Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Questions from the Studio Audience

It is easier to build than to tear down. So, with that in mind, I want to focus on building rather than tearing down.

I have said that an answer to the theist's question of the possibility of morality without God has to focus on ways to reduce the suffering that it is perfectly within one person's ability to cause others in spite of any evolved altruism.

I suggested that this task is done by using social forces such as praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment to promote (malleable) desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and inhibiting (malleable) desires that tend to thwart other desires.

Now: Questions

Do I understand that everything hinges on malleable desires? Does this leave room for instinctual action such as fight or flight?

Well, fight or flight are, to some degree, grounded on malleable desires. Environmental forces can influence not only the likelihood of whether a person fights or flees.

However, to get at your general question, there is certainly room for fixed desires. Fixed desires simply have nothing to do with morality. It makes no sense to condemn a person because he has a gene that causes him to act violently towards others.

Such a person is sick, not evil. We still have reason to prevent him from acting on his desires. What we lack is reason to condemn him for those actions.

How do you actually define morality itself? Must it be absolute and universal to be true morality?

Regular readers know that I detest the trap of talking about definitions as if talking about the thing defined. How anybody defines morality turns out to be irrelevant. If all moral terms were tossed out as garbage, I could still say everything I need to say about desire utilitarianism without it.

On this account, there are no absolute prescriptions. Morality has to do with relationships between states of affairs and desires, and those relationships shift over time.

However, the absence of absolute prescriptions is not a threat against objectivity. Many scientific facts change over time. One of the best examples of this is age. My age changes at a rate of approximately 1 year per year. I am not the same age today as I was a year ago.

However, there is still an objective, scientifically acceptable answer to the question, "How old are you?" The fact that relationships change does not mean that statements about those relationships do not belong in the realm of science.

As for universality, there is good reason to ask whether there are some desires that people generally have reason to make universal - and whether there are desires that people generally have reason to make universally extinct.

Moral terms tend to be concerned with desires that people generally have reason to promote or inhibit throughout the whole population. Eliminate moral terms, and desires that people generally have reason to make universal or make universally extinct will still exist.

There seems to be a presumption of sorts that simply condemning someone is sufficient to actually change a malleable desire. However, the field of psychology suggests that reliably changing desires is much more complex than delivering a simple condemnation. For example, people often redouble their positions when simply condemned.

There is no such presumption.

One point I would like to be here is that a person does not need to be condemned to have his desires molded through condemnation. He could be the witness of another person being condemned.

The other person need not even be real. The condemned individual might be a character in a story or parable. However, the condemnation directed at this fictitious character can alter the desires of those who read or hear the story.

These relationships of cause and effect are, indeed, complex. The better we are at understanding them the better we will be at using them effectively. Yet, however complex they happen to be, we do manage to promote and inhibit desires in others through praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment.

20 comments:

Luke said...

"It is easier to build than to tear down."

Did you mean this the other way around, or do you really believe that?

Christian Apologist said...

"It is easier to build than to tear down. So, with that in mind, I want to focus on building rather than tearing down.

I have said that an answer to the theist's question of the possibility of morality without God has to focus on ways to reduce the suffering that it is perfectly within one person's ability to cause others in spite of any evolved altruism.

I suggested that this task is done by using social forces such as praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment to promote (malleable) desires that tend to fulfill other desires, and inhibiting (malleable) desires that tend to thwart other desires
"

Its actually much easier to destroy than to build.

On what basis do you say that suffering is good or bad? If you are going to attempt to build a moral frame work based on utilitarian ideals you first have to ask what the end result is supposed to be. This end result must also have some basis for why it is good or bad. You end up trapping yourself in an endless cycle and without a firm moral foundation.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Yeah, I got it backwards

David said...

Regular readers know that I detest the trap of talking about definitions as if talking about the thing defined.

I think you may have misunderstood me. I'm not concerned with "what morality really means". I'm only interested how you define your terms so that I can evaluate your argument. In this case, you're saying that atheists need to give an account of morality, and I'm trying to gauge what it would take to meet your challenge, and, on the other hand, what's at stake if someone fails. If you define morality as universal and absolute, it's a much bigger challenge, and I'd say an impossible one.

