Is an aptitute for logic necessary to be a moral person?

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Kroni
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 05:24 pm
Since morality and logic are so intertwined, it got me to think about those who are not naturally prone to understanding logic. We generally regard people who have low math or reasoning skills as still competent individuals who are able to make a moral decision. Yet when we analyze certain moral choices, we find that logic can help us discover the underlying rule of why certain acts are good or bad. Is it therefore necessary to understand logic to know whether you are making the most morally acceptable choice? If so, what does that say about the morality of someone who never partakes in logical thought experiments?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 06:25 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;101894 wrote:
Since morality and logic are so intertwined, it got me to think about those who are not naturally prone to understanding logic. We generally regard people who have low math or reasoning skills as still competent individuals who are able to make a moral decision. Yet when we analyze certain moral choices, we find that logic can help us discover the underlying rule of why certain acts are good or bad. Is it therefore necessary to understand logic to know whether you are making the most morally acceptable choice? If so, what does that say about the morality of someone who never partakes in logical thought experiments?


Unless you can reason competently, you cannot reason competently about morality. To make moral choices, you have to think about what the choices are, and what consequences are likely to follow from each choice. Only then can you make your choice.
 
TickTockMan
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:07 pm
@kennethamy,
Let's have a logical thought experiment and see what it tells us.

Or, as Jigsaw says, "Let's play a game."

A new virus has been engineered by a vengeful group of lunatics bent on saving the planet, and, apparently, with a grudge against you personally.

The virus is highly contagious, and has been engineered to be transmissible through any and all vectors. The creators of the virus predict that 80% of the people who are exposed to the virus will become infected.

The virus is non-lethal, but will, however, render 60-80% of its hosts utterly and permanently sterile.

A three year old child and its mother have been infected with this virus and placed in an airtight 4 foot by 4 foot steel box in a crowded park. You can see them through a small portal in the side of the box.

On the box, there is a timer. At 5:00 p.m. the timer will trigger a number of blowtorches that will incinerate all traces of the virus in the box. There are no other existing traces of the virus anywhere else, and all the notes on its creation are in the box. In other words, when the contents of the box are incinerated there will be no more threat, ever, of this particular virus. Unfortunately the mother and child will also be incinerated in this process.

There are two buttons on the box, one marked "OPEN" the other marked "SHOOT".

If you press the button marked "OPEN", the following will occur: the blowtorches will deactivate; the lid of the box will open and a series of nozzles will begin spraying a fine mist of virus contaminated water into the breeze; a panel will open and free the mother and child.

If you press the button marked "SHOOT" a member of the lunatic group on the roof of a nearby building with a sniper rifle will kill you, quickly and cleanly. He will not miss. Also, when you push the "SHOOT" button, a vapor will be released into the box that utterly neutralizes the virus in the child and in the tanks of virus-contaminated water. There will be no further danger from this virus whatsoever. The box will then open, and the mother and child will released completely unharmed.

You have been given all of the information above, and you are at least 95% sure this is not a hoax.

You are standing next to the box and you can read the display on the timer.

It is now 4:57 p.m.
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 07:27 pm
@Kroni,
I think the link between morality and logic is not very strong.

It does apply in unique moral dillemas - where critical thinknig requires an innovated outcome.

But for everyday issues, morality is very often just following a prescribed set of ideals : do not kill, steal, lie, etc...

Also, there are plenty of people (I do not really need to list examples do I?)
who have great logical minds, but do not have the vaguest sense of morality - and in fact their logic makes it easier for them to get away with immoral behaviour. They see morality as being illogical.

In psychology we call this the 'organised psychopath'

So very often, logic and morality often work in opposition to one another - though clearly that is not the best path.

So only in extreme situations is logic necesary for morality - then one needs to not just follow rules, but actually create useful principles.

There are plenty of people who can attest to the notion that their pets have a distinct moral character more advanced than many people.

