Tuesday, July 22, 2014

how can moral science exist?


richarddawkins |  The solution is not in some remarkable discovery, or genius breakthrough of logical formula – much to the pity of my book sales, and the desires of my publisher – but is rather in thinking around the problem. One need not show morality to be a system of naturally occurring and deducible facts like in physical or social sciences, in order for moral science to be advocated. If one needed to do this, morality could not be shown to be rational at all. Instead one simply needs to show that a rational theory of morality is possible, justifiable and more rationally able than the other moral theories on the table. So not just better than theological accounts, but also less-assumptive than many rights-theorists or utilitarian thinkers have come up with. The theory would then also have to be assumptive only to the degree that science is (i.e., assumptive only about the self-proving worth of rationality).

It would have to use the scientific method to develop a transparent set of social agreements about basic moral principles – whatever we agree those most basic of moral principles to be – instead of on the assumptions of natural moral facts (as there are no such things). To the non-philosopher, this translates as reducing the moral principles we wish our societies to be guided by to the most basic sets they can possibly be – however we wish this to look – and then using reason and science to build consistent moral rules, and make consistent moral decisions based on these most basic of principles. For example, we might look at our current principles about murder/violent crime and then reduce them to a basic principle that suffering and death should be avoided wherever possible. From there we would judge whether our laws were rationally consistent with what we socially agreed.

All be it a very different type of science, moral science can exist in a socially created space like this without contravening the rules of rationality, all the while allowing the most important of humanities problems to be exposed to the fruits of scientific method. Indeed, most areas of politics and morality need not be thought of as subjective at all once moral science is on the table, unless the problem is wholly without reason or evidence on either side. This doesn’t mean opponents of rationality will suddenly drop their beliefs and join us, but it does provide a consistent framework to stop people having to turn to religion or other methods in order to form moral beliefs. We shouldn’t underestimate the secular advantage this would have in future generations.

Moral science is important: it’s more rational than what we currently have, ie, a system where we just slightly amend historically decided ideas when we really have to. But more than this, it’s important because it gives us a chance to rationally judge moral issues – no longer having to allow for dangerous and often irrational subjective differences. What’s more, it allows for the whole method to be scientific in attitude; not allowing for certainty where there is none and helping to do away with as much potential for uncompromising aggression as possible.

21 comments:

Vic78 said...

"All be it a very different type of science, moral science can exist in a socially created space like this without contravening the rules of rationality, all the while allowing the most important of humanities problems to be exposed to the fruits of scientific method. Indeed, most areas of politics and morality need not be thought of as subjective at all once moral science is on the table, unless the problem is wholly without reason or evidence on either side."

It's called ethics. Dawkins' a funny character. He acts as if how he perceives rationality is the be all end all. Has he even thought about rationality?

CNu said...

What are the limits of which you speak Vic? Frankly, I'd take much greater comfort in a clearly articulated baseline for well-being - toward which we might all agree to rationally work - rather than the kingdom of heaven or the mystery of faith - for which very few people share a common interpretation, still less a direct and meaningful "taste".

Take for example the unalienable western belief in property rights http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-final-century-of-civilization.html#comment-1495719959 - where does that notion fit into the rational baseline for scientific morality? Does it fit at all?

CNu said...

Take for example the pending die-off in Palestine. Absent cheap oil and the industrial civilization it supports, Palestine can't support 1/20th of its current population level. What type/form of morality is applicable to that most ancient of killing fields? http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/war-zones/ - the Abrahamic irrationality is foundational to current killer-ape absurdities running rampant from one end of the middle east to the other.

Vic78 said...

You run into limits when it comes to making rules. Philosophers normally stop at principles when they devise a theory. The thing with rules is that they're in flux and dependent on a given situation. And there are tricks that get in the way of rules. A favored trick is Situational Ethics. You know the dilemma where you violate your principal no matter the choice. Dr. Johnson gets points for effort. I've accepted that the chances of having the kind of system he would like are slim.

Plato killed the religious justification a long time ago. It's people like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig that keep trying to prop the corpse.

Constructive_Feedback said...

