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Author Topic: What's the view on equality?  (Read 27464 times)

Darkhawk

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #465 on: August 18, 2015, 07:49:05 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;179015
Oooh! The use of "relativism" instead of "moral relativism"?

Sorry, that was my fault. I didn't think to make that distinction since I was specifying morals already.  I'll be more careful in the future.

 
No, that's not it.  Let me see if I can break this down usefully, bear with me, okay?

"There is no such thing as an objective moral truth" is an axiom.  (Much like "There exist objective moral truths" is an axiom.)  Neither of these is an axiom that is a part of a moral system, though; they're axioms that describe the process of building moral systems.

Basically, they're construction scaffolding.  When you have a moral system and are implementing it, they're useless, because that's not what they're for.

So the question is: are you interested in how people build their moral systems, in which case relativism vs. realism are relevant questions, or are you interested in what those moral systems are, in which case you're dealing with the specific axioms of specific moral systems.  These are totally different questions.

Your "'There are no moral facts' is self-contradictory because it claims that there is a moral fact that there are no moral facts" argument seems to me to be confusing the categories.  To me, 'there are no moral facts' is a claim that the axioms of moral systems are created by humans.  This isn't a moral statement at all; it has no moral relevance.  It is neither good nor evil, it makes no claims about good or evil.  It is a description of where people's ideas about good and evil come from, to wit: people.

The only thing that can contradict "There are no moral facts" in this framework is a moral reality that does not originate from people.
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Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #466 on: August 19, 2015, 01:34:49 am »
Quote from: RandallS;179017
This does not describe the physical universe and has not since quantum mechanical theory was demonstrated to be basically correct -- unless one believes that there are "hidden variables" that really make the universe predictable. Unfortunately for this belief, research over the last 10 years or so has shown that "hidden variable" interpretations (or at least all the common ones) simply do not match up to reality. As such there are lots of things that exist in the universe (basically everything at the micro-level) that do not  contain facts of their own matter only probabilities of their own matter.


I think fact is being seen too literally?

What I mean is, you could very easily say, "The fact of the matter is, there are lot's of things in the universe that only exist within probabilities."  

Basically, there is (always) some representation of the truth of things, and often this truth is not reliant on our knowledge of those things.


 

Quote
Also, as I believe Darkhawk pointed out, Godel's incompleteness theorems pretty much mean that any mathematical system (and logic is a mathematical system) is incomplete, that is there will always be statements that are true but cannot be proved to be so within the system. While these theorems are only known to be true for mathematical systems, they call into question how complete our knowledge of reality can be given that physical science is heavily based on math. There may be things in reality that are true than cannot be demonstrated to be true via any system of logic. There may also be things that are false that cannot be demonstrated to be false via any system of logic, although this is somewhat more speculative that the previous statement.


I think what is being missed is the point that Godel is talking about self-consistent systems. Godel's theorem attempts to prove that no finite system could ever match the reasoning power of the human mind.

Humans are not consistent systems, so humans do have the ability to find hidden truths in seemingly unsolvable problems through creativity, intuition and inspiration (existing conceptual spaces that are not reliant on a system of rules).

All Godel's theory proves is that a self-consistent system could run into a problem in which the only way to prove a statement is to make the statement false. Therefore, the system cannot be both complete and true.

It has nothing to do with the nature of reality or human perception. Or morality, for that matter.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

RandallS

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #467 on: August 19, 2015, 07:49:16 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;179030
Basically, there is (always) some representation of the truth of things, and often this truth is not reliant on our knowledge of those things.

That's basically a general statement of the "Hidden Variables" interpretation of of quantum mechanics. Perhaps it is true of "truth" even thought it there is no evidence that it is true of the physical universe (and quite a bit of evidence that is is not true of the physical universe). The best I can say is that you are willing to assume that "the truth is out there even if we haven't found it" and I see no reason to make that assumption.

Quote
I think what is being missed is the point that Godel is talking about self-consistent systems.


The morality you are describing sounds like a self-consistent system to me.
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Sefiru

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #468 on: August 19, 2015, 07:07:39 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;178956
I suppose I don't see people as defining relativism, but relativism as defining people. I see people defining their own moral truths, as relativism states, but that those moral truths also do not define relativism. I suppose I see the idea of relativism as a completely different creature than the actual morals/people.


