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The Rat Ring Formal Debate Forum Moderated forum for formal debates/discussions. If you would like to have a formal, moderated debate, make a proposal in the proposals forum.

 
 
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Old 09-11-2009, 02:55 AM   #609466  /  #26
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I would take your side in this one Preno, taking generally the same stance I took in the morality discussion with dean and dave. If Doc oc. and you go at this, I'm looking forward to the peanut gallery.
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Old 09-12-2009, 12:28 PM   #610666  /  #27
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Well, I've got more free time on my hands right now than I expected, so I thought I might try this out. (I'd also like to use the chance to formulate my position more precisely.)

The topic would be whether (at least some) moral statements are capable of being true or false. Different formulations possible, but I won't discuss whether they are "objectively" true or not, because I find the term too unclear to be of much use. I won't argue for (and, if you bring them up, will argue against) the positions typically labelled as "subjectivist", though. By "true" I mean true, not true "for someone". I will, however, argue from a broadly pragmatist position.

I will basically argue that the burden is on you to provide good reasons to believe they aren't truth-apt and then I'll try to counter your arguments by showing that they either don't apply to moral statements or that they apply to other, uncontroversially truth-apt statements, too.

Oh, and I won't debate theists. That includes you, SMS, sorry.
I will debate this with you.
Okay. Are you fine with the wording of the question?

Proposal:

(1) Topic/resolution: Are moral statements truth-apt?
(2) Participants, positions and sequence: Dr. Octopus (negative), Preno (affirmative). I'd prefer a concurrent format.
(3) Scope: on my side, that would be criteria of truth-aptness and comparison of moral and non-moral statements
(4) Length in rounds: 3 or 4?
(5) Maximum statement length: don't care, 2,000 should be plenty, for example (with the understanding that you don't necessarily have to reach 2,000).
(6) Time limit between statements: a week? If you want more, that's fine by me.
(7) Start date: I'm free starting from September 16
(8) Additional criteria: None
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Old 09-14-2009, 05:13 AM   #612158  /  #28
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I'm waiting for an OK from Dr. O before setting up the thread, right?
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Old 09-18-2009, 12:50 AM   #616082  /  #29
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Dr. Octopus... paging Dr. Octopus.
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Old 09-23-2009, 02:30 PM   #621578  /  #30
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Has anyone contacted Doc Ock to see if he's still interested? I haven't seen him around in several days.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:25 AM   #626217  /  #31
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Staff NoteSome posts were moved to TCH
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Old 09-30-2010, 02:24 AM   #1119365  /  #32
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. . . The topic would be whether (at least some) moral statements are capable of being true or false. Different formulations possible, but I won't discuss whether they are "objectively" true or not, because I find the term too unclear to be of much use. I won't argue for (and, if you bring them up, will argue against) the positions typically labelled as "subjectivist", though. By "true" I mean true, not true "for someone". I will, however, argue from a broadly pragmatist position. . . .
Good questions. In science, for example, in physics and chemistry, a claim is said to be "true" means it is "confirmed by all known experimental facts." But in mathematics "true" means "logically consistent" with accepted axioms and proved theories. What do you mean by "being true"?

Moral statements are orders. I would say that the concept of "being true" does not apply to orders.
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Old 09-30-2010, 02:47 AM   #1119384  /  #33
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Moral statements are orders. I would say that the concept of "being true" does not apply to orders.
To describe them as orders might deprive some of the moral force/oomph behind moral statements. They wouldn't be like other orders, for sure. moreover, we seem to be able to convince and disagree with each other that certain actions are wrong/good; we seem to offer reasons for which we take to be accurate or otherwise. I'm unsure how you would account for this if they were orders. We also predicate evilness and goodness to persons; we use the words as if they were qualities of that person.
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:10 PM   #1119674  /  #34
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not all theists root morality in God.
Such would make their condition as theists irrelevant in a discussion pertaining morality.
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Old 09-30-2010, 01:38 PM   #1119748  /  #35
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not all theists root morality in God.
Such would make their condition as theists irrelevant in a discussion pertaining morality.
no. we could say something like, "whatever God commands is good", in virtue of his essential goodness and omniscience. Or, we could use God's commands as ways to know the good, since he is omniscient and essentially good. Both these ways use God as a focal point not in ontology, but moral epistemology.
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:08 AM   #1120587  /  #36
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A moral statement/command/imperative could be deemed true or false if the criteria was...do we benefit from adherence?.

