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Old 06-10-2020, 08:58 AM   #1
Mightyboosh
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Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

This is just a fairly broad question about what moral theories people subscribe to. It's not really aimed at theists since their source of morality is a god and so that's fairly cut and dried, no decision to be made, but what about the rest of us?

Personally, I'm a fan of Virtue theory, just because all the moral theories that I know of have problems and that one is really just about being nice to people, being a nice person, even though it's probably more useless than most in helping us solve moral problems. But, that's where I am currently.

What's your favourite moral theory/framework and why?
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Old 06-10-2020, 10:54 AM   #2
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

I always ask myself: What would Jean-Luc Picard do? He always does the right thing.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:23 AM   #3
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

I believe it was Aristotle who first articulated the idea that the VALUE of something is closely aligned with its FUNCTION (or PURPOSE).

Ethics falls under a branch of philosophy that was once called AXIOLOGY, which is essentially "Value Theory".*

Based on this idea, a "true" system of ethics must begin by asking, "What is the purpose of humans?"

Or, perhaps better, "Why are human beings valuable?".

*AXIOLOGY primarily encompassed ethics and aesthetics.
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Old 06-10-2020, 11:33 AM   #4
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

I like you.
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Old 06-10-2020, 12:45 PM   #5
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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I always ask myself: What would Jean-Luc Picard do? He always does the right thing.
Does he though? Sometimes what seems like the right thing to do is the wrong thing to do.

Engage....
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Old 06-10-2020, 12:47 PM   #6
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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I like you.
I don't know if I like you, are you a nice person?
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Old 06-10-2020, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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I believe it was Aristotle who first articulated the idea that the VALUE of something is closely aligned with its FUNCTION (or PURPOSE).

Ethics falls under a branch of philosophy that was once called AXIOLOGY, which is essentially "Value Theory".*

Based on this idea, a "true" system of ethics must begin by asking, "What is the purpose of humans?"

Or, perhaps better, "Why are human beings valuable?".

*AXIOLOGY primarily encompassed ethics and aesthetics.
So, nice to have a chat on a subject on which I'm not particularly settled in my views, that being said..... if we talk about purpose, I don't see how can avoid bringing God into it. But...

Why does life need to have a purpose?
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Old 06-10-2020, 02:51 PM   #8
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
So, nice to have a chat on a subject on which I'm not particularly settled in my views, that being said..... if we talk about purpose, I don't see how can avoid bringing God into it. But...



Why does life need to have a purpose?
Life doesn't HAVE to have a purpose.

But it seems to me that an ethical system would have to come from whatever the purpose of life is (if any).
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Old 06-10-2020, 03:44 PM   #9
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Life doesn't HAVE to have a purpose.

But it seems to me that an ethical system would have to come from whatever the purpose of life is (if any).
Ok, let's explore this then. How would we determine purpose? I.e. what it is, why it is, where it originates from, that sort of thing.
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Old 06-10-2020, 04:18 PM   #10
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Ok, let's explore this then. How would we determine purpose? I.e. what it is, why it is, where it originates from, that sort of thing.
The creator of something determines its purpose. (More precisely, the creator of something determines the initial purpose of the thing created.)

For example, I might publish an instructional landscaping book called "Planting : From Seed to Reed."

My purpose for that book that I wrote (created) was to teach people how to become better gardeners.

Say someone buys my book, NOT because they have any interest in gardening, but because my book was in the 50 rack in the used book store, and this someone needed something cheap to use as a door stop.

In this case, MY purpose for the book was not the same as the purchasers purpose for the book.

So, some questions arise with respect to human purpose:

1. Were people created for a purpose?

2. If so, can people know (or at least have a good idea) what that purpose is?

3. Are people obliged to act in accordance with that purpose, or are people free to act in a manner inconsistent (in at least in some ways) with that purpose?

4. Are there consequences for wilfully acting in a manner inconsistent with the purpose of our creation?
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Old 06-10-2020, 08:22 PM   #11
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

Created is an incorrect proposition/term/axiom: you need to go back to RGT if that is the basis for discussion. Which is an interesting discussion in itself and has been explored there before.

Better for SMP discussion: Primates evolved on Planet X in solar system y to a point where they question the meaning of their existence, morality and place within the “universe”, as so far known.
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Old 06-10-2020, 08:34 PM   #12
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Created is an incorrect proposition/term/axiom:
No it isn't.

Quote:

you need to go back to RGT if that is the basis for discussion.
Okay. Bye.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:13 PM   #13
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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No it isn't.

Okay. Bye.
It is for this forum; not for RGT and I made that explicit in the explanation.

Goodbye.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:15 PM   #14
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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It is for this forum; not for RGT and I made that explicit in the explanation.



Goodbye.
Thanks for the clarification, Zeno.

Stay well !
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:28 PM   #15
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

The purpose of life is to play the game and to explore higher complexity.

Essentially things do not have to have a purpose but the most important things they lead to can be seen as their "purpose".