You were also saying that evolutionary ethicists tried and failed to give such an account, so apparently just any old account wouldn't work. It needed to fit your definition of morality, which could be "something with an even number of syllables" for all I knew.

The Hateful Craig post cleared your usage up a little for me.

Kevin Currie said...

Christian Apologist wrote: "On what basis do you say that suffering is good or bad? If you are going to attempt to build a moral frame work based on utilitarian ideals you first have to ask what the end result is supposed to be."

The basis I see for this is the idea that, on introspection, we know that we don't like to suffer. Many, including myelf, hold that we have evolved a "moral sense" akin to the "golden rule" which gives us the ability to sympathize/empathize with others, and therefore, want others to avoid suffering when at all possible.

I personally believe that this sense may well be a sort of "offshoot" of our biologically evolved abililty to figure out others' intentions (so as to predict how they will act). It is quite revealing, in fact, that autistics tend to be lacking both any real moral sense AND the ability to either see others as intentional agents or deduce others' thoughts. (This suggests that these faculties may have evolved together and may be part and parcel to one another.)



But I share your confusion over what Alonzo would say to this. As you say, utilitarianism (of any sort) must come up against the problem of justifying the morality of its system in a non-utilitarian way ("why work to maximize x rather than y? which must have an extra-utilitarian answer lest it be circular.)

Alonzo Fyfe said...

The basis I see for this is the idea that, on introspection, we know that we don't like to suffer. Many, including myelf, hold that we have evolved a "moral sense" akin to the "golden rule" which gives us the ability to sympathize/empathize with others, and therefore, want others to avoid suffering when at all possible.

Okay, we have evolved an aversion to the suffering of others.

Now, what justifies calling this a "moral sense". Calling this a "moral sense" as opposed to simply "an aversion to the suffering of others." Using the term "moral sense" imports a st of connotations and implications that are, at this point, entirely unjustified. It assumes without justification or explanation that the suffering of others has an "ought not to be doneness," that we have a faculty for sensing "ought not to be doneness", and it is this moral property that we are responding to.

As opposed to the simpler explanation of: We have an aversion to the suffering of others. Period. End of story.

Okay, there's actually more to the story, but that "more" is a lot less mysterious than an assumption of "ought not to be doneness" and a faculty for sensing it.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

The next question that I want to ask is:

Let us assume that we did not evolve an aversion to the suffering of others. What would this say about morality?

Would we still have duties to reduce the suffering of others? Or would it then be the case that there is no wrongness in causing the suffering of others.

If the former, then give me an account what these duties and obligations are that they can exist without being sensed.

If the latter, then the claim that we have a moral sense is viciously circular. There is no way to falsify the claim that there is a moral sense since whatever we sense turns out to be moral. There would be no way to lack a moral sense.

Kevin Currie said...

"Now, what justifies calling this a "moral sense". Calling this a "moral sense" as opposed to simply "an aversion to the suffering of others." Using the term "moral sense" imports a st of connotations and implications that are, at this point, entirely unjustified."
_________________________

To say that something is a "moral sense" is not, as you seem to think, an innate list of ready-made moral prescriptions. I use the term in the way Hume and Smith did, as simlpy a way to say that we have some innate "Fellow feeling" (Smith's term) towards others that lead to impulses to alleviate pain of otheres, take happiness in their happiness, etc.

What justifies us in calling it a moral sense is the same thing that justifies us in saying that we are born with an innate sense of basic physics. That does not mean that we are born knowing Newton's laws, but that we are born with an innate "feeling" for certain physical properties. (Also, it is similar to suggestions that we are born with a "language instinct," which does not mean that we are born with knowledge of linguistic rules, but that we are born with an innate "feeling" that words represent things, and understanding of how to apply basic rules to speech.)

Kevin Currie said...

Alonzo,

As for the question about whether we would have moral obligations if born with different social sympathies, I argue that we would not be. (If we were all born sociopaths, then morality would likely never have come about or even been talked about. Then again, I doubt humans would have flourished well, which shows the adaptive value of acquiring some kind of moral sense.)
---------------------------
If the latter, then the claim that we have a moral sense is viciously circular. There is no way to falsify the claim that there is a moral sense since whatever we sense turns out to be moral.

