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Stephen, But is there then, *any* choice which is not moral? "Nonmoral"? My interpretation and view is that so long as one has at least a single alternative possibility, a choice (by definition) is always 'moral' in nature. Introduced to one's hierarchy down to the most mundane, seemingly silly, such as a preference for the taste of vanilla over chocolate. Your driving example is good. A driver might at any instant consciously override his ingrained habit to signal change of direction. But it is a valuable habit for all times, as found on that one occasion you don't do so on a seemingly empty road and a car comes speeding past apparently out of nowhere. The deliberate value-choice, one made much earlier - a subconsciously-embedded action laid down by the original, conscious ¬and moral¬ choices in our first driving instructions practiced with regularity until they become second nature (instinctive, as it is wrongly called).

Moral, certainly, for one's long term safety and that of other motorists.

There seems too to be no moral justification in (unnecessarily) over-riding one's other sensory-taste-esthetic values, which cause either physical discomfort or 'spiritual pain'. Putting up Paisley curtains at home in counter to one's visual tastes is self-defeating: it would affect the mood and one's "well-being". (Of course, if one were desperately hungry in the wilds and found nothing but disliked carrots, the moral choice is clear. A moral choice, as all are, a visit to the dentist, deciding on long term health over short term pain, by one's value hierarchy).

Brings up how much matters the subconscious, and good (life-affirming/protecting/asserting/building/enjoying) habits. Which endorses Aristotle's truism: "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit".

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On 8/20/2020 at 8:39 AM, Boydstun said:

“‘Important’ . . . is a metaphysical term” in Rand’s esthetics theory. Answers to “what is important?” are what Rand called “metaphysical value-judgments,” which she took to be not ethical value-judgments, but some of the base of ethics.

It sounds like you're conceding that metaphysical value-judgments extend beyond just ethics. They encompass more than ethics. An aesthetic abstraction may be formed a certain way, but any aesthetic value you pursue easily and the choice to do so falls in the realm of ethics. 

I can appreciate the quote from OPAR and Tara Smith, but I disagree with their interpretation. I don't think they follow from the quote you gave me by Rand.

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On 8/18/2020 at 9:21 PM, 2046 said:

In Rand's psychology, an emotion is an automatic subconscious response to a value-judgment. And a value-judgment is an act of measurement. Thus, you are not on the hook for your emotions per se, but you are for the value-judgments they are based on.


I have historically equated value judgement with emotional response.

But what about an automatic heart beat or organs functioning, digestion etc. 

Are those "my" value judgements? (meaning to beat, to digest food)

The key phrase that caught my eye was "being on the hook for". I am on the hook for how my heart beats and my kidney functions even though there is no emotional guidance (unless it hurts or education guides me).

In fact my emotions may tend to prefer foods that are bad for my heart beat or kidney functions.

I am on the hook for conscious and unconscious actions, choices, behaviors, reflexes.

The question especially comes up in regards to the "choice to live", that which determines and differentiates morality vs. amorality. Is that value judgement automatic?

Has that value judgement been made at the start of life? Is the choice to live an automatic value judgement or does the choice to live happen the moment one is aware of death and chooses not to commit suicide.

The other issue I was wondering about is in relation to the word "code". I believe I read somewhere (maybe OPAR) that the code should not be about mundane issues which to me seems arbitrary but I never tried to find the reasoning.

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On 8/23/2020 at 7:20 PM, Easy Truth said:


I have historically equated value judgement with emotional response.

But what about an automatic heart beat or organs functioning, digestion etc. 

Are those "my" value judgements? (meaning to beat, to digest food)

The key phrase that caught my eye was "being on the hook for". I am on the hook for how my heart beats and my kidney functions even though there is no emotional guidance (unless it hurts or education guides me).

In fact my emotions may tend to prefer foods that are bad for my heart beat or kidney functions.

I am on the hook for conscious and unconscious actions, choices, behaviors, reflexes.

The question especially comes up in regards to the "choice to live", that which determines and differentiates morality vs. amorality. Is that value judgement automatic?

Has that value judgement been made at the start of life? Is the choice to live an automatic value judgement or does the choice to live happen the moment one is aware of death and chooses not to commit suicide.

The other issue I was wondering about is in relation to the word "code". I believe I read somewhere (maybe OPAR) that the code should not be about mundane issues which to me seems arbitrary but I never tried to find the reasoning.

ET, one is "on the hook" for that which one is conscious of and to that extent. "Unconscious" is our biology and reflexes- etc. in their normal functions.

These value-judgments are consciously made - "good or bad, for me?" - and sub-consciously and automatically retained (everything in the subconscious got there by conscious means  -LP). Including when one has 'picked up' values and judgments from others, for which possible error one needs to regularly check premises. 

One singular achievement of Rand's was to show the distinct causation from those assessments of reality made - to one's emotional responses. At which point of sensing the emotion, (yes, by a rapid physical and physiological process which brings the emotion and its cause to our attention and readies our responses) one can also identify what emotion is felt, and may simply trace it back to what value/disvalue in one's scope of values it relates in reality. .

