Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ethical Natualism and Value Systems:

The Illusion of Moral Landscapes (part 1)


  photo eo_wilson_zpsb233ffb2.jpeg
 E.O. Wilson








            The ideological tendencies of scientism seek to scrap traditional philosophically based ethics and produce a whole new ethical system based upon a scientific understanding of human biology. The official name for the school is “ethical naturalism.”[1] “Bio-ethics” implies the genuine ethical issues that emerge from biologically based intrusion of humanity into the natural processes of living; cloning, artificial insemination and the like. What I call “Ethical naturalism” is an attempt to actually replace the philosophical discipline of ethics with one derived from science.[2] Of course the major issue is that science has no mission to determine how we should live. Ethics is primarily about understanding how we should live, how we treat others, how we decide what actions to take in a given situations. These are not scientific questions they are philosophical questions. In their attempt to wipe out all other forms of knowledge the scientism movement seeks to eradicate philosophy from human thought. In this chapter I will argue that applying science to ethics is the fallacy of trying to derive an “ought” form an “is.” I also argue that the diversity of ethical theory is not a weakness but a strength and one that disproves the wisdom of this urge to reduce ethics to science.
            Most people find ethics very frustrating to study because it is complex, based upon a lot of rules, and one never finds a clear cut exposition of what it all means. Another reason people find the academic study of ethics frustrating, I think, is that church conditions them to expect a simple list of rules. We are given to understand form Christian devotionals that it’s a simple straight forward thing to “love everyone” or something. The actual study of ethics is not only complex but based upon many texts. There is no one authority that ethicists look to but there is a multiplicity of schools and theories and it’s hard to get any leverage for one view. It takes years of study to come to a conclusion that one theory really captures it all and even then there’s no guarantee you’ve got it right. While I would argue that this is a necessary and desirable state of affairs it’s the opposite of what most people come to expect from religious training. Moreover, modern ethics is descriptive and not prescriptive. This is something most people can’t accept, or even understand. People not trained in philosophical ethics expect that modern ethicists are supposed to be telling us the best ethical view rather than just analyzing what goes into the making of the various views.
            Ethical thinking is divided into two major schools of thought: deontological ethics and teleological ethics. The former is based upon the notion that ethical thinking proceeds from rule keeping, that the good is derived from an understanding of duty and obligation. There’s a specific aspect of deontological thought called ‘rule deontology’ which says that ethical thinking should be understood in terms of rule keeping, or that the nature of duty and obligation is        best understood by an understanding of  rules. A lot of people think deontology is just a simple rule keeping mentality; just follow the rules and don’t understand them. That’s the simplistic version. The rules have reference to duty and obligation which is the real meat of deontological understanding. The latter school, the teleological says that ethical action should be judged by the “consequence” of that action. The outcome is where we determine the right or wrong, the “do” or “don’t” in a situation. This kind of thinking is also called ‘consequentialism.’ What both of these have in common is that they each seek to find the “good” in actions. That means they are about values. The good isn’t some natural substance we can discover in parts per million, it’s not a molecular structure; it’s a result of the valuations we place on concepts, ideas, and actions.
            Beginning ethics students have a tendency to try and unite deontology and teleology. “Why don’t we just combine them and say we get at that which is good by both,” or “why does it matter?” We can’t combine because either one is exclusive of the other. Either the valuation of good is loaded in the front and is there before we begin or what comes first is neutral and it’s not made good or bad until we attach value to it. Thus it’s outcome that determines the valuation. That doesn’t mean that deontological ethics is not about values too. The values in deontology are front end loaded so to speak: duty and obligation. In teleological ethics they come out of the result in relation to the values of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. In a way we could say that teleological ethics only real value is avoiding pain. If the outcome determines it then we can’t say that part of it is outcome and part is before hand. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. So we find that Kant has a hybrid system where he uses both. He uses them in different ways, at different points. That way they don’t get in each other’s way.
             Most ethical systems are going to be one or the other of these two schools. The attempt to make a scientifically determined ethical system from understanding human biology is a version of teleological ethics. They seek to derive the good from the outcome; that fits values of a utilitarian nature. So ethics is about values. We made ethical axioms based upon the values that we take to a given issue. It’s the subjective aspect of value-based thinking that scientism finds so objectionable. Ethics doesn’t give us clean neat little paint-by-numbers solutions. It’s not totalitarian. It requires reflection, it offers conflicting solutions. As Dorothy Emmett put it “morality is always contestable.”[3] Those who seek scientific precision and no need to question further don’t like traditional ethics because it doesn’t yield neat easy solutions but requires a life-time of study and thought. Those who seek cold hard objective fortress of facts don’t want to have to spend years thinking about it and then still risk being wrong. James Rachels made a famous defense of ethical naturalism in which he expressed the idea that ethics not being based upon scientific fact is an oddity:

Ethical naturalism is the idea that ethics can be understood in terms of natural science. One way of making this more specific is to say that moral properties (such as goodness and rightness) are identical with natural properties, that is properties that figure into scientific descriptions or explanations of things. Ethical naturalists also hold that justified moral beliefs are beliefs justified by a particular kind of causal process. Thus C.D. Broad observed that ‘if naturalism be true, ethics is not an autonomous science, it’s a department or an application of one or more of the natural or historical sciences.’ [4]

We see there the tendency to crowd out all other forms of thought but the scientistic ideology. Rachels expresses surprise that no one thought this way before, for example in the early twentieth century. “During this period philosophy was thought to be independent of the sciences. This may seem a strange notion especially where ethics is concerned. One might expect moral philosophers to work in the context of information provided by psychology which describes the nature of human thinking and motivation.”[5] That would only be strange if one based right and wrong upon desires and motivations rather than something beyond human valuation, or if one based ought upon something other than what is (such as what should be). The ethical naturalists remove the transcendent grounding and based ethics squarely upon scientific data as though it’s perfectly natural to think science tells us how to live, or as the values are built into nature and all we have to do is get some scientific data. Examining the thought of three famous ethical naturalists this becomes apparent.

E.O. Wilson


            We can see this motivation in the thinking of E.O. Wilson, who in this generation is probably the grand daddy of scientific ethics:

Centuries of debate on the origin of ethics come down to this: Either ethical principles, such as justice and human rights, are independent of human experience, or they are human inventions. The distinction is more than an exercise for academic philosophers. The choice between these two understandings makes all the difference in the way we view ourselves as a species. It measures the authority of religion, and it determines the conduct of moral reasoning.