Like the purpose of life is to create intelligent life and lead to wisdom and higher complexity because ultimately once this happens the fate of all other life is settled in a way.


I say the purpose of this universe is revealed by the process that happens in it that lead to more intriguing developments in terms of what systems can do that they couldn't before.

So the main theme is the rise of complexity in this universe. Ie to create more and more elaborate bound systems (hadrons then atoms then molecules then macromolecules, DNA, etc brains, AI etc) that end up having interesting properties that give them more degrees of freedom.

You do need to sit down and derive your ethics using math and physics.

We need some axioms maybe until we revisit the outcome of this discussion later.


I propose the most important thing for life is to survive another day and get better at playing the game in order to survive further and experience a better condition of living.

So you have to search for a process that creates wisdom and having a peaceful society for example makes it easier typically. So you develop cooperation and golden rules that lead to principles of conduct towards others and institutions so that suffering and dying quickly becomes less likely. But its not developing always in a way that you have no victims. The acquisition of wisdom is messy and requires to fail often guided by seemingly selfish choices that promote aggressiveness that ultimately prove inferior to other behavior. Then aggressiveness becomes important again if the system gets lazy and boring and starts failing from within by not being active enough. This is why history is full of extremes and trends that change.

Wisdom creation gets messy and the brain is not exactly the best possible brain yet so what do you expect when it cuts corners all the time and insists on locally optimizing pleasure at the expense of greater stability and pleasure later. Nature made the brain that way to optimize survival based on pleasure (food, sex, fear) and creating societies can at times lead to conflicts with that natural tendency for pleasure. So wisdom and immediate pleasure fight constantly to define ethics. Certain things need to be done but are not pleasurable. Like obviously having many females to have sex is great for you locally (if straight say). What about them? What kind of world this leads to of course is another question if all go after that drive. If we had 40 to 1 at birth female to male ratio our ethics would be different on this. What if we developed a process that males kills each other until one can have 40 females? Is that a better world? I dont think so. It doesnt optimize progress likely and you always have to look after yourself unable to turn your back long enough to the threats out there.

So it quickly gets very complicated once you recognize your own condition and the complexity of systems around that form. It can get so complicated eg as realizing that if i have to live and all others have to die then i probably should die and go against prime directive above because by now i have come to realize that the most important thing for life is not for individual to survive at all cost but for life in general to survive because it stands a higher chance to lead to more intriguing complexity and potential pleasure, happiness, exploration, strength, wisdom etc.

So maybe refine prime axiom to improve the chance for higher exploration to happen. So create a world that higher exploration is possible that implies less suffering more cooperation and competition and motivation. Then find you get in trouble down the road and refine your axioms and improve your ethics.

So what is ethics but a constant improvement of your understanding of what is important guided by more math and science. It has to be evolving. Somehow i can derive probably all core ethics by a principle of maximization of wisdom accumulation and exploration at reduced suffering of the individuals involved.

So dont kill others and dont cheat, cooperate, be fair, develop rules and institute schools etc. But we probably dont have it all optimized yet in all this. After all how could we, we never saw it as so vastly important to study it seriously and care enough to convince each other about what we all can agree with and create such world. Instead we let is happen gradually without too much focus on where this is taking us.

Last edited by masque de Z; 06-10-2020 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:54 PM   #16
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
So, nice to have a chat on a subject on which I'm not particularly settled in my views, that being said..... if we talk about purpose, I don't see how can avoid bringing God into it. But...



Why does life need to have a purpose?
I have purpose* in my life and no God. It isn't that hard.

If we are going to talk about sliced cheese or whether boobs are nice, do you see how can avoid bringing God into it?

I'm more or less a utilitarian, except when it doesn't suit me.

*actually, multiple purposes.
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Old 06-11-2020, 01:21 AM   #17
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

Science doesnt close the door to the concept of a creator or God. In fact doing that would be totalitarian and unscientific. However unlike religion in the absence of direct evidence that is reproducible yet it doesnt postulate the existence of a higher power. It is however potentially true although unsatisfactory because it continues to move the question to who created God and what is God or why would something like that exist without being part of nature itself unless all this was their experiment. But then who created their world?

Maybe self consistency creates both and God is the universe itself or the natural law but we have no evidence of something external to physics playing a role in the game.

I see no reason a person leaves the discussion because they are theists for example as long as we play the game with scientific reasoning or any reasoning actually that is not postulating things taken as unquestionable without evidence. But if reproducible evidence exists i certainly want to hear in this from all places SMP and i make it my goal to understand the universe deeper to entertain the possibility of something interesting out there but i still have no evidence for it and i can develop ethics with math and physics alone. I will admit however that in the absence of math and physics its better to have a story that offers an example of a proper ethical being than none at all. Science is not the enemy of religion. In my opinion its the next step. It is the enemy of totalitarian arbitrarily postulated systems though. We do have science in part because we had religion first. Both as a good response to it and as revolution against dogma.

