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On Morality

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hashem Posted: Sat, Sep 29 2012 3:44 PM

Like the topic of free will, debates and threads on morality are handicapped by people starting from assumptions and then propagating misunderstandings. I intend to clarify this by approaching the subject the same way that worked with the topic of free will. A single question may eliminate any possibility of future misunderstanding. My question, then, is obvious:

What is meant when someone says, "It is immoral to X"?

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That it is preferable not to do x than do x.

"Nutty as squirrel shit."
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I would think immorality has to do with the violation of some fundamental standard for appropriate conduct. 

 

Collapsing morality into preferences seems to be a pretty serious conflation.  

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National Acrobat:
I would think immorality has to do with the violation of some fundamental standard for appropriate conduct. 

 

Collapsing morality into preferences seems to be a pretty serious conflation.

What is a fundamental standard but a statement that one should refrain from doing x?

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This fundamental standard is followed by those who prefer they and others follow it, no?

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Buzz Killington:

What is a fundamental standard but a statement that one should refrain from doing x?

 

 

Yeah, but your preferences don't necessarily have to align with the standard. It could be preferable for someone to be immoral. 

 

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Vanitas Nomen:

This fundamental standard is followed by those who prefer they and others follow it, no?

 

 

Sure, but those same people's preferences might go against a standard they believe in. So preferences and morality can align, but I don't think you can say they are the same thing. 

 

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hashem replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 6:06 PM

Buzz Killington:
That it is preferable not to do x than do x.

Then it could be moral to do evil, or immoral to avoid doing evil. Fine. Are you saying universality is not a necessary characteristic for determining whether an action is amoral, moral, or immoral?

Vanitas Nomen:
This fundamental standard is followed by those who prefer they and others follow it, no?

A tautology, so by definition yes. The problem is that homo sapiens is open to staggering degrees of psychological exploitation, and intelligent evil people can easily manipulate others in order both gain, and limit competition for, power by propagating inconsistent and yet psychologically powerful ideas about morality. Indeed, this seems to be the main function of what most people recognize as "morality" in the world today. Hence this thread, to clear it up.

National Acrobat:
I would think immorality has to do with the violation of some fundamental standard for appropriate conduct.

I would tend to agree. Some immediate questions, then, are:
— What evidence is there that your idea is valid/correct/superior to other ideas about morality?
— What is the standard?
— Who is to decide what is appropriate?

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Clayton replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 6:46 PM

My thoughts on moral language. You need to specify the connotation by which you mean "It is immoral to X". Then I can tell you what it means.

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I'm in agreement with Clayton. On a side note, although morality can be used as a tool of manipulation, morality by itself isn't simply psychological manipulations, psychologically healthy people naturally find it immoral to murder someone. People's moral intuitions aren't suited well to complex moral concepts (What is to the mind seen as complex moral concepts), such as taxation, because the violence isn't as painfully obvious as seeing someone get shot, in this way people's moral intuitions aren't adequate. Just because they aren't adequate, doesn't change the fact that people naturally, without any psychological manipulation, form moral opinions.

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hashem replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 7:51 PM

Clayton:
You need to specify the connotation by which you mean "It is immoral to X".

Your misunderstanding (I'm not claiming to know what is meant by morality, quite the opposite) proves my point perfectly. A person claiming to talk about "morality" must specify what they are actually talking about, lest the responses be based on each responder's projections of his own (mis)understanding of "morality". Morality, like free will, is one of the concepts that may as well be called the spaghetti monster every time an OP invokes it without defining it. Hence this topic: I'm asking people to define what is meant when someone says, "It is immoral to X".

Serpentis-Lucis:
doesn't change the fact that people naturally, without any psychological manipulation, form moral opinions

This seems like a quite unsophistocated and untenable view. The brain is by necessity subject to psychological manipulation, even in a Crusoe model. But people don't naturally form moral opinions. A person locked in a cave for 25 years will have no concept of morals. And so we come to another aspect of morality: it means nothing except in social situations.

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Clayton replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 8:36 PM

@hashem: As usual, I have little to no idea what you're talking about. I have offered four connotations to moral language. Perhaps there are more. But there are at least these four. When someone (not you) says "it is immoral to X", I believe they mean it in one of these four connotations, or perhaps some others I've overlooked.

What does the word "set" mean? Well, depending on the context, there are at least a dozen different connotations. That's why dictionaries have multiple definitions for a single word. "Immoral" is not only a multiply-defined word, its definitions are commonly confused and these confusions form the basis of many unnecessary moral dilemmas.

