Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

How can one state that something is moral?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

DonAthos,

 

I understand that the question I asked in the original post could be viewed in different ways and in the future I will try to make my questions more clear. And, I never thought that you were not providing your own arguments and conclusions. I have very much enjoyed reading your answers and I appreciate your willingness to discuss. Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

425,

 

I have enjoyed reading your posts and I find them very interesting. And I am sure that you and I could continue to discuss things for a long time to come. For example, with regard to your last post I could make many more comments and raise many more questions such as:

 

You stated, “The main reason I raised the question of whether you had read ITOE was because you were making a few errors in your arguments that I would probably not have made after reading ITOE and Rand's other work on epistemology.”

 

I would suggest that this statement should be reworded to read: ‘The main reason I raised the question of whether you had read ITOE was because you were making a few errors in your arguments that you would probably not have made after reading ITOE and Rand's other work on epistemology and agreeing with everything that was written in them.’

 

 

You stated, “Once a word has been assigned to a concept like "emergency," that word has an objective meaning for all those who speak the same language, and it is an improper mode of thought if one person arbitrarily assigns the word a different meaning.”

 

I would ask: who assigned the word to the concept? Was it one person or several? Why did this person or group of people get to assign the word to the concept as opposed to some other person or group of people? How many people need to assign a word to a concept before it becomes a non-arbitrary assignment?

 

However, none of this gets us any closer to a clear answer to the question from the original post than we are already. So I will ask what, if anything, you would like as your answer to be to the question in the original post?

 

For 425, the answer would look like: [Please fill in the blank]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I could put my thoughts into order, momentarily:

  1. "Morality" refers to the evaluative standard of the logical pursuit of your own happiness
  2. This pursuit must be logical (non-contradictory) and exclude nothing relevant, if it is to succeed
  3. Since your emotional states are part of you and you are part of reality, your own happiness and prosperity (the good life) is not a matter of arbitrary interpretation; it can be studied and understood scientifically

The final point was my purpose in discussing drug abuse; it underscores the fact that your "interpretations" do not take place in a vacuum, but are in fact intimately related to the physical world around you.

If I must summarize my thoughts in a single response, that is how I would like them (and I apologize for not presenting them thusly, in the first place).  Thank you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You answered your question with, “No. Rand identified the cause: you're contradicting your own capacity to value. You did not demonstrate scenarios where theft was moral. You described scenarios where you left out any downside and did not address the fact that you're contradicting the nature of human beings and the way we create values.”

 

But this does not demonstrate that you are correct. All I need to do is provide my own interpretation of the nature of human beings and how human beings create values and your answer no longer answers the question.

 

Bro, I don't know how many ways I can say this. An 'interpretation' of the nature of human beings and how they create values is an induction.

 

You're asking for a theory of induction.

 

If you're serious about resolving this conflict, I would recommend The Logical Leap and Intro to Objectivist Epistemology. It's evident that you don't have a grasp of the epistemology. There's nothing wrong with that- everyone is in different stages of understanding- but I'm not going to keep restating the same things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would suggest that this statement should be reworded to read: ‘The main reason I raised the question of whether you had read ITOE was because you were making a few errors in your arguments that you would probably not have made after reading ITOE and Rand's other work on epistemology and agreeing with everything that was written in them.’

Certainly. The requirement that you understood and agreed with Rand's identifications and arguments in ITOE was implicit, but it suits me fine if you want to make it explicit. However, most of the identifications I'm specifically talking about are fairly evidently true once you understand the arguments for the,, so I would consider disagreement a relatively unlikely scenario.

I would ask: who assigned the word to the concept? Was it one person or several? Why did this person or group of people get to assign the word to the concept as opposed to some other person or group of people? How many people need to assign a word to a concept before it becomes a non-arbitrary assignment?

