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moral values

Comments on moral values

praxis
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#51 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 12:51 PM:

Objects are defined according to our conditioning. A thing in itself is part of that conditioning.
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#52 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 1:11 PM:

To sum up, here's the simplest explanation of my view of value. I should note, this is how I would argue. This position, or one similar to it, seem most reasonable to me as an explanation of value.

(1) Value is an n-place relation: E.g., Vxy...n, where V=the value type, x=value standard, y...n=states of affairs to be evaluated

(2) Value is not a property of things-in-themselves, nor is it a primary or secondary property of things considered as appearances. We cannot discover value merely by 'looking' at some state of affairs (howsoever we define 'looking'). The perception of a singular object cannot reveal value. Value, as a relation, is always revealed through the juxtaposing function of judgment. As best, we might see value as a consequence of properties, but not as a property itself.

(3) Value is not reflexive, not transitive. 'Inherent value' is meaningless; a thing cannot possess value only in relation to itself.

(4) Value is a way or organizing and ordering appearances (and thus concepts of apppearances) a posteriori. It is not an a priori transcendental feature of sensibility (like timespace, dimensionality). Value is something applied over and above appearances through the act of judgment by agents who are already immersed in and aware of distinctions within appearances, ie, are part of a world. Value can define a world, but it does not create it.

8)
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#53 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 1:13 PM:

praxis wrote:
Objects are defined according to our conditioning. A thing in itself is part of that conditioning.


What conditions us then, if not objects?
libertygrl
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#54 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 1:31 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:
To sum up, here's the simplest explanation of my view of value. I should note, this is how I would argue. This position, or one similar to it, seem most reasonable to me as an explanation of value.

(1) Value is an n-place relation: E.g., Vxy...n, where V=the value type, x=value standard, y...n=states of affairs to be evaluated

(2) Value is not a property of things-in-themselves, nor is it a primary or secondary property of things considered as appearances. We cannot discover value merely by 'looking' at some state of affairs (howsoever we define 'looking'). The perception of a singular object cannot reveal value. Value, as a relation, is always revealed through the juxtaposing function of judgment. As best, we might see value as a consequence of properties, but not as a property itself.

(3) Value is not reflexive, not transitive. 'Inherent value' is meaningless; a thing cannot possess value only in relation to itself.

(4) Value is a way or organizing and ordering appearances (and thus concepts of apppearances) a posteriori. It is not an a priori transcendental feature of sensibility (like timespace, dimensionality). Value is something applied over and above appearances through the act of judgment by agents who are already immersed in and aware of distinctions within appearances, ie, are part of a world. Value can define a world, but it does not create it.

8)

makes sense, i agree. thumb up
libertygrl
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#55 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 1:32 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:
What conditions us then, if not objects?

or to look at it another way, what leads us to agree on the boundaries of objects?
libertygrl
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#56 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 1:54 PM:

can our genes influence the way we determine values?

some related ideas for consideration:

behavioral genetics
www.ornl.gov/sci/techresour...Genome/elsi/behavior.shtml

a morality gene
www.ruderfinn.com/corporate.../2008/01/a-moral-gene.html
Monk2400
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#57 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 2:10 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

or to look at it another way, what leads us to agree on the boundaries of objects?


The objects themselves, I reckon.

We don't call an apple an apple merely as a point of metaphor, only through the use of language. You and I each in turn hold the apple in our hands, smell the apple, view its shiny red skin, bite its flesh, and only then agree on what sounds/symbols will stand for it when we speak of it later.

If there was no apple, we could not speak of an apple!

8)
praxis
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#58 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 2:29 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

or to look at it another way, what leads us to agree on the boundaries of objects?

Common purpose leads us to agree on the boundaries of objects.

What are the boundaries of the sky? That's kind of an ambiguous question because there's not a standardized use of the sky.

What are the boundaries of an apple? Much easier to answer!
Monk2400
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#59 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 2:43 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

can our genes influence the way we determine values?


Values, as I understand them, act as a selective reordering of phenomena. Even though axiological agents may have a faculty capable of generating infinite metaphorical connections, we are still limited by the nature of states of affairs, and, indeed, ourselves.