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hashem replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 9:33 PM

Well, we're getting closer.

Clatyon:
I have offered four connotations to moral language...I believe they mean

So it's apparent that my initial belief is vindicated: P doesn't actually know for sure if he is thinking about what anyone else is thinking about when discussing morality. At best, as you explained, people project their own feelings about what they believe someone might mean. A table comes in all different shapes and forms, but it can always fall under the category of table. A speaker, a phone, a bowl, and so forth. The same isn't true for concepts, which only exist in minds. Concepts like free will, or in this case morality. Which means a thread like this has value. We can gather together people who value the topic of morality and work toward an answer.

You mentioned dictionaries. Well that seems like a fairly good starting point. If we take dictionary.com to start us off, it's clear "immoral" behavior is that which violates social norms. I don't think that's a consistent definition, or even accurate, because many of the most hardline social norms are pure evil (statism, or slavery, but I repeat myself), and certainly a characteristic of morality is that it deals with what is evil versus what isn't, or what is righteous or isn't. But it alludes to an important characteristic of morality that National Acrobat brought up: there is some kind of standard, or standards. So immoral behavior would, as a starting point, be behavior that transgressed standards. But it also seems to have a negative connotation. Immoral behavior may be behavior, in violation of a standard, which has a negative result.

What we're really trying to do is determine what is or isn't objectively immoral. We've uncovered some good guideposts so far in this thread:
— objective, not dependent on various opinions
— universality
— standards
— negativeness, is the behavior evil

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@ Hashem

Growing up in a cave with no other humans isn't natural. For something to be considered naturally occurring, it must occur under natural conditions, not unnatural conditions. We're using psychological manipulation in different senses as well, you're using it in a very weak sense, while I'm using it in a strong sense.

From what I can gather from this thread you think morality is just a product of manipulation by evil people, who want to bend everyone to their will, and that you believe morality wouldn't be around without those evil people manipulating people. The manipulation you're talking about is powerful, completely changing a person, which is the sense that I was using the word manipulation, then you responded to my post by using the word manipulation in a incredibly weak sense, manipulation which is so subtle that you can barely tell a difference. So I'll re-phrase, morality is natural, not requiring any manipulation in the strong sense of the word.

I'll write a longer post later, I have plenty to say on the topic, after all the reading I've done on the subject.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Sep 29 2012 11:04 PM

Growing up in a cave with no other humans isn't natural. For something to be considered naturally occurring, it must occur under natural conditions, not unnatural conditions.

Not to nitpick, and Hashem will certainly be able to confirm or deny my suspicions, but I think you might be misunderstanding him (not that I agree with Hashem on morality). Growing up in a cave is natural, but it's not normal. Obviously, one can use the words natural and normal as synonyms, but I think in this particular case Hashem is not. I completely disagree with him that morals are not natural to humans, but I think he is saying something different than what you are reading.

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You're right I'm using natural to mean normal. Natural just seems like the right word. When we think of humans we don't think of them as growing up away from all contact with their fellow humans. Studies have shown that a lack of connection with any other human can cause some serious psychological problems. From that I conclude that humans are naturally social, that it is natural for them to connect with other humans, not just live in a cave.

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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:10 AM

Serpentis-Lucis:
Growing up in a cave with no other humans isn't natural.

I was going off of what you said. From my perspective, you were positing the caveman, though in retrospect I suppose you didn't mean to. See below...

Serpentis-Lucis:
people naturally, without any psychological manipulation, form moral opinions

Your hypothetical person in a natural environment, absent any psychological manipulation, is a solitary caveman. I disagree that he would form moral opinions, because it's clear morals arise in social settings, which by definition involve psychological manipulation. When a psyche interacts with another psyche, they influence each other. What's interesting is that a definitive characteristic of homo sapiens is his tendency to form dominant hierarchies, so a natural-based moral would be non-universal, categorizing domination by alphas as righteous.

That is precisely the sort of morals history has naturally tended to give us, which is in line with my theory. Morals have developed as a means to control the weak minded, and serve the functions of limiting competition for power and providing ex post facto rationalizations for immature people who need myths to cope with reality.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:13 AM
Humans are social animals. Putting a human in a non-social atmosphere and observing the lack of moral development is like putting him in shackles and observing that he doesnt learn to walk very well.
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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:21 AM

Malachi:
Putting a human in a non-social atmosphere and observing the lack of moral development is like putting him in shackles and observing that he doesnt learn to walk very well.