And more importantly, that emotions are undeniably selfish - acting in the individual's interest - in the same way, to the identical purpose that the 'pleasure-pain mechanism' operates - instant signals of one's value-status i.e. one's existence and one's value-hierarchy. But are not infallible, since the judgment fed to one's subconscious may have been originally mistaken. They are only as true (appropriate to a given situation) as that initial identification and judgment.

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On 8/23/2020 at 11:28 AM, whYNOT said:

Stephen, But is there then, *any* choice which is not moral? "Nonmoral"? My interpretation and view is that so long as one has at least a single alternative possibility, a choice (by definition) is always 'moral' in nature.

Stephen was saying:

Quote

Jonathan, concerning 3: For Rand what distinguishes moral values from non-moral ones (say, my dislike of paisley or my choice of whether I'll water the grass I planted yesterday when I go out in a few minutes), however gradual might be the distinction, is that moral values are the values affecting the long-term course of one’s concrete life. 

i.e., one criterion of morality (apart from being chosen values) is that the chosen value in question be "required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan," and Stephen is saying some choices are insignificant when viewed through this lens.

@BoydstunI read your example of the gradation of values but it was abstract & difficult for me to get through and piece together, so I'm going to leave it for now while I work through some more basics from the essay. Thank you for your responses.

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15 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Stephen was saying:

i.e., one criterion of morality (apart from being chosen values) is that the chosen value in question be "required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan," and Stephen is saying some choices are insignificant when viewed through this lens.

@BoydstunI read your example of the gradation of values but it was abstract & difficult for me to get through and piece together, so I'm going to leave it for now while I work through some more basics from the essay. Thank you for your responses.

I think "gradation" is a good way to characterize the fact that although reality and causation are one and intertwined so that every little decision one makes does affect oneself, technically speaking, it should be remembered that those effects or consequences of some decisions persist or become part of a causal chain which persists (a tattoo, or amputation) while the effects and consequences of others do not (writing a phone number on one's palm).

Things whose effects are impermanent or do not form part of some causal chain which has permanent effects generally do not affect the whole of your lifespan.

The reality of causation and life however is complex.

 

Your whole lifespan is directly affected by your level of flourishing (as it fluctuates) throughout the entirety of your life.  What you can achieve and indeed what you choose are greatly affect by your physical, mental, fiscal, etc. well being/health.  Your level of flourishing  at any one time is affected directly by the levels of flourishing previous to it, and the choices you make along the way... like a plant or a bank account, you grow and build from where you are at any one time.

 

Some choices are definitely moral.  Choosing, as a general rule, to try to get out and experience food and art and other experiences you love every month, is something which can and will greatly enhance your mental and overall flourishing, as the month s go by.  Choosing (in a bout of depression) to give up on going out and doing what you love, is going to have the opposite affect.  These are decisions which span multiple actions and have significant arguably persistent consequences.

Others are amoral.  Suppose, on some random night, you happen to want ice-cream, and the nearest corner store only has your third favorite flavor, you could go to another store 5 minutes away to get your favorite kind but you are tired, so you make due with that third flavor.  A random night where you chose to give in to laziness once, would likely not affect your life.

 

Other choices are somewhere on the spectrum, or perhaps what seem as meaningless choices are really the result of a deeper repeated choice.  What if you habitually gave in to laziness, or fear, or tiredness... giving up your preferences and settling all the time... what if you began to recognize yourself doing this... what would happen to your self esteem?

Sometimes a thousand little choices are no longer a thousand little choices...

 

And perhaps on the night of your wedding or son's birth you make a seemingly small choice to affirm life, or to shirk from it... because you are likely to remember that choice for the rest of your life (given the context), it might become a moral choice affecting your flourishing and self esteem.

 

So yes the complexities surrounding the concrete choices and how causation redounds throughout your life, your psyche, are on a spectrum, there are gradations  ....  some are impermanent while others can affect your whole life and there is everything in between.

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20 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Stephen was saying:

i.e., one criterion of morality (apart from being chosen values) is that the chosen value in question be "required for the survival of a rational being through the whole of his lifespan," and Stephen is saying some choices are insignificant when viewed through this lens.

@BoydstunI read your example of the gradation of values but it was abstract & difficult for me to get through and piece together, so I'm going to leave it for now while I work through some more basics from the essay. Thank you for your responses.

Jonathan, A hierarchy of values you've seen indicates that many objective values are of lower/higher value "significance" in the greater scheme of things to one (for whom his/her life and its entirety is the supreme, objective-value significance).  Why then to declare a cut-off point, between: this is a moral choice, that is non-moral? I can see no advantage and only downsides. These minimally important things are what sometimes give our simplest rewards in anticipation, enjoyment, a sense of well -being. We could see this input as the maintenance and sustenance of a huge range of material values and human values, for the 'spiritual' values they repay us with.

