Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Human Action, Morality, & Natural Law (Pt.II of A Problem w/ Free Market?)

rated by 0 users
This post has 128 Replies | 3 Followers

Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,260
Points 61,905
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
Staff
SystemAdministrator

Liberte and Jesse,

Thank you both for your kind words regarding my patience.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Sun, Apr 25 2010 11:38 PM

wilderness:
Propositions are acted when you argue.

Lilburne:  "No they are not.  Value judgments are enacted when you argue.  Propositions are only expressed when you argue."

expression is an action

wilderness:
The proposition itself is also an act as it does act in the world, meaning, it is real.

Lilburne:  "No, the formulation of, reflection upon, or utterance of a proposition is an act.  A verifiable/falsifiable proposition itself is not an act.  If it was, then there would be such a thing as a refutable action, which is nonsense."

You rephrased what I said.  I don't know how what you said follows from what I said.  A refutable action happens.  A proposition that say is false.  Is a false proposition.  What is real about them are they are real false propositions.  Phemenology.

wilderness:
even when a person doesn't argue their very existence, meaning, what they are doing demonstrates an argument/proposition.

Lilburne:  "No.  Again, action only demonstrates a value judgment, a preference."

You're misunderstanding what I'm saying.  The act of a preference is an act and does act.  Yet I can acknowledge my preferences in action and make propositions about them.  Those propositions, if true, were or are demonstrated when I act.  Those propositions are founded on preferences acted and those preferences acted are potential propositions.  So those propositions being potential about any one person's actions are demenstrated in the acts themselves.  Whether or not I've put those propositions into words is irrelevant.

wilderness:
Human action can't be refuted because in order to refute it, then it has to be used.

Lilburne:  "No, human action can't be refuted because it is not a proposition in the first place."

I told you that already.  And who are you responding too?  Why are you saying "no"?  I gave you the definition of what an axiom is which human action is an axiom.  Are you saying human action isn't an axiom?  Why did you say "no"?  Look at my quote.  Did I say human action is a proposition?  The definition of an axiom of human nature which is different from mathematics is it is an axiom when it is negatively demonstrated.  Aristotle had already proved this point. 

That's why I said to you long ago remember?  What is missing about you asking E.O. to make a proposition about argumentation ethics?  What is missing about you asking for a proposition of private property?  Now do you see what I meant?

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Sun, Apr 25 2010 11:39 PM

If human action is natural law, then all the awful things humans do are as much a part of that law as private property and liberty are, correct?

Also, I appreciate the compliment.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Sun, Apr 25 2010 11:53 PM

Human action is a natural law.  Not the only one.

Private property by definition is the person.  Liberty is another word for choice or judgments of value.

All people already are these.  People become 'awful' or do 'awful' things when they try to do what is impossible and end up dying off.  I mean this in the most general way.  I gave one example in a recent post in this thread.  If all people became robbers, then no person would possess anything because everything would be taken from everybody else.  That is the robber's theory. 

It's an impossible way for humans to exist.  Does society handle this from time to time?  Most certainly, and it is the breaking points or crisis that some people try to avoid so the whole of society isn't sucked into the robber theory of doing what is impossible.

The robber's theory is logically impossible because we can see if everybody did it, it wouldn't work.  It is not that the act of robbery isn't impossible.  It happens.  It's who's theory is best for human nature.  Everybody being innocent or everybody being a robber.  Clearly the innocent theory is sustainable.  The robber theory is not.  But will existence on this earth enjoy a time when all people follow the innocent theory and finally get rid of the robber theory.  Probably not.

edit:  I mean Lilburne, Liberte, and Jesse are all three arguing over the fact that people are not to possess life, liberty, and private property.  So who knows.  I know they don't mean to, but they don't know what natural law is, clearly none of them have demonstrated this knowledge.  They argue against natural rights which are a theory that include the very axioms life, liberty, and private property.  So philosophically attack natural rights in the A-T tradition and such a debater is attacking the very life, liberty, and private property.  In a court of law these are the very subjects under question.  Innocent until proven guilty is based entirely upon this notion that it takes peace to have a person in the first place so all people are assumed peaceful/innocent until otherwise if the act of justice is enacted in symmetrical fairness, meaning, all parties involved are given just equality in the face of the law.  A society that can't maintain justice in whatever way the society interprets their common law theorizing to be, if they can't maintain it, then in real terms it will be lost.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,260
Points 61,905
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
Staff
SystemAdministrator

wilderness:
expression is an action

Expressions are indeed themselves actions, but that-which-is-expressed (which includes propositions) is not.