I suppose you could imagine taking a mature, civilized person and placing him in a Crusoe scenario. The point isn't that it wouldn't happen, remember, the purpose of the Crusoe scenario is to make obvious what is missing, and so to realize what the missing pieces conrtibute.

Malachi:
the lack of moral development

We aren't even here yet, because we haven't established what morality is in such a way that we can know for sure what is or isn't immoral.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:22 AM

Well, we're getting closer.

 

Sadly, we're not. This is the usual run-around.

So it's apparent that my initial belief is vindicated: P doesn't actually know for sure if he is thinking about what anyone else is thinking about when discussing morality. At best, as you explained, people project their own feelings about what they believe someone might mean. A table comes in all different shapes and forms, but it can always fall under the category of table. A speaker, a phone, a bowl, and so forth.

Yes, same as P doesn't know for sure if he is thinking about what anyone else is thinking about when discussing tables. After all, there is the kitchen table, a table saw, tabling a matter, a look-up table, water table (no, it's not a table made of water!), and so on. Are you an ESL individual? You do realize that many words in English are overloaded and, thus, ambiguous sans context?

The same isn't true for concepts, which only exist in minds. Concepts like free will, or in this case morality. Which means a thread like this has value. We can gather together people who value the topic of morality and work toward an answer.

*shrug - The democratic approach to meaning isn't my forte. Most people have no idea what they're talking about on most subjects and this subject (morality) seems to be particularly muddled due to the "special pleading of selfish interests" to borrow Hazlitt's phrase.

You seem to think that nouns that refer to physically instantiated items - such as a table or chair - are fundamentally different from other kinds of words that refer to conceptual entities, such as numbers or freedom. But this is a mistake. All words are conceptual, that is, they refer to human conceptual categories. Those conceptual categories may or may not be nouns and refer to physically instantiated items - such as chairs and tables - but the word only ever refers to a conceptual category nonetheless.

Please watch this excellent lecture where Pinker discusses the "intuitive theory of physics" embedded in language. When you refer to a table, the meaning may seem "obvious" or "objective" but it is really is not. Under the surface, the mental machinery involved is fantastically complex and is performing a great deal of abstraction, that is, applying concepts to parceling the physical world.

I don't know why you insist on obfuscating this topic. It's not nearly as confusing as you would like to make it.

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Walden replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:31 AM

It means I am not X, therefore X is immoral.

'X is moral' means I am X, therefore X is moral.

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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:33 AM

Clayton:
When you refer to a table, the meaning may seem "obvious" or "objective"

Yet again, you support my point. Obviously, as you admit, people seem to know what you are talking about when you mention a table in conversation. If they didn't, the conversation would be moot, since the whole point of language is to convey meaning. It wouldn't matter if you called the table a spaghetti monster, IF people continued to understand what you meant. A recent example was my brother in law carrying a car from the movie Cars. He mentioned that he was holding Mator. Obviously, he could have said he was holding a car, but the word Mator conveyed the same meaning.

Back to the point, we are trying to establish what is meant by immoral. In this case, the context isn't enough. The word fails at conveying meaning because nobody agrees on what is meant, so here we have an opportunity to clarify it.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:53 AM
@Hashem:
We aren't even here yet, because we haven't established what morality is in such a way that we can know for sure what is or isn't immoral.
I think youre confused. There is no objective definition of "morality."
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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 1:09 AM

Malachi:
There is no objective definition of "morality."

Then by definition the concept is meaningless, and therefore useless in communication. We would expect its use to do exactly what it has done: propagate confusion and misunderstanding, ignorance in the guise of intelligence.

But we shouldn't stop there. People on this forum invoke the concept constantly. There MUST be a consensus about what the heck meaning people are trying to convey. So instead of trying to focus on what isn't there, let's look at what is. Forget the word "morality" altogether, just think of the meaning you try to convey when you use the concept. Now describe that meaning in regards to this question:

What is meant when you say "it is immoral to X".

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 1:39 AM
It means different things depending on the context. I think Clayton summed it up pretty well actually:
Clayton:
1)A value-laden expression of an individual's own sentiments about a particular kind of human behavior [...]