The choices then, I think, are all "moral" -  pertain to a rational morality. What varies tremendously is the discovered values, which will have most-more-lesser-neutral significance, which one best identifies in order to best evaluate. In effect, this is one's precious life, nothing that touches on it passes muster and evaluation.

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11 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Others are amoral.  Suppose, on some random night, you happen to want ice-cream, and the nearest corner store only has your third favorite flavor, you could go to another store 5 minutes away to get your favorite kind but you are tired, so you make due with that third flavor.  A random night where you chose to give in to laziness once, would likely not affect your life.

I'm not sure this is really showing an example of amoral values or choices. I think 2046's post is a good example of why this isn't really a good example. If we conceive of Rand promoting virtue ethics generally speaking, we don't need to think of certain actions not consequential "enough". Sure, you're not going to die the next day because you impulsively bought ice cream. Nothing much negative would happen. But the point about being moral is to have a flourishing life, not a good "enough" life. What does it say about you if you sometimes give in to impulse and laziness? Why would you on one side acknowledge you are being lazy if you went to buy ice cream, but then say it won't affect your life? It would say you aren't living life to its fullest, and really don't mind if you fail at something (because the consequences don't seem big). 

Going by Aristotle, and Rand whose characters never really have any moral struggle when in their ideal being, doing the right and virtuous thing isn't a struggle. You make choices with awareness, choosing to eat ice cream with full focus rather than a passive unfocused impulse to eat ice cream. You care about your life, and don't half-ass it at any point. You could certainly argue that individual moments in the day have almost no moral weight, but as you said, sometimes a thousand little choices are no longer a thousand little choices. Making laziness into habit begins with that one time you giving to your impulse to buy ice cream and not attaining mastery of your own behavior. You would say it was an error, then decide you wouldn't do that again. 

I miss read it a little bit, I thought you were saying that the hypothetical was giving in to buy ice cream. But I wouldn't change much anyway. What would it say about you if you literally do not care one bit whatsoever about the flavor you picked? I get not driving 5 more minutes to get a particular ice cream, but there are ways to choose without feeling you are "giving in" for mediocre ice cream. You can think about trying different flavors, different toppings, or waiting for another day when you pass by the ice cream place that you prefer. It completely depends on your creativity. Add some pizzazz, affirmation that ice cream is really fun. 

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Small things matter, too:

"Values are the motivating power of man’s actions and a necessity of his survival, psychologically as well as physically.

Man’s values control his subconscious emotional mechanism that functions like a computer adding up his desires, his experiences, his fulfillments and frustrations—like a sensitive guardian watching and constantly assessing his relationship to reality. The key question which this computer is programmed to answer, is: What is possible to me?

There is a certain similarity between the issue of sensory perception and the issue of values. . . .

If severe and prolonged enough, the absence of a normal, active flow of sensory stimuli may disintegrate the complex organization and the interdependent functions of man’s consciousness.

Man’s emotional mechanism works as the barometer of the efficacy or impotence of his actions. If severe and prolonged enough, the absence of a normal, active flow of value-experiences may disintegrate and paralyze man’s consciousness—by telling him that no action is possible.

The form in which man experiences the reality of his values is *pleasure*".

Our Cultural Value-Deprivation. Ayn Rand

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Values, proportionate to time - a life's duration (i.e. "long term"):

"Since a value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep, and the amount of possible action is limited by the duration of one’s lifespan, it is a part of one’s life that one invests in everything one values. The years, months, days or hours of thought, of interest, of action devoted to a value are the currency with which one pays for the enjoyment one receives from it".

 

“Concepts of Consciousness", AR

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On 9/1/2020 at 12:56 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

I think "gradation" is a good way to characterize the fact that although reality and causation are one and intertwined so that every little decision one makes does affect oneself, technically speaking, it should be remembered that those effects or consequences of some decisions persist or become part of a causal chain which persists (a tattoo, or amputation) while the effects and consequences of others do not (writing a phone number on one's palm).

Things whose effects are impermanent or do not form part of some causal chain which has permanent effects generally do not affect the whole of your lifespan.

The reality of causation and life however is complex.

 

Your whole lifespan is directly affected by your level of flourishing (as it fluctuates) throughout the entirety of your life.  What you can achieve and indeed what you choose are greatly affect by your physical, mental, fiscal, etc. well being/health.  Your level of flourishing  at any one time is affected directly by the levels of flourishing previous to it, and the choices you make along the way... like a plant or a bank account, you grow and build from where you are at any one time.

 

Some choices are definitely moral.  Choosing, as a general rule, to try to get out and experience food and art and other experiences you love every month, is something which can and will greatly enhance your mental and overall flourishing, as the month s go by.  Choosing (in a bout of depression) to give up on going out and doing what you love, is going to have the opposite affect.  These are decisions which span multiple actions and have significant arguably persistent consequences.