Think of the good old border colly.
Would he ever steal a sheep of his own desire?
Would a person who has mastered the logic of speech?
And those lawyers and their latin delusions of righteousness?
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 08:12 pm
@Poseidon,
Kroni;101894 wrote:
(1)Since morality and logic are so intertwined, it got me to think about those who are not naturally prone to understanding logic. We generally regard people who have low math or reasoning skills as still competent individuals who are able to make a moral decision. Yet when we analyze certain moral choices, we find that logic can help us discover the underlying rule of why certain acts are good or bad. (2)Is it therefore necessary to understand logic to know whether you are making the most morally acceptable choice? If so, what does that say about the morality of someone who never partakes in logical thought experiments?


(1) I would not go so far as to link morality and logic. Logic is a closed system which is independent of any philosophical orientation. It is essentially an instrument. Morality plays no direct part in it one way or the other unless morality itself is a set of the premises. Look no farther than the Aristotle's Organon, which looked at philosophy not as any sort or particular school of philosophy, but as a tool to be used by the analytical (scientists, philosophers, etc.). Morality could be a tool the way logic is a tool, but the two are not inevitably intertwined. They are distinct practices.

There is a very good article on this subject called Logic and Mathematics by Stephen G. Simpson. Simpson goes over numerous amounts of basic principles that logic is driven by. One of the primary principles Simpson underlines as essential is that "logic is the science of correct reasoning." Reasoning and morality, which I'm sure most of you would probably agree, varies greatly between one person and another. I would venture to say that morality and logic rest on truth functionality in one way or another, although they don't need one another to persist. Morality could invariably produce as many axioms as logic can produce in terms of the confines of a proof.

(2) So as to your question of whether or not it is necessary to understand logic to know you are making the most morally acceptable choice? No. Again, logic is but a tool we use to determine factors that we have already come up with to begin with. The premises that we use initially use (usually) are of our own synthetic construction. Morality itself is as synthetic as logic is concerned (although this itself had been debated). Mixing the two seems problematic.
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 09:01 pm
@Kroni,
Considering that what is ethical is not always logical, i'd say no. But for the most part, morals are logical.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 09:52 pm
@Kroni,
Kroni;101894 wrote:
Since morality and logic are so intertwined, it got me to think about those who are not naturally prone to understanding logic. We generally regard people who have low math or reasoning skills as still competent individuals who are able to make a moral decision. Yet when we analyze certain moral choices, we find that logic can help us discover the underlying rule of why certain acts are good or bad. Is it therefore necessary to understand logic to know whether you are making the most morally acceptable choice? If so, what does that say about the morality of someone who never partakes in logical thought experiments?

Quite the opposite...Morality and reason have nothing in common...You are suffering from the Thought, common with the Greeks and the Christians that virtue (morality) can be taught... And that is false, for it cannot be... Morality is a result of an emotional connectedness between people, and for that reason we are usually and most moral with our relatives... Consider this simple fact: The preservation of self is the most reasonable thought, but it is seldom thought of as moral... When people act to preserve a life not their own at the risk of their own the act cannot be reasonable, but is always unreasonable... To act morally we must always set aside what is normally reasonable; so if the act is not logical it cannot be taught in a progressive fashion, and yet, it is learned... Then how so???I think it is learned before reason... We learn to love others and identify with humanity, to have empathy and sympaty for the pain of others, and it is reason that unlearns these lessons, and teaches us their pain is none of our business... Reason is immoral...Injustice is always justified.. Science and economics have no souls...

---------- Post added 11-04-2009 at 11:00 PM ----------

Yogi DMT;101929 wrote:
Considering that what is ethical is not always logical, i'd say no. But for the most part, morals are logical.

There is a difference between finding the logic of morals and being able to present, and so teach morals in a logical fashion...