In most cases, a word was assigned to a concept by popular usage. No one can pinpoint the first person to call a table a table, but at some point that word entered popular usage for that concept. Once that happened, it became the case that in English, the word "table" has an objective meaning as it refers to a specific concept. Note that the objective meaning of "table" has nothing to do with "well, it's part of the nature of this object that it must be called by the name "table." If the word "guitar" entered into popular usage to refer to the concept of "table," then "guitar" would objectively mean a piece of furniture with legs and a flat surface on which objects are placed. Additionally, this does not exclude other languages. In Spanish, "mesa" means "table." The word "mesa" and the word "table" both refer to the same concept, and both objectively refer to that concept. Which word you use to refer to that concept only depends on whether you are speaking Spanish or English.

It is also true that one person can devise a word to represent a concept. This is the case in scientific discovery, where new concepts are identified. At some point, a particular person or group of people discovered the neutrino. So they were the ones who gave the word that referred to that concept. Once that word entered popular use (here referring to popular use among scientists) to refer to that concept, it became the case that the word objectively refers to that concept.

If the scientists who discovered the neutrino decided to name it the "tiger" instead, their name would not have been popularly accepted because "tiger" already refers to an entirely different concept. So "tiger" would not begin to objectively mean the neutrino. A word has to enter popular usage among people who refer to a particular concept. The word "neutrino" has entered popular usage among those who talk about neutrinos, so it is now objectively the word that refers to that concept. The word "nonsense" and "emergency" have long ago obtained the same status among people who speak English and talk about the concepts to which these refer. Therefore, these words objectively mean those concepts.

However, none of this gets us any closer to a clear answer to the question from the original post than we are already. So I will ask what, if anything, you would like as your answer to be to the question in the original post?

For 425, the answer would look like: [Please fill in the blank]

You summarized the views of three other posters earlier:

For you [DonAthos], the answer would look like:

Morality is a guide to action for living a good life, and one can determine the morality of an action because one can find evidence that certain actions or kinds of actions lead to either achieving or not achieving living a good life. Reference: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=4#entry325572

For Harrison Danneskjold, the answer would look like:

The same way we say anything else; an educated guess. Reference: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428#entry325261

For Jaskn, the answer would look like: Go read Ayn Rand. Reference: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=3#entry325390

I agree with all three.

Edited by 425
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far, the answers to the question asked in the original post are:

 

DonAthos: Morality is a guide to action for living a good life, and one can determine the morality of an action because one can find evidence that certain actions or kinds of actions lead to either achieving or not achieving living a good life. Reference: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=4#entry325572

 

Harrison Danneskjold: "Morality" refers to the evaluative standard of the logical pursuit of your own happiness and this pursuit must be logical (non-contradictory) and exclude nothing relevant, if it is to succeed and since your emotional states are part of you and you are part of reality, your own happiness and prosperity (the good life) is not a matter of arbitrary interpretation; it can be studied and understood scientifically. Reference:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=5#entry325627

 

425: Morality is a guide to action for living a good life, and one can determine the morality of an action because one can find evidence that certain actions or kinds of actions lead to either achieving or not achieving living a good life; and an educated guess; and go read Ayn Rand. Reference:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=5#entry325639

 

Does anyone else wish to contribute to the summary?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tadmjones,

 

Your answer seems straightforward. Do you mean that I can state something is moral, such as the initiation of force, and for my statement to be true all I have to do is defend it, by using force for example?

No I meant defend in the intellectual sense, within an O'ist frame.

Which would mean being cognizant of the hierarchical nature of knowledge and the way O'ism defines concepts in general and certain concepts specifically eg true, moral, and force.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tadmjones,

 

So your answer to the question asked in the original post is:

 

‘Just state it, and then defend your statement in the intellectual sense, within an O'ist frame which would mean being cognizant of the hierarchical nature of knowledge and the way O'ism defines concepts in general and certain concepts specifically e.g. true, moral, and force.’

