The Great Hippo wrote:The debate between moral objectivists and moral subjectivists seems to often fall on the same axis as the debate between grammatical prescriptivists and grammatical descriptivists.
A descriptivist might insist that grammar isn't real; it's just an amorphous cultural blob that varies from culture to culture -- and claiming that one type is superior over another type is as silly as claiming vanilla is superior to chocolate. A prescriptivist might insist that of course grammar is real; just because something is an amorphous cultural blob doesn't mean it doesn't exist -- and if you can't make claims that one type of grammar is superior to another, then 70 $P34|< L1|<3 '/0D4 7|-|r0U9|-| 4 L337 7r4|\|$L470r \/\/3 /\/\19|-|7 4$ \/\/3LL 734(|-| 3\/3r'/0|\|3.
(On the other hand, there are grammatical prescriptivists who claim that the laws of grammar are "real", in the same sense that the laws of physics are "real" -- as if grammar is something we can empirically test for rather than something we've developed and refined. I try not to make eye contact with prescriptivists like that.)
Potentially. This is complicated by the fact that even subjectivists appear to accept some superiority for systems. They may not accept a singular best system, but have little difficulty declaring one system superior to another.
If we relate this over to grammar, I can certainly see similarities, though. Perhaps there is an ideally efficient syntax for communication. If so, it's almost certainly not anything we use, and of course, it'd be useless to speak a language nobody else uses. However, one definitely can improve the grammar one uses so that you're more frequently and accurately understood. It's possible that a theoretical optimimum exists even using modern language. This, of course, is mostly only an abstract point, as the quantity of languages makes it unlikely that anyone could even converse in all of them, let along master grammar perfectly for each.
I see morality as having a function in decision making. Again, this gets back into the mapping back into the real world. If your morality does not contribute to your decisions as to how to act, it would seem to be poor at fulfilling it's function. Or at least, the morality you express verbally is. I'd contend you have an *actual* morality you're using regardless of your verbally expressed choice. The guy who is all about soliphism still goes and eats a sammich afterwards. He still *acts* as though the world is real. So, you have a discrepancy between words and actions.
Tyndmyr wrote:But yes, a model's usefulness depends on how much it corresponds with reality. If your mental model of how things works does not correspond to reality well...at an extreme, that makes you a crazy person in need of help
I disagree: Take free will for example. Believing in free will is (almost certainly) wrong. But it's still a very useful model both subjectively and as a basis to manage society - and you'd probably go crazier and end up more in need of help if you tried to live your life believing in the opposite.
Why must we believe in free will?
World seems pretty deterministic regardless, what's the big problem with accepting that those rules also apply to us?
PeteP wrote:Though to make it clear if you have a clear set of values you can make objectively talk about why something better fits these values. I don't think anyone in this thread has argued against that, which makes it weird that Tyndmyr repeatedly brings it up as argument.
It's come up a whole bunch. It's basically been an end back and forth between the following objections to objective morality.
1. You can't objectively set any values. (my counter is that if reality is objective, you have objective values to work with)
2. You can't measure somehow because reasons. (Even if it's not measurable with current tech, that doesn't mean it's unmeasurable in principle)
When I address one, we circle back around to the other.
ucim wrote:The grammar equivalent would be the idea that there is a One True Language, which exists in an abstract sense, and that we should be striving to work towards that OTL.
*shrug* People try to alter language all the time. Sometimes even with the intent of improving it. A one true language may well exist. In more technical fields, communication protocols can be fairly accurately compared against each other, can they not? No harm in working towards an ideal.
moiraemachy wrote:You seem to be implying that without free will, one has no reason to, say, punish criminals. I disagree strongly with this.
Oh, there are reasons
, but without free will, you don't (fairly) have the reason "he deserves it". And if you punish somebody who doesn't deserve it, it's (at least!) the first step towards monstrousness.
Why do people deserve it? Why is this necessary?
If my front doorstep keeps causing me to slip because it's broken, I fix it. I don't care if it deserves it or not. It's merely the course of action that results in a superior outcome.
morriswalters wrote:If you don't have free will and you punish someone, doesn't that mean that you do it because you have no free will either. You are forced to do it, much as the person you punished was forced to commit a crime. Language can twist you in knots.
Ugh, I was trying to avoid the free will rabbit hole.
It doesn't mean that you can't *do* things. There are different ways of constraining someone, and the whole "do we have free will" argument revolves around different definitions of free will, mostly.
You can accept that you are now making a choice based on the information you currently know, and also accept that, if the information you knew was different, then your choice would also have been different. The "If I'd known x, then of COURSE I'd have done y" example. We work pretty deterministically, sure, but everything is(disregarding quantum crap for the moment). We're not specially constrained.
Now, if you lock someone in jail, you are externally constraining them, and that is wildly different than "you are a product of your past".
morriswalters wrote:You can't possibly know if you have free will and when you are exercising it.
Correct. And you can't possibly know if rocks and electrons are "objectively real" either. I'm not sure what your point is.
The flaw in the free will argument is not in the "free" or the "will", it's in the "I" - the idea that there is an fundamental entity (to wit: a person) that is making the decisions in the first place.
Simple illustration: If somebody is drugged and then does things that they wouldn't ordinarily do, do you blame the person or the drug?
Human language refers to objects discretely all the time when they may not actually be singular. Referring to a human as an entity is convenient. Just like referring to a nation is. Like a nation, a person is made up of little bits that are not entirely consistent with respect to time. We all understand this, but it's handy to skim over that complexity to concisely discuss an unrelated idea.
The idea that we have to blame exclusively the person or the drug is simply imprecise. The effect of the combination is clear, and if you have a certain desired outcome in mind(ie, avoiding the drugged actions), then your course of actions is similarly clear. So, why the worry about blame*?
*This is similar to moir's objection. I don't mind using "blame" or "deserves" as shorthand for logical conclusions, but this seems to go beyond this somehow.