 

wilderness:
wilderness:
The proposition itself is also an act as it does act in the world, meaning, it is real.

Lilburne:  "No, the formulation of, reflection upon, or utterance of a proposition is an act.  A verifiable/falsifiable proposition itself is not an act.  If it was, then there would be such a thing as a refutable action, which is nonsense."

You rephrased what I said.

No, I said the opposite of what you said.  You said that propositions are acts.  I said that they are not.

wilderness:
those preferences acted are potential propositions.

No, the preferences are the potential subjects of propositions.  They never can become propositions themselves.

 

wilderness:
wilderness:
Human action can't be refuted because in order to refute it, then it has to be used.

Lilburne:  "No, human action can't be refuted because it is not a proposition in the first place."

I told you that already.

I'm agreeing with the conclusion "human action can't be refuted", but disagreeing with how you arrived at that conclusion.  The reason why it can't be refuted has nothing to do with the fact that argumentation is an action.  It can't be refuted simply because it's not a proposition in the first place.

wilderness:
Now do you see what I meant?

What I am finally seeing ever more clearly with every one of your posts is the source of your confusion.  You don't understand the distinction between words and the things they represent.  You are indeed a something of a realist, but not in the Aristotelean sense, as you claim.  In fact you seem to be plagued by the kind of realism Aristotle and Aristoteleans throughout history had to combat.  In many of your notions, you are a conceptual realist, in the tradition of Plato and medieval thought before Abelard.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:11 AM

 If everyone chose to rob and kill at the same time then society would break down.  However, there is a risk involved in these activities that not all people are willing to take.  Therefore, some people will choose to do "wrong" and others will choose "right" based on the level of risk they're willing to take.  

The innocent theory may be sustainable but it is impossible.  Crime pays.  It always will.  In fact, the more innocent people there are, the more it potentially pays to be a criminal.  So there will always be people who respond to those incentives and steal.  They're as much a part of human action as the innocent people are if you ask me. 

EDIT: I think I've realized what you're saying.  Human action is natural law and natural law is human nature therefore human action is human nature.  Right?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:20 AM

1 - The proposition is in the expressed act it is acted.  We must be using different definitions of this because I've already cited my source ("Intro. to Logic" by Cohen).

2 - In Aristotelian terms what is real is an act or potential act.  Again I think we are using different meanings.

3 - Ah.  I see what you're saying.  I was talking about the full proposition.  Not the preferences being only the subjects of the propositions.  I was already including that the preferences (subjects), 'are' (copula), and what is predicated upon the subjects.  I didn't realize that you were only referring to the subject of the proposition.  But I did point out to you that terms are abstract and empirical data too.  Then I went on to point out in a previous post that terms are not names.  I said there is a difference.  The names are the words.  The terms are what I have defined them as.

4 -  Argumentation isn't a proposition either.  I still don't know why you said "no".  It appears we are agreeing here on this point.

5 - You never mentioned "words" anywhere before until now.  That's the first time you brought that up.  I know the difference between words and what they represent.  I've been pointing that out to you already and have already stated that you are conflating the words with the acts themselves.  Go back some posts.  I had already mentioned this to you.  It's ironic that you're now saying I'm doing this.  I'm not sure why you have come to this conclusion.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 345
Points 7,035
Jesse replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:24 AM

We've really gotten off topic since the OP. Haha.

I Samuel 8

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,221
Points 34,090
Moderator
Nitroadict replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:26 AM

Jesse:


We've really gotten off topic since the OP. Haha.


Welcome to our world.  

"Look at me, I'm quoting another user to show how wrong I think they are, out of arrogance of my own position. Wait, this is my own quote, oh shi-" ~ Nitroadict

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:27 AM

bloom,

That's why I said that there probably will never be a full enactment by all people using the innocent theory.