I will in fact entertain the position that one can be more ethical without dogma precisely because without arbitrary guidance one is forced to prove things and consider more possibilities and hold themselves to a higher scrutiny not because of arrogance but because they care for the truth and they know they can be wrong.

Last edited by masque de Z; 06-11-2020 at 01:31 AM.
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Old 06-11-2020, 02:25 AM   #18
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Science doesnt close the door to the concept of a creator or God. In fact doing that would be totalitarian and unscientific. However unlike religion in the absence of direct evidence that is reproducible yet it doesnt postulate the existence of a higher power. It is however potentially true although unsatisfactory because it continues to move the question to who created God and what is God or why would something like that exist without being part of nature itself unless all this was their experiment. But then who created their world?

Maybe self consistency creates both and God is the universe itself or the natural law but we have no evidence of something external to physics playing a role in the game.

I see no reason a person leaves the discussion because they are theists for example as long as we play the game with scientific reasoning or any reasoning actually that is not postulating things taken as unquestionable without evidence. But if reproducible evidence exists i certainly want to hear in this from all places SMP and i make it my goal to understand the universe deeper to entertain the possibility of something interesting out there but i still have no evidence for it and i can develop ethics with math and physics alone. I will admit however that in the absence of math and physics its better to have a story that offers an example of a proper ethical being than none at all. Science is not the enemy of religion. In my opinion its the next step. It is the enemy of totalitarian arbitrarily postulated systems though. We do have science in part because we had religion first. Both as a good response to it and as revolution against dogma.

I will in fact entertain the position that one can be more ethical without dogma precisely because without arbitrary guidance one is forced to prove things and consider more possibilities and hold themselves to a higher scrutiny not because of arrogance but because they care for the truth and they know they can be wrong.
Would like to participate, but I have been banished from this thread.

Apparently God and Philosophy don't mix in this Forum.

I'm not complaining. Zeno's the boss, and he can allow or disallow whatever he wants.

Edit: Many college Philosophy textbooks have a section on the "Divine Command Theory" of Ethics.

Goodbye! (For reals this time.)
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Old 06-11-2020, 03:29 AM   #19
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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Originally Posted by lagtight View Post
The creator of something determines its purpose. (More precisely, the creator of something determines the initial purpose of the thing created.)

For example, I might publish an instructional landscaping book called "Planting : From Seed to Reed."

My purpose for that book that I wrote (created) was to teach people how to become better gardeners.

Say someone buys my book, NOT because they have any interest in gardening, but because my book was in the 50 rack in the used book store, and this someone needed something cheap to use as a door stop.

In this case, MY purpose for the book was not the same as the purchasers purpose for the book.

So, some questions arise with respect to human purpose:

1. Were people created for a purpose?

2. If so, can people know (or at least have a good idea) what that purpose is?

3. Are people obliged to act in accordance with that purpose, or are people free to act in a manner inconsistent (in at least in some ways) with that purpose?

4. Are there consequences for wilfully acting in a manner inconsistent with the purpose of our creation?
So, as Zeno points out, this is has swiftly returned to god. We avoided god being the source of morality, but then god became the source of purpose from which morality comes. So, this just isn't a conversation I can have with a theist here, and even if we go back to RGT with it, I can tell you that I'll just ask you to prove god so that's a dead end too.

Maybe I'll start a thread about an Epistemological subject after all.

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Many college Philosophy textbooks have a section on the "Divine Command Theory" of Ethics.
Happy to talk about this but I think we know where it goes and it's equally pointless. Been around that block a few times.
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Old 06-11-2020, 04:27 AM   #20
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

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<snip>

So what is ethics but a constant improvement of your understanding of what is important guided by more math and science. It has to be evolving. Somehow i can derive probably all core ethics by a principle of maximization of wisdom accumulation and exploration at reduced suffering of the individuals involved.
Doesn't this suggest that there's a perfect set of objective values that exist that we can slowly strive toward? What if that's not true and morals are whatever suits us in our particular society at that particular moment and there is actually no right and wrong, only what works.
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Old 06-11-2020, 08:39 AM   #21
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

I think for a subject like this you need to get outside the box of the excluded middle. You need to include the middle and accept contradictions. The answers lie in the experience of poetry, art, music, and life rather than the logic and calculations of science.

It's metaphors all the way down.


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Old 06-11-2020, 10:10 AM   #22
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

Yeah, but that doesn't work for the sort of people who think that an answer must exist for any question.
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Old 06-11-2020, 11:05 AM   #23
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

I think we mainly want to do good because we are partly part of our surroundings.

Evolution fixed our mindset.
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Old 06-11-2020, 11:27 AM   #24
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

Nah. The direction is the opposite. If evolution had rewarded us for spitting on the sidewalk, that is what we'd consider good.
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Old 06-11-2020, 12:08 PM   #25
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Re: Question about the philosophy of morality and moral theories

Yes.

But evolution placed us in a mindset for overall survival by "acknowledging" the facts. Spitting on the street would reflect a mindset which produces no streets.
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