2)A value-free description of prevailing moral norms

3)A value-free assessment of the suitability of specific ends to bringing about an individual's satisfaction (in the technical sense of this term) - this is where Epicurus (correctly) placed the locus of ethical discussion

4)A value-laden assessment of the correct resolution of a dispute

It doesnt really matter what members on this forum decide "morality" means as the results of the discussion wouldnt be binding. Language is inter-subjective and in a constant state of change. It also is inherently contextual, meaning it cant be isolated from the environment. Think about what "context" means, you cant take a single statement or passage and interpret it in a way that is at variance with what it means in respect to the passages amongst it, i.e. as a part of a whole. You cant take the word "morals" in all of its forms and forbid individuals from using it when they feel it accurately conveys their sentiments, you just have to be a regular LVMI forums member and insist on asking people what they mean when they use it. Because every individual is different and has read different books.
Then by definition the concept is meaningless, and therefore useless in communication
this sticks in my craw. There are multiple intersubjective definitions of "morality." there arent any objective definitions of "morality" unless you can find a Bible verse saying otherwise or God is also an english lit professor.
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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 2:13 AM

I think you mean there isn't an objective standard of morality, and I would agree. There is no saying an action is wrong just because it's evil, or vice versa. However, there certainly is an objective definition of morality. In any event, you've failed to address the question:

What do you mean when you say "it is immoral to X"? If you think context is relevant, then by all means provide a context for your answer, but at least stick to the question.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 2:26 AM

It might help to discuss a very similar, yet less emotive, word: impolite. "Is it impolite to X"? Surely, if there is an objective definition of morality, there must also be an objective definition of politeness.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 2:52 AM
I think you mean there isn't an objective standard of morality, and I would agree. There is no saying an action is wrong just because it's evil, or vice versa.
I dont mean that at all, in fact I disagree. I believe there is an objective standard of behavior and consequences, both natural and supernatural, for deviating from it. I dont believe there is an objective definition of the term "morality." You help to illustrate this with your statement "There is no saying an action is wrong just because it's evil" well of course there is. I will say it, evil acts are immoral. In this case I am using sense 1 of Clayton's exposition.
What do you mean when you say "it is immoral to X"? If you think context is relevant, then by all means provide a context for your answer, but at least stick to the question.
I use the word in multiple contexts whenever I feel it is appropriate. I feel that this is a correct use of the English language. Generally my usage of the term coincides with one of the four senses I quoted from Clayton, except with the addendum that, as I am a theist, I think that morality is imposed (made objective) by an ontologically supreme entity.
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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:07 PM

Malachi:
there arent any objective definitions of "morality"

hashem:
I think you mean there isn't an objective standard of morality, and I would agree...However, there certainly is an objective definition of morality.

Clayton:
if there is an objective definition of morality, there must also be an objective definition of politeness.

At this point we would do well to acknowledge the distinction between definition and meaning. Like Clayton showed, a table may be defined many different ways. What matters is that the word conveys the intended meaning in any given scenario and context. Thus my question, what is meant by, 'it is immoral to X'.

Whereas there are objective, dictionary definitions of morality and politeness, the focus of this thread is to establish what is meant by the phrase 'it is immoral to X'. What specific meaning are you trying to convey when you say that. Again, as I showed and Clayton expanded on, the precise word is irrelevant—impolite, immoral, the spaghetti monster—what matters is what someone means to convey, AND that the others involved are recieving the correct meaning.

If we go by some dictionary definitions (google, dictionary.com), morality is completely whatever anyone wants it to be. It's based purely on arbitrary standards, and social norms, sometimes but not necessarily involving concepts about evil vs righteousness. If people mean to convey the dictionary definition, then when someone says, "It is immoral to X" what they MEAN is "X violates the accepted normal standard and is therefore evil".

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Malachi replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:22 PM
At this point we would do well to acknowledge the distinction between definition and meaning. Like Clayton showed, a table may be defined many different ways. What matters is that the word conveys the intended meaning in any given scenario and context. Thus my question, what is meant by, 'it is immoral to X'.
A definition is a passage that explains the meaning of a definiendum. Unless you have something else in mind.
Whereas there are objective, dictionary definitions of morality and politeness
I dont mean to be rude, but did you even bother to familiarize yourself with the term "intersubjective"? Dictionaries are a record of meanings that have been commonly imparted to words. The dictionary isnt binding on any given person or conversation, indeed if it were language wouldnt be in a state of flux.
the focus of this thread is to establish what is meant by the phrase 'it is immoral to X'. What specific meaning are you trying to convey when you say that.
depends on the speaker. You have to ask each individual when they use it, unless they have previously defined it.
Again, as I showed and Clayton expanded on, the precise word is irrelevant—impolite, immoral, the spaghetti monster—what matters is what someone means to convey, AND that the others involved are recieving the correct meaning.
its also the case that a given precise meaning is irrelevant in the context of future discussions with other people that involve the word "morality."
If we go by some dictionary definitions (google, dictionary.com), morality is completely whatever anyone wants it to be. It's based purely on arbitrary standards, and social norms, sometimes but not necessarily involving concepts about evil vs righteousness. If people mean to convey the dictionary definition, then when someone says, "It is immoral to X" what they MEAN is "X violates the accepted normal standard and is therefore evil".
if youre looking for a common thread, "morality" always refers to "should" or "shouldnt." the why of the should or shouldnt is the part that changes.
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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 12:38 PM

@hashem: What are the objective standards/norms of politeness that are violated when someone says, "That was impolite"? What do you mean when you identify someone's behavior as impolite? Does this meaning generalize to the case when anyone identifies another's behavior as impolite?

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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 1:47 PM

I don't believe concepts about morality have proved useful, indeed it seems they cause more confusion than understanding (that is, unless you take my position that they have served their use, which is to cause confusion and misunderstanding). So I don't talk about morality as though other people know what I mean. You bring up politeness. The characteristic of politeness that differs from morality is that it doesn't encompass the extremes that morality does, and therefore as you note, it doesn't carry the same emotional weight. Something impolite may be rude, but it probably isn't evil or else the stronger term "immoral" would have been used. On the other hand, something immoral may be characterized by the view that it was evil, or conversely it may be considered evil because it was felt to be immoral.

The common ground between the concepts seems to be what Malachi is pointing out, that they deal with expectations about behavior—behavior that should be punished or rewarded—AND, especially, that they're both subjective having no value in communication unless both parties are aware of and in agreement about the meaning. I simply don't believe anyone has proper authority or grounds to punish someone else. The brain is developing cost benefit calculations based on input well beyond conscious awareness long before conscious aware ever experiences the output, so nobody can claim authority to punish someone because his brain made a cost benefit calculation you don't agree with.

What's considered "immoral", therefore, is subject to all the tools of psychological manipulation. Anything can be called moral, or immoral, depending on the various feelings of people, and the emotions that drive behavior can be fueled this way. I don't value concepts about morality precisely because, as I have been pointing out, they exist as tools to manipulate people, to limit competition for power, and to help inconsistent minds form myths as ex post facto rationalizations to cope with harsh realities.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 2:21 PM

I don't believe concepts about morality have proved useful, indeed it seems they cause more confusion than understanding (that is, unless you take my position that they have served their use, which is to cause confusion and misunderstanding). So I don't talk about morality as though other people know what I mean. You bring up politeness. The characteristic of politeness that differs from morality is that it doesn't encompass the extremes that morality does, and therefore as you note, it doesn't carry the same emotional weight.

But the question is not the emotional weight, the question is meaning. Does the word "impolite" convey any definite meaning, or not?

Something impolite may be rude, but it probably isn't evil or else the stronger term "immoral" would have been used. On the other hand, something immoral may be characterized by the view that it was evil, or conversely it may be considered evil because it was felt to be immoral.

 

But what makes something impolite? What is the standard/norm of politeness which has been violated when someone says "it is impolite to X"?

I simply don't believe anyone has proper authority or grounds to punish someone else. The brain is developing cost benefit calculations based on input well beyond conscious awareness long before conscious aware ever experiences the output, so nobody can claim authority to punish someone because his brain made a cost benefit calculation you don't agree with.

Why are you talking about punishment?

What's considered "immoral", therefore, is subject to all the tools of psychological manipulation. Anything can be called moral, or immoral, depending on the various feelings of people, and the emotions that drive behavior can be fueled this way. I don't value concepts about morality precisely because, as I have been pointing out, they exist as tools to manipulate people, to limit competition for power, and to help inconsistent minds form myths as ex post facto rationalizations to cope with harsh realities.

*shrug - these are all human behaviors. Punishment arises from the urge to retribution which is actually a foundation-stone of social order. Without retribution, there is no possibility of social order.

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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 2:55 PM

Clayton:
But the question is...Does the word "impolite" convey any definite meaning, or not?

To be certain, the question is "What is meant when someone says, 'It is immoral to X'?" A subsidiary question may regard whether the meaning conveyed is intersubjectively ascertainable. That is my question to everyone, hence this thread. I don't claim to use concepts about morality as though everyone understands what I mean.

Clayton:
But what makes something impolite?

I would rephrase the question to "What makes someone believe X is impolite?" Obviously, the subjective, various feelings of people, vulnerable as they are to manipulation. In fact the concept of politeness doesn't even arise unless there are multiple people influencing the values of each other. As far as I've gathered, that's also what makes someone consider something "immoral".