---------------------------------

Well, that is simply a symptom of not having any abstract, disembodied moral code to hold up to our seperate moral visions to find out how close we are to being "correct' in our moral judgments. (Did you notice my quotes around "correct?")

No matter what the system, without that disembodied, objectively correct moral code, we cannot tell whose moral precepts are "correct" becuase no final correct code exists.

But that is a flaw of all moral systems (certainly yours too). What desires count as worthy of being fulfilled, which don't, and who (besides each subject for herself) gets to judge.

I digress only to show that subjectivity and circularity are not only the problem of postlating a "moral sense" but of every moral system. Just because we are not born with noses that look alike does not mean we are not born with noses. Just because our "moral senses" don't look alike doesn't mean that we do not have them.

Eneasz said...

Hiya Kevin!

First, please let me know if it feels like we're 2-on-1'ing you here. I'm just commenting cuz I have free time in the evening, I don't want to drive you away or anything. If this feels unfair, I'll happily hold my peace.

What justifies us in calling it a moral sense is the same thing that justifies us in saying that we are born with an innate sense of basic physics. That does not mean that we are born knowing Newton's laws, but that we are born with an innate "feeling" for certain physical properties.

I hear what you're saying, but... is our innate "feeling" for certain physical properties ever wrong? Or is it born completely correct? (I'm pretty sure everyone from Archimedes to Hawkings would argue it is sometimes mistaken) If it can be sometimes wrong, is it not in mankind's best interest to find ways to discover the truth of the universe, whether it be physical properties or moral ones?

But that is a flaw of all moral systems (certainly yours too). What desires count as worthy of being fulfilled, which don't, and who (besides each subject for herself) gets to judge.

No one gets to judge. The simple fact is that there are some desires that humans, in general, have many strong reasons to promote. And other desires that humans, in general, have many strong reasons to inhibit. You don't get to say which ones are worthy of being fulfilled and which ones should be inhibited. No one does. It is simply true that the vast majority of humans have many strong reasons to inhibit a desire for wanton murder. Therefore it will be inhibited by whatever means are available.

Please see Who Gets To Decide? for a more complete answer.

faithlessgod said...

Christian Apologist

"On what basis do you say that suffering is good or bad?
Primarily this was to address those who only think that suffering is bad because god says so.


"If you are going to attempt to build a moral frame work based on utilitarian ideals you first have to ask what the end result is supposed to be."
Everyone seeks to substitute a more fulfilling state of affairs for a less fulfilling one. DU is the moral framework to date that best shows how to deliver more fulfilling states of affairs for everyone.

This end result must also have some basis for why it is good or bad.
Everyone provides this basis that is DU recognises that generally everyone is the best qualified person to determine their own ends. DU addresses the friction that is caused by interactions between people in so doing, friction caused by voluntary (intentional) actions, this friction being the tendency to inhibit or thwart fulfilment of some of these desires. DU focuses on reducing such friction by noting how this is done already when it is effective and this is by social forces. DU seeks to encourage everyone to more coherently and consistently use these social forces and thereby better reduce the friction of these interactions.

You end up trapping yourself in an endless cycle and without a firm moral foundation."
On the contrary, the endless cycle is caused by seeking such a firm moral foundation when none exist. If you think one exists, please demonstrate its existence. As far we know such a firm moral foundation that you ask for is a fiction and there is plenty of evidence that theories based on such fictions are more likely than not the disease they are claiming to cure.

Suffering is itself a value laden term but one could say here that those who generate more friction are the ones causing more suffering and it is by inhibiting those desires that friction is reduced and suffering alleviated.

Christian Apologist said...

"On the contrary, the endless cycle is caused by seeking such a firm moral foundation when none exist. If you think one exists, please demonstrate its existence. As far we know such a firm moral foundation that you ask for is a fiction and there is plenty of evidence that theories based on such fictions are more likely than not the disease they are claiming to cure. "

The basis for calling something good or bad should be based on how well it perfoms the function it was made for. For instance a toaster which does not make toast is a bad toaster. The same thing applies to anything that has been created. Therefore If, as theists maintain, there is a God who created all life, then human morality is based on how well we perform the functions for which we were created. (Note this is not intended to start a creationist debate, I am a firm beleiver in evolution.)

As for the arguments presented here that desires should be molded based on what is the best for everyone how do you determine what is best? Not all suffering is bad. Sometimes suffering makes someone a better person. This is the entire justification for putting people in jail. Why should the needs of the many be put above the needs of the few? This assumes some sort of sanctity of life. If we are all the product of random hapenstance then an individual life has no inherent worth. Only the preservation of the species as a whole should matter then. Which naturally leads to the conclusion that morality should be shaped around what is best for those people who hold power and influence in society and direct its affairs.

Kevin Currie said...

"The same thing applies to anything that has been created. Therefore If, as theists maintain, there is a God who created all life, then human morality is based on how well we perform the functions for which we were created. "
_______________________

At the risk of sounding crass, I am not sure who among us is in a position to suggest a final answer about what purpose we were created for? (and why is it a singular purpose?) How do you claim to know what purpose we were created for?

On first blush, it seems obvious to me that our biggest purpose (besides our own happiness) is to procreate and grow the future generation. If this is so, then is he who procreates the most the most good also (as he fulfills his function the best of anyone)?

Kevin Currie said...

Eneasz,

No, I do not feel unjustly "2-on-1ned." Hell, I deserve it, for being pesky. I enjoy the back and forth. I only hope that I do not get on anyone's nerves.

As for whether our innate 'sense of physics' is ever wrong, it certainlny is! (That is why science is often counterintuitive.) But I am not trying to argue that our moral sense on something means that our sentiments are 'correct,' - only that we have them and that those sentiments HAVE TO BE the basis of moral theorizing. (Any moral position that does not accord with our strong intuitions will be relegated to the dust-bin.)

Really, I am suspecting that in some way, Alonzo and I are saying much the same thing but using very different terms; what I term a "moral sense" he may term as another desire we have (one that is social in nature).

"No one gets to judge. The simple fact is that there are some desires that humans, in general, have many strong reasons to promote. And other desires that humans, in general, have many strong reasons to inhibit. You don't get to say which ones are worthy of being fulfilled and which ones should be inhibited. No one does."

I agree with this, but I still have a big problem. If no one gets to judge which desire is correct other than the individual subjects having the desire (or evaluating the rightness of others' desires), then Alonzo's theory is as morally empty as he accuses my subjectivism of being. In other words, if all Alonzo is doing is saying that we act to further desires that we think are worthy of being furthered (and are the individual judges of what desires we think should be furthered), then his theory has no prescriptivity other than to circularly say "we should act in the way that furthers the things we want to act on."

Am I wrong here? I didn't get the impression that this type of subjectivism was one that Alonzo wanted to be associated with.

"It is simply true that the vast majority of humans have many strong reasons to inhibit a desire for wanton murder. Therefore it will be inhibited by whatever means are available."

That's morality by majority rule! Actually, I agree perfectly with you on this point. The only reason for many of our societal laws (and what is a law but a way to codify a certain moral stance?) is because the majority of us have symapthies that allign with that stance.

Had most of us been born without an aversion to x, then x would not be wrong.

faithlessgod said...

Christian Apologist

"The basis for calling something good or bad should be based on how well it perfoms the function it was made for".
Yes but does everything have a function it was made for? Even if it does not we can evaluate on how well it performs its function. good and bad are just optional short hand labels, not using them will not affect the performace of the function.

"For instance a toaster which does not make toast is a bad toaster." And a moral system which does not increase moral behaviour or increases immoral behaviour is a bad moral system.

"The same thing applies to anything that has been created.
Why limit this to what has been created? It applies regardless to whether it has been created or not.

"Therefore If, as theists maintain, there is a God who created all life, then human morality is based on how well we perform the functions for which we were created.
Performing the functions for which we were created - if we were - is not morality. You could still say that one performs well or badly according to such a design that is an evaluation in relation to the design and that is different to a moral evaluation.

Note this is not intended to start a creationist debate, I am a firm beleiver in evolution.
Good then I can make the same point above here as in the same goes for looking at us as not designed, an evaluation according to how well we function in evolutionary terms is also not a moral evaluation.