We might, by a fortune of birth, be capable of highly accute distinguishment of flavours, and hence, know with great accuracy the relative gustatory value of fine wine, and by extension, make suggestions as to how the grapes are cared for and processed. Others with less talents may only see the alcohol level as a value, and not the subtle hints of oak and cherry.

But the idea of genetic bases for behaviour is problematic for the philosopher of liberty. It seems to suggest that even in the land of what we normally think of as 'free choice', volition, we are but the plaything of deteministic factors, laid down eons ago by random chance.

However, if we acknolwedge that behaviours can change, eg, through brain damage, drug use, etc, then we might also acknowledge that the human animal is a cybernetic being, that is, a being that has the capacity to chance itself, and not merely 'be changed' by its environment.

In that sense, volition is secure, even if it is obscured by the limitations of the body and genetics. For if we are a cybernetic being, if our capacity for self-reflection allows us to purposefully alter ourselves even at the chemical-genetic level, then we are, fundamentally, still free.

We might say, then, that while our essence is such that allows for an absolutely free association of values to states of affairs, our existence within the socio-genetic context often places a limitation of the full exercise of that faculty.

8)
Monk2400
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#60 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 2:46 PM:

praxis wrote:

Common purpose leads us to agree on the boundaries of objects.


This only applies to the sign we use to refer to something as an 'object'. Common purpose allows us to agree that 'apple' refers to the fruit in my hand. But common purpose does not define the apple itself, nor create its boundary conditions that make is a fruit and not a stone and not the trunk of the apple tree. The reality of the apple as a source of sensible stimulus impinges upon our awareness and is not created by it, howsoever we choose, later, to refer to it.

IOW, there is something there, howsoever we might refer to it, that allows us to make a distinction between IT and NOT-IT.

Sure we can wax philosophic about 'where the sky ends and the land begins', but when we look out at the horizon, the distinction is pretty clear cut. And when we hold an apple in our hand, its pretty clear and immediately obvious that the apple is NOT our hand nor the stone over there nor the tree from which it fell.

8)
praxis
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#61 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/03/09 - 3:23 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:

Sure we can wax philosophic about 'where the sky ends and the land begins', but when we look out at the horizon, the distinction is pretty clear cut.


Back in the day they may have defined the boundaries of the earth the same way: the horizon line. Todays understanding about the boundaries of the earth are different, and that understanding increases our capabilities. It is now useful to think of the earth as a planet, and because it is useful it has meaning. It wasn't useful before to think of it as a planet as it didn't fit the conditions of the time, and so the concept of a planet would have been meaningless.

And when we hold an apple in our hand, its pretty clear and immediately obvious that the apple is NOT our hand...

This may sound weird but I'll ask anyway... in the absence of sentient beings, what differentiates a hand from an apple? and whatever that is, why wouldn't it, for instance, differentiate half a hand and half an apple as one object?
Monk2400
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#62 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/04/09 - 4:24 PM:

praxis wrote:

Back in the day they may have defined the boundaries of the earth the same way: the horizon line. Todays understanding about the boundaries of the earth are different, and that understanding increases our capabilities. It is now useful to think of the earth as a planet, and because it is useful it has meaning. It wasn't useful before to think of it as a planet as it didn't fit the conditions of the time, and so the concept of a planet would have been meaningless.


Even so, the planet was still a planet. If it were not so, then it would not have been possible for anyone to arrive at a concept of the world as a planet.

Our concepts change over time, yes, usually getting more precise as our measuring abilities improve. But we are not creating new entities or structures when we apply this process to the natural world; rather, we are illuminating structures that already exist, bringing them into clearer focus.

We can only call a circle a circle because it is, in fact, round.


praxis wrote:

This may sound weird but I'll ask anyway... in the absence of sentient beings, what differentiates a hand from an apple? and whatever that is, why wouldn't it, for instance, differentiate half a hand and half an apple as one object?


Resonant frequencies.

8)
praxis
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#63 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/04/09 - 7:10 PM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:


Even so, the planet was still a planet. If it were not so, then it would not have been possible for anyone to arrive at a concept of the world as a planet.

Our concepts change over time, yes, usually getting more precise as our measuring abilities improve. But we are not creating new entities or structures when we apply this process to the natural world; rather, we are illuminating structures that already exist, bringing them into clearer focus.

We can only call a circle a circle because it is, in fact, round.