Clayton:
What is the standard/norm of politeness which has been violated when someone says "it is impolite to X"?

And so we come to the meat of it. Clearly, something is labeled immoral when it violates a normal standard. And thus evil things may be viewed as moral, and righteous things as immoral, since homo sapiens is a profoundly social, psychological being.

Clayton:
Why are you talking about punishment?

hashem:
The common ground between the concepts seems to be what Malachi is pointing out, that they deal with expectations about behavior—behavior that should be punished ("immoral" behavior) or rewarded (moral behavior)

I'm talking about punishment as opposed to reward, because it's relevant to understanding why someone "should or shouldn't" behave certain ways, as Malachi said morality deals with should or shouldn't.

Clayton:
Punishment arises from the urge to retribution which is actually a foundation-stone of social order.

Slavery and rape as the spoils of war were also pillars of social order until very recently. I'm not saying people shouldn't punish each other, I'm saying there's no reason to except that your brain concluded it was the best course of action. Concepts about morality don't help, they just make people who are easily manipulated easier to control.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 4:22 PM

I don't claim to use concepts about morality as though everyone understands what I mean.

But it's not true that you have no theory of morality whatsoever. In fact, your theory appears to be that morality is primarily a kind of emotional manipulation. I don't think this is false but I do think it's incomplete.

I'm talking about punishment as opposed to reward, because it's relevant to understanding why someone "should or shouldn't" behave certain ways, as Malachi said morality deals with should or shouldn't.

OK, but there is a more all-encompassing concept of punishment and reward, like the Buddhist conception of karmic law. When you eat to excess and vomit, you are "punished" for your "immoral" behavior by Nature itself. That is, you suffer the consequences of your behavior. Of course, there is no spirit being administering said punishment, it's just cause-and-effect. I believe at least certain Buddhists view the social order itself no differently... when you sleep with another man's wife, and he beats you to a bloody pulp in a fit of rage, you have been punished; that is, you have suffered the consequences for your behavior and you have no one to blame but yourself.

While being beaten by another person feels more personal than some circuitry in your brain pushing the "eject" button on an engorged stomach, there is a perspective in which neither event is personal. Both are expressions of the same natural laws of cause-and-effect. Human males become enraged by sexual infidelity. Cause-and-effect.

I'm not saying people shouldn't punish each other, I'm saying there's no reason to except that your brain concluded it was the best course of action. Concepts about morality don't help, they just make people who are easily manipulated easier to control.

Why can't they express facts about cause-and-effect in the social order?

 

Clayton -

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hashem replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 4:49 PM

Pardon me for being confused, what are you asking? Can you rephrase?

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Sun, Sep 30 2012 5:45 PM

hashem:
Concepts about morality don't help, they just make people who are easily manipulated easier to control.

Clayton:
Why can't they [moral concepts] express facts about cause-and-effect in the social order?

You say that moral concepts make easily manipulated people that much easier to control - but why can't it be that the purpose of moral concepts is to express facts about the social order, and that those facts are actually what is responsible for the manipulation and that the manipulation is not restricted solely to those who are "easily manipulated"?

The word "manipulation" suggests to me a beneficiary - cui bono? But why does there have to be any beneficiary besides the genome itself? In other words, all social manipulation falls under the axe of natural selection, even conscious manipulation. We're all being manipulated, even those among us who are manipulating others. Or, as stated by Orgel's Second Law: "Evolution is cleverer than you are".

Now, I'm not trying to rule out analysis of proximate manipulation in the social order - government propaganda, religious bullshit, family dysfunction, etc. That's all real enough. But I don't think we're piercing through to the final level of analysis if we stop at that superficial level. And where the rubber meets the road is in answering the question "what function does this manipulation perform?" In the case of, say, monetary debasement, the function is to enrich the debaser, usually the King. In the case of spousal abuse, the function is to attempt to discourage cuckoldry with threats of violence. In the case of moral dictates, the function is often enrichment or enablement of religious leaders and their cronies. And so on.

The whole point of identifying the function is to determine if there is a dysfunction in the existing state of affairs. For example, if you think that fathers should pay for the raising of their own children, then you might not see spousal abuse as necessarily a dysfunction because the function of abuse is to dissuade cuckoldry, thus making it difficult for men to father children they don't pay to raise.

Clayton -

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hashem replied on Mon, Oct 1 2012 12:09 AM

Looking forward to responding. It was a nice weekend hopefully I will get a moment throughout the week.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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