Brother CNu: NOTICE THE PATTERN

1) One need not show morality to be a system of naturally occurring and deducible facts like in physical or social sciences, in order for moral science to be advocated.

2) So not just better than theological accounts, but also less-assumptive than many rights-theorists or utilitarian thinkers have come up with



I KEEP TELLING YOU - These "Scientists" (Dawkins & De Grasse Tyson) appear to be DEBATING with "Right-Wing Theo-Scientists" yet call what THEY THEMSELVES are doing "Science"


It appears that they know that THEY DON'T HAVE TO PROOF THEIR "SCIENCE" - they only need to TAKE OUT the "Theo-Science" Theories - allowing their "Science" to be the "last man standing" - akin to THOUGHT IMPERIALISM and COLONIZATION of the masses with their theorems.


Both groups use "Jesus Magic" to cover for their "Unknowns". Yet only ONE proclaims to be "Science" - which by definition can't rely on "Faith", "Hope" or "Spirituality", instead it must be dispassionate.


Why is it, sir, that on the matters of:


** Evolution / The Origins Of Life
** Global Warming / Climate Change
** The Acceptance And 'Imperialistic Normalization' Of Homosexuality
** Immigration (As Identified In The Borders Of The USA, But NOT The Human-Level Existence They Suffer In Their Home Nations).............


.....This SECULAR/RELIGIOUS...................LEFT/RIGHT divide manifests itself, yet seeks to HIDE ITS TRUE SELF?


Tell me - how can a man who fundamentally believes that we are BUT the "elements ordered from the BIG BANG" and our present form is due to some COSMIC interaction of these ELEMENTS/MINERALS with forces of the universe that composed us into our present form through an infinite period of time - NOW DEBATE "MORALITY OF CARBON, OXYGEN, HYDROGEN, CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, SODIUM and NITROGEN? - the key elements making up the HUMAN BODY.




Does the Ferret-like creature or the APE that Tyson says that WE EVOLVED FROM owe this world THE DISPLAY OF MORALITY?
WHY NOT when it is merely TIME that separate YOU (who has this moral bond) from this FERRET?


How is this any different from our "SOCIAL JUSTICE GOVERNMENT" here in the United States as compared to the EQUAL GENETIC BEING in "The Central African Republic" whose MORALITY is a question of the decision of the insurgent who stands before him with his finger on the trigger?


IT IS CLEAR then that this notion of MORALITY and its collective publicly manifest form called SOCIAL JUSTICE is a proven of an AGREEMENT OF "MEN" TO SUBMIT THEMSELVES to such a higher notion.


NOT EVOLUTION or CHEMICALS can promote this. A THINKING MAN with RESPECT FOR A HIGHER AUTHORITY is the source of the MANIFEST, FUNCTIONAL ENFORCEMENT of said "Morality" among a group of people who live in a politically confined space where THIS is the CONTROLLING ORDER.


Your buddy Dawkins MADE THIS CRAP UP because his Theo-Science adversaries "smacked that azz" and he needed a come back.

CNu said...

I'm lost in the morass of your competing claims.
1. Dawkins was not the author of this article.
2. A human species die-off or great filter looms ahead.
3. Biospheric life and death decisions need to be made.
4. There's no room for stuporstitious appeals to imaginary authority

Constructive_Feedback said...

More than happy to set you back on the proper course, sir.

1) Most certainly the "Richard Dawkins Foundation" speaks in the "Spirit" of "Richard Dawkins". I also mentioned "Neil De Grasse Tyson" - I take it that you noticed that he did not author the piece EITHER

2) I do not understand your prose

3) The same "biosphere" that, as many claim, is the consequence of billions of years of happenstance and "cosmic collisions" will SOME DAY "big bang" itself into a NEW GLOBAL ORDER - sufficient to sustain EVOLVED LIFE.

What LOGIC is it for you to APPLY "DECISIONS" today - when there was no "INTELLIGENT DECISION" made during the 'Origins" to order this balance of chemicals and gravitational forces that LIFE might be evolved and sustained ? Is not this the GREATEST OF FOLLIES, sir?