Others are amoral.  Suppose, on some random night, you happen to want ice-cream, and the nearest corner store only has your third favorite flavor, you could go to another store 5 minutes away to get your favorite kind but you are tired, so you make due with that third flavor.  A random night where you chose to give in to laziness once, would likely not affect your life.

 

Other choices are somewhere on the spectrum, or perhaps what seem as meaningless choices are really the result of a deeper repeated choice.  What if you habitually gave in to laziness, or fear, or tiredness... giving up your preferences and settling all the time... what if you began to recognize yourself doing this... what would happen to your self esteem?

Sometimes a thousand little choices are no longer a thousand little choices...

 

And perhaps on the night of your wedding or son's birth you make a seemingly small choice to affirm life, or to shirk from it... because you are likely to remember that choice for the rest of your life (given the context), it might become a moral choice affecting your flourishing and self esteem.

 

So yes the complexities surrounding the concrete choices and how causation redounds throughout your life, your psyche, are on a spectrum, there are gradations  ....  some are impermanent while others can affect your whole life and there is everything in between.

Got it, makes sense re: the gradations. Thank you.

Some actions are not as significant. Where I was confused was the point at which the moral or immoral becomes amoral and what the gradation looks like, if significance in relation to a flourishing life is the measure.

Some good examples. I understand re: the complexities. In some way I'm seeking to reduce those complex causal relationships down to something I can validate and so when tempted to make decisions that may be bad, I have clear, logical, reasoning to keep me centered and acting in accordance with a goal. It's easy to rationalize things, e.g., eating bad food, or impulsively checking social media or email, etc.,  when I think the consequences long-range are small.

The ice-cream example is pretty bare bones still. Usually there's way more richer detail when I think of a real world example that'll probably allow us to categorize it as moral or immoral in relation to a flourishing life as a standard of value. For example, was the decision to go buy ice-cream impulsive? or was the decision to simply go buy ice-cream (as a reward) with the favorite one in mind but open to other ice creams? was the decision primarily focused on this favorite ice-cream but then once at the store an impulse from cravings made the person want to just get any ice-cream and consume it right now? 

Thoughts?

Also I'm thinking that once you get into 'habits' you get into the specialized field of psychology and so it would be up to psychology to analyze how this may or may not effect your life long-range.

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On 9/1/2020 at 7:05 PM, whYNOT said:

Jonathan, A hierarchy of values you've seen indicates that many objective values are of lower/higher value "significance" in the greater scheme of things to one (for whom his/her life and its entirety is the supreme, objective-value significance).  Why then to declare a cut-off point, between: this is a moral choice, that is non-moral? I can see no advantage and only downsides. These minimally important things are what sometimes give our simplest rewards in anticipation, enjoyment, a sense of well -being. We could see this input as the maintenance and sustenance of a huge range of material values and human values, for the 'spiritual' values they repay us with.

The choices then, I think, are all "moral" -  pertain to a rational morality. What varies tremendously is the discovered values, which will have most-more-lesser-neutral significance, which one best identifies in order to best evaluate. In effect, this is one's precious life, nothing that touches on it passes muster and evaluation.

Yes, this is how I'm seeing it now. 

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Not to get hung up on ice cream flavors or other sense-perception tastes, but having such preferences for this over that (or that, not at all) has an objective base when one pays it mind, I think. Saying this, because many a time we hear that these are "subjective" tastes and values. One finds out from experience that strawberry is tastier for you than chocolate, or 'agrees' with you better. This might be a minor variation in the arrangement of taste buds specific to you or a digestive system that reacts to chocolate, for all I can tell. (Then if strawberry isn't available, your taste hierarchy might point to the next flavor in line. The category "ice cream" has pleasure-value over the flavor). The major point imo being that this taste and its enjoyment likely has a source in your biological nature and a corresponding value - and that you know it - therefore, is objective and "personal" - not a contradiction. Forcing yourself to eat carrots you heartily dislike over an ice cream treat, that could be subjective and a value-sacrifice (if you weren't starving). Up the line in magnitude to where it really counts, the greater values in your rational, self-full hierarchy maintain their order also, since "you know" them (conceptually) too and wouldn't sacrifice a higher value to a lesser one.

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20 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

The ice-cream example is pretty bare bones still. Usually there's way more richer detail when I think of a real world example that'll probably allow us to categorize it as moral or immoral in relation to a flourishing life as a standard of value. For example, was the decision to go buy ice-cream impulsive? or was the decision to simply go buy ice-cream (as a reward) with the favorite one in mind but open to other ice creams? was the decision primarily focused on this favorite ice-cream but then once at the store an impulse from cravings made the person want to just get any ice-cream and consume it right now? 

Thoughts?

As a preliminary what I find as interesting here is an accent on motivation rather than consequence.

Which brings up a subtle issue.. are you more interested in asking whether the action of a person (while making a choice) is moral or not or in determining whether the choice presented is a moral one or not?  There is the question of "being good" but also there is the question of "what IS the good".