The two assumptions in competition are like islands in a sea of chaos, as different as life and death, matter and the void. One cannot learn which is correct by pure logic; the answer will eventually be reached through an accumulation of objective evidence. Moral reasoning, I believe, is at every level intrinsically consilient with -- compatible with, intertwined with -- the natural sciences. (I use a form of the word "consilience" -- literally a "jumping together" of knowledge as a result of the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation -- because its rarity has preserved its precision.)[6]


The first problem loaded into this quotation is the implication that there is no value in back of ethics; the value application is so obvious that just knowing the fact will obtain it for us. Notice that eliminates any sort of value oritend thinking, such as philosophy and religion. It’s all just a matter of logic and facts. What facts, how do we interpit them? That seems not to occur to him. He brings it all down to religion vs science. Notice there is no philosophy in his world. It’s not a matter of philosophy, religion and science, but just religion and science. Philosophy has ceased to exist for him. It seems to be a matter of hard fast get it right with scientific precision vs. the shaky nature of religious faith which has nothing to offer apart from faith. He asserts in the second paragraph that science and religion are competing. Competing for what? They exist to provide two totally different kinds of knowledge. Science is about the workings of the natural world, which has nothing to do with determining what should be done and religion is there to give us an understanding of aspects of reality that are beyond scientific understanding. That would seem to be scientism’s point; there is nothing beyond their grasp. In the second paragraph he asserts that logic and empirical evidence will agree in the end. Is this a statement of faith? Logic can’t be decided by empirical matters, Popper told us this in the chapter on Fortress of facts. We can’t prove a universal principle with empirical evidence. Wilson says that “moral reasoning” will dove tail with scientific objective evidence, yet I say the implications of scientism will destroy ethical thinking altogether. Look at the ominous beginning to the subject; ethics requires a multiplicity of views it’s about the subjective issue of values yet these are the aspects Wilson sees as the problem that he wants to eliminate.
            Wilson seems to indicate that through scientific understanding we will bring together different disciplines. Of course the implications are clear that theology won’t be one of them and it seems as though philosophy doesn’t exist for him. So he’s really talking about bringing together different kinds of scientific disciplines to take over a form of thinking that has never been understood as part of the scientific domain (remember, as we said in chapter one, the title of his book—consilience—refers to the reduction of all forms of knowledge to science alone). In this sense there’s a strange reversal of roles. Traditionally the religious ethical thinking tends to be the one pursuing for objective ethics on the grounds that God’s word gives us a universal inviolable standard that makes moral decisions clear. The atheist is usually the relativist. Here the atheist takes over the objectivists’ ground; science will establish facts of ethics so we don’t need to wonder anymore. The religious thinker winds up recognizing the relative nature of a value based assumption. What we need to realize at this point is that conservative types of Christian thinkers have always made a mistake in thinking that the issues in morality are about objective proof. Because they have made an issue of objectivity, they have played into the hands of the biologically based ethicists. Objectivity and certainty are not the big issues in ethics. They never have been. He seems to assume that all religious ethics and philosophical ethics rely upon transcendence, nor does he seem to see the difference in transcendence and transcendentalism.  “The choice between transcendentalism and empiricism will be the coming century’s version of the struggle for men’s souls. Moral reasoning will either remain centered in idioms of theology and philosophy, where it is now, or it will shift toward science-based material analysis. Where it settles will depend on which world view is proved correct…”[7]

            The myth of ethical uncertainty and fear of ethical uncertainty are seen in Chruchland and Harris re-telling of the myth of the enlightenment. By re-telling the myth of the enlightenment I mean the old idea: religion is stupid and oppressive and stifles scientific knowledge and keeps us bogged down in superstition, while science frees us (from religion and superstition) for a bright shining future of gadgets and control of nature and getting things right.


Churchland


            Patricia S. Chruchland, (1943--) is a Canadian-American Philosopher who works in the filed of  neurophilosophy. She has taught at University of California, San Diego since 1984. In Braintrust: What Neuro Science Tells us about Morality[8] Chruchland’s basic argument is that morality is social, and social life is essentially the interactions of different sets of neurons. Values originate in the brain and grow out of the social interaction of these sets of Neurons. Thus there’s no trick to moral values, they are just imposed upon us by the goals our neurons set for us and the demands of social interaction. The title of the second chapter is “Brain Based values.”

Moral values ground a life that is a social life. At the root of human moral practices are social desires; most fundamentally these involve attachment to family members, care for friends and need to belong. Motivated by these values individually and collectively we try to solve problems that can cause misery and instability and threaten survival. Since are brains are organized to value self welfare as well as welfare of kith and kin, conflicts frequently arise between the needs of self and the needs of others. Social problem solving grounded by social urges leads to ways of handling these conflicts…robust institutions about right and wrong take root and flower.[9]

So right and wrong are just a concept that has grown out of the need to solve social conflicts and resolve tension between the needs of the individual and those of the group. The most troubling aspect of the way she talks is that the brain seems to be a little man inside who is doing the real thinking and then fooling us into thinking it’s our idea. Brains care. Neurons care. We don’t care, we just think we do, brains do. She goes on to ask “how do brains come to care about others?”[10] It’s actually the unseen pilot, the real us inside us that does the caring. She gives a naturalistic take on how caring forms as a biological urge, of course it’s totally divorced from even an ideal much less a spiritual reality of love. Her answer is rooted in self preservation, and somehow the sense is turned outward to others, probably because we depend upon others for our own survival.[11] She discusses the evidence that mammals understand the way in which their own survival is tied up with the survival of the group.
            Thus what she’s doing is building a biological basis for social contract theory. The fact of it being grounded in nature and brain chemistry is supposed to give it a magic “ought” that makes it right. After all, the concept of right is nothing more than a chimera designed to cover up the practical need for social alliances. “Depending upon ecological considerations and fitness considerations, strong caring for the well being of offspring has in some mammalian species has extended further to encompass kin or mates or friends or even strangers as the circle widens. This widening of other caring in social behavior marks the emergence of what eventually flowers into morality.”[12] So caring is just an accident of having peptides like Oxycotin. [13] It doesn’t mean anything accept in pragmatic terms. Chruchland shows total unconcern for moral philosophy in her understanding of the moral dimension. She’s supposed to be informing us about what science tells us about morality but it sort of slips out that the moral thing is just a joke, charade, delusion or gimmick. “We could engage in a semantic wrangle about weather these values are really moral values (emphasis hers) but a wrangle about words is apt to be unrewarding.”[14]  A wrangler over words is apt to be quite unrewarding, especially when it might disprove your thesis. “Of course only humans have human morality. But that is not news only a [15]tedious tautology. One might as well note that only marmosets have marmoset morality…” Her whole concept of morality apparently is just a semantic game. At that rate informing us of what science tells us about morality is a joke; apparently it’s telling us that morality is just a word game. She goes on, however, in trying to construct a meaningful social contract theory.
            Indeed she does define morality as something basically akin to science:


Morality seems to me to be a natural phenomenon—constrained by the forces of natural selection, rooted in neurobiology, shaped by the local ecology, and modified by cultural developments. Nevertheless, fairness requires me to acknowledge that this sort of naturalistic approach to morality has often seemed insensitive to metaphysical ideas about morality, such as that morality is essentially dependent on a supernatural source of moral information and moral worth. Because this is a not uncommon view, it may be useful to consider what a supernatural approach can teach us.[16]


Of course there is also the idea that morality has a lot to do with such supernatural entities as Immanuel Kant, and we might also ask what concepts of duty and obligation and the kingdom of ends has to tell us about morality. Churchland doesn’t mess around with armatures in moral philosophy such as Kant, nor with Moore, Macintyre, or Rawls. Instead, she arbitrarily defines morality by the biological basis for behaviors labeled as “moral” rather than by the subject matter or the logic or some ontological basis. This relates to what we said about reductionism in that chapter (5) because it’s simply re-labeling and losing of phenomena. Any aspects of moral thinking not reducible to brain chemistry are just assumed not to matter and to merely be a matter of semantics.
            Of course when it comes to exploring what “a supernatural view has to teach us” she just plays the same trick again; reduces the supernatural out of existence and reduces moral thinking to biology. Rather than argue against the existence of God, however, she merely “deconstructs” morality by first taking apart conscience. Appealing to Socrates she points that conscience doesn’t always advise us the right way, it doesn’t always tell us the same things.[17] Of course there are not very many moral philosophers of the stature of Kant who tells us about conscience. Who is to say that Socrates didn’t take the right way given the circumstances?