4) AGREED. Remove this AUTHORITY. Just as it was so that the T-Rex and the Sabre Toothed Tiger failed to EVOLVE - had you been around - would you have given them council that they should CHANGE THEIR DIET and/or build an under ground bunker with its own food and air supply to survive the crashing of the asteroids and comets?

Why do you attempt to push your snowball up the hill, against the grain of EARTH SCIENCE HISTORY?

CNu said...

Is America morally responsible for feeding, clothing, educating and sheltering Central American refugee children? http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2014/07/border_crisis_van_jones_and_newt_gingrich_debate_in_crossfire_on_the_root.html

Vic78 said...

Yes, for me there's no debate.

CNu said...

And why is that? I ain't father nary a single one of em. I ain't snort nary a single nostril-full of cocaine. Shiiiiiiit...., I ain't even smoke a single little dried up pincher of mexican butt-weed. I'm not tracking on how I'm personally liable as a taxpayer to underwrite the cost of feeding, clothing, educating, and sheltering a single central american refugee child. Help me out Vic?

Constructive_Feedback said...

AMERICA? - NO!!!!!!!

But those who claim to derive their MORALITY, COMPASSION, WILL FOR GOOD TIDINGS FOR THE FELLOW MAN from their...............

1) Ideoligy
2) Reliion
3) Intellectualism

MUST prove that this comes from their GREATER HUMANITY by being able to reach beyond MAN-MADE POLITICAL BOUNDARIES as they express their connectivity with human beings.

It is also true that those who can't seem to see their notions of "Social Justice" beyond their present political container or seem to find GRIEVANCE beyond their ideological/intellectual enemy who is "in theater" where they presently stand show that THESE CONTAINER are "Their God"/"The Source Of Their Ideology"/"Their Conscious Scaffolding".

Clear enough?

CNu said...

No, not clear at all. I can see how socially conservative drug war wattles and any and all who've profited from the police and prison industrial complex are morally culpable for creating havoc in Central America. But me and mine, we've simply had to deny ourselves certain basic sovereign rights in order to stay clear of "drug war" interdiction and interference.

Matter fact, in typical fashion, your comment is so far removed from the topic of rational morality - that I am once again lost in the morass of your competing claims.

Vic78 said...

For the time being the kids are in limbo. I don't really know where they're going to end up. In the mean time they should have their basic necessities met. It's unseemly to have hungry ass kids dealing with immigration officials and lawyers.

I say that tax dollars paid for the insane drug war and there's an obligation to the ruined lives inside and outside of the US. The kids and their parents in Central America had no say in Clinton and Bush policies but they paid for them. So yeah, it's America's problem.

ken said...

Do you have a definition of moral? And how one becomes morally responsible? We do have laws that considered us morally responsible to protect and take people in who were in danger, persecuted, or for political asylum. I suspect a good number of these people fit that category. The rates of killing in Honduras for instance is 1/3rd again higher than in Iraq, and El Salvador is about equal to the amount of killing in Iraq. Iraq did have refugees and lots of them, and neighboring countries took them in and many of those countries were much worse off financially and logistically than us.

http://www.vox.com/2014/6/16/5813406/explain-child-migrant-crisis-central-america-unaccompanied-children-immigrants-daca



What could help is out government should figure out where the private citizen help can come alongside and help out on the humanitarian side without compromising security and allow our border enforcement to be freed up to get back to enforcing the border.

CNu said...

unconscionable, unseemly?!?!?! at current consumption levels, the U.S. can sustainably support a population of 100 million. Mexico needs to deal with this problem on its southern border and across its states internally, and if not, the U.S. needs to begin loading up rail cars full of mexicans and sending them back to mexico.

CNu said...

That's not a political problem, it's a crime problem. Mexican ni ni's raised up on scarface imported that problem back down to Central America and in my estimation, that puts the onus squarely on Mexico to fix it. Otherwise its time to make war in a manner and on a scale that puts the Gaza gas appropriation to shame. If you can know about 1 million Iraqis getting wiped out pursuant to a strategic grab on Iraqi oil, and not a single Iraqi has ever had a prayer of invading the U.S., it seems a priori ridiculous for you to even pretend to try and assert some nebulous humanitarian standard for these Central American and Mexican invaders.