As for the arguments presented here that desires should be molded based on what is the best for everyone how do you determine what is best?
DU provides the framework within which to investigate this. It is an empirical, defeasible and provisional pracise like any other scientific endeavour. Best is based on seeking to eliminate error and minimise mistakes - to deal with errors of reason and mistakes of fact.

Not all suffering is bad.
Like I said it is a value-laden term, we need to go beyond it to determine what is "bad" about the situation.

Sometimes suffering makes someone a better person. This is the entire justification for putting people in jail.
I hope not! Protection of others, other forms of rehabilitation not requiring suffering are two others, there are more.

Why should the needs of the many be put above the needs of the few?
They are not. If the majority acts on desires that causes harm - thwarts the desires - to the few, the majority is at fault. (Of course, the prima facie harm/suffering caused by punishing the (few) criminals is different, or is this what you want to pursue?)

" This assumes some sort of sanctity of life."
No such assumptin is required and indeed such an assumption causes problems of its own.

If we are all the product of random hapenstance
We are not we are the product on non-random natural selection.

then an individual life has no inherent worth.
Regardless of me disputing your antecedent why is life having intrinsic worth or not important?

Only the preservation of the species as a whole should matter then.
Evolutionary biology disagrees with this. Who is that you are seeking to criticise that does argue for this?


Which naturally leads to the conclusion that morality should be shaped around what is best for those people who hold power and influence in society and direct its affairs.
I fail to see how your reasoning leads to here but this is an interesting point in its own right. Morality should not be designed to serve the interests of the few at the cost of the many either (the opposite of the complaint you just made above!)It surely is in our interest to ensure this does not happen either.

Eneasz said...

Hello Kevin!

enjoy the back and forth. I only hope that I do not get on anyone's nerves.

HA! :) I don't think you have to worry about that. You've sparked some fascinating discussions, and you're certainly no Calvin! I'm sure you'll always be welcome here!

I am not trying to argue that our moral sense on something means that our sentiments are 'correct,' - only that we have them and that those sentiments HAVE TO BE the basis of moral theorizing. (Any moral position that does not accord with our strong intuitions will be relegated to the dust-bin.)

Hrm. I'm not sure about the "basis of moral theorizing", but I agree that things that do not accord with our strong intuitions will be discarded. That's just how the world works. However I think this is because some of our basest intuitions ("DON'T MURDER YOUR TRIBE!") are such strong intuitions because even evolution had to concede that they are important enough to be ingrained on the genetic level. (Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing here, but you understand what I'm saying, yes?) So basically, while we can go above and beyond what evolution gave us, some basics are so essential that they managed to get encoded.

If no one gets to judge which desire is correct other than the individual subjects having the desire

Woah woah woah! I did not say "other than the individual subjects having the desire"! Much like I never said that no one gets to judge whether Pluto is a planet other than the individual subjects observing it! I said "No one gets to judge." Period. There is no judging involved by individuals. There are just those desires which tend to fulfill other desires, and those desires that tend to thwart other desires. The best we can do is discover what desires fit into what catagory.

For example: For almost all of human history, it was assumed that it is best to subjugate 50% of the species (women). However, all of humanity was wrong in this regard. It wasn't until a few societies decided to see what would happen if the other half of humanity was given equal rights that we discovered that it is better for all of us if EVERYONE is given equal treatment.

Discovering what desires are best at fulfilling all other desires if often a messy process. It can take millenia, and cost millions of lives. That is why I feel it is best to learn these lessons of history, rather than disregarding them.

However, we have only discovered what is true ("it's best for everyone if all of us are treated equally"), rather than having "decided" that it is true.

his theory has no prescriptivity other than to circularly say "we should act in the way that furthers the things we want to act on."

DU is first a descriptive theory. It describes what people will do - acting so as to fulfill the most of their desires. So in that regard, you are right. But it also says that it is empirically provable that some desires are better at fulfilling other desires, and some desires tend to thwart other desires. Thus it can also be prescriptive, as people generally have reasons to promote the first and inhibit the second.

For example, physics can descriptively tell us when an asteroid large enough to wipe out humanity will hit the earth. It can also proscribe actions to prevent this from coming about. As long as there are many strong reasons to prevent our extinction, it would be best for us to follow the courses of action that physics suggests.