Well, I thought we were talking about the natural law of human nature.  There are natural laws that the natural sciences discover.  Human action is of human nature.  Human nature in generic phrasing means:  'the definition of a human'.  Nature in that context and is readily used this same way in other contexts means "definition".   Nature=definition in that context.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:28 AM

Well then you must admit that if there is a human nature, it is not entirely innocent.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:42 AM

It depends on how much your trying to define what human nature is.  For instance, the essense of human nature is innocence, meaning, it has to be peaceful because life can't exist in pure destruction.  But individuals of humans do have the tendency to do harm to other humans and to themselves.  Human nature does have that tendency.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,260
Points 61,905
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
Staff
SystemAdministrator

wilderness,

You have often conflated words and things they represent, refer to, or in some other way are related to.  You don't understand that natural rights refer to life, liberty, and property (and even that, only in libertarian doctrines), and are not those things themselves.  You don't understand the difference between a proposition and the utterance of a proposition.  You don't understand the difference between a proposition and the judgments of value that its utterance implies.  And you don't understand the difference between a judgment of value and a proposition about a judgment of value.  Notions that are in truth distinct, seem to float about in your head, commingling and fusing in all manner of ways.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:46 AM

I think human nature is to weigh potential benefits against potential costs. That's why some people choose innocence and some people choose to be the robber, based on their individual values and preferences and how they respond to said incentives. So that's why I think Lilburne and Esuric are right in that economics is the better approach to convincing people because it simply says that if you do A, you will get B.  It doesn't say whether you should or shouldn't want B, it just says that if you try to do something other than A to get B, you won't get it.  Cost/benefit.   Much more convincing based on human nature imo.  What do you think?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:54 AM

First, I said that natural rights are a theory.  That theory, now that you brought up words into the discussion, involves words.  Some theories are put into practice so on that point there is no difference when a theory can be applied.  It's a matching 1 for 1 for the words directly labeling a particular act.

Secondly, I had said that natural rights theory is based on axioms.  Those axioms are life, liberty, and private property.  The axioms within the theory are axiomatic and not propositions because they are the very life, liberty, and private property that are not words but it is obvious that when I type them here they are words labeling the very acts.

Thirdly, a proposition and utterance of a proposition are two different things.  I most certainly had recognized that.

Fourthly, I had already gone through the steps with you on how judgments of value can be made into propositions.  I had said that judgments of value are potential propositions and putting those propositions into words is irrevelant to the demonstration of the judgements of value.  That doesn't mean the judgments of values are the propositions themselves that become words.  But it does mean that propositions are grounded in real judgment of values (the empirical data) and the propositions are abstract.  Propositions include evidence and abstraction (words).  I have said this about three times now, but until now I didn't think I had to make it explicit that "abstract" refers to words, etc....

Fifth, your last sentence was covered in my 'fourth'. 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 12:59 AM

bloom,

These are simply two different subjects.  There is economics but there will always be the need to maintain a society.  Economics doesn't happen without private property.  There will always be the need for justice.  Economics is based on human nature because it is humans doing the economic action.  Economic action only happens in peace ala Mises in "Socialism". 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 1:04 AM

They are two different subjects but the original question was something like "which is more persuasive?"

Imo, because human action tells us that human nature is to weigh things based on personal values and desired ends (which you basically just agreed to), it makes more sense to tell people the economic argument and spare them the moral argument because you will be appealing to their natural human tendency to weigh things based on self interest.

The other thing about natural law is that the term "law" makes it sound legal, which it isn't.  You're really arguing that human nature is literally a universal law like gravity.  So the terminology is confusing.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

'There is an important difference between morality and moralism.

 
moralism |ˈmôrəˌlizəm; ˈmär-|nounthe practice of moralizing, esp. showing a tendency to make judgments about others' morality'
 
Just to ask, are you saying that libertarians can or cannot criticize the morality of others? Because if it is cannot then what is the defense against a state?
 
'By "take ends as given" I mean not trying to change whatever ends other people might have.  I don't mean supposing that they have any particular ends (desiring freedom, prosperity, and non-violence).'

Oh, I see you mean ends that we are just naturally born with in the Misesian sense?
 
'The "show him/her that it is beneficial to do A or B" bit is a matter for economics and the technical arts and sciences.  The natural rights theorist has nothing to add save wishful thinking and rhetoric.  As Mises affirmed in Human Action, natural rights is simply rhetorical nonsense'
 
Well ethics is apart of science. The social sciences. A subfield of philosophy. What I see in your argument is a sprint from A to B. Point A [ values ], Point B [ effects ]. You're saying how economics can show all these wonderful things at Point B, which it does, but you are ignoring Point A.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 345
Points 7,035
Jesse replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 1:53 AM

Bloom,

Do you think that economics and praxeology imply a certain set of normative ethics? Just to be clear, this is what Wilderness believes.