Then "bene-factum" is a much easier metric to establish a factually "good" action.

I would argue that God, as the moral law giver, doesnt tell us so much WHAT to do rather He tells us HOW to do. And those moral "laws" are for our benefit - not His.

If we didnt find any empirical evidence of any benefit in a moral statement we would call it "false".
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Old 10-01-2010, 08:28 AM   #1120881  /  #37
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A moral statement/command/imperative could be deemed true or false if the criteria was...do we benefit from adherence?.

Then "bene-factum" is a much easier metric to establish a factually "good" action.

I would argue that God, as the moral law giver, doesnt tell us so much WHAT to do rather He tells us HOW to do. And those moral "laws" are for our benefit - not His.

If we didnt find any empirical evidence of any benefit in a moral statement we would call it "false".
Typically something that is beneficial for one is detrimental to someone or something else, to varying degrees.

Furthermore, this is self serving thinking that opens the door to all manner of despicable acts.
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:41 PM   #1122787  /  #38
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A moral statement/command/imperative could be deemed true or false if the criteria was...do we benefit from adherence?.

Then "bene-factum" is a much easier metric to establish a factually "good" action.

I would argue that God, as the moral law giver, doesnt tell us so much WHAT to do rather He tells us HOW to do. And those moral "laws" are for our benefit - not His.

If we didnt find any empirical evidence of any benefit in a moral statement we would call it "false".
Typically something that is beneficial for one is detrimental to someone or something else, to varying degrees.

Furthermore, this is self serving thinking that opens the door to all manner of despicable acts.
Well, I was thinking about the COMMON good.

Eg. Sharing food. Sure, you can hoard food and watch it go to waste while others go hungry. But that doesnt really benefit you because hungry people kill for food. Sharing seems to benefit everybody. This I think is a TRUE moral statement
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:52 PM   #1122803  /  #39
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If something is beneficial for one person and to the detriment of MORE than one person, isnt there a mathematical truth as well as a moral truth we can use to decide the mattter?
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:57 PM   #1122958  /  #40
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Preno, are you still interested in debating this topic?
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:22 PM   #1122976  /  #41
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Yeah, probably not.
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:02 AM   #1123111  /  #42
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Well, I've got more free time on my hands right now than I expected,...
...Oh, and I won't debate theists. That includes you, SMS, sorry.
Why wont you debate theists?
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Old 10-03-2010, 02:09 AM   #1123113  /  #43
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because he knows he's wrong
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:36 AM   #1123326  /  #44
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A moral statement/command/imperative could be deemed true or false if the criteria was...do we benefit from adherence?.

Then "bene-factum" is a much easier metric to establish a factually "good" action.

I would argue that God, as the moral law giver, doesnt tell us so much WHAT to do rather He tells us HOW to do. And those moral "laws" are for our benefit - not His.

If we didnt find any empirical evidence of any benefit in a moral statement we would call it "false".
Typically something that is beneficial for one is detrimental to someone or something else, to varying degrees.

Furthermore, this is self serving thinking that opens the door to all manner of despicable acts.
Well, I was thinking about the COMMON good.

Eg. Sharing food. Sure, you can hoard food and watch it go to waste while others go hungry. But that doesnt really benefit you because hungry people kill for food. Sharing seems to benefit everybody. This I think is a TRUE moral statement
Common good is an in-group mentality. In real world situations, there is rarely such a thing as something that is universally good for everybody and everything. Common good usually ends up referring to either something that is good for your group (which can include alliances with other groups) or something where the good is considered to outweigh the bad.

And your example sucks, quite frankly.

