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Unevaluatable Objects?

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There's a passage from OPAR I'm finding interest but not understanding. It states that some objects have no evaluative standing:
 

Quote

"This point applies to all human behavior, not only to the issue of honesty. Just as, in epistemology, irrational mental processes detach a conclusion from the realm of cognition; so, in ethics, irrational action detaches a goal from the realm of evaluation. Whenever an object, spiritual or material, is sought or obtained by behavior in conflict with moral principle—whether the behavior involves fraud, improper compromise, the initiation of force, or any other evil—the means employed, by their very nature, clash with reality and thereby deprive the object in that context of any evaluative standing. Once the guidance of principle is dropped, there is no rational method of evaluating an object."

If an object is obtained through behavior in conflict with moral principle isn't it the case that the object is evaluated as bad? Why is it that the object is deprived of "any evaluative standing"? I'm not really following how you can say an object can be detached from evaluation in the same way that a conclusion can be detached from cognition.

Edited by Jonathan Weissberg
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OPAR 273-74

Jonathan, from the context preceding the quote, “realm of evaluation” seems to mean ‘the full integrated enterprise of pursuing values”. So the obtaining of an object by detachment of oneself from pertinent moral principles, obtaining by crossing those principles, does not belong to the integrated enterprise. Without wider context of values held to in the particular obtaining, there is no particular rational evaluation at hand in the obtaining. One can still understand the detachment and crossing as evaluable and as evil.

That is my suggestion of interpretation. There is some similar point in Aristotle, and if I come to it, I’ll add it and it’s relationship to the picture here.

I imagine the parallel Peikoff proclaims with irrational mental processes and cognition would be: In dropping full context of truths by clouding up in taking on board a particular proposition as true, one has in that move abandoned the integrated enterprise of getting hold of truths. It remains that the particular proposition is cognitive in the sense that it is assessable for its truth or falsity and in the full context of truths.

Other interpretations, as well as criticisms of those I’ve suggested, would likely be good to hear.

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12 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

There's a passage from OPAR I'm finding interest but not understanding. It states that some objects have no evaluative standing:
 

If an object is obtained through behavior in conflict with moral principle isn't it the case that the object is evaluated as bad? Why is it that the object is deprived of "any evaluative standing"? I'm not really following how you can say an object can be detached from evaluation in the same way that a conclusion can be detached from cognition.

I think a parsing of this:

12 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

irrational mental processes detach a conclusion from the realm of cognition

means that the conclusion as reached through an irrational mental process is not a cognitive product... it is not, in a sense, even a thought.  In that case a conclusion is like a random set of words which may or may not happen to be true, but in no way "resides" in the realm of cognition.  It neither was produced nor arose their by virtue of the mind in its "doings".  Now, the end resulting words can separately be analyzed, ex post facto, by third persons, but that third person's cognition is a new action which IS in the realm of cognition.

In a sense here, we are dealing with "conclusion" as a process.

 

So the following be careful to note the wording:

12 hours ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

Whenever an object, spiritual or material, is sought or obtained by behavior in conflict with moral principle—whether the behavior involves fraud, improper compromise, the initiation of force, or any other evil—the means employed, by their very nature, clash with reality and thereby deprive the object in that context of any evaluative standing. Once the guidance of principle is dropped, there is no rational method of evaluating an object.

implies context.

A person who is not using principles, is acting irrationally, and hence is not engaged in the exercise of evaluation in the context.  An act has attached to it all consequences, some would emphasize and separate out outcomes flowing from the "means" separately (as in the aphorism, the "ends do not justify the means"), but in truth an evaluation of an act as valuable, i.e. concluding to do X leads to flourishing, necessitates a rational assessment of all the consequences. 

A hearty breakfast, when eaten in the context of a peacefully obtained earned meal, is valuable... it leads to long term flourishing.  But eating breakfast, if its costs you your house, or sacrificing your child to a psychopath to buy it, is something different entirely in context.  Evaluation is not simply a question of that food in your belly, and ignoring everything else, but must be in context what are all the results. If you have no principles, i.e. rational thought, in focusing on that concrete breakfast alone, you lose any chance of evaluating that transaction from a larger and more general standpoint.