Grayson, I, and others have been arguing that it does not; indeed it cannot. This doesn't mean that ethics doesn''t exist and should never be appealed to (although some would maintain this).

I Samuel 8

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 2:15 AM

@Jesse, I don't really know.  Normative codes are legal concepts to me.   Laws require external enforcement.

Economics and praxeology seem to come with their own internal enforcer; human nature.  Ethics really don't.  They need external enforcement.  

Dunno if that really answers your question or not though.  

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 345
Points 7,035
Jesse replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 2:31 AM

Well, most people would maintain that normative ethics are more than just legal concepts. If morality and legality were the same thing, this would imply that a law could never be immoral, which seems pretty absurd.

The laws of economics and praxeology can never be broken; human nature dictates that they will always be followed. Ethical laws, however, (if they exist) can be broken. They are only enforced by a man-made legal code (to the extent that these laws mirror ethical norms) and God, if he exists and cares about our actions. The fact that we have a choice when it comes to ethical law is where the notion of "ought" comes into play: you can disobey ethical law, but you ought not to. The fact that ethical law isn't binding and determinative as praxeology is, seems to strongly imply that the two are independent concepts. What do you think?

I Samuel 8

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 2:34 AM

Jesse:

The laws of economics and praxeology can never be broken; human nature dictates that they will always be followed. Ethical laws, however, (if they exist) can be broken. They are only enforced by a man-made legal code (to the extent that these laws mirror ethical norms) and God, if he exists and cares about our actions. The fact that we have a choice when it comes to ethical law is where the notion of "ought" comes into play: you can disobey ethical law, but you ought not to. The fact that ethical law isn't binding and determinative like praxeology is seems to strongly imply that the two are independent concepts. What do you think?

That's exactly what I was trying to say I totally agree.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 345
Points 7,035
Jesse replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 2:50 AM

bloomj31:
That's exactly what I was trying to say I totally agree.

That's the first time I've heard that on this thread, haha. Try telling that to Wilderness. He won't have it.

I Samuel 8

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,118
Points 87,310
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

Jesse:


We've really gotten off topic since the OP. Haha.


Welcome to our world.  

Gratefully, there are plenty of mods in this thread to split the off-topic threads. :P

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,415
Points 56,650
filc replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 3:35 AM

The ethical nihilists are prominent where I least expected them. They contridict themselves with each consecutive post. Economics is value free yes, but man is not and he makes a value judgement with each action he takes. Those judgements are directed by his own ethical code of conduct.

Such is the praxleological nature of man, and is a reality no one here can reject, only ignore.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,260
Points 61,905
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
Staff
SystemAdministrator

 

filc:
Economics is value free yes, but man is not and he makes a value judgement with each action he takes.

filc, nobody here has claimed otherwise.

 

filc:
Those judgements are directed by his own ethical code of conduct.

Nobody here has taken issue with the notion of an individual, personal morality.  What is incoherent is (a) the notion of a single set of moral values for the species "man" (a notion that flies in the face of methodological individualism) and (b) the notion that judgments of value, which are not propositions, can be judged as "true" or "false", or "inferred", when only propositions are verifiable, falsifiable, or capable of being derived from other propositions.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,956
Points 56,800
bloomj31 replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 4:09 AM

@, Fil, But not every man/woman has the same ethical code of conduct.  They're values that are subjective like all others right?

So I might value anything (killing, stealing, basket weaving) more than you, who is right and who is wrong? 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 345
Points 7,035
Jesse replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 4:38 AM

flic,

Do you think that economics and praxeology imply a certain set of normative ethics?

I Samuel 8

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

bloomj31:
That's exactly what I was trying to say I totally agree.

Jesse:
That's the first time I've heard that on this thread, haha. Try telling that to Wilderness. He won't have it.

I agree with what you said Jesse to a point.  But you never asked me that question.  Again you assume what I would say.