There is a reason societies are generally moral, but all societies demand a sacrifice, and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice of life... To paint the problem in general terms, we all give up a part of our selves to be in a society, and this sacrifice changes our perspective... Logic takes a certain perspective, the self...In losing that sense of self you get a different perspective of good for the self as being good for the communnity, and if you hold to that you are moral... Community is morality, and the individual, for whose benefit logic exists, is outside of the communty and immoral...
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 4 Nov, 2009 10:10 pm
@Kroni,
Try the classic trolley problem and explain why most people think case one is permissible but case two is not in terms of logic only. Moral intiutions are emotive or empathetic perhaps more than logical:
[INDENT]Basic Trolley Case: There is a run away trolley car careening down some railway tracks towards two tunnels. If it stays on the track it is on, it will kill five people working in the eastern tunnel. If you pull a switch it will move onto a side track, go through the western tunnel and kill the person working in it. Assume you can't do anything to stop the car or change its path except pull this switch. You pull the switch, saving the five and leading to the one's death.[/INDENT][INDENT]Fatman: Same runaway car, but without the switch. This time, you're standing on a cliff looking over the track the car is about to careen down. If unchecked it will kill the five people in the tunnel. Fortunately, there is a very fat man standing beside you - fat enough that if somehow he were to fall onto the track his sheer mass would stop the trolley. You give him a little shove, he falls off the cliff onto the train tracks is killed by the trolley (if not the fall) and the five are saved.[/INDENT]
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 06:50 am
@prothero,
prothero;101941 wrote:
Try the classic trolley problem and explain why most people think case one is permissible but case two is not in terms of logic only. Moral intiutions are emotive or empathetic perhaps more than logical:
[INDENT]Basic Trolley Case: There is a run away trolley car careening down some railway tracks towards two tunnels. If it stays on the track it is on, it will kill five people working in the eastern tunnel. If you pull a switch it will move onto a side track, go through the western tunnel and kill the person working in it. Assume you can't do anything to stop the car or change its path except pull this switch. You pull the switch, saving the five and leading to the one's death.
[/INDENT][INDENT]Fatman: Same runaway car, but without the switch. This time, you're standing on a cliff looking over the track the car is about to careen down. If unchecked it will kill the five people in the tunnel. Fortunately, there is a very fat man standing beside you - fat enough that if somehow he were to fall onto the track his sheer mass would stop the trolley. You give him a little shove, he falls off the cliff onto the train tracks is killed by the trolley (if not the fall) and the five are saved.
[/INDENT]

Does this seem like an insoluable moral conundrum??? Every single thing we do on this earth involves a moral choice, and it is a given that even the most moral person cannot save all... Neither can we always know the consequences of all our actions, so even if you hold with Socrates that knowledge is virtue, that often makes of us a witness to human suffering since we cannot know that the life saved may not be lived for evil...How often do we know a fraction of the facts you present??? Do we know this number or that, will be killed... Will there be a choice of tunnels, or a switch, or a handy fat man??? We have in any broadly painted scene usually a single choice: To not, ourselves, do wrong... But morality is community... Moral behavior is in relation to a certain group, our group, our people, our tribe, our party...Yet we are all a part of many communities, and all a part of the human community...The most moral statement is not peace on earth... The most moral statement is also the most rational, that what goes around comes around..This statement recognizes ones own connection to others, but also the connection between all causes and effects.... No morality is out of context, but our economy and even our religion destroys the context of morality because the individual conceived as an individual apart from his community is incapable of moral life or action...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 07:11 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;101920 wrote:
(1) I would not go so far as to link morality and logic. Logic is a closed system which is independent of any philosophical orientation. It is essentially an instrument. Morality plays no direct part in it one way or the other unless morality itself is a set of the premises. Look no farther than the Aristotle's Organon, which looked at philosophy not as any sort or particular school of philosophy, but as a tool to be used by the analytical (scientists, philosophers, etc.). Morality could be a tool the way logic is a tool, but the two are not inevitably intertwined. They are distinct practices.