I think in terms of "traditional" subjective philosophies about morality, the motivation of a person, their subjective intent to be moral "as such", i.e. to do what they think is their duty, is more important than any fact of reality, whereas a philosophy whose purpose for morality (which is to act a  guide for a person) is flourishing of that individual, holds that such intentions, no matter how honestly held, cannot be absolutely paramount.   Again, we can label a person acting as moral or not (being good) separately from whether the act itself is moral or not (what constitutes the good).

Of course individuals are fallible, so there is no contradiction, if one observes a person acting morally (with the intent to act rationally, in view of reality, for their own flourishing) but nonetheless performing acts, due to some error of knowledge or logic, which are themselves "immoral" in the sense that they are inimical to life.

 

Thinking in terms of the primacy of existence (rather than consciousness), "the good" is foundational, defining and making "being good" possible.

 

Thoughts

As for ice cream on a random night, it was meant to act as a single non-consequential decision... perhaps a decision re. ice cream have consequences which are too delicious to act as such. 

As for the issues which your question implies, I would add the following: 

Psychological flourishing is an essential aspect of flourishing, and one aspect of psychology is pleasure, another is self-awareness or introspection of your own actions... your own successes and failures as authored by your choices... and self-esteem is also seen as one of three cardinal values, in Rand's view.  So ice cream is never really just ice cream... it's health, and psychology, self-esteem etc.  We must not forget however, that some random isolated things ... are forgotten... and in some instances, some things are of so little consequence that they might well have not even happened.  Perhaps ice cream is too tasty to fit into such a category...

 

3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Not to get hung up on ice cream flavors or other sense-perception tastes, but having such preferences for this over that (or that, not at all) has an objective base when one pays it mind, I think. Saying this, because many a time we hear that these are "subjective" tastes and values. One finds out from experience that strawberry is tastier for you than chocolate, or 'agrees' with you better. This might be a minor variation in the arrangement of taste buds specific to you or a digestive system that reacts to chocolate, for all I can tell. (Then if strawberry isn't available, your taste hierarchy might point to the next flavor in line. The category "ice cream" has pleasure-value over the flavor). The major point imo being that this taste and its enjoyment likely has a source in your biological nature and a corresponding value - and that you know it - therefore, is objective and "personal" - not a contradiction. Forcing yourself to eat carrots you heartily dislike over an ice cream treat, that could be subjective and a value-sacrifice (if you weren't starving). Up the line in magnitude to where it really counts, the greater values in your rational, self-full hierarchy maintain their order also, since "you know" them (conceptually) too and wouldn't sacrifice a higher value to a lesser one.

I agree with you, but I might label things differently.

In the ladder of abstraction, I would identify the response you have to ice cream as an objective value, psychological pleasure is a value and it results from a certain flavor, but I would "characterize" your brain's wiring for that flavor as subjective or idiosyncratic.  In this way of looking at things, your favorite "flavor" is not so much an objective value to you, so much as the pleasure which results from your subjective tastes, is an objective psychological value to you. 

In such a way of speaking, your objective values (pleasurable tasting food being a psychological value) would not change even if your subjective tastes did change.

 

21 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Usually there's way more richer detail when I think of a real world example that'll probably allow us to categorize it as moral or immoral in relation to a flourishing life as a standard of value.

 

I tend to think that the value in doing the things one enjoys, is not "in the things" one does, but is "in the pleasure" one experiences doing them.  So perhaps "ice cream" as such is too narrow and concrete... what is of value is the pleasure, and the knowledge that it was earned honestly (assuming you paid for it), so that the pleasure validates your existence and confirms you are fit to live and flourish in reality. 

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

As a preliminary what I find as interesting here is an accent on motivation rather than consequence.

Which brings up a subtle issue.. are you more interested in asking whether the action of a person (while making a choice) is moral or not or in determining whether the choice presented is a moral one or not?  There is the question of "being good" but also there is the question of "what IS the good".

I think in terms of "traditional" subjective philosophies about morality, the motivation of a person, their subjective intent to be moral "as such", i.e. to do what they think is their duty, is more important than any fact of reality, whereas a philosophy whose purpose for morality (which is to act a  guide for a person) is flourishing of that individual, holds that such intentions, no matter how honestly held, cannot be absolutely paramount.   Again, we can label a person acting as moral or not (being good) separately from whether the act itself is moral or not (what constitutes the good).

Of course individuals are fallible, so there is no contradiction, if one observes a person acting morally (with the intent to act rationally, in view of reality, for their own flourishing) but nonetheless performing acts, due to some error of knowledge or logic, which are themselves "immoral" in the sense that they are inimical to life.

 

Thinking in terms of the primacy of existence (rather than consciousness), "the good" is foundational, defining and making "being good" possible.