What you can't break is the natural rights that I was referring to that are axioms.  Life, liberty, and private property are axiomatic.  You can't refute them without having to use them while refuting them.  Human action can't be refuted.  Yet somebody can walk up to another person and kill them.  Could they say they have now refuted the axiom of human action because that single individual no longer acts?

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

filc:
Economics is value free yes, but man is not and he makes a value judgement with each action he takes.

Lilburne:
filc, nobody here has claimed otherwise.

Yes you have Lilburne throughout the whole thread.  I pointed this out to you on the previous page.  I still don't see how you, liberte, and Jesse on the one hand say to attack judgments of value can't be done and then you spent pages of a whole thread doing just that.

filc:
Those judgements are directed by his own ethical code of conduct.

Lilburne:
Nobody here has taken issue with the notion of an individual, personal morality.  What is incoherent is (a) the notion of a single set of moral values for the species "man" (a notion that flies in the face of methodological individualism)

It depends on what "moral values" you are referring to.  But in the natural rights theory that I've been talking about, it is grounded in the axioms.  I have been referring to these axioms.  You have tried to refute axioms.  You can't.  You are trying to philosophically attack everybody's life, liberty, and private property.  filc is right. 

There is such a thing as a society Lilburne.  And a society to maintain itself comes up with laws.  And don't try to wiggle out of the fact that I can define society as an aggregrate of individuals.  The laws may differ from society to society.  That's why I said throughout this thread there will be numerous theories.  Yet they all, if based on justice, will be grounded on life, liberty, and private property.  What that means is.  If a case is brought before the court, then the case will be about a person (life/private property), judgments of value (liberty) the person made that the society doesn't condone.  That is a factual statement. 

Could a society have unjust laws?  Meaning they are not grounded in these axioms?  Sure.  A case could be brought before the court and a person is being prosecuted for being a black teapot.  Such a person could argue they are not a black teapot.  But the court recognizes the prosecutions term that the person is a black teapot.  The case can continue to prosecuate the person for boiling water inside of himself.  Sure.  Courts could do this.  But that wouldn't be just.  In that society they might think it is just.  And to maintain their society they have a law on black teapots and pull people into court they accuse of being black teapots.  But this doesn't hold any logical sense.  A is A.  A person is not a black teapot.  And the person was brought before the court to stand trial, in other words, the very life, liberty, and private property being the person is in fact standing trial in the court even if the court doesn't recognize what is.

Lilburne:
and (b) the notion that judgments of value, which are not propositions, can be judged as "true" or "false", or "inferred", when only propositions are verifiable, falsifiable, or capable of being derived from other propositions.

Yet throughout this thread you have judged upon the life, liberty, and private property of every single individual on this earth.  How ironic.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

bloomj31:
So I might value anything (killing, stealing, basket weaving) more than you, who is right and who is wrong?

I already answered this question, remember?

bloomj31:
Who is the legislator of natural law?  Who is the executor?  Who is the judge?

I answered: every single person.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

filc:
The ethical nihilists are prominent where I least expected them. They contridict themselves with each consecutive post. Economics is value free yes, but man is not and he makes a value judgement with each action he takes. Those judgements are directed by his own ethical code of conduct.

Such is the praxleological nature of man, and is a reality no one here can reject, only ignore.

Right filc, and so those who profess to know praxeologic do in fact contradict themselves and philosophically attack the value judgments (negative liberty) of others.  This is why ethical nihilism is self-refuting.  What the concept professes to avoid doesn't in fact avoid.  Ethical nihilism ends up in actuality being a form of absolutism carried out by particular individuals.  As this recent discussion has demonstrated ethical nihilists philosophically attack the value judgments of others.  Ethical nihilism is not praxeologic.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,415
Points 56,650
filc replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 3:13 PM

 

Grayson Lilburne:
Nobody here has taken issue with the notion of an individual, personal morality.  What is incoherent is (a) the notion of a single set of moral values for the species "man" (a notion that flies in the face of methodological individualism) and (b) the notion that judgments of value, which are not propositions, can be judged as "true" or "false", or "inferred", when only propositions are verifiable, falsifiable, or capable of being derived from other propositions.

I like to think I understand both sides of the discussion, and see valid points in both directions. I can't offer too much here because the debate is between two intellectual heavy weights that likely out knowledge me in this area. (You and Wilderness). Still I see where Wilderness comes from and I do think there are several natural norms that regardless of what you believe to be right and wrong will exist otherwise. Pretending that they don't exist doesn’t change the fact.

Let’s focus for a second on “Natural Law”. Ignoring ethics for now, let’s use Bloom's previous post as a wonderful example of where Wilderness's points really shine.

Bloom:
If human action is natural law, then all the awful things humans do are as much a part of that law as private property and liberty are, correct?

This is essentially the equivalent of saying: If gravity is natural law, then all the awful things airplanes do are a part of that law. In essence he is correct, but his comment mises the point of what the natural law of Gravity tells us. It is simply making us aware of naturally occurring norms that we must adhere to, whether we like it or not. Moving objective ethics aside, there is a natural norm and natural function to many things. We can only work within these rules. There is a reason why an airplane needs large wings and a traveling speed of 300+mph to take flight, it is due to the law of gravity. Another example would be that solid rock melts and becomes magma between 1300f to 2400f degrees. There are other objective things we can take note about in the world around us, for example we acknowledge universally that rocks exist. I can acknowledge objectively that there are flowers planted outside of my office. These are objective notes we can make about the world around us. So far they are value-free. Additionally praxeology is just as much of a natural law as gravity is. We cannot refute its existence, only choose to pretend to ignore it. 

So what we can find is that there are various norms that can be observed objectively from human action and the world around us. Now I understand extremely well that moving the discussion into the realm of morality becomes a nasty equivocation but I haven’t yet convinced myself that this is conclusively fallacious. I also understand full well that a fully comprehensive individual system of ethics comes down to the subjective preferences of each person. But I do think that even amongst different subjective codes of conduct you are likely to find foundational norm. I believe it would be easy to find patterns and trends on things that were universally accepted as true. I take this stance from a utilitarian position specifically. Things like exchange, property, among other economic tenants would be natural occurrences and in one form or another exist in nearly all other subjective forms of ethics. I know those examples couldn’t immediately be proven true, and could easily be proven false when citing some destruction form of ethics. So this brings up the next point.

Before I leave you with the last food for thought let me just say this. I realize I probably hadn't placed as much thought on this topic as you or Wilderness, but non-the less I haven’t convinced myself yet that there isn't a little bit of truth in both sides of the argument. Finally consider this point as eloquently stated by Justin Summers. I recently had a verbal discussion with Justin (I hope Justin won’t be upset by me sharing our thoughts) regarding this specific topic. He brought up and interesting thought I hadn’t yet considered.

There are things in life that you can simply deny, and you can deny them based on whatever subjective valuation you attribute it to(Like eating is evil for example), but there are things in life which you cannot defy(Like never eating forever). Another example would be, I think gravity is evil, but I cannot defy gravity. This statement is particularly interesting to me. I wonder if you would considered it. In short there are things in life you can deny(by some valuation) but some of those things cannot be defied.

At any rate I don't have alot of emotion invested in this topic, but I do get a great deal of pleasure exploring the pro's and cons of it. I meant no offense directed at you Grayson specifically in my earlier post. <3

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 244
Points 3,770
MMMark replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 5:18 PM

Mon. 10/04/26 18:17 EDT
.post #82

There are things in life that you can simply deny, and you can deny them based on whatever subjective valuation you attribute it to(Like eating is evil for example), but there are things in life which you cannot defy(Like never eating forever). Another example would be, I think gravity is evil, but I cannot defy gravity. This statement is particularly interesting to me. I wonder if you would considered it. In short there are things in life you can deny(by some valuation) but some of those things cannot be defied.
Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,415
Points 56,650
filc replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 5:23 PM

MMMark:
Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed?

Can you command gravity?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 244
Points 3,770
MMMark replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 5:31 PM

Mon. 10/04/26 18:30 EDT
.post #83

Can you command gravity?
In the sense of causing it to change its nature, no.

But in the sense of predicting, utilizing or overcoming its effects to some degree, yes.

It is this latter sense, I believe, that Bacon had in mind when he used the word "command"; he used it metaphorically.

Edit:

To put an libertarian spin on it,

You can't fight Mother Nature, but you can contract with her.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,415
Points 56,650
filc replied on Mon, Apr 26 2010 5:56 PM

Can you command gravity?

In the sense of causing it to change its nature, no.

