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Intuition

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I am very annoyed at the quality of ethical debate in the world. Most of the time people want to debate ethics, they usually try to show how their opponents conclusions lead to some "absurdity" that you just know is wrong.

An example, would be

"If selfishness is good, and self sacrifice is evil, are you saying a man has absolutely no obligation to help a small child drowning in a small body of water even though at the very most it will get his coat wet?"

What if the answer was "Yes, tell me why I am wrong"? (There are more "human" sounding answers and explanations about this)

Why should people be allowed to argue for their ethical methodologies based on their emotions that are based on their conclusions which are based on their methodology?

So my non-rhetorical question is, what is a good way to point this out without being unpersuasive? How do I respond to this circular logic, and deal with it at the same time?

Should I not even respond to that kind of argument because it is invalid, or should I humor them, then point out the flaws in their thinking?

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This person you are conversing with, are they someone you value and are interested in continuing to chat with in the future?

If so, then find a pleasant way to debate with them, and think of their honest ignorance as a way of suggesting them to some

beginning Objectivist writings. The example question you gave sounds like a common question from someone not knowing

the virtue of selfishness or anything about Objectivism to begin with. So, then you've responded in a way that will show you

if they really want to think for themselves.

Sure, you can answer their silly question with a one word response"yes", and humor them, pointing out their flaws in thinking.

You may then find it humorous when they end the conversation with, "I just know it is; or I just feel it; or I just have faith."

At that point I wouldn't value them as a someone I'd pleasantly chat with, and I'd probably end up walking away.

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You can just point out that your opponent is begging the question. He may not accept that he is begging the question, of course, in which case he may just be irrational.

(If it is not mistaken for a valid form of argument, pointing out disturbing instances of a moral code is a useful tool. It can produce a suspicion that a particular moral code is wrong, which may encourage the other person to check his premises or reinforce your rejection of another moral code.)

Edited by ctrl y
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(If it is not mistaken for a valid form of argument, pointing out disturbing instances of a moral code is a useful tool. It can produce a suspicion that a particular moral code is wrong, which may encourage the other person to check his premises or reinforce your rejection of another moral code.)

It may be a useful tool, but only insofar as it is manipulative of a person's emotions. You can get a lot of people to think various things simply because implications are "disturbing." If you already disagree on ethical premises, you can't really even agree what is disturbing about a particular moral code, because something would only be disturbing to them based on the standards of *their* adopted moral code. It is disturbing to me that Christianity implies selflessness, but if I pointed that out to a Christian, I'm sure they'd see nothing disturbing about it.

Edited by Eiuol
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It may be a useful tool, but only insofar as it is manipulative of a person's emotions. You can get a lot of people to think various things simply because implications are "disturbing."

Maybe they need to have their emotions manipulated before they see the light.

If you already disagree on ethical premises, you can't really even agree what is disturbing about a particular moral code, because something would only be disturbing to them based on the standards of *their* adopted moral code. It is disturbing to me that Christianity implies selflessness, but if I pointed that out to a Christian, I'm sure they'd see nothing disturbing about it.

No, some people can be disturbed by implications of their own moral code that they did not see.

Edited by ctrl y
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I thought this topic was going to be about intuition.

It is. As in, people would say that this debate strategy relies on their intuitions in regards to ethics. This is a real school of ethics, and I even saw a debate between an Objectivist and some guy proposing this and using the sorts of argumentation.

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  • 10 years later...

Looking up "Intuition" on Webster's 1913, stepping past the obsolete reference, the next proffered entree is:

Direct apprehension or cognition; immediate knowledge, as in perception or consciousness; -- distinguished from "mediate" knowledge, as in reasoning; as, the mind knows by intuition that black is not white, that a circle is not a square, that three are more than two, etc.; quick or ready insight or apprehension.

Next would be to conjoin it with the other offering.

Any object or truth discerned by direct cognition; especially, a first or primary truth.

The Ayn Rand Lexicon provides a link to Instinct when querying Intuition.

What comes to be learned as black can be seen that it is not what has come to be learned as white. What comes to be learned as a circle can be seen that it is not what has come to be learned as a square. What comes to be learned as three can be seen that it is not what has come to be known as two.