 

Do you agree? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tadmjones,

 

So your answer to the question asked in the original post is:

 

‘Just state it, and then defend your statement in the intellectual sense, within an O'ist frame which would mean being cognizant of the hierarchical nature of knowledge and the way O'ism defines concepts in general and certain concepts specifically e.g. true, moral, and force.’

 

Do you agree? 

For a statement that calls the initiation of force of force moral, that would generally be the way I would approach it, you ?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

CriticalThinker2000,

 

You stated “Bro, I don't know how many ways I can say this.”

 

I did not realize that you and I are on such familiar terms. That being the case, I will ask: Bro, what do you your answer to be for the final summary?

 

For CriticalThinker2000, the answer to the question in the original post would be: [Please fill in the blank]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did not realize that you and I are on such familiar terms.

 

Lol! My frustration shows through. I get a little too familiar after 5 pages of going around in a circle. My answer has two parts: 1) define in essential terms what your question is and 2) the answer to the essential question.

 

1) Your essential question is, how do we prove knowledge obtained through induction (knowledge that is dependent upon an 'interpretation' of reality).

2) The answer is, Peikoff provides a theory of induction in The Logical Leap which you should read if you're concerned. I do not have a full grasp of it but some necessary elements include, identifying the induction using objective concepts, identifying the causal connections, and integrating your conclusion with the total sum of your knowledge. As your senses are your consciousness's connection to reality, all knowledge is ultimately based on induction and therefore no 'proof' that induction is valid is necessary. Even the concept of 'proof' means to reduce back to sensory data.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far, the answers to the question asked in the original post are:

 

DonAthos: Morality is a guide to action for living a good life, and one can determine the morality of an action because one can find evidence that certain actions or kinds of actions lead to either achieving or not achieving living a good life. Reference: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=4#entry325572

 

Harrison Danneskjold: "Morality" refers to the evaluative standard of the logical pursuit of your own happiness and this pursuit must be logical (non-contradictory) and exclude nothing relevant, if it is to succeed and since your emotional states are part of you and you are part of reality, your own happiness and prosperity (the good life) is not a matter of arbitrary interpretation; it can be studied and understood scientifically. Reference:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=5#entry325627

 

425: Morality is a guide to action for living a good life, and one can determine the morality of an action because one can find evidence that certain actions or kinds of actions lead to either achieving or not achieving living a good life; and an educated guess; and go read Ayn Rand. Reference:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=5#entry325639

 

CriticalThinker2000: Your essential question is, how do we prove knowledge obtained through induction (knowledge that is dependent upon an 'interpretation' of reality); and the answer is, Peikoff provides a theory of induction in The Logical Leap which you should read if you're concerned. I do not have a full grasp of it but some necessary elements include, identifying the induction using objective concepts, identifying the causal connections, and integrating your conclusion with the total sum of your knowledge. As your senses are your consciousness's connection to reality, all knowledge is ultimately based on induction and therefore no 'proof' that induction is valid is necessary. Even the concept of 'proof' means to reduce back to sensory data. Reference:

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27428&page=5#entry325710

 

Does anyone else wish to contribute to the summary?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jaskn,

 

I will assume your last post was meant to ask what my contribution to the final summary is. If I am incorrect, please let me know.

 

As for my answer to the question asked in the original post, it would be:

 

How can we say that anything is moral or immoral? Morality is simply one’s opinion so if your opinion is that something is moral then, to you, it is moral and if it is your opinion that something is immoral then, to you, it is immoral.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jaskn,

 

I will assume your last post was meant to ask what my contribution to the final summary is. If I am incorrect, please let me know.

 

As for my answer to the question asked in the original post, it would be:

 

How can we say that anything is moral or immoral? Morality is simply one’s opinion so if your opinion is that something is moral then, to you, it is moral and if it is your opinion that something is immoral then, to you, it is immoral.