THAT breakfast, as achieved in context, might have been part of an action/context which in total was a disvalue, or a value, but if you are not applying reason and principle, you literally have no way of knowing, or are purposefully avoiding, knowing.  Since you are not omniscient, often the only way you can know whether some action on balance is valuable or not is with reliance on principle, which is much larger than simply looking at a plate of bacon and eggs.

 

If the specific acts ARE consistent with principles, and the concrete object pursued in such contexts are usually of value, the likelihood is that your action can be evaluated as good.

In the specific case where the acts actually are contrary to principle, then you could be hurting yourself, but it is impossible to know how much, the facts are too complex, and your concrete object then is some arbitrary thing in the balance scale, it might be good enough to tip the scales but it might not be.  Without the guidance of principle you have no idea and evaluating the breakfast in context becomes impossible.

 

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1. Irrationality is when one abandons the proper standard of a process.

2. When one abandons the proper standard, they also abandon the corresponding principles.

3. When corresponding principles are abandoned, there is no determinate way to figure out how to evaluate something.

(The determinate way to figure out something is to use principles.)

4. Since there would be no determinate way, there would actually be no way at all to figure out how to evaluate something.

Edited by Eiuol
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Posted (edited)
Thank you Boydstun & StrictlyLogical for clarifying this. Here is my summarized understanding after having read both your replies.
 
The assumed context here is that man survives by a particular method of thought and action.You cannot evaluate an object when it is obtained by irrational action because it is moral principle that sets the context (a commensurable standard) for evaluating that object in relation to your other values. You can evaluate the method as good or bad, i.e., this is for my life or against my life, but not the object. Similarly, in epistemology, a proposition accepted on faith cannot in some sense be evaluated on its own, but in terms of method. 
 
An example with StrictlyLogical's breakfast: 
If I obtained the breakfast by cheating a shop keeper and he later hits me with a rock does it make sense to say the breakfast was good because I enjoyed it while it lasted? Or what about if I suffered no immediately perceivable consequences but began obtaining more things in the future through fraud? In either case I can't really make sense of the situation by looking just at the breakfast (evaluating the object in terms of my other values) but only by looking at how I obtained it (against moral principle, bad when evaluated in terms of action or method).
Edited by Jonathan Weissberg
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I really like this summary, it is concise, and quite excellent:

20 minutes ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

You cannot evaluate an object when it is obtained by irrational action because it is moral principle that sets the context (a commensurable standard) for evaluating that object in relation to your other values.

I really love that!

 

 

As for this:

20 minutes ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

You can evaluate the method as good or bad, i.e., this is for my life or against my life, but not the object.

I cant reword it anywhere near as eloquently as your excellent summary but trying to tie them together I would state that the following is true (however awkward).

 

You can separately evaluate the method as good or bad, insofar as you can judge whether it is consistent with or contrary to principle, but you cannot evaluate an object outside of its context of method, and moreover, you cannot evaluate the object at all when it is obtained by irrational action because it is moral principle that sets the intelligible context (a commensurable standard) for evaluating that object in relation to your other values."

 

WRT breakfast

47 minutes ago, Jonathan Weissberg said:

but only by looking at how I obtained it

but only by looking at it in the context of how I obtained it...

 

I do not know why I am being so picky about language here... you know what you are talking about and you said the best bits!  You win!

 

Again an excellent summary !

 

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On 5/25/2021 at 8:19 PM, Jonathan Weissberg said:

You can evaluate the method as good or bad, i.e., this is for my life or against my life, but not the object.

I'm not sure this line makes sense. The realm of evaluation is a consideration of method. Evaluation is a kind of method. If you detach the goal from moral principles, then you detach the goal from evaluation. Since you can't evaluate methods at this point, you can't evaluate the objects you seek with those methods.

Keep in mind that from the perspective of the person acting in conflict to a moral principle, they can't evaluate the objects they seek in any meaningful way. As individuals, they no longer have the means to evaluate things. It's like they lost their toolbox to build a house. It isn't that the means of evaluation have disappeared completely. From our third person perspective, if we are not acting in conflict to moral principles at least when reasoning through our actions, we can evaluate whether their methods are good or bad, or even the objects they seek. 

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