 

Thoughts

As for ice cream on a random night, it was meant to act as a single non-consequential decision... perhaps a decision re. ice cream have consequences which are too delicious to act as such. 

As for the issues which your question implies, I would add the following: 

Psychological flourishing is an essential aspect of flourishing, and one aspect of psychology is pleasure, another is self-awareness or introspection of your own actions... your own successes and failures as authored by your choices... and self-esteem is also seen as one of three cardinal values, in Rand's view.  So ice cream is never really just ice cream... it's health, and psychology, self-esteem etc.  We must not forget however, that some random isolated things ... are forgotten... and in some instances, some things are of so little consequence that they might well have not even happened.  Perhaps ice cream is too tasty to fit into such a category...

 

I agree with you, but I might label things differently.

In the ladder of abstraction, I would identify the response you have to ice cream as an objective value, psychological pleasure is a value and it results from a certain flavor, but I would "characterize" your brain's wiring for that flavor as subjective or idiosyncratic.  In this way of looking at things, your favorite "flavor" is not so much an objective value to you, so much as the pleasure which results from your subjective tastes, is an objective psychological value to you. 

In such a way of speaking, your objective values (pleasurable tasting food being a psychological value) would not change even if your subjective tastes did change.

 

 

I tend to think that the value in doing the things one enjoys, is not "in the things" one does, but is "in the pleasure" one experiences doing them.  So perhaps "ice cream" as such is too narrow and concrete... what is of value is the pleasure, and the knowledge that it was earned honestly (assuming you paid for it), so that the pleasure validates your existence and confirms you are fit to live and flourish in reality. 

If one defined subjective as "of and due to and dependent upon the perceiving subject's consciousness", does that hold? Naturally there are physical, biological differences among all brains as among all bodies, but consciousness is consciousness. If "subjective" were accepted in the colloquial meaning (as it usually is): loosely as "variably specific to each person" - I'd agree. The proper one - opposed to objectivity - has to be maintained by O'ists, though. Therefore the careful distinction between "personal" and subjective (that Rand made some times). Otherwise, great. There is an identifiable confluence between a (personal) organic brain, psychology, consciousness, the rational ethics, honesty, self-esteem, deserved pleasure ... and chosen, objective, values.

The "brain's wiring" and neuroplasticity is greatly absorbing, here and in the wider context. Neuroscience, meet free will. (Hard to fathom why neuro-scientists I read of are philosophically strong determinists). Practice makes perfect and "you'll get very, very good at it". The "muscle memory" of virtues laid down in neural pathways by conviction and repetition.

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3 hours ago, whYNOT said:

If one defined subjective as "of and due to and dependent upon the perceiving subject's consciousness", does that hold? Naturally there are physical, biological differences among all brains as among all bodies, but consciousness is consciousness. If "subjective" were accepted in the colloquial meaning (as it usually is): loosely as "variably specific to each person" - I'd agree. The proper one - opposed to objectivity - has to be maintained by O'ists, though. Therefore the careful distinction between "personal" and subjective (that Rand made some times). Otherwise, great. There is an identifiable confluence between a (personal) organic brain, psychology, consciousness, the rational ethics, honesty, self-esteem, deserved pleasure ... and chosen, objective, values.

The "brain's wiring" and neuroplasticity is greatly absorbing, here and in the wider context. Neuroscience, meet free will. (Hard to fathom why neuro-scientists I read of are philosophically strong determinists). Practice makes perfect and "you'll get very, very good at it". The "muscle memory" of virtues laid down in neural pathways by conviction and repetition.

This has me thinking about the common conflation between "objective" and "universal" in morality by O'ists as well....  and perhaps I am being influenced by similar sentiments...

I like your emergent presentation of neuroplasticity... it raises a more urgent and important aspect than my mentioning in passing that tastes can change... indeed as Rand observed we are the self-makers of our own souls... and I would add for good or ill, by both what we do and what we fail to do.  In that aspect not only are some values, personal... their very existence may be crafted by one's own determination and one's very own free-will.  Hypothetically "I never knew the immense value of loving to paint portraits until, deciding to do so, and with diligent and long practice, I finally learned how to paint portraits."

 

WRT objective versus subjective I have only one other riposte... but more in the form of an additional anecdote to an agreement we already have...

If one thinks of the alternative between one pleasure and the next, even when the forms of the pleasure are quite different and the concretes involved, wildly disparate, there may be good reason, in the moral analysis to abstract the activities to their level of pleasure, if that value (of the pleasure received) is the overwhelmingly operative value, rather than risk getting bogged down in the particular forms, the concretes happen to take, and particularly where the pleasure is substantially at the same level. 

Here, the problem is illusory, or the conundrum - false, namely the choice between "which" of these two concretes.  This false problem is resolved, not  by throwing one's arms up in capitulation, randomly choosing one, or claiming there is no rational answer to it, but by recognizing that there is no moral conundrum as between the two concretes of substantially the same value (of the same kind); the solution is to take moral action by simply choosing one of them to gain that value rather than abstaining from both and foregoing that value.

 

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On 9/5/2020 at 4:51 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

This has me thinking about the common conflation between "objective" and "universal" in morality by O'ists as well....  and perhaps I am being influenced by similar sentiments...

I like your emergent presentation of neuroplasticity... it raises a more urgent and important aspect than my mentioning in passing that tastes can change... indeed as Rand observed we are the self-makers of our own souls... and I would add for good or ill, by both what we do and what we fail to do.  In that aspect not only are some values, personal... their very existence may be crafted by one's own determination and one's very own free-will.  Hypothetically "I never knew the immense value of loving to paint portraits until, deciding to do so, and with diligent and long practice, I finally learned how to paint portraits."

 

 

 

 

SL. Good line of thought. I hadn't thought of nominating emergent to this individual level. But, yes - why not borrow the term? That "a volitional consciousness" is personally "emergent" by the effort and for the purpose of each individual, (his concepts, rational virtue, etc.) is what Rand must have meant by "the self-makers of our own souls".

And observably and empirically so, with a brain's constantly newly-forming neural pathways, as the neuroscientists testify.

For emergent properties, argued and debated in the original, classic, biological sense (most importantly to us, one of how a consciousness came to arise from the brain through the period of man's evolution), I found a quick explanation of "emergent" in this online post (this refutes too, the "fallacy of division" - which I think modern reductionists commit):

"What is your definition of emergent properties?

How many types of emergent properties do you know?

Complexity Science

Most recent answer

1st Feb, 2013

Issam Sinjab

Alumni University of Leicester & University of Sussex

"An emergent property is a property which a collection or complex system has, but which the individual members do not have. A failure to realize that a property is emergent, or supervenient, leads to the fallacy of division.

In chemistry, for example, the taste of saltiness is a property of salt, but that does not mean that it is also a property of sodium and chlorine, the two elements which make up salt. Thus, saltiness is an emergent or a supervenient property of salt. Claiming that chlorine must be salty because salt is salty would be an example of the fallacy of division.

In biology, for example, heart is made of heart cells, heart cells on their own don't have the property of pumping blood. You will need the whole heart to be able to pump blood. Thus, the pumping property of the heart is an emergent or a supervenient property of the heart. Claiming that an individual heart cell can pump blood because the heart can would be an example of fallacy of division".

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On 9/5/2020 at 2:51 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

WRT objective versus subjective I have only one other riposte... but more in the form of an additional anecdote to an agreement we already have...

If one thinks of the alternative between one pleasure and the next, even when the forms of the pleasure are quite different and the concretes involved, wildly disparate, there may be good reason, in the moral analysis to abstract the activities to their level of pleasure, if that value (of the pleasure received) is the overwhelmingly operative value, rather than risk getting bogged down in the particular forms, the concretes happen to take, and particularly where the pleasure is substantially at the same level. 

Here, the problem is illusory, or the conundrum - false, namely the choice between "which" of these two concretes.  This false problem is resolved, not  by throwing one's arms up in capitulation, randomly choosing one, or claiming there is no rational answer to it, but by recognizing that there is no moral conundrum as between the two concretes of substantially the same value (of the same kind); the solution is to take moral action by simply choosing one of them to gain that value rather than abstaining from both and foregoing that value.

 

This is pretty interesting. I understand what you're saying and it squares with what I'm trying to get my head around now re: free will. So the basic choice is to focus or not, but then there are countless choices one makes that are derivatives of that basic choice and this situation you're describing would be one, right?

I think often one way this would be described by others (and myself previously) might be an "arbitrary choice", i.e., subjective and without basis other than random feeling. 

If both choices are essentially similar and one has to chose between two how would you describe this kind of choice? would you say it's then based on 'feeling' since what else would there be to consciously evaluate?

 

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On 9/4/2020 at 6:42 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

As a preliminary what I find as interesting here is an accent on motivation rather than consequence.

Which brings up a subtle issue.. are you more interested in asking whether the action of a person (while making a choice) is moral or not or in determining whether the choice presented is a moral one or not?  There is the question of "being good" but also there is the question of "what IS the good".

Sounds interesting but I'm not really following what this distinction captures. Do you mean intention to be good? 

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I think in terms of "traditional" subjective philosophies about morality, the motivation of a person, their subjective intent to be moral "as such", i.e. to do what they think is their duty, is more important than any fact of reality, whereas a philosophy whose purpose for morality (which is to act a  guide for a person) is flourishing of that individual, holds that such intentions, no matter how honestly held, cannot be absolutely paramount.   Again, we can label a person acting as moral or not (being good) separately from whether the act itself is moral or not (what constitutes the good).

Of course individuals are fallible, so there is no contradiction, if one observes a person acting morally (with the intent to act rationally, in view of reality, for their own flourishing) but nonetheless performing acts, due to some error of knowledge or logic, which are themselves "immoral" in the sense that they are inimical to life.