If food is scarce, giving it away weakens the position of your own community. If it is plentiful, giving it away weakens your community's ability to respond to future shortages. Those not in charge of handing out the food may consider this to be a bad thing. Your example is not one of universal benefit for all or universal "good", it is merely a potential example of good outweighing the bad.

Furthermore, there is no reason why beneficial acts should be given such narrow scope as to only consider acts of charity, such as giving food away. If there were, very little in the Bible could be said to be good. What was beneficial for the Jews as they fled Egypt (whether taken literally or not) was anything but beneficial for those they massacred, for example. What was beneficial for Noah and his posse was less so for the entire Earth biosphere.
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Old 10-03-2010, 11:26 AM   #1123362  /  #45
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Well, I've got more free time on my hands right now than I expected,...
...Oh, and I won't debate theists. That includes you, SMS, sorry.
Why wont you debate theists?
Because I didn't want to waste my time on that.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:53 PM   #1123788  /  #46
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Typically something that is beneficial for one is detrimental to someone or something else, to varying degrees.

Furthermore, this is self serving thinking that opens the door to all manner of despicable acts.
Well, I was thinking about the COMMON good.

Eg. Sharing food. Sure, you can hoard food and watch it go to waste while others go hungry. But that doesnt really benefit you because hungry people kill for food. Sharing seems to benefit everybody. This I think is a TRUE moral statement
Common good is an in-group mentality. In real world situations, there is rarely such a thing as something that is universally good for everybody and everything. Common good usually ends up referring to either something that is good for your group (which can include alliances with other groups) or something where the good is considered to outweigh the bad.

And your example sucks, quite frankly.

If food is scarce, giving it away weakens the position of your own community. If it is plentiful, giving it away weakens your community's ability to respond to future shortages. Those not in charge of handing out the food may consider this to be a bad thing. Your example is not one of universal benefit for all or universal "good", it is merely a potential example of good outweighing the bad.

Furthermore, there is no reason why beneficial acts should be given such narrow scope as to only consider acts of charity, such as giving food away. If there were, very little in the Bible could be said to be good. What was beneficial for the Jews as they fled Egypt (whether taken literally or not) was anything but beneficial for those they massacred, for example. What was beneficial for Noah and his posse was less so for the entire Earth biosphere.
The in-group in this case is human beings. Common good is not that hard a concept to grasp. Do you share food with your family or fight them off with a stick?

As for "winners" and "losers" in the bible it would be a very long discussion but I think I could persuade you that all the "losses" were the result of an initial immoral action. Indeed, some of the things you might account as a "win" for one side at the expense of the other turn out differently. Take the flood/biosphere thing for example. Suppose humans are polluting the earth and species are becoming extinct because of our greed etc etc. Things are going down hill fast. Now suppose God sends down destruction but preserves some heritage seeds and animals and a couple of environmentalists to rebuild a new earth - one which comes to have even more biodiversity than when the planet wreckers ruled.

But thats a long discussion.
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Old 10-03-2010, 08:37 PM   #1123939  /  #47
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Well, I was thinking about the COMMON good.

Eg. Sharing food. Sure, you can hoard food and watch it go to waste while others go hungry. But that doesnt really benefit you because hungry people kill for food. Sharing seems to benefit everybody. This I think is a TRUE moral statement
Common good is an in-group mentality. In real world situations, there is rarely such a thing as something that is universally good for everybody and everything. Common good usually ends up referring to either something that is good for your group (which can include alliances with other groups) or something where the good is considered to outweigh the bad.

And your example sucks, quite frankly.

If food is scarce, giving it away weakens the position of your own community. If it is plentiful, giving it away weakens your community's ability to respond to future shortages. Those not in charge of handing out the food may consider this to be a bad thing. Your example is not one of universal benefit for all or universal "good", it is merely a potential example of good outweighing the bad.

Furthermore, there is no reason why beneficial acts should be given such narrow scope as to only consider acts of charity, such as giving food away. If there were, very little in the Bible could be said to be good. What was beneficial for the Jews as they fled Egypt (whether taken literally or not) was anything but beneficial for those they massacred, for example. What was beneficial for Noah and his posse was less so for the entire Earth biosphere.
The in-group in this case is human beings.
Then please explain how giving away your food benefits all human beings. Often these kind of situations are a case of one group enduring manageable hardships for that greater good thingy. So again, the good outweighs the bad. This is not the same as it being beneficial to all.

Quote:
Common good is not that hard a concept to grasp. Do you share food with your family or fight them off with a stick?
Sharing with my family is in group. Your point?

Quote:
As for "winners" and "losers" in the bible it would be a very long discussion but I think I could persuade you that all the "losses" were the result of an initial immoral action.
It was immoral to happen to live in an area that God had promised to his arbitrarily chosen tribe?

It was immoral to happen to be born in a time when God decided to throw a hissy fit and kill off every living thing besides one old man, his immediate family and whatever animals he could fit on his floating zoo?

I really think your optimism regarding your ability to convince me of this is misplaced.

Quote:
Indeed, some of the things you might account as a "win" for one side at the expense of the other turn out differently. Take the flood/biosphere thing for example. Suppose humans are polluting the earth and species are becoming extinct because of our greed etc etc. Things are going down hill fast. Now suppose God sends down destruction but preserves some heritage seeds and animals and a couple of environmentalists to rebuild a new earth - one which comes to have even more biodiversity than when the planet wreckers ruled.
And once again you are talking about the "losses" caused for the supposed greater good, not something that is beneficial to all.

But then, as you are so find of pointing out, the flood story is only possible if God does things that fall outside of normal natural laws. Given the claimed ability of this being to suspend the laws of physics, seemingly at will, this must be factored into any discussion of whether or not his methods were justified. Even if those with limited means can somehow justify to themselves the extermination of even a single population, all for the greater good, this does not excuse a being with apparently unlimited (or near to it) means from doing the same.
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Old 10-04-2010, 12:29 AM   #1124199  /  #48
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Hi UnderConstruction,
So you share food with your family instead of fighting them off with a stick.
OK Good - you understand the idea of common good as against selfishness.
Now think of humanity as your family and reconsider the common good.
THAT is my point.
I think what one person might superficially think is their "loss" to the common good can actually be shown to be a win for all. Selfishness can have the effect of blinding one to ones own best long term interest.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:37 AM   #1124451  /  #49
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Hi UnderConstruction,
So you share food with your family instead of fighting them off with a stick.
OK Good - you understand the idea of common good as against selfishness.
This is still in group. Why are you ignoring this point? That I share food with my family does not mean I also share it with everyone else, which might actually be considered common good.

Quote:
Now think of humanity as your family and reconsider the common good.
THAT is my point.
Then it is not a good point. Few if any people actually consider sharing food evenly with humanity in its entirety. Typically, we share such resources with those in our own social group and perhaps whichever disadvantaged group is getting enough publicity to get our attention. And whilst I must concede that sharing food with the needy is one of the more genuinely altruistic acts possible (though some still do it for self serving reasons), this does not free it totally from the fact that what is beneficial for one is detrimental to another.

Hell, the fact that our choices of recipients for our charity are so often those who receive sufficient publicity means that one group getting such publicity is to the detriment of any that do not.

And this still does not change the fact that if this is the best you can come up with, much that is on the Bible that we are told is good cannot be shown to be so. And that without even getting into the multiple instances of genocides.

Quote:
I think what one person might superficially think is their "loss" to the common good can actually be shown to be a win for all. Selfishness can have the effect of blinding one to ones own best long term interest.
Lion (IRC)
In other words, if you twist it enough, you can find the good in any situation, thus making your idea about beneficial = good/moral/whatever pretty meaningless. And in that case, who is to judge whether a short term negative is worthwhile in the long run or not? If raping a woman leads to her campaigning to help other victims of rape, does that make her rape a good and justifiable act? Surely this is a win for all, right?
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:29 AM   #1124460  /  #50
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Morality is an emotional statement. Nothing more.
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