I'm not trying to suggest that there's nothing beyond phenomenal perception until we construct it. I'm simply suggesting that value is an inextricable part of our conditioning and what is beyond our conditioning has no value or is truly "value neutral."
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#64 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/04/09 - 10:52 PM:

praxis wrote:

I'm not trying to suggest that there's nothing beyond phenomenal perception until we construct it. I'm simply suggesting that value is an inextricable part of our conditioning and what is beyond our conditioning has no value or is truly "value neutral."


What do you mean by 'conditioning'? What does that encompass?
praxis
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#65 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/06/09 - 10:51 AM:

Midnight_Monk wrote:


What do you mean by 'conditioning'? What does that encompass?


Everything, which is to say I'm not sure. confused
libertygrl
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#66 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/06/09 - 12:01 PM:

havohej wrote:
When you accept that there is a structure behind reality that acts in the method of thoughts, and when you observe natural surroundings and see how consistent this is, you then are ready to think in parallel.

hi hav,

i'm wholeheartedly in agreement with the points you made. would you describe thinking in parallel as a form of empathy? and/or a form of reasoning by analogy?

lib
Nihil Loc
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#67 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/06/09 - 5:27 PM:



The above pictogram expresses my null interpretation of value.

To posit value (or to define it in a group) has a value. There is always some basis, larger circle, greater world view, which informs the act. Do we agree or disagree (is there purpose behind either?)

A metaphor of infinite regress suits my idea.

The man sits on a turtles back, the turtle stands on a lion, the lion dozes on
the rhino, elephant... et, cetera (infinite regress). Values propped up on values, like a strand of DNA code. Perhaps not too far down the mountain of infinite regress a value stands upon identity itself; or, all values are identities (rules) which dictate movement.

This happily accords with an expression of nihilism (a mere epiphenomena of working values.)

The sense of being able to have a total metaphysical view of things is utterly negated (in a choice). I might as well choose the opposite view.
Value is subject to chronic relativity, between sets of objects with value defining properties.

Dis valued language.

Edited by Nihil Loc on 02/06/09 - 5:42 PM
Nihil Loc
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#68 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/06/09 - 7:48 PM:

The bold text carries a point.

http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/i9.htm wrote:
infinite regress

A definitional, explanatory, or justificatory procedure that entails its own reapplication without any limit. Thus, for example, the claim that everything in the world has only extrinsic value would lead to an infinite regress. Since the lack of any intrinsically worthwhile starting-point would render all value open to question, the procedure seems to be self-defeating.

Recommended Reading: John Passmore, Philosophical Reasoning (Basic, 1969) {at Amazon.com}.





Edited by Nihil Loc on 02/06/09 - 7:55 PM
Monk2400
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#69 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/06/09 - 8:04 PM:

Nihil Loc wrote:
The bold text carries a point.

Thus, for example, the claim that everything in the world has only extrinsic value would lead to an infinite regress. Since the lack of any intrinsically worthwhile starting-point would render all value open to question, the procedure seems to be self-defeating.



However, this is exactly the reality of value.

The basketball is bigger than the organge. The orange is bigger than the golfball. The golf ball is bigger than the ballbearing...etc.

There is no 'intrisically bigger-than' starting point to ground our analysis of what is bigger-than. All values are the same. They are purely relations, not instrinsic properties.

Or we can think of it this way.

A meaningful value take the logical form:

Vxy

where V=value term
x=thing evaluated
y=standard of evaluation

An instrinsic value take the form:

Vxx

Where the thing evaluated and the standard are identical.

This relation is totally trivial, like A=A.

What is says is that ALL things have 'instrinsic' or formal value in and of themselves, and thus, are perfectly equal in this 'starting point'. Which is the same as saying 'no things have inherent value', because this trivial relationship is cognitively meaningless. It doesn't tell us anything, er, valuable.

