Non-Cognitivism, and Charles Stevenson

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Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 02:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113582 wrote:
The word "capital" has properties (it begins with a 'c') If you don't mean the word, "capital" (or what businessmen seek to expand their businesses) then I don't know what you mean by "capital".


What properties does capital have?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 02:52 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;113517 wrote:




I understand. But it seems as though this prudential ought could be used also for moral propositions. Why do you think it could not be? It would lend to practicality when we communicate moral propositions.



And what makes it a fact that rape is wrong is that it is considered wrong by many authoritative bodies. That is the de jure reason. And the de facto reason is that rape is recognized by most to be wrong.

It just doesn't hold here? I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, or have convoluted the matter.



But if it is prudential to do something (i.e. in one's own self-interest) then if someone acts prudentially, we may praise him for being wise, or canny. But we don't pin any moral medals on him. After all, he is only acting in his own self-interest. Why would that be a moral thing to do? Kant would say of it that it had no "moral worth". (Not, of course, that it would have to be immoral. It would just be amoral. Neither moral or immoral).

There is no universally recognized authority as to whether rape is wrong. There is a universally recognized authority about capitals (namely, the government of the country). Many people do not, for example, recognize that a husband can rape his wife.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 02:57 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

But if it is prudential to do something (i.e. in one's own self-interest) then if someone acts prudentially, we may praise him for being wise, or canny. But we don't pin any moral medals on him. After all, he is only acting in his own self-interest. Why would that be a moral thing to do? Kant would say of it that it had no "moral worth". (Not, of course, that it would have to be immoral. It would just be amoral. Neither moral or immoral).


I am not speaking of moral worth. I was speaking about using words like "wrong" and "right" to promote understanding. And they do. So, using them is prudent. Just like if I say, "I am heading to the capital of Ecuador", I would prudently be referring to Quito (I ought to call the capital Quito). Right, isn't that an example you just gave?

Quote:

There is no universally recognized authority as to whether rape is wrong. There is a universally recognized authority about capitals (namely, the government of the country).


I think it's recognized universally, for the most part, that rape is wrong. Perhaps there is no recogized authoritative body, but we sure have laws against rape, do we not? I think most countries do. There seems to be authority involved. Namely the law-making bodies of a given country.
 
fast
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 03:03 pm
@Zetherin,
edited out

.............
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 03:13 pm
@kennethamy,
My understanding of the abstract properties are that they are the defining characteristics by which concrete particulars are organised. They belong on a different level ontologically to concrete particulars (or 'corporeal beings').

As for the main argument of Stevenson, it is not very different from the main argument of A.J. Ayer, in Language Truth and Logic, which attempts to explain all meaningful utterances to propositions which correspond to actual states of affairs. Statements concerning ethical matters do not refer to any actual states of affairs but are emotive in nature and express the view of the speaker with regards to what should happen etc.

Therefore many arguments that can be used against Logical Positivism can also be deployed against Stevenson's non-cognitivism.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 03:14 pm
@fast,
fast;113592 wrote:
edited out

.............


I saw your post before you edited it out, and it was exactly what I asked for. Thank you.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 03:26 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;113593 wrote:
My understanding of the abstract properties are that they are the defining characteristics by which concrete particulars are organised. They belong on a different level ontologically to concrete particulars (or 'corporeal beings').

As for the main argument of Stevenson, it is not very different from the main argument of A.J. Ayer, in Language Truth and Logic, which attempts to explain all meaningful utterances to propositions which correspond to actual states of affairs. Statements concerning ethical matters do not refer to any actual states of affairs but are emotive in nature and express the view of the speaker with regards to what should happen etc.

Therefore many arguments that can be used against Logical Positivism can also be deployed against Stevenson's non-cognitivism.



Yes, Ayer and Stevenson are both emotivists, although Stevenson offers a more sophisticated emotivism than Ayer. But emotivism does not rely on Logical Positivism as far as I can tell. As Hume points out, moral sentences are clearly not just statements of fact, as are scientific sentences. When we say of something, or someone, that it is good or bad, right or wrong, we are, at the same time, expressing an attitude, and not only saying what we believe to be true or false. And, along with that attitude, we also are implying an imperative about what we think the attitude of others should be too. When we say that someone is an evil person, we are not simply putting it forward as a matter of fact, as if we are saying that the person has a scar on his face. An attitude is being expressed, and an attitude is expected.
 
fast
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 03:37 pm
@Zetherin,
[QUOTE=Zetherin;113594]I saw your post before you edited it out, and it was exactly what I asked for. Thank you.[/QUOTE]
You're welcome.

I edited it out because I think I may have inadvertently made an obvious error that I didn't want to defend. But, I did say a lot, and I think most of it was accurate.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 04:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113595 wrote:
Yes, Ayer and Stevenson are both emotivists, although Stevenson offers a more sophisticated emotivism than Ayer. But emotivism does not rely on Logical Positivism as far as I can tell. As Hume points out, moral sentences are clearly not just statements of fact, as are scientific sentences. When we say of something, or someone, that it is good or bad, right or wrong, we are, at the same time, expressing an attitude, and not only saying what we believe to be true or false. And, along with that attitude, we also are implying an imperative about what we think the attitude of others should be too. When we say that someone is an evil person, we are not simply putting it forward as a matter of fact, as if we are saying that the person has a scar on his face. An attitude is being expressed, and an attitude is expected.


Fair enough. The question I keep asking though is 'what is the attitude based on'? I can't see how he can avoid subjectivism - that the attitude is just a matter of opinion. So 'my attitude versus your attitude'. Doesn't this trivialise, or at least relativise, all ethical judgements?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 05:52 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;113613 wrote:
Fair enough. The question I keep asking though is 'what is the attitude based on'? I can't see how he can avoid subjectivism - that the attitude is just a matter of opinion. So 'my attitude versus your attitude'. Doesn't this trivialise, or at least relativise, all ethical judgements?