Harris:

            Sam Harris wrote the Moral Landscape, subtitle: “how can science determine human values?” So it’s not going to just inform us of our values but “determine” them. Presumably regardless of what we do value, the priests of knowledge, those lucky enough to go to big name universities and major in genetics will determine what we want in the future. Harris begins by observing that he’s talked with thousands of people, most of them well educated, who believe that human values are not based upon truth content, and that well being and misery are so poorly defined we can’t know what they mean.[18] He warns that he’s not trying to give a scientific account of what people do in the name of morality. Nor is he suggesting that science can help us get what we want out of life. “Rather I am arguing that science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want –and therefore, what other people should do and should want in order to live the best lives possible. My claim is that there are right and wrong answers to moral questions just as there are right and wrong answers to questions of physics, such answers may one day fall within reach of maturing science of the mind.” [19] So apparently it’s not just a matter of understanding what human beings value and want, but of teaching them what they should value and want? Who is to decide this? Science can tell us what to think is, but it can’t tell us what is right. According to Churchland there is no true “right and wrong,” just brains wanting things. Science can make it seem right in our minds through control so that what we want is what science tells us to want. But of course this is “helping” we who are too feeble to help ourselves, we who are stuck in the religious thinking. He just told us science we can’t help us get what we want then he tells us that it will. How can this be? Because he wants to use science to change what we want to what he wants us to want. But of course he masks this in terms of what we should want. Then what does it mean that he includes telling others what they should want? Then falling within reach of the science of the mind? That’s not a hint about control? He wants science to reach beyond the mere ability to explain the physical workings of the world and to become the orbiter of values. Of course that means arbitration of values would be controlled by scientists. None of these would be Svengalis can ever explain how science can know what the proper values are in the first place. Presumably they will choose pleasure over pain for the greatest number, but how do they know that’s what should be?
            He goes on treading on the toes of ethicists. He says, “Once we see that a concern for well being (defined as deeply and inclusively as possible) is the only intelligible basis for morality and values, we will see that there must be a science of morality.”[20] In light of this quotation it is apparent that Harris’s ethics are basically teleological. He’s clearly a consequentialist if not a utilitarian.[21] In other words, it is the end result that makes an action moral, not duty or obligation to act, but how the action turns out. The extent to which it conforms to the desired goal is what makes it moral. The way he works it out is that science will tell us which of the problems is more devastating and which hurts more people that will tell us how to spend our resources. “…would it be better to spend our next billion dollars eradicating racism or malaria?”[22] So he’s already working from an implicit value system that’s based upon an ethical philosophy which has already put in place well being as the end toward which ethical thinking must strive, and the underlying value behind ethical theory, to the exclusion of deontology (duty and obligation) and all other theories. He does this before he has the scientific means to determine the value system. So this is really a shell game. He’s going to give us the means to determine what’s best for us but we have to determine it within a framework he’s already picked out that excludes alternatives. Not that we all wouldn’t agree that we should do “what’s best” but the issue is how we know what’s best. He’s already decided the supreme issue is the outcome in terms of physical comfort and avoidance of physical pain. He doesn’t recognize that this a value that he’s put in place as a philosophical underpinning, so we don’t get a answer to weather or not we embrace that as a value.
            He deals with the issue of the subjective nature of ethics, which is the basis of relativism. He distinguishes between subjective/objective in two senses, practice and principle. He’s opposed to ideals of good, such as Platnoic forms. He’s only speaking in terms of a diminished naturalistic sort of good that comes as a side effect of the way we do things. That’s good in terms of our value system, he assumes we all value outcome as a moral goal. His distinction between experience (practice) and ideal (principle) allows him to say that we can do things better without trying to establish the moral good, but then that’s supposed to give us a moral good.[23] When he brings religious views into it he thinks that ideas of heaven and hell prove that religious views are really based upon pleasure and pain too. They are not really concerned with the good for its own sake but with avoiding hell. [24] In this manner he seems to be attempting to reduce all value systems to his own. One of the major problems with his handling of value systems is the basis for adopting one. It’s obviously simplistic and self serving to just assume everyone is about the same value system I want. It’s also delusion to assume that there are not hidden subtexts in one’s value system.  One of the major problems in determining a value system is in assuming that the “ought” or “one should” aspect of a valuation of actions can be determined by factually ascertaining the nature of things. We see this assumption in Harris’s statement about science as coming to understand what’s going on in the universe. What do we mean by “going on?” There are multiple aspects to what’s going on, how we determine which of those is crucial? What if we decide that what’s going on is going on spiritually? We are not supposed to think that because that’s not what science tells us. Science isn’t going to tell us what’s “going on” in any but a materliasitc framework. So the reductionist view has so truncated reality that it dictates the disappearance of a whole aspect of reality embraced by the vast majority of people to suit the ideological framework put in place by a tiny elite who want us to accept their values as facts. This is the bias we set in place just by reducing the field of ethics to scientific proof.
            There is another troubling aspect to Harris’s take on science and ethics. Brain Earp, Research Associate, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics tells us that Harris tries to subsume ethics under the banner of science.[25] We can see that in the wording of Harris’s argument. In saying that science is about finding “what’s going on in the universe” that pretty much subsumes everything that isn’t excluded form existence. Earp talks about a lecture that Harris gave at say about morality?” When prompted by Dawkins interview that he was going up against questions with which moral philosophers had grappled for centuries Harris said: “Well, I actually think that the frontier between science and philosophy actually doesn’t exist… Philosophy is the womb of the sciences. The moment something becomes experimentally tractable, then the sciences bud off from philosophy. And every science has philosophy built into it. So there is no partition in my mind.”[26] If there is no ground between philosophy and science then he’s subsuming ethics under the banner of science and there need be no difficulty. The problem is he’s not content to just allow philosophy to continue doing it’s thing, he wants to take over its ground but then impose his reduction and re-label everything and replace real moral philosophy with ideology (see the C.D. Board quote fn 4). He takes out moral reasoning and replaces it with reduction to numbers. Imposes a surreptitious value system in the guise of “facts,” and replaces duty and obligation with teleological thinking. This view is supposed to carry the assurance of being factual proof of what’s “going on in the universe” yet this just transgresses one of the basic concepts of modern thought. This is a problem sometimes referred to as “Hume’s Fork”[27] but more commonly called ‘the is-ought. part 2