Okay, completely opposite worldview, then. Question: are you a Platonist? That is, do you agree with Plato's view that abstract concepts exist independently of the material world? I'm pretty much an anti-platonist, since I don't think that concepts can be separated from examples of them.

Quote

Telling me the what the letters (morals) are, relative to each person, is not telling me what relativism is. Because relativism is simply the box full of jumbled letters, not the words those letters make for a specific person.

I'm not saying this is the right picture of relativism, but it's how I'm seeing it now.

 
Actually, I'd say your visualisation is pretty close. Here is how I would extend it.

Imagine that box of jumbled letters is, in fact, a game of Scrabble.
- Sure, someone can play it alone and make up their own words, but that doesn't make for a good game; it's more fun to play with a group of friends who (mostly) agree on what counts as a word.
- Each game is different from any other game, but has a logical structure within itself.
- Some words occur more often than others, but no word appears in every single game.
- A set of letters can make a word in one language but not another; this does not change the overall rules of Scrabble.

Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #469 on: August 22, 2015, 09:59:22 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;178977
But moral relativism does not say that every morality is equally right - at least, not according to many philosophers. (Accounting for the fact that there are many, many variations in what 'moral relativism' means, with many schools of thought fitting into that general category.) My understanding of moral relativism is that it simply means that morals are socio-historically and culturally located. To define it beyond that, you need to get into specific nuances of relativism.


I wanted to reply to you earlier but the kids started school again, and of course brought home the flu, which has been kicking my ass the last couple of days. (On the plus side, I got to stay in bed and marathon season 5 of Downton Abbey.)

I understand that m.relativism doesn't think all morals are equally good, but that no one moral stance is equally privileged over then next.

 
Quote
I'm largely a moral realist, in a personal sense. However, I accept the validity of moral relativism as a philosophy - in fact, I think there are schools of thought where you can *almost* be both at once. I'm a virtue ethicist and a consequentialist. Neither of those are incompatible with moral relativism (because my personal interpretation of that leans towards 'there are no moral absolutes outside of socio-historical and cultural frameworks'). I nonetheless tend to think I'm more of a realist, on the basis of being attached to certain moral/ethical absolutes like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I think there are moral absolutes in a universe where (sentient) living beings exist, because of our responsibilities to other beings in that universe. But that isn't *entirely* incompatible with moral relativism, at least not in the way I personally approach that. I know that every moral absolute I believe in is socio-culturally mediated, and that different absolutes would apply in different universes.

tl;dr for those who read weirdly, like me: moral realism and moral relativism can come in more shades than I think this particular debate is making room for, at the moment!


I'm a relativist on some things. Like...

I don't think morals originated from people, but were perceived by people. That long ago, before religion, primitive man sensed the concepts of right and wrong and took off with it.  But I do think that many moral codes originated with people and those are relative to culture, religion, history, etc.

I also find the relationship between the belief in "gods of function", and/or hard polytheism and the belief in the independent, natural existence of moral truths to be an interesting angle. Are Gods of Justice, for example, simply the creations of culture, or are they powers of Justice that cultures perceived?  

I believe in "gods of function", or an intelligent and spiritually abstract natural universe independent of people, and I believe that morals can exist in that same conceptual space.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #470 on: August 22, 2015, 10:14:00 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;179018
No, that's not it.  Let me see if I can break this down usefully, bear with me, okay?

"There is no such thing as an objective moral truth" is an axiom.  (Much like "There exist objective moral truths" is an axiom.)  Neither of these is an axiom that is a part of a moral system, though; they're axioms that describe the process of building moral systems.

Basically, they're construction scaffolding.  When you have a moral system and are implementing it, they're useless, because that's not what they're for.

So the question is: are you interested in how people build their moral systems, in which case relativism vs. realism are relevant questions, or are you interested in what those moral systems are, in which case you're dealing with the specific axioms of specific moral systems.  These are totally different questions.



I think for a relativist it becomes useless, but for a realist it's not so easily separated.

If you're building a car to run on any type of fuel, then once you're out driving the car it doesn't matter which fuel you use.  You don't have to give much thought to what is a fuel source anymore. (Not a completely accurate representation of relativism, but you get my drift.)