 

Fred you would be correct if morality were limited to the intrinsic or the mystical, in which case it would be a delusion and a fabrication of the mind, i.e. a fiction, in which case, fictions or imaginings are matters purely of subjective whim and hence "what is right for me is not what is right for you" is entirely possible in the sense that it is entirely meaningless.  This is "Gloop" for me but it is not "Gloop" for you.  Of course we would both be insane, holding fictitious anti-concepts as real.

 

 

We here have offered you an alternative to the definition of morality based on the nothing, the insanity, which previously has been offered as a definition (or more accurately a non-definition) of what is morality, that alternative is based in reality and your nature. Once you see that there exists something you can call "morality" which is objective (albeit contextual) you will know it is not a matter of opinion but a matter of reality.

 

If you hold onto, as its defining essence, a mystical or intrinsic kind of morality, and if you are rational enough to reject the intrinsic and the mystical, you will maintain that no morality can exist, i.e. it is arbitrary, subjective, a delusion.  and for THAT KIND of definition of morality, the intrinsic/mystical one, you would be entirely correct.  It is utterly meaningless.

 

None of us here thinks of morality in this way.  You may say, "what you are talking about is not morality", what is more correct to say is that what we are talking about here is nothing like your morality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

StrictlyLogical,

 

I am not exactly sure what you mean when you state, “Once you see that there exists something you can call "morality" which is objective (albeit contextual) you will know it is not a matter of opinion but a matter of reality.”

 

I agree that once you call something “morality” you can objectively determine morality. Take the example above from DonAthos who states that morality is a guide to action for living a good life. He has defined morality and can objectively determine the morality of X by determining if X contributes to or diminishes “living a good life”. I have no problem with this.

 

However, both the decision to define “morality” as a guide for living a good life and the determination of what constitutes “living a good life” is completely his opinion. Hence my answer that morality is simply one’s opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

However, both the decision to define “morality” as a guide for living a good life and the determination of what constitutes “living a good life” is completely his opinion. Hence my answer that morality is simply one’s opinion.

 

Where do you think the concept of morality comes from? Why does man even have values? This is classic is-ought dichotomy. There is no deductive proof of morality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes certainly there is no proof of the existence of a mystical or intrinsic ought... from which you of course would never get to from an IS. 

 

 

And, there is no need to prove there exists a, b, and c in a statement such as "if you want to achieve X, in context Y, given your identity Z, then to be effective you should do a, b, c, and not do I, j, k."  It is obviously true.

 

Given X, Y, X, the acts a, b, c and I, j, k are what they are independent of what anyone thinks.  It may be difficult to determine a, b, c, I, j, k but as long as X is not impossible given Y and Z, one can discover what in reality actions a, b, c are effective.

 

If I want my plant to grow do I a. water it or i. soak it in gasoline and light it?

If I want to become an engineer do I a. study hard and try to pass my exams or b. burn my books and flip off my professor.

 

If I want to flourish in this world, given the nature of reality, the whole context, and my nature, what actions am I to do, and what actions am I to avoid? 

 

These are facts independent of opinion.

Edited by StrictlyLogical
Link to comment
Share on other sites

CriticalThinker2000,

 

In answer to your questions, the concept of morality comes from your opinions and man has values because he chooses to have values. However, what those values are a matter of opinion.

 

You will need to explain the “is-ought dichotomy” more. Outside of things like: do not drown yourself if you want to live, what “is” does not necessarily tell you what you “ought” to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

man has values because he chooses to have values. However, what those values are a matter of opinion.

 

So you can just choose to not have values?

 

 

You will need to explain the “is-ought dichotomy” more. Outside of things like: do not drown yourself if you want to live, what “is” does not necessarily tell you what you “ought” to do.

 

The is-ought dichotomy says that you cannot derive an 'ought' from premises that do not also contain an 'ought'. So you can never get from facts to knowledge of morality. But this is only true if you approach morality deductively. The objectivist morality is an inductive approach- which is the root of your confusion as I've tried to explain several ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...