceding a mind to conclude upon them. Stuff merely is. Even those thought-concepts are irrelevant to the preceding non-cognitive state, they are still quite relevant to cognition and conscious, analytical minds.
I get what you're saying about my ideas, but the problem is you're trying to contain them within philisophical premises which are already by their nature too limited to actually describe what is going on. I prefer not to found my sense of what objective philosophy must be on what past philosophers have described as valid systems (utilitarianism, consequentialism, etc...) but in how concepts like epistemology, morality, et. al. must appear in an objective reality. So I try to be more confined to relating these things to the facts of reality - physics, biology, neuroscience, etc... Which as systems of thought are questionable in of themselves, but appear to describe what's actually happening.
What I've taken from this is that every physical moment is informed by the past. The motion of atoms are informed by the collisions or proximity they had in the previous instance. When matter interacts they leave imprints on each other, and these imprints are records of the informing event of interaction. If we are only biological entities with no supernatural qualia - which I assume true - then we are bound by this reality. Our sense experience, the subjective place, is still an objective fact of biological, chemical, physical and possibly quantum mechanics. It is related with the universe around it and the continuity holding it.
A philosophy which says something is subjective usually assumes it's an unprovable premise that the objective is more important than the subjective. My experience of morality matters to define morality. Yet a fork is a fork is a fork. While the subjective perspective can validate itself subjectively (I think therefore I am, it feels good therefore it is good), the fact of reality is unmoved by this awareness. Merely I prove rationally against the force of my own ignorance that the objective self-experiencing state exists. That which I claim subjectively is only true unto myself, as the Silmarilion is true unto itself. I have thought if an objective morality and good and evil exist, they must naturally exist in relation to some fact of these systems. They cannot be independently true, but this doesn't mean they're not objective. It's just that their position in the objective system is specific, just as chemistry is objective despite its position as a secondary system after the fact of physics.
I'll try and explain a few things.
First we gave to draw a distinction between moral and existential nihilism. Moral nihilism can only speak to morality, it has no theory of existence. I'm not trying to defend existential nihilism at all. Only moral nihilism. I tend to not agree with existential nihilism.
On to the "is" being separate from "ought".
You can't use "is" to get "ought" because you are missing the theory of how you get from is to ought.
Let's take murder for example. I think we can agree that we would generally ascribe a value statement of bad to murder. So murder is bad. In objective morality, the argument would look like this:
Murder is bad, we ought to do that which is good and we ought not to do that which is bad, therefore, we ought not to commit murder.
In utilitarianism, murder may still be bad, however, that doesn't mean we ought not to murder. We ought to do that which produces the most amount of happiness. So we ought to not commit murder if the act of murder causes more harm than good, and we ought to commit murder if it produces more good than bad.
So we can make a value statement about an act, but that doesn't mean that it automatically translates to what we ought to do. We ought to do the things a theory requires based on reasons outside of what is. What is may be useful in getting to what ought, but the two are not synonymous.
I hope that helps.
**at least possibly objective.
From what I understand nihilism is a deeper rejection of thought-concepts. I recall running into a sub-category of nihilism which asserted "I don't exist" because the concept "I" is an invented concept to represent the fact of atoms forming molecules in the complex chemical reaction of life. It seems arbitrary to me to draw a line in the sand where any thought concepts have any value, or some have value and others don't. If any objects can be given values, be they moral values, or analytical values, I would argue this opens the door to determining moral values. But since values can't come from a void, but are assigned to variables, and for equations to work the variables and units and values must all be correctly rooted in an objective equation, questions of morals could be at least possibly moral. Nihilism doesn't satisfy my understanding that at least some values exist, and doesn't explain enough why some/any values can exist, but not moral values. That if some values are invented, all values must be invented, so we should invent any value makes no sense to me. 2+2=4.
With regards to the Humeian argument neither has that satisfied me. At least, neither Hume nor people I've encountered in the past have satisfactorily enough explained how ought cannot follow is. It always just seems asserted, like there must be a gap, even if the gap can't be pointed out or explained. Ought, being in the realm of coming into being must, if it exists, follow "is", since "is" is the state just prior to coming into being. What ought to happen at some point in the future must be moved towards by way of actions, so to know which actions you must take you must understand what is and was. What is and was informs your future. If a moral ought could be described, it would have to follow what is.
Now, let me poke at your theory a bit. Also, please let me know if you feel like I didn't address your objections fully. And please let me know if you feel like I misunderstood your theory.
The first point that struck me as an issue was you needing actionable knowledge. To me, this sounds like you're grounding actions in subjective values like circumstance and/or consequentialism. Meaning that an action is not inherently right or wrong but right or wrong based on subjective factors. If this is your argument, then you are immediately running into the same problems Peter singer and the utilitarian theorists encounter, that the philosophy is too cumbersome to be of use.
if you're using human needs as a measure of good and bad, then you run into some internal conflicts as well. For example, if we say that having access to food is good and that we ought to maximize the access to food for as many people as possible, then it becomes OK to let some people starve because it's more efficient to provide food for another people. You would also be OK with killing an entire tribe of people if they had access to ample food resources but weren't willing to share it if their destruction caused a greater access to food for more people than you are killing. However, killing is the destruction of a mind, which you clearly value too. So you have some conflicts there.