[1] James Rachels, “Naturalism” pdf, http://www.jamesrachels.org/naturalism.pdf  accessed 5/27/13. Originally published in Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, Hugh Lafollette, ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000, 74-91, 2.
[2] Ibid. 2
[3] find Dorothy Emmett, morality is contestable.
[4] C.D. Broad quoted in Rachels, Op cit., 2. Original quotation by Broad, C. D.: “Some of the Main Problems of Ethics,” Philosophy, 31 (1946) 99-117
[5] Ibid.,1.
[6] E.O. Wilson, “the Biological Basis of Morality.” The Atlantic Online: The Atlantic Monthly Digital Edition (April, 1998) URL: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/98apr/biomoral.htm  visited July 25, 2012.
[7] E.O. Wilson, Consilience, New York: Knopf, Inc., 1998, p.240
[8] Patrcia S. Churchland, Braintrust: What Nueroscience tells us about Morality. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 2011, 12.
[9] Ibid., 12.
[10] Ibid., 12.
[11] Ibid., 13.
[12] Ibid.,14.
[13] Ibid.,14.
[14] Ibid., 26.
[15] Ibid.,26.
[16] Ibid., 191
[17] Ibid., 193
[18] Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values.” New York: Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2010, 28.
[19] Ibid. 28 (emphasis his).
[20] Ibid 28
[21] One difference in being a utilitarian as opposed to a general consequendtilsit would be that the utilitarian. would be that the utilitarian has the dictum of “greatest good for the greatest number.” Whereas a consequentialist who is not a utilitarian my try to forgo that idea.
[22] Ibid., 28
[23] Ibid., 30
[24] Ibid., 33
[25] Brain Earp, “Sam Harris is Wrong About Science and Morality,” Practical Ethics, ethics in the news, blog, University of Oxford, Nov. 17, 2011. http://blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk/2011/11/sam-harris-is-wrong-about-science-and-morality/  accessed 5/21/2013
The Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics  is at Oxford it’s a major think tank that deals with modern concerns of ethics and science.
[26] Ibid.
[27] “Hume’s fork” really refers to several things that all fall under the general category of “synthetic and a pripori.” The is-ought dichotomy falls under this rue brick in the sense that it’s a juxtaposition of a practical empirical sate of affairs “the is” vs a an ideal transcendent concept (the ought). The “is/ought” problem originally appears Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature, book III, part I, section 1.

49 comments:

im-skeptical said...

Where to begin ...

Ethical thinking is divided into two major schools of thought: deontological ethics and teleological ethics.
- Thank you, doctor, but that's wrong. Ethical thinking is generally divided into prescriptive and non-prescriptive ethics. Prescriptive is rule based, what we generally call 'deontological'. Non-prescriptive ethics may be referred to as consequentialism. But consequentialism is much broader than teleological ethics, which is just one form of consequentialism. Teleological ethics can be regarded as seeking with the growth, fulfillment, or actualization of the person. There are numerous other kinds of consequentialism, each with different goals. Some are oriented toward the material well-being of the individual, others may be oriented toward society in general, or even the good of the state.


The first problem loaded into this quotation is the implication that there is no value in back of ethics; the value application is so obvious that just knowing the fact will obtain it for us. Notice that eliminates any sort of value oritend thinking, such as philosophy and religion. It’s all just a matter of logic and facts.
- Wrong again. Wilson does NOT eliminate values from ethics. He is focused on understanding the origins of ethics scientifically. Where do our values come from? Is it God, or is it the socio-biological nature of humans? As far as I know, Wilson makes no attempt to dictate what our values should be, so you shouldn't feel so threatened by him, Joe. After all, science has already eliminated God from most other aspects of our understanding.


The most troubling aspect of the way she talks is that the brain seems to be a little man inside who is doing the real thinking and then fooling us into thinking it’s our idea. Brains care. Neurons care. We don’t care, we just think we do, brains do.
- Oh, brother. Only a dyed-in-the-wool religionist would interpret a scientific understanding brain function as being homuncular. Churchland does not believe in anything like your "little man inside". That is entirely your misconception, Joe.


So apparently it’s not just a matter of understanding what human beings value and want, but of teaching them what they should value and want? Who is to decide this?
- Of course, you unleash the sum of all your fears on Harris, because he is the only one of these who has broached the topic of determining what values should be. But you should calm yourself down. Nobody is trying to dictate your values to you. Nobody is trying to teach you anything except how to think in a more rational way. It is still up to you to decide how you should behave. You can choose to do that in a manner that is consistent with scientific understanding, or you can base your ethics on religious fantasies. It's up to you.

7th Stooge said...

- You can choose to do that in a manner that is consistent with scientific understanding, or you can base your ethics on religious fantasies. It's up to you.

Those aren't the only alternatives, of course. There's also philosophy and meta-ethics. It's not as simple as "science vs. superstition."

The problem with this naturalizing approach is the tendency to lose the phenomena, to lose what's essential and distinctive to moral thinking. There always seems to be a value system already implicit in this kind of approach. They lose the normative and subjunctive aspect of moral thinking in favor of what might have caused them. No matter how grounded in scientific data an ethical theory could be, it would always make sense to be able to ask "But is it right?"

Mike Gerow said...

As is implicit in Joe's post, it's just self-evident that an "ought" in a prescriptive not descriptive sense (almost by definition) is essentially transcendent and can never be based in what already "is" ....which is what Hume said.

Also, I'm not sure there is so much one-to-one correspondence between a general, human "moral" sense and evolutionistic survivability behaviors anyway.

That seems an oversimplified concept....we do things we hold in a "higher" sense to be "wrong" all the time in efforts to survive and propagate. Our more sneaky, backstabbing behaviors -- eg -- are generally frowned on by ethicists, but still have been shown extremely useful for propagating ourselves and our species.

im-skeptical said...

It's not as simple as "science vs. superstition."
- I agree. Nor is it an issue of sceientism trying to tell you how you should live.


it's just self-evident that an "ought" in a prescriptive not descriptive sense (almost by definition) is essentially transcendent and can never be based in what already "is" ....which is what Hume said.
- "Ought" is not imperative in the sense of a law. We all decide what we ought to do. Ought is based on goals, which are based on values. If we want to achieve a certain goal, then we ought to take a course of action that will be conducive toward reaching that goal. Hume recognized, as most of us do, that values are not derived from any logical deduction.


Also, I'm not sure there is so much one-to-one correspondence between a general, human "moral" sense and evolutionistic survivability behaviors anyway.
- It is pretty clear that human morality stems from evolved instinctive behavior patterns that enhance social interactions to produce greater cooperation to produce greater mutual survivability. This is the kind of stuff that scientists like Wilson investigate. Please note that their goal is to understand the basis of morality - not to dictate it to you, as Joe would have us believe.

Joe Hinman said...

thical thinking is divided into two major schools of thought: deontological ethics and teleological ethics.
- Thank you, doctor, but that's wrong. Ethical thinking is generally divided into prescriptive and non-prescriptive ethics. Prescriptive is rule based, what we generally call 'deontological'.

and teleology this is basic universal knowledge you do learn in intro classes, now here's another case where your lack of reading really shows,


Non-prescriptive ethics may be referred to as consequentialism.