Grasping that "[a]n “instinct” is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge", begs the question that  the inclusion of direct apprehension or cognition; immediate knowledge versus "mediate" knowledge, as in reasoning, while disregarding an act of choosing to associate "black", "white", "circle", "square", "three", "two" with the requisite perceptions, challenges the legitimacy of "intuition".

Edited by dream_weaver
Grammarly
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Isn't there a very noticeable qualitative difference between emotion and intuition? Sure, sometimes people say that they feel something is true, but I don't think that's referring to something like sadness or anger or confusion. An emotion is referring to either the sensation in your body or some kind of intensity. Intuition seems like a cross between knowledge with the immediacy of emotion, a habit that comes out of knowledge. If anything emotions can be automatized judgments, though. 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

Isn't there a very noticeable qualitative difference between emotion and intuition?

Yes. Maybe instead of "in that" I should have said "in the respect that", which spells it out more clearly.

I think an emotion about something is a recognition of the implications that thing has, or could have, for your own life, or the lives of people you care about.

Intuition can be more "dryly intellectual," like recognizing that certain problems can be solved in certain ways.

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On 5/2/2021 at 1:43 PM, dream_weaver said:

Looking up "Intuition" on Webster's 1913, stepping past the obsolete reference, the next proffered entree is:

Direct apprehension or cognition; immediate knowledge, as in perception or consciousness; -- distinguished from "mediate" knowledge, as in reasoning; as, the mind knows by intuition that black is not white, that a circle is not a square, that three are more than two, etc.; quick or ready insight or apprehension.

 

In short: implicit knowledge. The sky is cloudless so it's not raining. My wife is in the lounge with me so she's not at the office. 

One has to explicitly know "white" to know what is non-white; a square (etc.) to know this circle etc. is not one.

Most of our 'intuitive' knowledge had therefore to be first consciously tuited. A chess player will say he felt the right move, "intuitively". Overlooking his years of practiced study of thousands of positions which he instantly drew from in this chess position. But then the connotation of intuition became interchangeable with and misused colloquially as instinct - automatic, innate and inherited knowledge, which we don't have.

Edited by whYNOT
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10 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Most of our 'intuitive' knowledge had therefore to be first consciously tuited.

This is the case a lot of the time when it comes to more abstract topics, or skills based on training like pilots or elite special forces.

But there is good evidence that intuition is also developed when seeing something repeatedly without making any conscious effort to integrate that perceptual information. That can be when looking at patterns for playing card games, or in sports you rapidly make a judgment about where to move next, or responding to perceptual patterns (like how often you will see a particular card without any conscious calculation even when learning about it). Some animals have this kind of intuition as well, but clearly it isn't knowledge. Implicit knowledge would be fair though. My point is that these intuitions are built on the fly with minimal thought, and this is very natural. 

 

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On 5/4/2021 at 3:42 AM, Eiuol said:

This is the case a lot of the time when it comes to more abstract topics, or skills based on training like pilots or elite special forces.

But there is good evidence that intuition is also developed when seeing something repeatedly without making any conscious effort to integrate that perceptual information. That can be when looking at patterns for playing card games, or in sports you rapidly make a judgment about where to move next, or responding to perceptual patterns (like how often you will see a particular card without any conscious calculation even when learning about it). Some animals have this kind of intuition as well, but clearly it isn't knowledge. Implicit knowledge would be fair though. My point is that these intuitions are built on the fly with minimal thought, and this is very natural. 

 

Yes, 'muscle memory' and pattern recognition and so on, explain our (and animals') fast, effective responses, by our pre-learned, pre-observed, or practiced and trained, self-automated behavior. Brain science, the neural pathways, validates that. What's still popularly accepted is to vaguely lump together in one group - instinct/intuition/emotion/feelings - to explain men's drives, urges, impulses, etc. The categories are distinct however, with 'human instinct' (for one), nonexistent (or vanishingly trivial). Emotions have their specific source: values, consciously made and subconsciously embedded. The subconsciousness altogether with our animal biological needs and pleasure/pain sensations and simple percept-associations that all mammals make, go far to explain those supposedly mystifying drives. One more thing, I think there's abiding determinism and denial of volition in the common need for humanity to possess animal instincts, a wish for a built-in connect with other lives, and of course a ready-made justification for all manner of acts and behavior.  

Edited by whYNOT
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