I don't believe he wants to avoid subjectivism. But I suppose he want to make it a more interesting and complex view. It certainly trivializes ethical judgment when you have a notion of ethical judgments that makes them like scientific judgments. In that way, Darwinism trivializes the religious view of life.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 06:30 pm
@kennethamy,
Not Darwin's theory as such, but its (mis)application to many other spheres of life were it is made to stand in for a religion that some mistakenly believe it supplants. Anyway, another thread. I shall give some more thought to Stevenson and come back to it.
 
Emil
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 07:06 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113582 wrote:
The word "capital" has properties (it begins with a 'c') If you don't mean the word, "capital" (or what businessmen seek to expand their businesses) then I don't know what you mean by "capital".


I imagine that he meant the notion of a capital city. That idea has several properties. In fact, everything has at least one property and everything has an infinite number of properties.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 09:12 pm
@kennethamy,
Hume also said:

Quote:
"If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school metaphysics let us ask this question, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can be nothing but sophistry and illusion." (1)


The fact is, exactly the same criticisms can be made of Hume's 'Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding'. It too does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number, not any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence. So, following his advice.....

Anyway, much the same can be said of non-cognitivism. If only statements concerning empirical fact can be said to be truly factual, and if statements concerning ethics are only expressions of an attitude - then this too is just an expression of an attitude. It says nothing factual and is obviously cannot be justified with regard to any empirical observations. So it is hoist by its own petard, you could say. And furthermore it is an attitude I choose not to agree with.


(1) Hume, David
1748 An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Section xii: Of the academical or skeptical Philosophy, Part iii, Paradigm 132
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 09:28 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;113646 wrote:

The fact is, exactly the same criticisms can be made of Hume's 'Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding'. It too does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number, not any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence. So, following his advice.....

I've made that argument myself. And that quote is Hume at his ugliest. Not to disvalue Hume, who had his merits. For he also said a man must be a man first and a philosopher second.

It seems to me that laws codify our taste in morals. A little history shows how relative some of these tastes are and how constant others seem to be.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 10:01 pm
@kennethamy,
Hume is the beginning of modern anti-philosophy, which is the predominant kind nowadays. Although Kant was more than his match.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 11:37 pm
@Emil,
Emil;113632 wrote:
I imagine that he meant the notion of a capital city. That idea has several properties. In fact, everything has at least one property and everything has an infinite number of properties.


I doubt the latter. Spinoza said that God has an infinite number of infinite properties, though.
The idea has several properties, or capital cities have several properties?

---------- Post added 12-23-2009 at 12:46 AM ----------

jeeprs;113646 wrote:
Hume also said:



The fact is, exactly the same criticisms can be made of Hume's 'Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding'. It too does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number, not any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence. So, following his advice.....

Anyway, much the same can be said of non-cognitivism. If only statements concerning empirical fact can be said to be truly factual, and if statements concerning ethics are only expressions of an attitude - then this too is just an expression of an attitude. It says nothing factual and is obviously cannot be justified with regard to any empirical observations. So it is hoist by its own petard, you could say. And furthermore it is an attitude I choose not to agree with.


(1) Hume, David
1748 An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Section xii: Of the academical or skeptical Philosophy, Part iii, Paradigm 132



Yes. In a way that is right. Hume's Enquiry is the forerunner of Wittgenstein's penultimate aphorism in the Tractatus about throwing away the ladder after on has climbed to the top of it, and gotten where one can see clearly what is going on.

[SIZE=+1]6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

[/SIZE]Of course, that does not apply to Stevenson, since he was not making using ethical language in talking about ethical language.





---------- Post added 12-23-2009 at 12:54 AM ----------

jeeprs;113653 wrote:
Hume is the beginning of modern anti-philosophy, which is the predominant kind nowadays. Although Kant was more than his match.


I agree, but only in a restricted sense, since Hume is "anti" only a particular conception of philosophy. And Kant agreed with Hume on this, completely, but tried to replace that conception of philosophy (which both Kant and Hume thought was bankrupt. ("The astute Mr. Hume" ... "awoke me from my dogmatic slumbers") with a different one.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 11:55 pm
@kennethamy,
That was very poetic of Wittgenstein. But I don't think his propositions are senseless. He was a bit dramatic in general. What a life story! As much as I love the Tractatus, I'm glad he didn't get stuck there. He seems to have pushed on, lightened up, accepted a more holistic view of language. The ladder metaphor is great! Sounds like a mystical tradition sort of move. Great thinker, fascinating man.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 12:04 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;113675 wrote:
That was very poetic of Wittgenstein. But I don't think his propositions are senseless. He was a bit dramatic in general. What a life story! As much as I love the Tractatus, I'm glad he didn't get stuck there. He seems to have pushed on, lightened up, accepted a more holistic view of language. The ladder metaphor is great! Sounds like a mystical tradition sort of move. Great thinker, fascinating man.


Yes, but the conception was originated by Hume, as I pointed out. In fact, as you and J. sort of pointed out.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 12:06 am
@kennethamy,
But was Hume explicit about this? I'm asking not arguing.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 12:11 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;113683 wrote:
But was Hume explicit about this? I'm asking not arguing.


Not in so many words. Hume was really of two minds. Obviously, he continued to philosophize despite that notorious passage in the Enquiry. But he also writes that philosophy should be given up, and that former philosophers should now turn to to for the "moral sciences" what Galileo and Newton did for science. Should put the "moral sciences" (viz. the social sciences) on a firm footing.
 
 

 
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