No. your ignorance is so irritating, you don't this real basic thing about ethics and you think your so advanced! use your little brain why would non [rescrptiove ethics be consequential?There is a consequence to not prescribing things? what is it? Concequentalism is teleological or outcomeorietned ethics, That's where we say what makes it ethical is the outcome,or the consequences,



But consequentialism is much broader than teleological ethics,


that be but really I think those are synonyms, it may be that ethecists now use the former re to cover more ground than the latter but not so in my day. When I was in graduate school they were just synonyms,

Joe Hinman said...

here hare come google search stuff that shows they mean the same ting, and that they the major divisions are teleogy and deontolgoy

search: "the two major divisions ethical theory are deontology and teleology"

Teleological ethics | philosophy | Britannica.com
https://www.britannica.com/topic/teleological-ethics
Also known as consequentialist ethics, it is opposed to deontological ethics (from the Greek deon, ... to deontological ethics (from the Greek deon, “duty”), which holds that the basic ... a form of teleological ethics (utilitarianism) and deontological theories. ... …into two broad categories—deontological and teleological.

"What are the three types of ethical theories?

There are other ways in which moral philosophy and philosophers can be categorized, but establishing ethical theories into their three schools is a useful way to understand ethics. The three schools are virtue ethics, consequentialist ethics, and deontological or duty-based ethics.May 18, 2012"

[notice consequentalism and deontology are two iI;m right thatmeansthe threeare deontology teleology (consequntailism) and virtue--when I wasin grad school virtue ethics wasn;tbig yet]

Showing results for what is "consequentialist ethics?"
Search instead for what is "cosequentilakist ehtics?"

Search Results
"Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. ... Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods."

wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism

Joe Hinman said...

That seems an oversimplified concept....we do things we hold in a "higher" sense to be "wrong" all the time in efforts to survive and propagate. Our more sneaky, backstabbing behaviors -- eg -- are generally frowned on by ethicists, but still have been shown extremely useful for propagating ourselves and our species.

so you are just ethics is bull shit? you are saying normativity can be drives from need rather than value? They reasons we always do things we forbid is because we have sin nature, most of those things could be done differently i we loved. Most of that invokes being willing to sacrifice,

Joe Hinman said...


Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy"

https://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics/#SH2c

"Consequentialist Theories
It is common for us to determine our moral responsibility by weighing the consequences of our actions. According to consequentialism, correct moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action's consequences:

Consequentialism: An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable."

Stanford Encyclopedia

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consequentialism/

"Consequentialism, as its name suggests, is the view that normative properties depend only on consequences. This general approach can be applied at different levels to different normative properties of different kinds of things, but the most prominent example is consequentialism about the moral rightness of acts, which holds that whether an act is morally right depends only on the consequences of that act or of something related to that act, such as the motive behind the act or a general rule requiring acts of the same kind."

Ibid.(Stanford) when I sought teological ethics it doesn't even define it but kicked this up:

. Deontology's Foil: Consequentialism
Because deontological theories are best understood in contrast to consequentialist ones, a brief look at consequentialism and a survey of the problems with it that motivate its deontological opponents, provides a helpful prelude to taking up deontological theories themselves. Consequentialists hold that choices—acts and/or intentions—are to be morally assessed solely by the states of affairs they bring about. Consequentialists thus must specify initially the states of affairs that are intrinsically valuable—often called, collectively, “the Good.” They then are in a position to assert that whatever choices increase the Good, that is, bring about more of it, are the choices that it is morally right to make and to execute. (The Good in that sense is said to be prior to “the Right.”)


Joe Hinman said...

The problem with this naturalizing approach is the tendency to lose the phenomena, to lose what's essential and distinctive to moral thinking. There always seems to be a value system already implicit in this kind of approach. They lose the normative and subjunctive aspect of moral thinking in favor of what might have caused them. No matter how grounded in scientific data an ethical theory could be, it would always make sense to be able to ask "But is it right?"

Excellent point Jim I've observed about Harris;s view teiological ethics requires a value system already laid out in order to say what consequence is desirable.Apparently theydon;t use the ter theological anymore.

Joe Hinman said...

from essay:The first problem loaded into this quotation is the implication that there is no value in back of ethics; the value application is so obvious that just knowing the fact will obtain it for us. Notice that eliminates any sort of value oritend thinking, such as philosophy and religion. It’s all just a matter of logic and facts.

Skep:- Wrong again. Wilson does NOT eliminate values from ethics. He is focused on understanding the origins of ethics scientifically.


The origin of ethics is value(Emmiett Moral Prisiom) trying to get under value by pealing back the deterministic basis that makes us vlaue is losing the phenomena as 7 so adroitly put it and is doing exclamatory what I said trying to lay a preliminary groundwork that uproots the value system,


Where do our values come from? Is it God, or is it the socio-biological nature of humans? As far as I know, Wilson makes no attempt to dictate what our values should be, so you shouldn't feel so threatened by him, Joe. After all, science has already eliminated God from most other aspects of our understanding.

No little ignorant one science has not eliminated God from anything, you have no understanding,you blinding yourself. We are obviously going to be shaped by genetics and involvement, the Bible recognizes that, without communicating a complex understating, But consequential retires a a bassos for understanding desired outcome, So there;snore to it,


from essay:The most troubling aspect of the way she talks is that the brain seems to be a little man inside who is doing the real thinking and then fooling us into thinking it’s our idea. Brains care. Neurons care. We don’t care, we just think we do, brains do.


Skep:- Oh, brother. Only a dyed-in-the-wool religionist would interpret a scientific understanding brain function as being homuncular. Churchland does not believe in anything like your "little man inside". That is entirely your misconception, Joe.


pitting a white lab coat on it doesn't make it science, you need to learn real scientific thinking from the form cynical ideology,you need to be unfaird to think.



im-skeptical said...

"Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. ... Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods."
- Right straight from Wikipedia. And if you bothered to read the article, you would see that it agrees 100% with what I said. Teleological ethics is just one form of consequentialism.
1 Philosophies
1.1 State consequentialism
1.2 Utilitarianism
1.3 Ethical egoism
1.4 Ethical altruism
1.5 Rule consequentialism
1.6 Two-level consequentialism
1.7 Motive consequentialism
1.8 Negative consequentialism
1.9 Teleological ethics
1.10 Acts and omissions, and the "act and omissions doctrine"

im-skeptical said...

That seems an oversimplified concept....we do things we hold in a "higher" sense to be "wrong" all the time in efforts to survive and propagate. Our more sneaky, backstabbing behaviors -- eg -- are generally frowned on by ethicists, but still have been shown extremely useful for propagating ourselves and our species.
- Let me address this again. The sense of conscience has evolved because it enhanced the survival of the species. There may always be some tendency for individuals to act in a selfish way by taking advantage of others. But overall, that kind of behavior tends to have more negative consequences than positive. It breaks social relationships and reduces cooperation. There is strong evidence that this kind of behavior is NOT "extremely useful for propagating ourselves and our species." In fact, it is detrimental. That's why we have evolved a sense of conscience and fairness. It inhibits detrimental behavior. This is backed up by many scientific investigations.

Joe Hinman said...

Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. ... Consequentialist theories differ in how they define moral goods."
- Right straight from Wikipedia.

of course you totally ignore the quotes from Internet encyc and Stnaford Enc phil.

from former: "Consequentialist Theories
It is common for us to determine our moral responsibility by weighing the consequences of our actions. According to consequentialism, correct moral conduct is determined solely by a cost-benefit analysis of an action's consequences:"

the latter: "Consequentialists hold that choices—acts and/or intentions—are to be morally assessed solely by the states of affairs they bring about."


And if you bothered to read the article, you would see that it agrees 100% with what I said. Teleological ethics is just one form of consequentialism.

that is not what you said. if you read more than the first two lines of any post you would know i did say consequential can go beyond teleology, but both are oriented on outcome,

Joe Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Hinman said...

Let me address this again. The sense of conscience has evolved because it enhanced the survival of the species. There may always be some tendency for individuals to act in a selfish way by taking advantage of others. But overall, that kind of behavior tends to have more negative consequences than positive.It breaks social relationships and reduces cooperation. There is strong evidence that this kind of behavior is NOT "extremely useful for propagating ourselves and our species." In fact, it is detrimental. That's why we have evolved a sense of conscience and fairness. It inhibits detrimental behavior. This is backed up by many scientific investigations.


(1) merely committing is/ought fallacy: can't derive ought from is, behavior desn't not justify normative. Just linkimng it to evolutionary theory deos not exclaim the normative nature.

(2) You have not answered the argument that consequential assumes a pre set value system for outcomes without that you have no consequentialism.

(3) rich and powerful people get away with hurting others all the time obviously our concepts of good and evil far surpass immediacy We are self transcendent and our ethcialnorms are far more sophisticated than just consequential ethics,

im-skeptical said...

that is not what you said. if you read more than the first two lines of any post you would know i did say consequential can go beyond teleology, but both are oriented on outcome
- Lying about what I said ["But consequentialism is much broader than teleological ethics ... There are numerous other kinds of consequentialism" - 9:39 AM ] and lying about what you said, too ["Ethical thinking is divided into two major schools of thought: deontological ethics and teleological ethics." - OP]. Every time I point out your errors, you try to spin it to sound as if you were never wrong. But YOU WERE WRONG.


merely committing is/ought fallacy: can't derive ought from is
- I just got done explaining that values are not derived from logical deduction, which is Hume's view. I agree 100% with him. Do you?


You have not answered the argument that consequential assumes a pre set value system for outcomes without that you have no consequentialism.
- There is no "pre-set" value system. Different people have different values.


rich and powerful people get away with hurting others all the time
- Yes, they do. But you didn't read what I said. There were no such people when the sense of conscience evolved among primitive tribal groups.

Mike Gerow said...

- Yes, they do. But you didn't read what I said. There were no such people when the sense of conscience evolved among primitive tribal groups.

Does that mean there were no alpha males/females in those primitive tribal groups?

Sounds idyllic....

7th Stooge said...

- Right straight from Wikipedia. And if you bothered to read the article, you would see that it agrees 100% with what I said. Teleological ethics is just one form of consequentialism.

That's not my understanding. teleological and consequentialist ethics are pretty much the same. telos is the end or purpose of an action, what its consequences are.

7th Stooge said...

Skep, You argue that Joe is overreacting because none of the writers mentioned, other than harris, want to tell us what values to have. But that's not the ppoint. Joe's concern, and mine too and I think Mike's, is at a more meta-ethical level. If you can change the way people think about the basis of moral obligation to a more naturalisticand consequentialist one, then that will inevitably change the values that people hold. If nothing is right or wrong intrinsically or inherently, then everything is negotiable in terms of a consequentialist calculus.

Naturalists assume that if we can identify the conditions that generated moral thinking, such as pre-moral sentiments seen in other species, then that will give us a complete understanding of morality. But that doesn;t take into account the emergent properties in moral thinking enabled by language, self-awareness and self-modelling.

im-skeptical said...

Sounds idyllic....
- What? You mean God?

That's not my understanding. teleological and consequentialist ethics are pretty much the same. telos is the end or purpose of an action, what its consequences are.
- How theism-centric you are. There are many other consequentialist ethical systems that don't recognize teleology at all, even if you choose to ignore them.

Skep, You argue that Joe is overreacting because none of the writers mentioned, other than harris, want to tell us what values to have.
- Harris doesn't want to dictate your values, either. He is speaking to people who aren't mired in religious beliefs. You can ignore him if you choose (and I suspect you do).

Naturalists assume that if we can identify the conditions that generated moral thinking, such as pre-moral sentiments seen in other species, then that will give us a complete understanding of morality. But that doesn;t take into account the emergent properties in moral thinking enabled by language, self-awareness and self-modelling.
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you're really afraid of is the idea that God isn't needed for ethics. That's the whole basis of Joe's irrational hatred of "scientism". More and more, people are coming to the recognition that theistic beliefs are not based in reality, and theists can't stand it. They want everybody to fall in line and accept the ancient unscientific ways of thinking without asking any questions, just like the good old days. Sorry, but the times they are a-changin'.




JBsptfn said...

IMS: More and more, people are coming to the recognition that theistic beliefs are not based in reality, and theists can't stand it. They want everybody to fall in line and accept the ancient unscientific ways of thinking without asking any questions, just like the good old days. Sorry, but the times they are a-changin'.

And again, you show your ignorance, and your contempt for Christians. This statement is complete garbage.

Joe Hinman said...

7 saidNaturalists assume that if we can identify the conditions that generated moral thinking, such as pre-moral sentiments seen in other species, then that will give us a complete understanding of morality. But that doesn;t take into account the emergent properties in moral thinking enabled by language, self-awareness and self-modelling.

but also reducing everything to physical causes ignores the content in ethical thinking. To think values are always just encoded versions of physical need that make some forgotten situation in terns of food or shelter is to reduce humans to the level of unthinking animals.It means logic and reason have no role in human behavior.,

Joe Hinman said...

That's not my understanding. teleological and consequentialist ethics are pretty much the same. telos is the end or purpose of an action, what its consequences are.
- How theism-centric you are. There are many other consequentialist ethical systems that don't recognize teleology at all, even if you choose to ignore them.

It's not theistic it;s ethics. That's what every processor I've had as said. I studied consquentlism in doctoral work with the late Dr, Victor Worsfold, who studies with John Rawls at oxford. He was not a theist he was also gay.One of my best professors and a Friend.

Skep, You argue that Joe is overreacting because none of the writers mentioned, other than harris, want to tell us what values to have.
- Harris doesn't want to dictate your values, either. He is speaking to people who aren't mired in religious beliefs. You can ignore him if you choose (and I suspect you do).

you have proven your ignorance on very basic issue, it's clear you have never studied ethics, yet you still try to play the super wise all knowing thinker so superior to ignorant Christians. you are ignorant, you are unread,

Naturalists assume that if we can identify the conditions that generated moral thinking, such as pre-moral sentiments seen in other species, then that will give us a complete understanding of morality.

but that assumption is based upon the assumption that thinking and reason don't matter they have no place in human behavior. Humans are just organisms and what we actually think about things is just window dressing. That is the danger of reductionism because it reduces humans to a sub human level. it;s an anti-humanisitc doctrine,


But that doesn;t take into account the emergent properties in moral thinking enabled by language, self-awareness and self-modelling.
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you're really afraid of is the idea that God isn't needed for ethics. That's the whole basis of Joe's irrational hatred of "scientism".

you habitually misunderstand everything, you reduce all issues to a message board level. You reduce vast;y complex set of arguments agaisnt scientism that I wrote a whole book about: just I; afraid they don't like God. You self aggrandized neophyte,


More and more, people are coming to the recognition that theistic beliefs are not based in reality, and theists can't stand it. They want everybody to fall in line and accept the ancient unscientific ways of thinking without asking any questions, just like the good old days. Sorry, but the times they are a-changin'.

that;s bull shit, new atheism is dying. The last reason alley was such a failure they are not having another. Your whole movement degerenated into a fascistic hate group.

What's really hurting Christianity now is the right wing political stuff showing up the hypocrisy of many Christians,

7th Stooge said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you're really afraid of is the idea that God isn't needed for ethics. That's the whole basis of Joe's irrational hatred of "scientism". More and more, people are coming to the recognition that theistic beliefs are not based in reality, and theists can't stand it. They want everybody to fall in line and accept the ancient unscientific ways of thinking without asking any questions, just like the good old days. Sorry, but the times they are a-changin'.

I am correcting you then. That's not what I'm afraid of. Man, you've got God on the brain! You don't have to be a theist to be critical of scientism and scientific expansionism. And the times are always a-changin', including our ideas of progress.

7th Stooge said...

- Harris doesn't want to dictate your values, either. He is speaking to people who aren't mired in religious beliefs. You can ignore him if you choose (and I suspect you do).

As does the vast majority of reviewers of his book, theist, atheist and agnostic alike! And just because I can ignore someone doesn't mean he isn't trying to tell me what values to have, which was my original point.

Mike Gerow said...

The New Atheists, like Harris, tend to be euro-centric and sometimes display neocon/colonialist impulses at least in internt'l matters, as I've said before.....

im-skeptical said...

you habitually misunderstand everything, you reduce all issues to a message board level. You reduce vast;y complex set of arguments agaisnt scientism that I wrote a whole book about: just I; afraid they don't like God. You self aggrandized neophyte
- Joe, your own understanding of the issues at hand is naive and cartoon-ish at best. Let's take a look at what you said:
The ideological tendencies of scientism seek to scrap traditional philosophically based ethics and produce a whole new ethical system based upon a scientific understanding of human biology. ... What I call “Ethical naturalism” is an attempt to actually replace the philosophical discipline of ethics with one derived from science.[2] Of course the major issue is that science has no mission to determine how we should live.

This is pure bullshit. Who' trying to scrap traditional philiosopy? Who's trying to tell you how you should live? NOBODY. YOU are reducing the issues to message-board level, you pompous, pseudo-intellectual know-nothing. You have ZERO understanding of naturalistic philosophical ethical systems. And yet, you go around pretending to be some kind of authority. What a phony.

im-skeptical said...

And just because I can ignore someone doesn't mean he isn't trying to tell me what values to have, which was my original point.
- But he's NOT trying to tell you what values to have. And that was MY original point.

Joe Hinman said...

yes actually he is you didn't read his book,it would defeat the purpose of outcome originated ethics not to urge certain ends as the goal.

im-skeptical said...

Yes, I have read it, and I seriously doubt that you have read it. He's talking about a scientific way to develop a system of values that would lead to the overall best outcomes for mankind, but he's not trying to push those values on you or anyone else. That's what Christians do. They try to force everyone to live by THEIR values. They enforce those values with laws. Harris is not telling you how to live. You are still perfectly free to ignore everything Harris says, and live according to your own values, and no reasonable person would dispute that.

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger im-skeptical said...
Yes, I have read it, and I seriously doubt that you have read it. He's talking about a scientific way to develop a system of values that would lead to the overall best outcomes for mankind,

which means he will have to talk about the best values, he does he gives examples. which meas he has to have a preset value system with founded axioms, taht proves my point,


but he's not trying to push those values on you or anyone else.

that does no negate the argument I must made, None of my criticisms involved pushing values on people,


That's what Christians do. They try to force everyone to live by THEIR values. They enforce those values with laws.

actually we supplied the pre set value system that he's using,so we gave him his reason for thinking something is best,


Harris is not telling you how to live. You are still perfectly free to ignore everything Harris says, and live according to your own values, and no reasonable person would dispute that.


None of my criticism deal that. Also you miss the criticism of teleological ethics, another thing I criticizer

7th Stooge said...

- But he's NOT trying to tell you what values to have. And that was MY original point.

"The prescriptive project, arguing for what values people should hold, is the focus of Harris's "Science of Morality."" His entire book is an argument for what values people and societies should hold, and why.

7th Stooge said...

Yes, I have read it, and I seriously doubt that you have read it. He's talking about a scientific way to develop a system of values that would lead to the overall best outcomes for mankind, but he's not trying to push those values on you or anyone else. That's what Christians do. They try to force everyone to live by THEIR values. They enforce those values with laws. Harris is not telling you how to live. You are still perfectly free to ignore everything Harris says, and live according to your own values, and no reasonable person would dispute that.

That's like saying that Newton wasn't forcing you to believe in his laws of motion. A "should" means compelling reasons to do or believe so, and compelling reasons not to fail to do or believe so, not an enforcement mechanism.

im-skeptical said...

Disagree. These are not laws, and Harris isn't saying anyone has to agree with his approach. You are the evidence that I'm correct. If Harris pushed his morality the way Christians do, then you'd have something to complain about.

7th Stooge said...

It's not a matter of 'pushing' or 'enforcing' anything. He's focusing on prescriptive ethics. He's proposing what we OUGHT to believe is morally good and right. To be given compelling reasons why x is morally good and then to argue that it shouldn't be imperative to follow that thing is incoherent and self-refuting.

7th Stooge said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/books/review/Appiah-t.html

im-skeptical said...

The point that I disagree with Harris on is that you already have to accept the major value of the well-being of mankind as being worthwhile, or you won't accept his whole approach. Needless to say, many people don't share that as a value. And I still say that Harris is NOT pushing that on any of us. And there's nothing in your article that indicates he is pushing it on anyone, as I have been saying. If you don't accept it, you are still free to do so. It seems to me that you are upset that he merely PROPOSES something that doesn't match your own values. But so what?

Joe Hinman said...



7thStooge's link

Joe Hinman said...


Harris is not telling you how to live. You are still perfectly free to ignore everything Harris says, and live according to your own values, and no reasonable person would dispute that.


None of my criticism deal that. Also you miss the criticism of teleological ethics, another thing I criticizer

9:02 AM Delete

And I still say that Harris is NOT pushing that on any of us. And there's nothing in your article that indicates he is pushing it on anyone, as I have been saying. If you don't accept it, you are still free to do so. It seems to me that you are upset that he merely PROPOSES something that doesn't match your own values. But so what?

if I said what I said above: None of my criticism deal that. why would you think I;m upset about it?

I did say: which means he will have to talk about the best values, he does he gives examples. which meas he has to have a preset value system with founded axioms, taht proves my point,

you never answered that one you turned it into something else. You really on;t understand how argument is done,

im-skeptical said...

None of my criticism deal that. why would you think I;m upset about it?
- Because I can read, Joe. I read what YOU SAID, which is this: So it’s not going to just inform us of our values but “determine” them. Presumably regardless of what we do value, the priests of knowledge, those lucky enough to go to big name universities and major in genetics will determine what we want in the future.

You are clearly saying that Harris' scientific methods will be used to determine our values for us "regardless of what we do value". That is sheer bullshit. NOBODY IS TRYING TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD VALUE. And nobody has proposed that we have some system established for that to determine "correct" values and impose them on people who aren't willing to accept them, the way Christians try to do. And now you're trying to tell us that I'm not addressing your actual criticism of Harris. I am responding to precisely what you said. If it's not your argument, then why did make that claim?

Joe Hinman said...

None of my criticism deal that. why would you think I;m upset about it?
- Because I can read, Joe. I read what YOU SAID, which is this: So it’s not going to just inform us of our values but “determine” them. Presumably regardless of what we do value, the priests of knowledge, those lucky enough to go to big name universities and major in genetics will determine what we want in the future.

I was responding to this quote by Harris:

___________________Quote_________
“Rather I am arguing that science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want –and therefore, what other people should do and should want in order to live the best lives possible. My claim is that there are right and wrong answers to moral questions just as there are right and wrong answers to questions of physics, such answers may one day fall within reach of maturing science of the mind.”
__________________close____________

He himself he's going to control our values,there's a difference in shaping culture through dissemination of ethical axioms and leaving off ideas that cease to be known and craning down someone's through, he doesn't have to push values on us if get's us thinking in ways that abandon gerontological ethics and accept end result thinking in it;s place as ethics.



You are clearly saying that Harris' scientific methods will be used to determine our values for us "regardless of what we do value".

<>


That is sheer bullshit. NOBODY IS TRYING TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU SHOULD VALUE.


that is rubbish! your atheist fascism has been doimng that for 20 years.


And nobody has proposed that we have some system established for that to determine "correct" values and impose them on people who aren't willing to accept them, the way Christians try to do.

yes they do, read Boghoisean and Loftus,


And now you're trying to tell us that I'm not addressing your actual criticism of Harris. I am responding to precisely what you said. If it's not your argument, then why did make that claim?

He warns that he’s not trying to give a scientific account of what people do in the name of morality. Nor is he suggesting that science can help us get what we want out of life. “Rather I am arguing that science can, in principle, help us understand what we should do and should want –and therefore, what other people should do and should want in order to live the best lives possible. My claim is that there are right and wrong answers to moral questions just as there are right and wrong answers to questions of physics, such answers may one day fall within reach of maturing science of the mind.”

I backed it up with quote you did not

im-skeptical said...

I backed it up with quote you did not
- You need to learn to read. Harris said help us understand - not impose against your will.

7th Stooge said...

The point that I disagree with Harris on is that you already have to accept the major value of the well-being of mankind as being worthwhile, or you won't accept his whole approach. Needless to say, many people don't share that as a value. And I still say that Harris is NOT pushing that on any of us. And there's nothing in your article that indicates he is pushing it on anyone, as I have been saying. If you don't accept it, you are still free to do so. It seems to me that you are upset that he merely PROPOSES something that doesn't match your own values. But so what?

I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. Harris's approach is essentially prescriptive, which means he's arguing for what people ought to think about morality, the values people ought to hold. In moral philosophy, "pushing" amounts to demonstrating with the force of logic and reason, not with enforcement, punishments, etc. I'm not upset with Harris, I'm just pointing out that he is proposing what everyone ought to think about morality, and that his argument is weak, IMO.

The problem with Harris's argument is not whether or not you accept the major value of the well-being of mankind as a major value (that's a given) but in defining what that is in a convincing way and proposing the best ethical system for reaching that goal.

im-skeptical said...

he is proposing what everyone ought to think about morality
- That's not what he says.

Joe Hinman said...

I told you I know he's not trying to dictate but the proecess of establishing one idea of ethics crowds out another, the consequences of it are bad,it;s a sutler argument,


from the essay:

There is another troubling aspect to Harris’s take on science and ethics. Brain Earp, Research Associate, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics tells us that Harris tries to subsume ethics under the banner of science.[25] We can see that in the wording of Harris’s argument. In saying that science is about finding “what’s going on in the universe” that pretty much subsumes everything that isn’t excluded form existence. Earp talks about a lecture that Harris gave at Oxford, hosted by Richard Dawkins, called ““Who says science has nothing to say about morality?” When prompted by Dawkins interview that he was going up against questions with which moral philosophers had grappled for centuries Harris said: “Well, I actually think that the frontier between science and philosophy actually doesn’t exist… Philosophy is the womb of the sciences. The moment something becomes experimentally tractable, then the sciences bud off from philosophy. And every science has philosophy built into it. So there is no partition in my mind.”[26] If there is no ground between philosophy and science then he’s subsuming ethics under the banner of science and there need be no difficulty. The problem is he’s not content to just allow philosophy to continue doing it’s thing, he wants to take over its ground but then impose his reduction and re-label everything and replace real moral philosophy with ideology (see the C.D. Board quote fn 4). He takes out moral reasoning and replaces it with reduction to numbers. Imposes a surreptitious value system in the guise of “facts,” and replaces duty and obligation with teleological thinking. This view is supposed to carry the assurance of being factual proof of what’s “going on in the universe” yet this just transgresses one of the basic concepts of modern thought. This is a problem sometimes referred to as “Hume’s Fork”[27] but more commonly called ‘the is-ought

Joe Hinman said...

Since his views are teleological he brings on the standard problems with theological ethics

im-skeptical said...

but the proecess of establishing one idea of ethics crowds out another, the consequences of it are bad,it;s a sutler argument
- Joe, you do this again and again. The only thing you know about what Harris says is what you get from some negative review, because you definitely didn't read it yourself. Instead of parroting what some atheist-hater thinks about it, why don't you spell it out yourself. Tell us what Harris says that is going to lead to bad consequences. I especially want to see the part where he says he's going to subsume philosophy under the banner of science and thus take out moral reasoning. If you want to be so critical of what Harris says, you would be well advised to actually read and understand what he says.

Since his views are teleological he brings on the standard problems with theological ethics
- I guarantee, there's nothing "teleological" about Harris' views. It seems you don't even know what the word means.

Joe Hinman said...

Joe, you do this again and again. The only thing you know about what Harris says is what you get from some negative review, because you definitely didn't read it yourself.


Instead of parroting what some atheist-hater thinks about it, why don't you spell it out yourself. Tell us what Harris says that is going to lead to bad consequences. I especially want to see the part where he says he's going to subsume philosophy under the banner of science and thus take out moral reasoning. If you want to be so critical of what Harris says, you would be well advised to actually read and understand what he says.

we want a high level of intellectual discussion on this blog, none of the things you say above deal with ideas you are makimng wild claims based upon my disagreement with your hero, you can;t stand to see your hero criticized,

you are not capable of the kind of discussion we want here,you re chasing away serious discussants and you are bring down the quality of the blog,

Joe Hinman said...

Joe, you do this again and again. The only thing you know about what Harris says is what you get from some negative review,

unfounded accusation LIE not responsive to my arguments

because you definitely didn't read it yourself.

unfounded accusation LIE not responsive to my arguments


Instead of parroting what some atheist-hater thinks about it, why don't you spell it out yourself. Tell us what Harris says that is going to lead to bad consequences.

unfounded accusation LIE not responsive to my arguments--all of your crapis abigt personal attack

I especially want to see the part where he says he's going to subsume philosophy under the banner of science and thus take out moral reasoning. If you want to be so critical of what Harris says, you would be well advised to actually read and understand what he says.

the truth of it is you are so badly educated and unread your reading level is so unsophisticated you don't know what he says