That's morality by majority rule! Actually, I agree perfectly with you on this point. The only reason for many of our societal laws ... is because the majority of us have symapthies that allign with that stance.

I apologize - I was being descriptive rather than proscriptive in this case. Descriptively - the majority will tend to enforce their views on the minority. This is a fact. However, proscriptively, this is not always best. The views of the majority can be incorrect. They may THINK they are promoting desires that fulfill other desires, when they are in fact promoting desires that thwart other desires (see women's rights, above). The strength of DU is that it helps in determining what actually ARE the best desires, regardless of what the majority may believe. And it recommends a course of actions once you've discovered what these desires are.

And to clarify - DU does not proscribe a single set of desires and say "These are the best desires! Thou shalt promote them, for ever!" DU, like any scientific theory, is based on the real-world facts. As new knowledge is discovered, DU should be updated to incorporate these new facts. It is an on-going process, like all of our knowledge of the natural world.

Perhaps a decent current-day example would be socialized medicine. There are many countries that have socialized medicine, and many countries that have laize-faire medicine, and quite a few inbetween (such as the USA, I would argue). We are in the process of determining which system is best at fulfilling the most/strongest desires. Once we've conclusively determined which method is best, it is in everyone's interest to promote a desire for this method. DU does not say "System X is the best! Use it!" Rather, it says "Wait for the empirical evidence to come in. Eventually one system will prove to be the best at fulfilling the greatest number of strong desires." Once we have determined what this system is, it is in the best interests of everyone to promote a desire for that system.

Anyway, I'm going to sleep. Nite!

Christian Apologist said...

Yes but does everything have a function it was made for? Even if it does not we can evaluate on how well it performs its function. good and bad are just optional short hand labels, not using them will not affect the performace of the function.

On the contrary if we take said toaster and use it as a soap holder in the shower we might wrongly state that it is a bad toaster. The terms good and bad apply only when properly attached to the intended function of the created object.

And a moral system which does not increase moral behaviour or increases immoral behaviour is a bad moral system.

The question is not one of a moral system but what is the basis for calling something moral or immoral.

Why limit this to what has been created? It applies regardless to whether it has been created or not.

On the contrary something that has not been created for a specific purpose has no good or bad value only the deliberate act of design gives an object any inherent value. For instance a peice of flint is in itself not good or bad but when a person picks up that rock and chips of the edge it could become a good or bad arrowhead.

Performing the functions for which we were created - if we were - is not morality. You could still say that one performs well or badly according to such a design that is an evaluation in relation to the design and that is different to a moral evaluation.

No, what I am saying is that morality is a direct derivation of design. They are not seperate issues but one and the same.

DU provides the framework within which to investigate this. It is an empirical, defeasible and provisional pracise like any other scientific endeavour. Best is based on seeking to eliminate error and minimise mistakes - to deal with errors of reason and mistakes of fact.

DU still does not give any criteria for evaluating results. How do you determine what is an error or mistake? Who makes the descision of what is good or bad?

We are not we are the product on non-random natural selection.

If there is no designer behind the process of natural selection guiding the process then it is still random.

Also:
Eneasz said: For example: For almost all of human history, it was assumed that it is best to subjugate 50% of the species (women). However, all of humanity was wrong in this regard. It wasn't until a few societies decided to see what would happen if the other half of humanity was given equal rights that we discovered that it is better for all of us if EVERYONE is given equal treatment.

I think the case is still pending as to whether giving women equal rights is a good thing or not. Some of the effects of this idea is that women are given equal preference to men in all sorts of careers which were previously not available to them. If a society is judged based on how well it raises its children I would say that America is becoming a dismal failure. This is in no small part due to the fact that women are trying to be both mothers and have careers which detracts from their effectiveness at both. It is further compounded by men who get women pregnant rationalizing letting the woman raise the child on their own since they can financially support themselves. And every child should ideally have both a mother and a father. Furthermore this also increases the labor pool by 200% which leads to either unemployement or wage decreases.

faithlessgod said...

Christian Apologist

I said"Yes but does everything have a function it was made for? Even if it does not we can evaluate on how well it performs its function. good and bad are just optional short hand labels, not using them will not affect the performace of the function."