There is a very good article on this subject called Logic and Mathematics by Stephen G. Simpson. Simpson goes over numerous amounts of basic principles that logic is driven by. One of the primary principles Simpson underlines as essential is that "logic is the science of correct reasoning." Reasoning and morality, which I'm sure most of you would probably agree, varies greatly between one person and another. I would venture to say that morality and logic rest on truth functionality in one way or another, although they don't need one another to persist. Morality could invariably produce as many axioms as logic can produce in terms of the confines of a proof.

(2) So as to your question of whether or not it is necessary to understand logic to know you are making the most morally acceptable choice? No. Again, logic is but a tool we use to determine factors that we have already come up with to begin with. The premises that we use initially use (usually) are of our own synthetic construction. Morality itself is as synthetic as logic is concerned (although this itself had been debated). Mixing the two seems problematic.


How would anyone make a rational decision about what moral course of action to take unless he first considered what choices are available, and then he considered the probable consequences of each choice? And how could he do this without employing logic? Logic, of course, cannot tell us, at the end of thinking about it, which choice to make, but it is a necessary condition of rational decision. Isn't it?
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 5 Nov, 2009 07:48 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;101978 wrote:
How would anyone make a rational decision about what moral course of action to take unless he first considered what choices are available, and then he considered the probable consequences of each choice? And how could he do this without employing logic? Logic, of course, cannot tell us, at the end of thinking about it, which choice to make, but it is a necessary condition of rational decision. Isn't it?

When you see people acting morally it is not out of reason because morality demands sacrifice always, and risk often... I risked my life to pull a black man out of the river... Was it reasonable??? Reason argued against the act until I reached a point defensible only by emotion, that the man was clearly a human, and so my brother... It was hope, and love that made me do the deed, but if risk had not attended it, where would be the honor, or the morality???Reason presented a choice, and I might have still been standing on that dock long after the man had died if I had been rational... To risk life one must be irrational, as people usually are...But morality is what people do because moral is what people are...It is not abstract, and there is no way to reach the goal of a moral society by abstraction... People feel connected and react according to their feelings...
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Dec, 2009 08:58 pm
@Kroni,
Fido makes a good point. Logic is a means. The ends themselves are irrational. Why live in the first place? What logical purpose does it serve? Logic is just Ideal Rhetoric.

We say what we say to get what we want. We persuade ourselves and others. We are persuaded by ourselves in others. And effective persuasion appeals to man's irrational motives in a clear and persuasive ("logical") way.

Logic is to persuasion what chess is to real war. It's an aesthetically pleasing reduction. Logic is bite size rhetoric in church clothes.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:07 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;108652 wrote:
Fido makes a good point. Logic is a means. The ends themselves are irrational. Why live in the first place? What logical purpose does it serve? Logic is just Ideal Rhetoric.

We say what we say to get what we want. We persuade ourselves and others. We are persuaded by ourselves in others. And effective persuasion appeals to man's irrational motives in a clear and persuasive ("logical") way.

Logic is to persuasion what chess is to real war. It's an aesthetically pleasing reduction. Logic is bite size rhetoric in church clothes.



Hume said that "reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions". What he meant is that after reason has told us which choices there are, what the consequences of each choice are likely to be, and what means we have to take, after that, we still have to make the choice, and that choice is not one of reason, but one of passion. What choice we make after reason has done it work, is not one of reason. Not that it is irrational, as you say, because choice is neither rational nor irrational. It is non-rational.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:20 am
@kennethamy,
"Non-rational" works just fine for me. But the definition of "irrational" works just fine as well. The point is our motives themselves are not rational. Man is a cunning linguist, who trades marks and noises for various purposes. He uses them for practical information, of course, but also religious and aesthetic reasons.

