Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Journey to Graduate School Officially Begins

186 days until the first class . . .

And, the process for admission officially began today. When I received my admittance letter in 2016, I asked for a one year deferment so that I could make some more money. Now, that year is coming to an end. I just got my letter announcing my admission into the graduate program for 2017.

So, now begins all of the bureaucracy and red tape for becoming an actual student. will receive more information about fall orientation meetings and workshops, registration, housing in the Boulder area, etc.

Well, this is what I wanted.

In other news, I promised to create a document on the foundations of desirism by mid-march. That document is progressing. The second part of the document is going along a path other than that which I originally intended though, actually, I think it makes more sense.

The first 15 or so sections of the document came from my blog postings, "Desirism Book". They start with the story of Alph alone on a planet with one desire - a desire to gather stones. It then describes in various ways how value is a relationship between a state of affairs and a desire. Things like: a desire is a propositional attitude that can be expressed in the form, "Agent desires that P" where "P" is a proposition. A desire that P provides Agent with a motivating reason to realize any state of affairs in which "P" is true. That which is useful in bringing about S has instrumental value, and that which results from realizing S but is not aimed for is an unintended consequence.

It then applies this concept of value to Robert Nozick's experience machine, G.E. Moore's "beautiful world", J.S. Mill's Socrates unsatisfied versus a fool satisfied, pushpin versus poetry, and similar questions that moral philosophers like to talk about.

Then I introduce a second person, Bett, and explain how Alph's desire to gather stones counts as a reason to give Bett a desire to scatter stones.

Then the discussion goes from there to introduce the fact that it is possible to mold desires using reward and punishment - including praise and condemnation.

Here is where that booklet took an unintended course. I made the society more complex and introduced the fact that it is reasonable in such a society to use reward and punishment to promote aversions to such things as lying, theft, assault, rape, and murder. These are aversions that people generally have many and strong reasons to create. I then went on to explain how this accounts for moral obligation, prohibition, and non-obligatory permission. I have written a section on how praise and condemnation are included in the meaning of moral terms.

The next section I will write has to do with supererogatory actions and the concept of an "excuse".

With those two sections written, I should then have a brief account of how - building up from premises that no materialist should have any trouble with - we can get a materialist account of morality that works in the real world that science has revealed to us.

I will then be posting that document in the desirism group on Facebook, asking folks to help me to edit it and improve it so that it serves as a useful introduction to desirism. It should be a document that people can hand out to others and say, "If you want a simple introduction to the theory, this is it."


David Jacquemotte said...

Might I offer a suggestion? From the feedback I have received from some people I provided the link to your blog postings, many feel like more explanation as to what desires are - the biology, the different types, the way we have a multitude of desires, and how some are in opposition to each other - should be included in the first few chapters to lay the groundwork for the practical implications.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

A good suggestion.

The philosophy department at the University of Colorado offers a Graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science that would allow me to take courses exactly on these subjects.