If you're building a car to only run on banana peels, then once you're out driving the car the kind of fuel you use is still very pertinent. You have to actively look for banana peels and utilize them to get around. (Same goes for realism.)

So I think this is just a difference in viewpoint.
 

Quote
Your "'There are no moral facts' is self-contradictory because it claims that there is a moral fact that there are no moral facts" argument seems to me to be confusing the categories.  To me, 'there are no moral facts' is a claim that the axioms of moral systems are created by humans.  This isn't a moral statement at all; it has no moral relevance.  It is neither good nor evil, it makes no claims about good or evil.  It is a description of where people's ideas about good and evil come from, to wit: people.


Right, to me, this is a description of moral relativism.

Quote
The only thing that can contradict "There are no moral facts" in this framework is a moral reality that does not originate fr
om people.


That would be moral realism.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #471 on: August 22, 2015, 10:17:47 am »
Quote from: RandallS;179037
That's basically a general statement of the "Hidden Variables" interpretation of of quantum mechanics. Perhaps it is true of "truth" even thought it there is no evidence that it is true of the physical universe (and quite a bit of evidence that is is not true of the physical universe). The best I can say is that you are willing to assume that "the truth is out there even if we haven't found it" and I see no reason to make that assumption.


But then there'd be no purpose to science. ?

 

Quote
The morality you are describing sounds like a self-consistent system to me.


Touche. :)

However, just because there might be one question a self-constistent machine can't answer (because it would contradict itself, not because an answer can't be found) that doesn't mean that it can't answer any questions.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Darkhawk

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #472 on: August 22, 2015, 12:14:03 pm »
Sorry to hear you've been sick; I've had the Doom Cold myself.  What the hell, summer colds?!

Quote from: Juniperberry;179114
If you're building a car to run on any type of fuel, then once you're out driving the car it doesn't matter which fuel you use.  You don't have to give much thought to what is a fuel source anymore. (Not a completely accurate representation of relativism, but you get my drift.)

If you're building a car to only run on banana peels, then once you're out driving the car the kind of fuel you use is still very pertinent. You have to actively look for banana peels and utilize them to get around. (Same goes for realism.)


But neither of these axioms are fuel.  Neither of them has anything to do with how a moral system works in practice.  Neither of them is required to make anything go.

Someone who believes that there is an objective, intrinsic standard of fairness for behaviour and someone whose personal conclusion boils down to the same standard of fairness but who doesn't think that that's a cosmic rule will make the same decisions in the same circumstances.

Because the actual mechanisms of their morality are identical.

(Now, it might be interesting to dig into where the sorts of systems that are built on realism and the sort of systems that are built on relativism might plausibly or do typically differ?  But that has totally not been the topic.)

Quote from: me
The only thing that can contradict "There are no moral facts" in this framework is a moral reality that does not originate from people.


Quote
That would be moral realism.

 
My response to that would be either "Uhhhhhhhhh, that would be my point, yes, what?" or "The existence of people who believe in moral realism does not do anything; the only thing that would contradict it was evidence that they're correct", depending on what you actually mean by that.
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Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #473 on: August 23, 2015, 11:56:21 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;179119
Sorry to hear you've been sick; I've had the Doom Cold myself.  What the hell, summer colds?!


Thanks. Luckily, by the time I got the worst of it the kids were already well enough to go back to school, so I had the house mostly to myself Thurs. and Fri.

Hope you feel better soon, too!


Quote
But neither of these axioms are fuel.  Neither of them has anything to do with how a moral system works in practice.  Neither of them is required to make anything go.

Someone who believes that there is an objective, intrinsic standard of fairness for behaviour and someone whose personal conclusion boils down to the same standard of fairness but who doesn't think that that's a cosmic rule will make the same decisions in the same circumstances.


I don't know that I agree with this, but it's interesting. Would you mind explaining more why you think relativism and realism will arrive at the same place (and thus make the means of getting there irrelevant)?


Quote
(Now, it might be interesting to dig into where the sorts of systems that are built on realism and the sort of systems that are built on relativism might plausibly or do typically differ?  But that has totally not been the topic.)