OK I think I'm following now, so you are talking about the intention or motivation of someone to be good. And when you say that the motivation "cannot be absolutely paramount" I think you mean if we evaluate an act from the perspective of flourishing and put aside motivation? But I don't really follow what good is thinking that way - to split the act from the motivation? Is it simply to be sure that one can act well by studying morality?

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As for ice cream on a random night, it was meant to act as a single non-consequential decision... perhaps a decision re. ice cream have consequences which are too delicious to act as such. 

As for the issues which your question implies, I would add the following: 

Psychological flourishing is an essential aspect of flourishing, and one aspect of psychology is pleasure, another is self-awareness or introspection of your own actions... your own successes and failures as authored by your choices... and self-esteem is also seen as one of three cardinal values, in Rand's view.  So ice cream is never really just ice cream... it's health, and psychology, self-esteem etc.  We must not forget however, that some random isolated things ... are forgotten... and in some instances, some things are of so little consequence that they might well have not even happened.  Perhaps ice cream is too tasty to fit into such a category...

 

I followed what you're saying about psychological flourishing being an aspect of flourishing, but I'm not so much seeing the connection you're making to self-esteem. It'd be valuable to be able to make these connections between small choices, like the ice-cream scenario you describe, and self-esteem because you'd be much more motivated to summon up will power to chose the most beneficial long-term action.

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I agree with you, but I might label things differently.

In the ladder of abstraction, I would identify the response you have to ice cream as an objective value, psychological pleasure is a value and it results from a certain flavor, but I would "characterize" your brain's wiring for that flavor as subjective or idiosyncratic.  In this way of looking at things, your favorite "flavor" is not so much an objective value to you, so much as the pleasure which results from your subjective tastes, is an objective psychological value to you. 

In such a way of speaking, your objective values (pleasurable tasting food being a psychological value) would not change even if your subjective tastes did change.

 

 

I understand what you're saying about the individual response to ice-cream being objective, i.e., the pleasure of the taste, etc., being taste as experienced by an individual being with its own physical wiring. But I'm not quite following "flavor" being subjective but an objective psychological value. How would this work with color? 

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I tend to think that the value in doing the things one enjoys, is not "in the things" one does, but is "in the pleasure" one experiences doing them.  So perhaps "ice cream" as such is too narrow and concrete... what is of value is the pleasure, and the knowledge that it was earned honestly (assuming you paid for it), so that the pleasure validates your existence and confirms you are fit to live and flourish in reality. 

I have just recently started reading OPAR. Would it make sense to say then that it's not "in the things" nor "in the individual consciousness" but in the "things as experienced by that individual consciousness?" , i.e., objective. And this allows for individual variation on things like taste. 

Have I been correctly understanding you?

 

 

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On 9/4/2020 at 2:42 PM, StrictlyLogical said:

I tend to think that the value in doing the things one enjoys, is not "in the things" one does, but is "in the pleasure" one experiences doing them.  So perhaps "ice cream" as such is too narrow and concrete... what is of value is the pleasure, and the knowledge that it was earned honestly (assuming you paid for it), so that the pleasure validates your existence and confirms you are fit to live and flourish in reality. 

If you do this, then you would be changing the standard of value to pleasure. Or that the standard of value for some things is pleasure. It's not making sense, because an objective value is something that results in your flourishing or that flourishing comprises it. Of course pleasure can be valuable, just like any emotion, but not that the emotion is the source of the value. Emotions are not tools of cognition, they can't tell you what is or is not good on their own. They can't tell you on their own if what you are doing is part of your flourishing. Simply put, all emotions are subjective for this reason. Trying to say that your subjective tastes are somehow objective is avoiding the issue, like saying that "any facts about my subjective preferences are objective because they exist". I mean, that's fine as far as discussing what is real and what is not, but the context of this discussion is determining what is good in the world. 

I'm saying that your psychological experience is subjective, that isn't to say irrelevant or bad. It just means that it won't tell you very much, although positive emotions can reaffirm as good what you have already done. If that's your point, then I agree. I would just be careful characterizing experiences as objective values. Partly because Oism emphasizes acquiring values and producing them for living, not about attaining subjective states of mind that we enjoy - including happiness. They can be rewards, but I would not want to say the value of doing different things is in the pleasure of the experience.

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If one can name the emotion, say embarrassment, ascertain that it is appropriate to a circumstance, say somebody says something about you or reveals some personal information, can connect your emotion to a value-judgment and objective value, say your self-esteem or valued privacy - that embarrassment is then an objective and rational emotional response. Not unfailingly, and least for everybody who believe in the subjectivity and absolute, quasi-mystical insights of their emotions, and who'll identify by way of their emotions, completely - but the aim of having "objective" emotions is achievable and essential for one's good (warning and reward).

Was the initial identification accurate and one's value-judgment objective - and the emotion fitting to both, is what one needs to assess.

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