8)
davidlahiff
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#70 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 1:32 AM:

I think moral values are innate for normal people. Deep down, everyone has moral values. They know that doing what's best for other people is the moral thing. You don't have to be a Christian to understand that. However, I do think Christianity conditions them because reading of the "Word" everyday, reminds us.
smokinpristiformis
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#71 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 8:46 AM:

I do believe morality can have a rationale behind it. But then I've never been convinced of any logic that it contained the final truth.
In sum, morality is useful, it should be subject to due consideration, and we should be able to criticise and re-consider. smiling face

Cheers.
libertygrl
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#72 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 11:45 AM:

davidlahiff wrote:
I think moral values are innate for normal people. Deep down, everyone has moral values. They know that doing what's best for other people is the moral thing. You don't have to be a Christian to understand that. However, I do think Christianity conditions them because reading of the "Word" everyday, reminds us.

hi david, welcome to the couch smiling face

there's been a lot of discussion here so far about the idea of morality being conditioned. i think we could all probably agree that if an individual lived alone (in the world, or on a desert island or what have you), completely isolated from all other humanity, we could observe a natural absence of moral values, right? because the individual would have no need for them.

but even with conditioning from external sources, is there not also an internal mechanism which responds to the external conditioning, one that decides for the individual if something is right or wrong (or useful, to use smoki's description & henry's pragmatic approach?) and considering that this response mechanism in people does not always agree with the response mechanism in others (in spite of conditioning), can it not be said then that morality is just as innate as it is conditioned?

this, i think also concerns the realm of volition as MM describes above. perhaps some moral values are just as much about exercising a freedom of will as they are about helping others. should a rape victim have the freedom to abort her pregnancy? lots of reasons may be argued for or against the idea, but is the final determination not simply an axis of the individual's will?

lib
praxis
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#73 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 2:20 PM:

libertygrl wrote:

i think we could all probably agree that if an individual lived alone (in the world, or on a desert island or what have you), completely isolated from all other humanity, we could observe a natural absence of moral values, right? because the individual would have no need for them.

Not really, no. To invoke the cliché, no man is an island. We are dependent on other beings to live, and we must have some kind of sustainable relationship with other life in order to survive. That other life doesn't need to be human life, as I see it.

If a person lived alone in a completely sterile environment, like the moon I guess, and had no memory of other beings, they might then be morally vacuous. But wouldn't that unfortunate person be like a fish out of water? What would they do besides suck on the food dispenser?
Monk2400
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#74 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 2:35 PM:

davidlahiff wrote:

I think moral values are innate for normal people. Deep down, everyone has moral values.


No one can 'have' moral values, because they are not objects that an agent can possess. Nor are they properties that an agent can perceive. What you're implying is that people have certain tendancies towards acting in certain ways. We have genetic dispositions. We have reflexes.

But I think there is a fine distinction between reflexive modes of activity for a type of being (like a human) and absolute valuations of their worth.

Consider this--for every act that a person 'innately feels is right', we can still coherently ask whether the act is, in fact, 'right'. And, further, it is always possible to construct a moral context in which an act someone feels is 'right' becomes 'wrong' by leading to harm. Not to mention the very clear fact that human beings have a great many 'natural instincts' that traditional moral systems treat as 'evil', to be supressed and eliminated.


davidlahiff wrote:

They know that doing what's best for other people is the moral thing.


If that were true, then no child would ever need to be socially conditioned to respond to moral rules. Children are naturally selfish, for example. But this tendancy is often broken by the chastizement of moral authorities, who more or less force this tendancy away from fledgling moral agents, and towards the standard recommended by the extant society.


davidlahiff wrote:

You don't have to be a Christian to understand that. However, I do think Christianity conditions them because reading of the "Word" everyday, reminds us.


However, religion is a very poor ground for objective morals. It's quite clear that, for example, what Christians find permissable, Muslims find aborrent. In the end, we have two distinct moral systems that are at odds with each other in the details and in some of the big issues.

God judges moral value in the same way human beings. If it weren't that way, then God would be subject to morality, which would mean it would be something outside of God, and, indeed, more absolute than God.

8)
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#75 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 02/07/09 - 2:41 PM:

To agree somewhat with praxis, I would say that--contrary to some theories--the individual can maintain morals. This is because an individual moral code is just that set of rules that an individual constructs and abides by to achieve whatever goals hesh set out.

IN fact, we might observe that some of the most extreme moral behaviours come from people who are isolated from society by choice or circumstance. Without any other person supporting their values or point out the fallacy of their judgments, people can tend towards ridiculous expressions of value. In this they are usually driven by some overriding sense of personal need--to attain a certain realization or discipline. Honour, for example, is a supremely individual value, and one that applies to the agent whether or not they are living admist others of their kind.

8)
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