You said:"... The terms good and bad apply only when properly attached to the intended function of the created object."
There is so much wrong with this one sentence:

1. This is not how "good" and "bad" are used in ethics and here. If you want to use them that way fine (after all definitions are subjective) but you know what they mean here, do not get them confused.

2. In ethics (and the law) the issue of "intended function" is insufficient. In Mens Rea it is not enough to have had good intentions but one has to act knowingly - not be negligent in forseeing non-intended effects and avoiding being reckless with others granted this. The facts are that the argument from good intentions (coupled with the principles of double effect and acts of omission) can be evaluated morally and legally and have been found to be insufficient justifications and defence for wrong actions.

3. Since you agree that humans are evolved and not designed then your sue of good and bad here mean you cannot apply them as moral terms!

but wait...

You said:"The question is not one of a moral system but what is the basis for calling something moral or immoral.
DU provides such an empirical factual basis - if one insists on using the terms moral and immoral.

Can you give any other objective, empirical, factual alternative and one that is equal or better than DU? This at a minimum requires that referents that not dependent upon such labels and that facts that are consistently picked out by the use of such labels? If you cannot then you have only subjective hence arbitrary and inferior alternative

You said:"On the contrary something that has not been created for a specific purpose has no good or bad value only the deliberate act of design gives an object any inherent value.
We are discussing ethics here, we are not talking about objects, we are talking about desires,rules, actions, decision procedures, laws and so on. If you want to limit good and bad to desinged objects that is fine, we can discuss ethics without using such subjective terms.

Performing the functions for which we were created - if we were - is not morality. You could still say that one performs well or badly according to such a design that is an evaluation in relation to the design and that is different to a moral evaluation.

You said:No, what I am saying is that morality is a direct derivation of design. They are not seperate issues but one and the same.
Surely this contradicts your point that you want to use these terms about objects not people. Make up your mind. Can make your points more clearly your argument looks, with all due respect, quite incoherent.

Charitably well morality as an instrument or institution is constructed by us. We can look at improving its design and implementation and that is what DU does. Still it is nonsensical to say this is just a derivation of desing. All designs are based on either the particulars of the situation and/or principles whether just particulars or just principles or both depends on what is being designed.

You said"DU still does not give any criteria for evaluating results. How do you determine what is an error or mistake? Who makes the descision of what is good or bad?"
I just gave the answer to which your responded in the above quote. At the cost of repeating it in case you missed it. The criteria for errors and mistakes are the same as in any other empirical enterprise, there no special or different means of inquiry "moral inquiry" there is just rational and empirical inquiry. If you there is some mysterious "moral inquiry" please provide reason, evidence and argument for this.

No-one makes the decision of what is good or bad, that is subjectivity - whether the decision comes from an individual, rgorup, ruler or a god.

The challenge is to find the facts of the matter and not to arbitrarily decide what they are based on some privileged view and/or in spite of the facts etc. to achieve the best possible answer that is the best provisional and defeasible answer like in any other empirical discipline.

If there is no designer behind the process of natural selection guiding the process then it is still random.
This contradicts your assertion that you believe in evolution. Your sentence indicates that you certainly do not understand that the facts and theories of evolution and science in general. DU is an empirical framework. If you wish to usefully criticise this then you need to display that you understand what it you are criticising and unfortunately your above comment indicates otherwise.

Sorry but if you are honestly concerned about errors and mistakes you better read up on these topics to avoid such basic mistakes in the future.

Christian Apologist said...

3. Since you agree that humans are evolved and not designed then your sue of good and bad here mean you cannot apply them as moral terms!

You are confusing naturalism with evolutionary theory. I can easily see how God designed life through the process of evolution. Maybe nudging here and there to get the desired result. Even if God never altered the environment or the genome supernaturally he would still be the author of the law of natural selection.

faithlessgod said...

You are confusing naturalism with evolutionary theory. I can easily see how God designed life through the process of evolution. Maybe nudging here and there to get the desired result. Even if God never altered the environment or the genome supernaturally he would still be the author of the law of natural selection.
Just because you can see it does not mean it is true. I would ask for your evidence but that is straying too far off the point of this thread. How about you answer the outstanding questions?