By means of these marks and noises (words), he assembles complex mental models of his environment (including the minds of other humans) and also of that which creates these same mental models. The mind has a mental model of itself. Before long, man is using his marks and noises to re-describe the ways these marks and noises work. He thinks about thinking. He creates logic, epistemology, depth-psychology, etc.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:31 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;108701 wrote:
"Non-rational" works just fine for me. But the definition of "irrational" works just fine as well. The point is our motives themselves are not rational. Man is a cunning linguist, who trades marks and noises for various purposes. He uses them for practical information, of course, but also religious and aesthetic reasons.

By means of these marks and noises (words), he assembles complex mental models of his environment (including the minds of other humans) and also of that which creates these same mental models. The mind has a mental model of itself. Before long, man is using his marks and noises to re-describe the ways these marks and noises work. He thinks about thinking. He creates logic, epistemology, depth-psychology, etc.


"Irrational" means contrary to reason. Non-rational means independent of reason. People do not ordinarily make choices that they deem contrary to reason. Hume's point is that making a choice is finally a decision of feeling, not reason, although reason can give you the information you need to make the choice. Aristotle expressed the same sentiment when he wrote that "thought alone moves nothing". At the end, you have to want to do what you do. Otherwise, you don't do it.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:34 am
@kennethamy,
Main Entry:
Pronunciation: \i-ˈra-sh(ə-)nəl, ˌi(r)-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin irrationalis, from in- + rationalis rational
Date: 14th century
: not rational: as a (1) : not endowed with reason or understanding (2) : lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b : not governed by or according to reason <irrational fears> c Greek & Latin prosody (1) of a syllable : having a quantity other than that required by the meter (2) of a foot : containing such a syllable d (1) : being an irrational number <an irrational root of an equation> (2) : having a numerical value that is an irrational number <a length that is irrational>

---------- Post added 12-07-2009 at 02:39 AM ----------

We should distinguish between reason and formal logic. If by reason we mean the brain as possibility -machine, testing the various outcomes of various possible choices, this is quite different from formal logic.

I personally think that man's emotional motives are tied up in his metaphors and concepts. He is a symbolic animal. He will die for honor. He is capable of suicide.

He will also persuade himself and others that his desires are justified. Or he will persuade his slaves that such slavery is natural. He will persuade someone that the Earth is round, not flat. He will persuade someone that he is not persuading but merely demonstrating objective truth. He is an inventive little predator, homo sapien. And the metaphor is arguably his best weapon.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:45 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;108706 wrote:
Main Entry:
Pronunciation: \i-ˈra-sh(ə-)nəl, ˌi(r)-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin irrationalis, from in- + rationalis rational
Date: 14th century
: not rational: as a (1) : not endowed with reason or understanding (2) : lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence b : not governed by or according to reason <irrational fears> c Greek & Latin prosody (1) of a syllable : having a quantity other than that required by the meter (2) of a foot : containing such a syllable d (1) : being an irrational number <an irrational root of an equation> (2) : having a numerical value that is an irrational number <a length that is irrational>

---------- Post added 12-07-2009 at 02:39 AM ----------



Yes, exactly. That is why I used "non-rational" rather than "irrational". "Not rational" can be used for either.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:49 am
@Kroni,
You said "contrary to reason." But it's not that important. I don't want to harass you over a slight misuse. But I looked it up before I used it, expecting you to prefer "nonrational." Isn't that strange?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:52 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;108711 wrote:
You said "contrary to reason." But it's not that important. I don't want to harass you over a slight misuse. But I looked it up before I used it, expecting you to prefer "nonrational." Isn't that strange?


Sorry. I don't understand your point.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 7 Dec, 2009 01:59 am
@Kroni,
Well, Data, it's like this. Irrational means not endowed with reason. But I felt that you would dislike the word "irrational" anyway, and question its appropriateness. So I looked it up, confirmed what I thought, and used it. Your motive for questioning the word was itself irrational. So I guess I should not call you Data.

Don't be offended at the Star Trek reference. I've grown accustomed to your constant disagreement. It's almost like hearing the ocean at night.
 
 

 
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