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Old 09-01-2014, 12:26 AM   #176
Aaron W.
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Originally Posted by mrmr View Post
I said my community supports honor killing, and you said many people find honor killing to be morally grotesque, and I think you hit the nail on the head. Of course you can find other ways of rationalizing that emotional reaction and say "honor killings go against my belief in the value of individual expression," but I don't think that is why people say something is morally wrong. They say it is wrong because it is grotesque. It speaks to them. They feel it in their gut, and then find a way to support that sounds like a logical argument, but all it really means is that-makes-me-feel-awful. At least, that is what I suspect is going on.
You're welcome to "suspect [what is] going on" all you want. But all you're basically doing is saying that people who claim to have a moral philosophy that makes truth claims liars. They don't *really* have a moral philosophy, they're just working off a feeling in their gut.

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And I am not diverting. I said existing systems have problems with slippery slope...
I've already addressed this. It's a tu quoque. This observation, while true, is utterly irrelevant to the quality of thinking involved in your position.

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...and they have murder after birth (as opposed to abortion)
This phrasing suffers from multiple forms of mischaracterization. Not all killings are murder. At not all systems believe that capital punishment is justified.

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...and so pointing out that my revised system (which is status quo + it is good to abort DS babies) suffers from these things is not troublesome for me.
This is like eating dung and saying that this is not a problem because everyone else is doing it. It's not a particularly good argument for anything.

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The fact that some people outside of my community don't approve of what the millions and millions of people across many nations do support and believe is right and moral does not somehow mean that existing moral systems do not entertain murder. It does not alter my original point that attempting to deal with DS fetuses as a "special case" and then merge it into a broader system of morals is reasonable, and not an illogical or ill fated project, simply because I don't know the answers to many other important moral questions.
The challenge is for you to actually *attempt* to resolve the problem. In so doing, you might learn to think more consistently. Otherwise, I'm just going to accuse you of intellectual laziness.

You might want to stop for a moment and make a decision about your underlying moral philosophy. Are you a moral noncognitivist? Are you a moral relativist? Even taking the time to draw a distinction at that level would be helpful for you to being the process of thinking about things.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:48 PM   #177
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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You're welcome to "suspect [what is] going on" all you want. But all you're basically doing is saying that people who claim to have a moral philosophy that makes truth claims liars. They don't *really* have a moral philosophy, they're just working off a feeling in their gut.
Obviously if I'm right, then people who disagree with me may very well be wrong. If you think that is the primary and essential outcome of my views expressed in this thread, and you want to characterize that as me calling people liars, be my guest. But I suspect you have an ax to grind. And even if you don't, it is still irrelevant.

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This phrasing suffers from multiple forms of mischaracterization. Not all killings are murder. At not all systems believe that capital punishment is justified.
So substitute the word of your choice for "murder". It doesn't change my point.

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This is like eating dung and saying that this is not a problem because everyone else is doing it. It's not a particularly good argument for anything.
Your arguments and mine are actually equally cogent if we characterize them both as a dung eating contest. They are both just people eating crap. But what if we analyze what I actually argued?

If I propose modifying a flawed system to reduce suffering, pointing out that the system would still be flawed is not a particularly good argument against my proposal.
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:39 PM   #178
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Originally Posted by mrmr View Post
Obviously if I'm right, then people who disagree with me may very well be wrong.
So... you're a moral realist?

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If you think that is the primary and essential outcome of my views expressed in this thread, and you want to characterize that as me calling people liars, be my guest. But I suspect you have an ax to grind. And even if you don't, it is still irrelevant.
It's not an ax to grind, but rather trying to find out where your ax is located. You've gone from moral noncognitivism to what appears to me moral realism (since you allow the possibility that you're "right" and others are "wrong").

But as I said, you're free to "suspect" whatever. But if your suspicion is that "deep down" everybody is just going from "a feeling in their gut" and nothing more, it becomes hard to take your observations as being meaningful.

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So substitute the word of your choice for "murder". It doesn't change my point.
Doesn't it? If I use the term "justifiable killing" or "mercy killing" or "unjustifiable killing" or any of a number of other things, that creates a very different moral perspective than "murder."