That's fine, for me. Topics evolve. (So long as everyone is following along!) :)




 
Quote
My response to that would be either "Uhhhhhhhhh, that would be my point, yes, what?" or "The existence of people who believe in moral realism does not do anything; the only thing that would contradict it was evidence that they're correct", depending on what you actually mean by that.



I suppose the bolded. It's more meaningful for me, personally, to look for evidence on moral truths then to conclude there are none.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Darkhawk

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #474 on: August 24, 2015, 03:07:30 pm »
The cold here has mostly settled down to "the oldest has an intermittent cough and I've got a bad case of goo".  Also we are all really easily exhausted.  But this is an improvement!

Quote from: Juniperberry;179160
I don't know that I agree with this, but it's interesting. Would you mind explaining more why you think relativism and realism will arrive at the same place (and thus make the means of getting there irrelevant)?


I think that moral systems that share the same axioms will reach the same conclusions, because that's what happens when things use the same axioms.  Moral systems that don't share the same axioms won't produce the same results.  Where people get the axioms from doesn't matter to either of these things.

I see no evidence that realism produces substantially less diversity in actual moral systems in practice than relativism - y'all might agree that there are real, intrinsic, actually-out-in-the-universe somewhere moral laws but you don't agree on what they actually are at all reliably.  Which basically leaves everyone in the same boat anyway.

Quote
I suppose the bolded. It's more meaningful for me, personally, to look for evidence on moral truths then to conclude there are none.


Digging into the meat of what people do and how they make their decisions, that's interesting to me?  It actually has some real world applications?  What works better, what doesn't, what I find more aesthetic, what produces the results I find preferable, and so on, those are interesting questions to me.

But I'm basically with Pratchett's Death on questions of moral realism (quoted in thread previously), which means that I'm not in favour of grinding up the universe in search of a particle of justice.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #475 on: September 21, 2015, 12:33:47 am »
Quote from: RandallS;179017
Godel's incompleteness theorems


I'm currently reading Isaac Asimov's Robot Novels (Robots of Dawn, specifically) and while this wasn't referenced directly, the idea is a plot point in the book.

If you haven't read it: A robot has been "roblocked" and the leading roboticist explains how even the most advanced positronic brains will eventually reach a contradiction of the Three Laws of Robotics that it cannot resolve. This freezes the robot's brain and it becomes completely non-functional (dead). Only the top mathematicians could succeed in leading the positronic brain to the contradiction, and, naturally, the difference between man and robot is that the human brain does not fry when faced with a contradiction of laws.  

Anyway, of course it made me think of you guys and I thought I'd share. :)
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 12:36:34 am by Juniperberry »
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Redfaery

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #476 on: September 21, 2015, 12:52:37 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;180208
I'm currently reading Isaac Asimov's Robot Novels (Robots of Dawn, specifically) and while this wasn't referenced directly, the idea is a plot point in the book.

If you haven't read it: A robot has been "roblocked" and the leading roboticist explains how even the most advanced positronic brains will eventually reach a contradiction of the Three Laws of Robotics that it cannot resolve. This freezes the robot's brain and it becomes completely non-functional (dead). Only the top mathematicians could succeed in leading the positronic brain to the contradiction, and, naturally, the difference between man and robot is that the human brain does not fry when faced with a contradiction of laws.  

Anyway, of course it made me think of you guys and I thought I'd share. :)
Have you gotten to the end of that book? The conclusion actually has some points that might be salient here.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #477 on: September 21, 2015, 01:20:46 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;180227
Have you gotten to the end of that book? The conclusion actually has some points that might be salient here.

Nope, but I'll update when I do!

Edit: Was that spoiler-ish? :(
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 01:21:55 pm by Juniperberry »
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

Redfaery

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #478 on: September 21, 2015, 01:44:10 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;180228
Nope, but I'll update when I do!

Edit: Was that spoiler-ish? :(


It wasn't meant to be. Sorry!
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Juniperberry

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Re: What's the view on equality?
« Reply #479 on: September 23, 2015, 11:08:01 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;180227
Have you gotten to the end of that book? The conclusion actually has some points that might be salient here.

 
I've just finished the book, but I'm not sure what you mean about the conclusion.
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

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Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall