Good and Evil

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Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 07:37 am
Good and Evil:

I think Good and Evil are a point of View, Example:

Bill kills Bob, is that good or evil?

Id say bob will probably see this as Evil because hes dead, Billy might think of this as Good because he got a few Thousand Dollars richer.

What do you think of good and evil?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:01 am
@no1author,
no1author;95999 wrote:
Good and Evil:

I think Good and Evil are a point of View, Example:

Bill kills Bob, is that good or evil?

Id say bob will probably see this as Evil because hes dead, Billy might think of this as Good because he got a few Thousand Dollars richer.

What do you think of good and evil?


If you mean by, "point of view" an opinion, yes. But that need not mean that calling someone "good" or "evil" is only a point of view, or only an opinion. I can present an opinion with reasons to back it up. And then, of course, it is an opinion, but not only an opinion, since it is supported with reasons. For example, I can give my opinion that Hitler was an evil man, and give as my reason that he intentionally caused the deaths of millions of people. Then, that would be an opinion, but not only an opinion. On the other hand, if I said that vanilla ice-cream tastes better than chocolate ice-cream, that would not only be an opinion, but it would be only an opinion.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:35 am
@no1author,
To quote Nietzsche, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena." Thus, it is impossible to prove that an action is moral or immoral, if by prove one means to provide objective and universal justification for the act.
As the Existentialists remark, one must often make moral choices without any guarantees about its outcome or indeed its moral status, yet one must therefore take responsibility for one's choice.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 08:52 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;96004 wrote:
To quote Nietzsche, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena." Thus, it is impossible to prove that an action is moral or immoral, if by prove one means to provide objective and universal justification for the act.
As the Existentialists remark, one must often make moral choices without any guarantees about its outcome or indeed its moral status, yet one must therefore take responsibility for one's choice.



Of course, morality is not like physics, so, as Aristotle said, we should not expect the kind of "proofs" in morality that we expect in physics, just as we should not expect the kind of "proof" in physics that we expect in morality.
But, if you come to think of it, we don't expect the same kind of "proof" in history that we expect in physics either. Take the issue of the cause of American Civil War. Slavery, state's rights, economic issue, and so on, have been offered as explanations for the war. And, of course, advocates of those different explanations present their reasons for thinking that their view is the right one. And some are more plausible than others. But, we don't expect a knock-down proof there either. So, the standard of proof differs from subject to subject, and it is an error (IMO) to condemn an argument in one subject because it does not meet the standards of a very different subject. When we point out that Hitler was responsible for the deaths of millions, and that his motives and intentions were, themselves, very suspect, we have what, in morality constitutes a very plausible argument for his being an evil man. In morality. Not, of course, in physics, where the issues of good and evil do not arise.

By the way, it would be interesting to see how Nietzche proved his view that, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena.". Would that proof stand up as, say, the kind of proof we get in mathematics?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:45 am
@no1author,
kennethamy wrote:

By the way, it would be interesting to see how Nietzche proved his view that, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena.". Would that proof stand up as, say, the kind of proof we get in mathematics?


Mathematics deals with tautologies. 1=1 because, of course, it's a tautology. What kind of proof do we have for mathematics besides the acknowledgment that all tautologies are true? So, are you asking, "Would the proof that tautologies are true stand up to Nietzsche's interpretation of morality?" Huh?

What kind of proof could Nietzsche show for, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena."? More importantly, what does this statement actually tell us? Of course everything will be our interpretation. There is no X phenomena, until after our interpretation. A phenomena, itself, is only a phenomena after our interpretation, right? Aren't we using the definition, "a rare or significant fact or event"? Things aren't rare or significant without meaning applied - and we apply meaning.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:04 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;96019 wrote:
Mathematics deals with tautologies. 1=1 because, of course, it's a tautology. What kind of proof do we have for mathematics besides the acknowledgment that all tautologies are true? So, are you asking, "Would the proof that tautologies are true stand up to Nietzsche's interpretation of morality?" Huh?

What kind of proof could Nietzsche show for, "There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpretations of phenomena."? More importantly, what does this statement actually tell us? Of course everything will be our interpretation. There is no X phenomena, until after our interpretation. A phenomena, itself, is only a phenomena after our interpretation, right? Aren't we using the definition, "a rare or significant fact or event"? Things aren't rare or significant without meaning applied - and we apply meaning.


I was actually thinking of the kind of deductive proofs you can have in set theory, or, in other branches of mathematics. But, if you do not like the example of mathematics, consider the example of physics, or other sciences. I was just pointing out that, as Aristotle says, every standard of proof is relative to its subject matter, and that we ought not to expect in morality, a standard that we expect in (say) the sciences.In fact, I would think that Nietzsche would agree with this view from his own perspectivist standpoint.The perspective of morality is different from that of the science, so why should we expect a scientific proof in moral arguments? And, of course, there are moral phenomena. People don't do things they ought to do, and they do things they ought not to do. Like kill innocent people. Of course, moral phenomena are not like physical phenomena, but why expect them to be so? And, as far as there being no phenomena independent of our interpretation, that is so in physics too. Physicists have to interpret what they observe in order to make what they observe physically significant.

I suppose that Nietzsche gives an argument for his view about moral phenomena (or their non-existence). He doesn't expect us just to take his word for it. I hope. And it should not be that there are none without interpretation, since, as I have just pointed out, that is true about all phenomena. Maybe N. does not have a proof that there are no moral phenomena because it is not true that there are none, and even N. cannot prove what is false.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 01:30 pm
@no1author,
kennethamy wrote:

I was just pointing out that, as Aristotle says, every standard of proof is relative to its subject matter, and that we ought not to expect in morality, a standard that we expect in (say) the sciences


Do you consider psychology a science, or psuedo-science? If a science, do you think the standards are different, than say, the standards of the scientific method used in physics? Clearly there must be, as often times there are theories in psychology which cannot be substantiated using the scientific method. However, would you then say that we cannot achieve the same standards we achieve in psychology when theorizing morality? It seems to me we could get standards similar to what we get in modern psychology. Couldn't we generalize about moral features, given the response of X patient to Y occurence?

But, you are right, I think proof is relative to its subject matter. Isn't it true, though, that some "proofs" are more conclusive and substantiated than others?

Quote:
Physicists have to interpret what they observe in order to make what they observe physically significant.


Sure, but I think there's a higher degree of intersubjectivity in physics than there would be with psychology, wouldn't you? With some other sciences or techniques to acquire knowledge, there's more of a drop off point which leads into ambiguity, misinterpretation, or something inconclusive. I mean, this is why people usually hold a science, such as physics, to a higher standard.

Quote:

Maybe N. does not have a proof that there are no moral phenomena because it is not true that there are none, and even N. cannot prove what is false.


I actually need some clarification: How was N. using "phenomena" here? Was he using the definition "a rare or significant fact or occurence"? Or was he using it in a broader sense?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 06:29 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;96046 wrote:
Do you consider psychology a science, or psuedo-science? If a science, do you think the standards are different, than say, the standards of the scientific method used in physics? Clearly there must be, as often times there are theories in psychology which cannot be substantiated using the scientific method. However, would you then say that we cannot achieve the same standards we achieve in psychology when theorizing morality? It seems to me we could get standards similar to what we get in modern psychology. Couldn't we generalize about moral features, given the response of X patient to Y occurence?

But, you are right, I think proof is relative to its subject matter. Isn't it true, though, that some "proofs" are more conclusive and substantiated than others?



Sure, but I think there's a higher degree of intersubjectivity in physics than there would be with psychology, wouldn't you? With some other sciences or techniques to acquire knowledge, there's more of a drop off point which leads into ambiguity, misinterpretation, or something inconclusive. I mean, this is why people usually hold a science, such as physics, to a higher standard.



I actually need some clarification: How was N. using "phenomena" here? Was he using the definition "a rare or significant fact or occurence"? Or was he using it in a broader sense?


If there are psychological theories which cannot be tested, tnen I would say that they were not scientific, since testability is the criterion of science.

Of course, some proofs, within the same framework, are more conclusive than are others. But if you are asking whether a proof in logic is more conclusive than one in history, that is another issue. We have to be careful that we are comparing apples to apples, and not to oranges.

Yes, we expect more of the "hard" sciences than we do of the soft sciences. That is an interesting subject for investigation.

How N. was using "phenomena" I cannot be sure. But I would imagine he was using it to mean observable occurrences.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 09:57 pm
@no1author,
no1author;95999 wrote:
Good and Evil:

I think Good and Evil are a point of View, Example:

Bill kills Bob, is that good or evil?

Id say bob will probably see this as Evil because hes dead, Billy might think of this as Good because he got a few Thousand Dollars richer.

What do you think of good and evil?


I think you hit it right on the money. The universe is quite consistent in this way.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 10:02 pm
@richrf,
richrf;96146 wrote:
I think you hit it right on the money. The universe is quite consistent in this way.

Rich


But, have you any good reason for thinking he is on the money? Or do you simply believe it on faith? And, what does that last sentence mean? Consistent in what way? People do make different and conflicting moral judgments. We all know that. But how does it follow from that, that neither side is right?
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:40 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96147 wrote:
But, have you any good reason for thinking he is on the money? Or do you simply believe it on faith? And, what does that last sentence mean? Consistent in what way? People do make different and conflicting moral judgments. We all know that. But how does it follow from that, that neither side is right?


Like everyone else, I have my experiences and judgment. I think he hit it right on the money. He understands how the universe consists of opposites and what might be good for one is bad for another. Perfect in my opinion.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 07:38 am
@richrf,
richrf;96170 wrote:
Like everyone else, I have my experiences and judgment. I think he hit it right on the money. He understands how the universe consists of opposites and what might be good for one is bad for another. Perfect in my opinion.

Rich


No one denies that what may be good for one may be bad for another. What makes you think I deny that. That just means that what one person thinks is good, another person may think is bad. So if you and he are telling me that, it is no news to me. I have already said I know people have moral conflicts. What I said, however, is that although one person, for example, may think abortion is good, another may think abortion is bad, but the question is, which one is right. Thinking that something is good or bad is one thing. But whether that thing is good or bad is another thing. You and he seem to be confusing the two.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 07:45 am
@no1author,
kennethamy wrote:

What I said, however, is that although one person, for example, may think abortion is good, another may think abortion is bad, but the question is, which one is right. Thinking that something is good or bad is one thing. But whether that thing is good or bad is another thing. You and he seem to be confusing the two.


How would you conclude something is good or bad, absent of judgment? How does one determine "what is right", without bringing morality into the equation? I don't see how they're confusing the two; there is no "whether that thing is good or bad" - what we think determines what is good or bad. There is one evaluation, our evaluation, unless you want to start approaching moral objectivism, which I think is absurd.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:00 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;96221 wrote:
How would you conclude something is good or bad, absent of judgment? How does one determine "what is right", without bringing morality into the equation? I don't see how they're confusing the two; there is no "whether that thing is good or bad" - what we think determines what is good or bad. There is one evaluation, our evaluation, unless you want to start approaching moral objectivism, which I think is absurd.



Well sure. Maybe moral subjectivism is true. But you cannot just assume it is true without any argument. I don't even think the previous posters were even aware they were simply assuming moral subjectivism. They seem to think that if people disagree morally, that is the end of the story. It is only the beginning of the story.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:19 am
@no1author,
kennethamy wrote:

They seem to think that if people disagree morally, that is the end of the story. It is only the beginning of the story.


Well, it's definitely not the end of the story, even putting moral subjectivism and objectivism aside.

One could still contemplate why people disagree morally, and then apply ethical frameworks, such as utilitarianism, to help understand. And then depending on which framework used, one could conclude which actions are more wrong, or right, than others.

I don't think moral propositions hold any objective value (that is, I do oppose moral realism), but I don't think I'd consider myself a pure moral subjectivist. And definitely not a relativist. Depending on the society and/or framework used, I think it's perfectly fine to say X is right and Y is wrong. And there's clearly consensus regarding certain matters (for instance, a good majority think it's wrong to rape and murder young children), so to say every thing is relative would be ignoring reason. When I say moral subjectivism, I am merely asserting that morality is a human construct and does not exist objectively. That is, ultimately, moral propositions say nothing about the objective world. This doesn't mean they're meaningless or completely relative, though. And moreover, I think, they're definitely worthy of our consideration.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 08:47 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;96234 wrote:
Well, it's definitely not the end of the story, even putting moral subjectivism and objectivism aside.

One could still contemplate why people disagree morally, and then apply ethical frameworks, such as utilitarianism, to help understand. And then depending on which framework used, one could conclude which actions are more wrong, or right, than others.

I don't think moral propositions hold any objective value (that is, I do oppose moral realism), but I don't think I'd consider myself a pure moral subjectivist. And definitely not a relativist. Depending on the society and/or framework used, I think it's perfectly fine to say X is right and Y is wrong. And there's clearly consensus regarding certain matters (for instance, a good majority think it's wrong to rape and murder young children), so to say every thing is relative would be ignoring reason. When I say moral subjectivism, I am merely asserting that morality is a human construct and does not exist objectively. That is, ultimately, moral propositions say nothing about the objective world. This doesn't mean they're meaningless or completely relative, though. And moreover, I think, they're definitely worthy of our consideration.


Yes, I agree. David Hume was a moral subjectivist, but his subjectivism was more subtle that just, "if I think it is right, then it is right" sort of thing. It is more what Simon Blackburn calls, "Quasi-realism".

From: "A Dialogue" by David Hume

What wide difference, therefore, in the sentiments of morals, must be found between civilized nations and Barbarians, or between nations whose characters have little in common? How shall we pretend to fix a standard for judgments of this nature? (26) By tracing matters, replied I, a little higher, and examining the first principles, which each nation establishes, of blame or censure. The RHINE flows north, the RHONE south; yet both spring from the same mountain, and are also actuated, in their opposite directions, by the same principle of gravity. The different inclinations of the ground on which they run, cause all the difference of their courses.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 09:28 am
@no1author,
The interesting thing is that blame and censure seem to be evolving alongside us. Some actions are more acceptable (generally) than they were 300 years ago, and some actions are less acceptable (generally) than they were 300 years ago. Am I making an error in considering that 300 years from now our morality will have changed again? The mountain springing the rivers - can, or does, it change? Does it change perpetually?

The different inclinations on the ground on which they run, will these change? Does more ground (more people) equate to additional courses run (additional subtleties, I guess, in our morality)? What about sociopaths, should we consider they have a course, or should we not include them? Those who are retarded to the extreme, or even partially braindead?
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 12:35 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96217 wrote:
Thinking that something is good or bad is one thing. But whether that thing is good or bad is another thing. You and he seem to be confusing the two.


Something is good or bad without thinking. Nice. Let's see .... maybe a rock is in the best position to adjudicate what is good or bad, since I rock doesn't think.

Advice of the Day: Don't call other people confused until you have worked it out yourself.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 02:07 pm
@richrf,
richrf;96314 wrote:
Something is good or bad without thinking. Nice. Let's see .... maybe a rock is in the best position to adjudicate what is good or bad, since I rock doesn't think.

Advice of the Day: Don't call other people confused until you have worked it out yourself.

Rich


Who said that something is good or bad without thinking? I didn't. I don't even know what that would mean. Try rereading what I said. What I said was that just because someone thinks (believes) something is good, it does not follow that it is good. Got it?
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 9 Oct, 2009 02:13 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;96334 wrote:
Who said that something is good or bad without thinking? I didn't. I don't even know what that would mean. Try rereading what I said. What I said was that just because someone thinks (believes) something is good, it does not follow that it is good. Got it?


I got it. It is not what someone thinks, it is what someone doesn't think. Or maybe it is what is never thought. Good or Bad materializes on its own as if by magic. Poof! Or something like that. Thanks for unconfusing me.

Rich
 
 

 
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