Precisely.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 418
Points 7,525

Man, it sucks that morality threads always seem to pop up when I'm in the middle of reformulating my thoughts on the matter. So, first off, bear with me, incomplete theories ahead.

Finally consider this point as eloquently stated by Justin Summers. I recently had a verbal discussion with Justin (I hope Justin won’t be upset by me sharing our thoughts) regarding this specific topic. He brought up and interesting thought I hadn’t yet considered.

There are things in life that you can simply deny, and you can deny them based on whatever subjective valuation you attribute it to(Like eating is evil for example), but there are things in life which you cannot defy(Like never eating forever). Another example would be, I think gravity is evil, but I cannot defy gravity. This statement is particularly interesting to me. I wonder if you would considered it. In short there are things in life you can deny(by some valuation) but some of those things cannot be defied.

When I brought up this point with filc, I was referencing O'Neil's paper, "Ayn Rand and the Is-Ought Problem", which is very eloquent. More than eloquent, I freely admit that it demolishes Rand's argument, and I'm indebted to Adam Knott for pointing it out to me. Specifically, the paper explains in clear terms, "[if a moral law] cannot be disobeyed, then the term 'ought' seems inappropriate;" otherwise, subjectivity dominates, because moral laws can be completely disregarded at the subjective desire of the actor.

Now, my recent work has been in theorizing about possible objective laws that don't neatly fall into either of these categories. I find it quite possible that a moral law could exist such that it can be denied, but not defied. Here's a very rough example:

  1. All humans want X.
  2. The objectively most expedient means to attain X is Y.
  3. Ceteris paribus, no men want less expedient means.
  4. Therefore, all men ought to employ Y toward their attainment of X.

In so reasoning, morality becomes framed in terms of rationality (as Rand would define it, not Mises). To be rational (again, using Rand's definition) is to choose the course of action that maximizes one's self-interest. To be moral is to choose the most effective course of action - given one's knowledge - freely chosen on account of that standard.

To reframe this example in terms of concretes, take food. Food is an objective human necessity. As filc showed, you can certainly deny that you need food, but very quickly your body will prove you otherwise through the sensation of pain. You cannot defy your own anatomy. Given this, all men want to eat, even if on a purely physical and instinctual level. The rational course of action would be the one that most quickly satisfies one's hunger. The moral course of action would be to realize the aforementioned rational course and freely choose to pursue it. One is still free to not choose as such (and there are certainly nonsensical people who might do so), but one's nature as a human being will not allow them to deny reality for long.

So, from these, man's objective needs, it seems like we should be able to deduce an objective ethical code.

Life and reality are neither logical nor illogical; they are simply given. But logic is the only tool available to man for the comprehension of both.Ludwig von Mises

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,260
Points 61,905
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
Staff
SystemAdministrator

 

Hi Justin,

It seems to me calling what you're talking about morals or an ethical code is just confusing.  What you're talking about is what Mises, in Liberalism, called "reasonable action", and its discovery is a matter for economics and the technical arts and sciences.  There's really no need to subsume all forms of what Mises elsewhere called "suitability analysis" into one massive category called "ethics", especially when most people think of something altogether different when they encounter that word.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 418
Points 7,525

It seems to me calling what you're talking about morals or an ethical code is just confusing.  What you're talking about is what Mises, in Liberalism, called "reasonable action", and its discovery is a matter for economics and the technical arts and sciences.  There's really no need to subsume all forms of what Mises elsewhere called "suitability analysis" into one massive category called "ethics", especially when most people think of something altogether different when they encounter that word.

I think the confusion stems, in part, from my incomplete examples. It's all very much a work-in-progress, but my unabashed hope is that such deduction can be applied far enough as to create an ethical framework within which value judgments from an objective standard are possible. (As a sidenote, I realize that I'm biased, but I'm trying to stay strictly within the realm of logic.)

I believe that Rand had an amazing premise, which is that ethics can be objective and can be derived from the realm of reason. I don't think the flaws in her argument (such as those presented in O'Neil's paper) are necessarily insurmountable... I just think that the discourse needs to start again from the very beginning.

Life and reality are neither logical nor illogical; they are simply given. But logic is the only tool available to man for the comprehension of both.Ludwig von Mises

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 3 of 4 (129 items) < Previous 1 2 3 4 Next > | RSS