Further Central American and Mexican invasion across our southern border is contrary to my long-term rational self-interest. Clampdown time is now.

CNu said...

Since natural selection occurs under thermodynamic laws, individual and group behaviors are biased by the MPP to generate maximum power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of resources[4] whenever system constraints allow it. Individuals and families will form social groups to generate more power by degrading more energy. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.

Overshoot eventually leads to decreasing power attainable for the group with lower-ranking members suffering first. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain it. Meanwhile, social conflict will intensify as available power continues to fall.

Eventually, members of the weakest group (high or low rank) are forced to “disperse.”[5] Those members of the weak group who do not disperse are killed,[6] enslaved, or in modern times imprisoned. By most estimates, 10 to 20 percent of Stone-Age people died at the hands of other humans. The process of overshoot, followed by forced dispersal, may be seen as a sort of repetitive pumping action—a collective behavioral loop—that drove humans into every inhabitable niche.

Here is a synopsis of the behavioral loop described above:

Step 1. Individual and group behaviors are biased by the MPP to generate maximum power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of natural resources (overshoot), whenever systemic constraints allow it. Individuals and families will form social groups to generate more power by degrading more energy. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.

Step 2. Energy is always limited, so overshoot eventually leads to decreasing power available to the group, with lower-ranking members suffering first.

Step 3. Diminishing power availability creates divisive subgroups within the original group. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals, who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain power.

Step 4. Violent social strife eventually occurs among subgroups who demand a greater share of the remaining power.

Step 5. The weakest subgroups (high or low rank) are either forced to disperse to a new territory, are killed, enslaved, or imprisoned.

Step 6. Go back to step 1.

The above loop was repeated countless thousands of times during the millions of years that we were evolving[7]. This behavior is inherent in the architecture of our minds — is entrained in our biological material — and will be repeated until we go extinct. Carrying capacity will decline [8] with each future iteration of the overshoot loop, and this will cause human numbers to decline until they reach levels not seen since the Pleistocene. http://www.jayhanson.org/loop.htm

ken said...

Perhaps if you would use accurate numbers and determined what coalition forces (including Iraqis) were responsible and what insurgent terrorist were responsible for in killing Iraqi civilians it might be a conversation worth having. You might have a different perspective if you understood more than half of the number of Iraqis killed in the war (by both sides) is the number of kids who have ran from whatever it is they are running from to our border. And that is from of a population of maybe 15 million.

CNu said...

lol@it might be a conversation worth having.

You might have a different perspective if NOPE!

Not my problem. Contrary to my rational self-interest. Social conservatives brought hell to Latin America with their drug prohibition, and neoliberals compounded that hell with NAFTA. You and the Cathedral can keep that pro-life, humanitarian gas to yourselves by simply adopting any and all of these refugees directly into your own homes and on your own dime with nary a red cent from the gubmint.

It is not in my rational political self-interest to reorganize the deck chairs on the titanic for a single further soul bubbling up out of the south because of the consequences of policies I have bitterly opposed since you all enacted them.

ken said...

"You and the Cathedral can keep that pro-life, humanitarian gas to yourselves by simply adopting any and all of these refugees directly into your own homes and on your own dime with nary a red cent from the gubmint."


I suspect you know that is how the law is supposed to work, however as we watch our president not bother with following the law guidelines and forget about private sponsorship programs, the ones who call foul will only be doing so out of racial motivation. Getting ready to watch another law become optional for the Commander and Chief and Protector of the Constitution.

CNu said...

lol, don't you ever get tired of having your southern reaches continuously scorched by pants endlessly on fire? I suspect you know that is how the law is supposed to workGTFOH with that disingenuous partisan gas about Obama. Migres need to be knocking on corporate doors from sea to shining sea, rounding up undocumented workers, and imposing harsh punitive fines and sanctions on those companies employing illegal workers.

As for the refugee children of Central America, own your own culpability for the prohibition and "war on" for the past 40 years with its consequent breeding of chickens now coming home to roost. The institutional violentization and exportation of core American values http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2014/07/catching-feelings-is-downright.html to Mexico, Central, and Latin America is an inevitable outcome of the intensely racialized policies you and your ilk have supported all this time.