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Your arguments and mine are actually equally cogent if we characterize them both as a dung eating contest. They are both just people eating crap. But what if we analyze what I actually argued?

If I propose modifying a flawed system to reduce suffering, pointing out that the system would still be flawed is not a particularly good argument against my proposal.
But you haven't exactly proposed that system. And what you've argued is precisely what I've described.

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What I wrote is that other points of view suffer equally with an incomplete answer, with loopholes, with potentially slippery-slopes and no ironclad defenses against them. So calling me out for those kinds of problems is not a particularly persuasive blow against my point of view.
This is the tu quoque. I say that your moral system has problems, and I showed you those problems. You say that those problems are not persuasive because all moral systems have problems. That's the analysis so far.

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Old 09-09-2014, 08:51 AM   #179
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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So... you're a moral realist?
Was I making a moral claim?
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:40 PM   #180
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

Aaron...under what circumstances (if any) do you personally believe abortion is morally justifiable? And under what circumstances (if any) do you personally believe abortion is a morally obligatory?

To get you started thinking, let's consider a case where the mother has to choose between her own life and her newborn's life due to a physiological complication that is certain to lead to her death if she doesn't terminate the pregnancy. Moreoever, let's consider that this mother has 4 other childen which she needs to provide for, educate and take care of. Her death would likely mean a significantly deprived childhood and psychological problems for at least 1 of the 4 children.

Can abortion in this circumstance be morally justifiable? If not, can you please provide me a circumstance in which you do think it is morally justifiable, and a circumstance in which you think it is morally obligatory (if you believe in moral obligations that is).

Another example may a mother who has been an unwilling recipient of sperm (i.e., rape victim or 'condom broke' scenario).

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Old 09-14-2014, 10:15 PM   #181
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Aaron...under what circumstances (if any) do you personally believe abortion is morally justifiable? And under what circumstances (if any) do you personally believe abortion is a morally obligatory?
I believe it may be morally justifiable to abort the baby in order to preserve the life of the mother. I believe that in some unusual circumstances, it may be permissible to preserve the life of the baby at the expense of the life of the mother.

I'm not sure that I can imagine a situation in which abortion is morally obligatory. Death in childbirth in which both the mother and the child both die can be considered a morally permissible outcome.

However, I don't believe that a clear moral "rule" can be made to account for all possible permutations of the situation. This moral calculation changes with changes in medical technology. A good moral "principle" is that we should attempt to preserve life as much as possible.

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To get you started thinking, let's consider a case where the mother has to choose between her own life and her newborn's life due to a physiological complication that is certain to lead to her death if she doesn't terminate the pregnancy. Moreoever, let's consider that this mother has 4 other childen which she needs to provide for, educate and take care of. Her death would likely mean a significantly deprived childhood and psychological problems for at least 1 of the 4 children.
Okay. Throwing in more complications doesn't fundamentally change anything, and is only useful when arguing against completely inflexible moral absolutists.

Since the mother's life is at risk, it becomes morally permissible to terminate the pregnancy. But it's worth noting that real life situations usually don't have such strong guarantees of death, and there are plenty of options such as giving birth prematurely (giving both the change to live) which factor into these types of situations. So I would say that your picture is insufficiently detailed to allow for a meaningful analysis.

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Another example may a mother who has been an unwilling recipient of sperm (i.e., rape victim or 'condom broke' scenario).
"Condom broke" doesn't do much for me. If you're having sex, you need to understand that there may be unintended consequences to your behavior. We still hold people responsible for things like "involuntary manslaughter" so it's not unreasonable that people can still be morally culpable for an unintended outcome (and hence must take responsibility for their actions).

The rape victim elicits empathy, but I actually have a difficult time arguing that rape (on its own) changes the moral calculus sufficiently to make abortion morally permissible. "Unwanted" or "uninvited" doesn't create a sufficiently strong moral argument for killing.

But I'd also argue that the moral responsibility lies on the "community-at-large" (in our situation, probably governmental support agencies) to assist the woman through the pregnancy and provide support on the back-end (including financial support).
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:29 PM   #182
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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I believe it may be morally justifiable to abort the baby in order to preserve the life of the mother. I believe that in some unusual circumstances, it may be permissible to preserve the life of the baby at the expense of the life of the mother.

I'm not sure that I can imagine a situation in which abortion is morally obligatory. Death in childbirth in which both the mother and the child both die can be considered a morally permissible outcome.

However, I don't believe that a clear moral "rule" can be made to account for all possible permutations of the situation. This moral calculation changes with changes in medical technology. A good moral "principle" is that we should attempt to preserve life as much as possible.



Okay. Throwing in more complications doesn't fundamentally change anything, and is only useful when arguing against completely inflexible moral absolutists.

Since the mother's life is at risk, it becomes morally permissible to terminate the pregnancy. But it's worth noting that real life situations usually don't have such strong guarantees of death, and there are plenty of options such as giving birth prematurely (giving both the change to live) which factor into these types of situations. So I would say that your picture is insufficiently detailed to allow for a meaningful analysis.



"Condom broke" doesn't do much for me. If you're having sex, you need to understand that there may be unintended consequences to your behavior. We still hold people responsible for things like "involuntary manslaughter" so it's not unreasonable that people can still be morally culpable for an unintended outcome (and hence must take responsibility for their actions).

The rape victim elicits empathy, but I actually have a difficult time arguing that rape (on its own) changes the moral calculus sufficiently to make abortion morally permissible. "Unwanted" or "uninvited" doesn't create a sufficiently strong moral argument for killing.

But I'd also argue that the moral responsibility lies on the "community-at-large" (in our situation, probably governmental support agencies) to assist the woman through the pregnancy and provide support on the back-end (including financial support).
You've given me very direct answers for a change and I appreciate it. You don't think its morally permissible to abort a child if a woman was raped or if a condom broke, but you do think it is morally permissible to abort a child if its a threat to the mother's life.

These answers are parsimonious with your belief that we must do everything we can to preserve life. However there are many instances (even ones I've been exposed to) where the preservation of life comes at an enormous cost to the qualify of life of more than a single individual. There are also instances where the 'preservation of life' as a "good moral principle" can have enormously negative trickle-on effects. Can we agree to this?

Furthermore, your post indicates that you don't believe in moral absolutes yet your answers to my questions have been shaped in a way that they are guided by this principle of 'preserving life as much as possible'. I believe that this is incongruent and implies that you do to some extent believe in moral absolutes and moral obligations....

Moreover, if you truly don't believe in moral obligations and moral absolutes then by what measure can you argue for the principle of 'preserve life as much as possible' over a more utilitarian principle such as 'reduce suffering as much as possible'?
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:49 PM   #183
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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These answers are parsimonious with your belief that we must do everything we can to preserve life. However there are many instances (even ones I've been exposed to) where the preservation of life comes at an enormous cost to the qualify of life of more than a single individual. There are also instances where the 'preservation of life' as a "good moral principle" can have enormously negative trickle-on effects. Can we agree to this?
Yes, there are clearly trickle-on (trickle-down?) effects. But that's true of virtually all life events, both controllable and uncontrollable. I don't believe the ultimate good is to maximize "quality of life." So arguing from that perspective is not particularly persuasive.

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Furthermore, your post indicates that you don't believe in moral absolutes yet your answers to my questions have been shaped in a way that they are guided by this principle of 'preserving life as much as possible'. I believe that this is incongruent and implies that you do to some extent believe in moral absolutes and moral obligations....

Moreover, if you truly don't believe in moral obligations and moral absolutes then by what measure can you argue for the principle of 'preserve life as much as possible' over a more utilitarian principle such as 'reduce suffering as much as possible'?
You are welcome to believe that it is incongruent, but you haven't demonstrated or explained the incongruency in any meaningful way.

There is a significant gap between a moral absolute and a moral obligation, so I'm really not sure what your underlying observation really is here. Clearly, I believe that there are moral obligations. But that in no way implies anything about moral absolutes.

There's also a gap between a moral truth and a moral principle. It's possible to follow a moral principle and end up with a false moral conclusion. You should think of moral principles as being rules of thumb that approximate moral truths.

There are reasonable analogies to poker in this.
* "Tight is right" is a reasonable moral principle that guides preflop play. It's not always right, but it's a pretty good starting point.
* "Don't chase an inside straight draw" is a pretty good rule of thumb, but there are big pot situations in limit hold'em and implied odds situations in no-limit where chasing becomes appropriate.
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:07 PM   #184
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Yes, there are clearly trickle-on (trickle-down?) effects. But that's true of virtually all life events, both controllable and uncontrollable. I don't believe the ultimate good is to maximize "quality of life." So arguing from that perspective is not particularly persuasive.



You are welcome to believe that it is incongruent, but you haven't demonstrated or explained the incongruency in any meaningful way.

There is a significant gap between a moral absolute and a moral obligation, so I'm really not sure what your underlying observation really is here. Clearly, I believe that there are moral obligations. But that in no way implies anything about moral absolutes.

There's also a gap between a moral truth and a moral principle. It's possible to follow a moral principle and end up with a false moral conclusion. You should think of moral principles as being rules of thumb that approximate moral truths.

There are reasonable analogies to poker in this.
* "Tight is right" is a reasonable moral principle that guides preflop play. It's not always right, but it's a pretty good starting point.
* "Don't chase an inside straight draw" is a pretty good rule of thumb, but there are big pot situations in limit hold'em and implied odds situations in no-limit where chasing becomes appropriate.
If a moral principle is a "rule of thumb" according to you, and your personal beliefs on abortion (as explained in your answers to my questions) stem from a rule of thumb (principle) - that we should preserve life as much as possible...

then...if I have a different rule of thumb, from which my own beliefs on abortion stem from, by what measure can you argue that your rule of thumb is more beneficial or meaningful? The fact that you seem to believe that your rule of thumb is somehow preferable to my utilitarian rule of thumb is fine. I would just like to know however, by what measure specifically, can you justify this preference?

Me personally. I don't think your rule of thumb is any worse than my own. They are simply different and more often than not they will lead to the same moral conclusions. In a few occasions - such as abortion - they will lead to different conclusions. This discrepancy, if there is any real measure to compare them, I believe originates from how much you value individual right to choice.

I believe an individual's right to choice, regarding their own body and their own future is to be highly valued. If this right infringes on other people's rights, the dynamics of power, determination and influence will and should dictate whose rights prevail. I think that you personally do not value an individual's right to choose, as highly as I do, and for this reason, our moral conclusions differ.

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Old 09-14-2014, 11:49 PM   #185
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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If a moral principle is a "rule of thumb" according to you, and your personal beliefs on abortion (as explained in your answers to my questions) stem from a rule of thumb (principle) - that we should preserve life as much as possible...

then...if I have a different rule of thumb, from which my own beliefs on abortion stem from, by what measure can you argue that your rule of thumb is more beneficial or meaningful? The fact that you seem to believe that your rule of thumb is somehow preferable to my utilitarian rule of thumb is fine. I would just like to know however, by what measure specifically, can you justify this preference?
I would say that the argument for "more beneficial" is mostly irrelevant. It basically is a concession that morality should be measured in a utilitarian manner. I don't believe that this is the appropriate choice of moral philosophy. I'm interested in determining what is true.

With regards to "more meaningful" I would just argue against utilitarianism in general and use any sort of weakness in your presentation against you. As a moral philosophy, it is a system that is easily and infinitely manipulable, as the calculations involved are inherently vague, but when made specific are clearly seen to be somewhat useless. I would also point out that your usage of "rights" is probably problematic for your view. "Rights" only exist insofar as they are "useful" and not because of any inherent "right to choose" something.

I view the success of a moral philosophy in terms of its ability to actually determine truth, not its ability to determine usefulness. (This doesn't negate that moral decisions may be useful, but that's more coincidental than consequential.) There are many things that can be useful that I would think are "immoral." It can be useful to deceive for personal gain, but that does not immediately make it right to deceive for personal gain.

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Me personally. I don't think your rule of thumb is any worse than my own. They are simply different and more often than not they will lead to the same moral conclusions. In a few occasions - such as abortion - they will lead to different conclusions. This discrepancy, if there is any real measure to compare them, I believe originates from how much you value individual right to choice.

I believe an individual's right to choice, regarding their own body and their own future is to be highly valued. If this right infringes on other people's rights, the dynamics of power, determination and influence will and should dictate whose rights prevail. I think that you personally do not value an individual's right to choose, as highly as I do, and for this reason, our moral conclusions differ.
You are correct that "right to choose" in my mind is probably not as highly valued as in yours. I think that the current society is too individualistic, often arguing from an extremely selfish point of view. This seems pretty clear based on the fact that you are emphasizing the individual's right and not something like a "collective good." It's far from obvious that what is best for the individual is best for everyone. Thus, you may have difficulty applying your moral philosophy as you've laid it out to problems that affect larger segments of society.

I also suspect that the argument about "people" is one that you are not likely to continue to embrace, specifically when pressed on the definition of personhood. You are likely to defend the powerful in this case, and not defend the powerless.
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Old 09-15-2014, 12:29 AM   #186
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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I would say that the argument for "more beneficial" is mostly irrelevant. It basically is a concession that morality should be measured in a utilitarian manner. I don't believe that this is the appropriate choice of moral philosophy. I'm interested in determining what is true.
If you don't believe in moral absolutes then how can one rule of thumb have more moral truth than another? How are you defining 'truth'? If you define 'truth' as 'a close approximation or representation of reality' then by this common definition your rule of thumb does not represent reality any more accurately than my own. Particularly as social policy and public opinion is reaching a consensus that is in favour of abortion. If social policy and public opinion is becoming increasingly in favour of abortion, then this viewpoint can be argued to be a closer approximation of reality. If moral truths are shaped by public consensus in any way, then this viewpoint can be argued to be a closer approximation of reality.
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With regards to "more meaningful" I would just argue against utilitarianism in general and use any sort of weakness in your presentation against you. As a moral philosophy, it is a system that is easily and infinitely manipulable, as the calculations involved are inherently vague, but when made specific are clearly seen to be somewhat useless. I would also point out that your usage of "rights" is probably problematic for your view. "Rights" only exist insofar as they are "useful" and not because of any inherent "right to choose" something.
Everything that exists is contingent on something else. This is because everything is interconnected. In other words, everything that does exist, is there because it serves or had served something else - in other words....it either is or was somehow useful. When you say that "rights only exist insofar as they are useful" you're not really saying anything, because everything exists only insofar as it is or has been useful. Without atoms, you wouldn't have molecules and without quarks you wouldn't have atoms: each function serves as a useful building block for other emergent functions.
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I view the success of a moral philosophy in terms of its ability to actually determine truth, not its ability to determine usefulness. (This doesn't negate that moral decisions may be useful, but that's more coincidental than consequential.)
This is correct under the assumption that there is a truth to determine. How do you justify this assumption? Some are of the belief that there is a truth to create, rather than a truth to discover or determine.
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You are correct that "right to choose" in my mind is probably not as highly valued as in yours. I think that the current society is too individualistic, often arguing from an extremely selfish point of view.
And the evolutionary process is not selfish? The fact that every species of life on earth is comprised of a hierarchy is not selfish? Even the most altruistic species on earth, such as bees, have a clearly defined hierarchy. Is this individualistic point of view not a closer approximation of reality? Biological implications for the way that society is organised have the benefit of arguing that they are closer approximations of reality.
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I also suspect that the argument about "people" is one that you are not likely to continue to embrace, specifically when pressed on the definition of personhood. You are likely to defend the powerful in this case, and not defend the powerless.
If you treat populations like children and you restrict their individual rights to choose, they will behave like children. Politicians and world leaders have little faith in individuals to make the right choices and the fact that you don't value individual choice as highly as me is a reflection of this lack of faith, and an appeal to the powerful who get to influence and control the behaviour and choices of the powerless.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:21 AM   #187
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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If you don't believe in moral absolutes then how can one rule of thumb have more moral truth than another?
Maybe you should actually look up the term "moral absolutism." I don't really understand how this question makes sense.

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How are you defining 'truth'?
Moral statements (that are well-formed) are either true or false corresponding to whether they match the reality of morality.

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<snip>
I'm mostly going to shrug at you on all of this. Most of what you type can be categorized as pretty speculative and not really that meaningful of a starting point for a conversation on morality. The link between quarks and atoms as one of "usefulness" and making some sort of jump to human rights is extremely tenuous.

Can you tell me whether you are a moral realist or a moral noncognitivist? You seem to be rejecting that moral statements can even be true or false.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:28 AM   #188
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

I'm interested by what standard moral statements can be true on your account Aaron. If moral principles can be rules of thumb that lead to approximate truths what distinguishes these approximations from actual moral truth?

What is the reality of morality, how do we know it.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:37 AM   #189
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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I'm interested by what standard moral statements can be true on your account Aaron.
They are true if they correspond to the moral reality.

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If moral principles can be rules of thumb that lead to approximate truths what distinguishes these approximations from actual moral truth?
The distinction is between that which is true and that which we think is true. There is an underlying claim that morality exists (basically) as facts of the universe. Just because we think something is true about reality, we don't have any way of knowing in some absolute sense that it is true. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't pursue those truths. It's just a matter of doing the best we can with what we know.

Perhaps there's some confusion embedded in "approximately" true? It's not that in any given situation, such a moral principle would be 99% true. But rather, it would mean something more like 99% of the time, using this moral principle will lead one to correctly reach a "morally permissible" conclusion.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:41 AM   #190
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Maybe you should actually look up the term "moral absolutism." I don't really understand how this question makes sense.



Moral statements (that are well-formed) are either true or false corresponding to whether they match the reality of morality.



I'm mostly going to shrug at you on all of this. Most of what you type can be categorized as pretty speculative and not really that meaningful of a starting point for a conversation on morality. The link between quarks and atoms as one of "usefulness" and making some sort of jump to human rights is extremely tenuous.

Can you tell me whether you are a moral realist or a moral noncognitivist? You seem to be rejecting that moral statements can even be true or false.
Although I don't believe in the true/false dichotomy concerning morality, the best measure of the truth of a moral statement, to me, would be its usefulness. This is often confused however, with 'usefulness to society'. When I say it however, I am referring to a grander sense of the word: usefulness to the species. The two are very different although they are typically conflated. When talking about a species, as opposed to a society, certain values become less meaningful and other values increase in meaning.

Whatever definitional box this puts me into, I fail to see how labelling my beliefs helps you or me understand them better. I believe in aspects from many definitional boxes. Why must I belong to one box or another?

I don't believe that moral statements can be true or false because I don't think it is a dichotomy between true or false. I believe that moral statements can be more useful to the species at one point in time and less useful to the species at another point in time. This is separated from notions of 'true or false' because dichotomous notions of 'true or false' imply that there are moral principles in existence which hold true regardless of circumstance, and that is just not the case. Moral principles can be useful, but they cannot be true because they are subjective and contingent upon circumstance.

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Old 09-15-2014, 01:44 AM   #191
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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They are true if they correspond to the moral reality.

The distinction is between that which is true and that which we think is true. There is an underlying claim that morality exists (basically) as facts of the universe. Just because we think something is true about reality, we don't have any way of knowing in some absolute sense that it is true. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't pursue those truths. It's just a matter of doing the best we can with what we know.
How do we know if they correspond to the moral reality?

You've said the success of a moral philosophy is based on its ability to determine moral truth? Do you mean determine or reveal? How do you know when a moral philosophy does this?
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:21 AM   #192
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Although I don't believe in the true/false dichotomy concerning morality, the best measure of the truth of a moral statement, to me, would be its usefulness. This is often confused however, with 'usefulness to society'. When I say it however, I am referring to a grander sense of the word: usefulness to the species. The two are very different although they are typically conflated. When talking about a species, as opposed to a society, certain values become less meaningful and other values increase in meaning.
Useful *how*?

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Whatever definitional box this puts me into, I fail to see how labelling my beliefs helps you or me understand them better. I believe in aspects from many definitional boxes. Why must I belong to one box or another?
Categories make the world more understandable. It also helps to analyze statements more meaningfully.

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I don't believe that moral statements can be true or false because I don't think it is a dichotomy between true or false. I believe that moral statements can be more useful to the species at one point in time and less useful to the species at another point in time. This is separated from notions of 'true or false' because dichotomous notions of 'true or false' imply that there are moral principles in existence which hold true regardless of circumstance, and that is just not the case. Moral principles can be useful, but they cannot be true because they are subjective and contingent upon circumstance.
None of this really has any meaning with respect to true and false. It may be true that killing someone is the most humane thing to do in one situation and true that killing someone is not the most humane thing to do in another situation. Your basic claim simply doesn't seem to be accurate.

Have you looked up moral absolutism yet?
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:24 AM   #193
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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How do we know if they correspond to the moral reality?
The moral reality can be explored by a combination of reason and experience (which includes observations, just as the rest of reality can be explored in a similar manner. We know that we have a good correspondence to reality when things match up well.

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You've said the success of a moral philosophy is based on its ability to determine moral truth? Do you mean determine or reveal? How do you know when a moral philosophy does this?
I'm not sure how you're distinguishing between determination and revelation.

A moral philosophy does well this when the pieces match up well.
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:46 AM   #194
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Useful *how*??
Useful to many measures of both financial and non-financial progress including the long-term survival, well-being and happiness of our species. Some of these measures are weighed more heavily than others since some are more important during particular times. As such, it is a dynamic criteria of many measures already collected by many institutions including the organisation for economic cooperation and development, the global competitiveness index, the happiness index and a whole variety of environmental impact indexes.
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It may be true that killing someone is the most humane thing to do in one situation and true that killing someone is not the most humane thing to do in another situation. Your basic claim simply doesn't seem to be accurate.
And where is the false? If both are true, to some degree, then why have 'false' in the dichotomy? You can't say that it is 'false' to kill someone in a particular situation. It is either right or wrong (to some particular measure, i.e., utility): true or false have nothing to do with it.
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Have you looked up moral absolutism yet?
No.
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:09 AM   #195
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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The moral reality can be explored by a combination of reason and experience (which includes observations, just as the rest of reality can be explored in a similar manner. We know that we have a good correspondence to reality when things match up well.
I'm hoping you'll be a bit more specific, you aren't telling me how reason and experience reveal moral truth. How do you know moral truth when you see it and what does it look like

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I'm not sure how you're distinguishing between determination and revelation.

A moral philosophy does well this when the pieces match up well.
I'd like you to be more specific with regard to the pieces.

If a moral philosophy determines moral truth it seems that the moral fact is true by virtue of corresponding to the moral philosophy, where it is revealed by the moral philosophy this is not the case.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:51 AM   #196
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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Useful to many measures of both financial and non-financial progress including the long-term survival, well-being and happiness of our species. Some of these measures are weighed more heavily than others since some are more important during particular times. As such, it is a dynamic criteria of many measures already collected by many institutions including the organisation for economic cooperation and development, the global competitiveness index, the happiness index and a whole variety of environmental impact indexes.
In other words, morality is whatever you think it's supposed to be at any particular moment.

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And where is the false? If both are true, to some degree, then why have 'false' in the dichotomy? You can't say that it is 'false' to kill someone in a particular situation. It is either right or wrong (to some particular measure, i.e., utility): true or false have nothing to do with it.
The "false" operates in the same manner. If it is true that killing someone is the most humane decision in some circumstance, than it is false that not killing them is the most humane decision in that circumstance.

I think you should also distinguish between moral claims and moral decision-making. They are not the same.

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No.
You should probably at least inform yourself somewhat. You have said several times that I'm a moral absolutist, but there's nothing in what I've said so far that is consistent with that accusation.
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:22 AM   #197
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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I'm hoping you'll be a bit more specific, you aren't telling me how reason and experience reveal moral truth.
How do reason and experience reveal truth in general? You have a baseline set of life experiences that are evaluated in a mental framework that is guided by heuristics about the nature of those experiences.

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How do you know moral truth when you see it and what does it look like

I'd like you to be more specific with regard to the pieces.
This is a very broad and difficult question to answer. In general, our concept of truth is cobbled together from experiences that somehow correspond and connect to each other. A cup falls when I drop it. An apple falls when I drop it. It seems like everything falls when I drop it, so therefore we have truth that things fall when we drop it (except when they don't fall, like helium balloons). But this is sufficient to generalize a concept about things falling that is (mostly) true that leads us to the idea of gravity -- and then the exceptions can be dealt with as they arise to give us other concepts.

Similarly, there seem to be moral claims that fit within our baseline experiences. We understand in our moral intuitions that killing people randomly seems wrong. In fact, as we reflect on it further, we find killing in general seems to be against our base moral intuitions so often that we conclude that there is a general moral fact about killing people (that we shouldn't do it) which can be phrased in some form like a moral principle that affirms the preservation of life.

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If a moral philosophy determines moral truth it seems that the moral fact is true by virtue of corresponding to the moral philosophy, where it is revealed by the moral philosophy this is not the case.
A statement is true by virtue of it corresponding to the universe. Moral truths are no different than other truths in the universe. I think I hold what is called a moral descriptivist position, that moral statements are true if they accurately describe the moral reality of the situation. The statement "X is moral" is true because it accurately describes the morality of X. (Think of something like "The car is blue" being true when the car is blue.)
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:35 AM   #198
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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A statement is true by virtue of it corresponding to the universe. Moral truths are no different than other truths in the universe. I think I hold what is called a moral descriptivist position, that moral statements are true if they accurately describe the moral reality of the situation. The statement "X is moral" is true because it accurately describes the morality of X. (Think of something like "The car is blue" being true when the car is blue.)
What do you mean by moral reality?

What framework are you using to define what "moral" is? its not clear to me from reading what you wrote.

The car is blue, is only true if we all agree on what blue is, and can all equate an experience we have as the experiencing of "blue".

Are you saying there is a similar thing where we all agree on what "moral" is? If so, this doesnt make it correspond to the universe in any way. I mean, "I am in the UK" is only true in the sense that we are all agreed that a specific part of planet earth is called the UK, and we all have an understanding of what "country" means. It only very loosely ( if at all) corresponds to the universe.
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Old 09-15-2014, 11:07 AM   #199
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

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How do reason and experience reveal truth in general? You have a baseline set of life experiences that are evaluated in a mental framework that is guided by heuristics about the nature of those experiences.

This is a very broad and difficult question to answer. In general, our concept of truth is cobbled together from experiences that somehow correspond and connect to each other. A cup falls when I drop it. An apple falls when I drop it. It seems like everything falls when I drop it, so therefore we have truth that things fall when we drop it (except when they don't fall, like helium balloons). But this is sufficient to generalize a concept about things falling that is (mostly) true that leads us to the idea of gravity -- and then the exceptions can be dealt with as they arise to give us other concepts.

Similarly, there seem to be moral claims that fit within our baseline experiences. We understand in our moral intuitions that killing people randomly seems wrong. In fact, as we reflect on it further, we find killing in general seems to be against our base moral intuitions so often that we conclude that there is a general moral fact about killing people (that we shouldn't do it) which can be phrased in some form like a moral principle that affirms the preservation of life.

A statement is true by virtue of it corresponding to the universe. Moral truths are no different than other truths in the universe. I think I hold what is called a moral descriptivist position, that moral statements are true if they accurately describe the moral reality of the situation. The statement "X is moral" is true because it accurately describes the morality of X. (Think of something like "The car is blue" being true when the car is blue.)
Thanks for the detailed reply.

It seems like you're a moral realist, this entails cognitivism that moral statements are beliefs that attempt to describe the world, and those attempts to describe the world and can be true or false.

The challenge for the realist is to identify the property to which a moral statement refers. When you tell me the car is blue, we know the property to which blue refers and we can both recognise it, any disagreement, assuming we are both normally sighted, can only be a mistake in the description not in the actual experience. with moral statements the property doesn't seem so easy to identify.

You seem to have intuition doing the work here which is consistent with a non natural realism.

I tend to think that our moral intuitions are important and give me reason to agree that moral statements can be true or false but the question is whether our intuitions track moral facts, and if they do what are the actual properties to which they refer, or somehow define them which seem implausible given the psychological and environmental factors that guide our moral intuitions.
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Old 09-15-2014, 12:28 PM   #200
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Re: Idiot Richard Dawkins opens his mouth again: "It's immoral not to abort Down's Syndrome bab

I have very much enjoyed the high quality of recent exchange in this thread.

I own a blue car, Ford Escape for those that require particulars. I find the coincidence to have no meaning but I still felt compelled to mentioned it.
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