You also have, so far, failed to say how you get from maximizing access to the basic needs to ought statements. Is it simply a mathematical formula like utilitarianism where the most amount of access is the greatest good and thus the best action, or is the life of the individual greater than collective access?
I was hoping you'd take me on for this one. I'm sure this will be a good one. I'm gonna respond to you in two posts. First, I'm gonna address the issues that you bring up regarding nihilism, then I'll address your theory.
Nihilism is a self defeating theory.
This is an objection I hear a lot. Most often it comes from a misunderstanding of what morality is and/or what nihilism is. The objectification you raise is that nihilism fails to attribute a value to moral actions and can therefore not be considered a theory of morality. However, this is a misguided assertion. Morality/ethics is not about value statements. It's about what we ought to do. It's not about what is true in the world because you can't get an ought from an is. So we can say giving money to the homeless is kind. But you can't get we ought to give money to the homeless from such a statement. You have to do more.
In objective morality an action is either good or bad and we ought to do those things which are good because they are good and we ought not to do bad because they are bad. That's how you get we ought to give money to the homeless. Because now the argument reads as such: giving money to the homeless is kind, kindness is a good value, we ought to do that which is good, therefore we ought to give money to the homeless.
The nihilist says that actions are neither good nor bad. That such values are irrelevant and that we don't have to base our decisions on meaningless values. So nihilism is a rejection of assigning value statements to actions. The nihilist then assigns ought statements based on subjective, selfish, and logical reasons. The nihilist, for example says, murder is neither good nor bad. I want to live, but this person is treating my life, therefore I ought to murder them in order to survive. He can also say that: I value a peaceful society, murder is not compatible with a a peaceful society, therefore I ought not to commit murder. The nihilist is therefore able to make comprehensive ought statements without the use of good/bad value statements by implementing aspects of social contract theory, natural rights theory, etc...
The nihilist is able to do so because actions are neither good or bad. Therefore eliminating the most common objections to subjective morality. He doesn't judge actions based on values and thus also avoids one of the big issues of objective morality, the problem of morality vs justice (we've discussed this one, so I won't rehash this debate).
The human mind requires a minimum condition to continue existing as a human mind. These conditions are access to food, water, atmosphere, et. al. In order to achieve these conditions the human must act to achieve these conditions. A human may make any number of actions, right or wrong. In order to distinguish between actions which fulfill the conditions of "mind", a human requires actionable knowledge. Since morality is relevant to action, it can be said that actions which end the condition of "mind" also end any condition which allow such variables as good or evil to exist or contain value. A minimal moral value may be then those actions which continue the condition of conscious, acting minds.
Firstly this does better as a theory than nihilism because it is testable. Secondly, it is a great way to begin determining what is morally good or bad, because these values now are rooted in objective reality. It is not imposed upon by moral subjectivism, because now the subjective state of awareness of morality that a person has can be incorrect and not aligned with objective morality. Indeed, not one person may have the knowledge of good and evil. Finally, since we all share the same basic minimum needs, all actions could be equally judged by a minimum set of moral conditions, and judged to be good or evil. This system of morality would likely reveal most actions to be morally neutral, with only a thin layer of actions being objectively right or wrong. This isn't detrimental to objective morality, for if you could only find one objective moral, you would still fulfill a minimum proof that morality is objective.
And I would argue since actionable knowledge that fulfills the minimum condition of "mind" is morally good, it is morally good to produce more of that actionable knowledge, and morally bad to deny people that actionable knowledge, generally.
Moral nihilism cannot be said to be a stronger theory than moral objectivism. Firstly because it cannot ever fulfill any conditions worth being called a "theory" as it is immediately self invalidating. Secondly because moral nihilism can never be relevant to human living.
By its very definition, nihilism is a self-destroying philosophy. Nihilism cannot be nihilism, for languages exist which express values. For example, the variable term "nihilism" contains within it the value "nothing has value". Which is self-contradictory. If "nihilism" as a variable contains any value, then variables contain values, and values exist.
Values are assigned to variables. Values exist at least as thought concepts, and in relation to the system in which they exist. Not all thought concepts are made equal. To pertain to reality and to meet the condition of truth they must conclude something objective. Something that exists. Morals, if they exist, pertain to actions. It is difficult to describe, surely, what is good or bad. If we are to find an objective moral, then we must first be constrained to that which is objective. The beginning objective claim that can be made philosophically is my Subthropic Principle:
The subject is thinking about reality.
The subject exists.
A reality exists which fulfills the minimum conditions necessary for a subject or subjects to think about reality.
Though human thoughts themselves are not describable yet, logic can be objective. Consider the full binary adder circuit system which simply by timing the motion of electricity along the circuit, given certain inputs, predictable outputs always occur. These inputs and outputs are variables in which we can assign values. Such a thing is intelligence.
The universe prior to intelligent motion, merely in a state of physical entropy, is not using values and variables to construct itself. That is the prior nihilistic state which only is relevant when there are no conscious minds to be thinking and assigning values to variables in order to construct systems which at least in of themselves, exist.