Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ethics and Babies...

I ran into this interesting post today when stumbling across the internet. I would simply like to point out the rhetorical argument that is based upon equivocated terms.
Notice first picture. This is not a Chicken? Isn't it? Would this be a Chicken? When does a chicken become a chicken? No one is saying that the fertilized egg is an adult chicken, we're not. Now if the egg is not fertilized then of course it is not a chicken, however if it is, why is it not a chicken?

Now the next picture is of an acorn. Now is an acorn a tree? No, of course not. Better question; is an acorn an oak? By all means. An acorn is an oak but not an "adult" oak.

Okay as to the silk worm, I agree it is not a dress... you got me here. And if left in it's natural habitat it will never be dress. This is simply a red herring meant to obscure the issue.

Now as to the picture of the egg being fertilized, why isn't it a human. Again no one is arguing that a fertilized egg is the same as an adult human, but if an zygote is not a human, is a baby? A teenager? A ninety-five year old man? Or are you holding that only Adults in the prime of life are humans? While a zygote is not an adult it is as human as an adult just as an acorn is just as much of an oak as the tree. Thanks for coming out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

More on Moral Subjectivism

Mr. Anthony Hauser responded to my previous post through a facebook message. I am unsure why he didn't choose to leave the comments here for everyone to read, however in an effort of fairness I will post his rebuttal here, again with my commentary:

Actually the three debates mentioned, and make the bulk of the case (as they are only the first ones of those types within the past two weeks) are Youtube-exclusive debates; in fact Neither Seth's [Seth Fordham] nor your ideas are mentioned outside of what the Youtube-posters stated as their ideas.

Mr. Hauser has sent me links to the comment threads on two youtube videos in scanning them he does interact with three different user names and I have no reason to believe that these are not the discussions he is referring to.

"Why is it wrong for the first man to kill?" It is more beneficial to keep people alive instead of killing them (unless they are a drain on the economy, but that's another issue to discuss).

This answer is simply pushing the question of to another level, why is it more beneficial to keep people alive? Mr. Hauser's naturalistic materialism presuppositions are showing here. Furthermore he assumes it is beneficial to keep people alive, on what grounds? Or in subjectivist terms, from what prospective? It seems strange that Mr. Hauser himself has not used the language of subjective moralism, rather moral objectivism. It would seem that Mr. Hauser would think it not moral of someone to murder him (unless he is a drain on the economy). The moral subjectivist would say they are unable to determine the rightness or wrongness of the murdering Mr. Hauser until we first determined from what prospective we are viewing the murder from. Only once we determine the prospective are we able to declare the murder of Mr. Hauser right or wrong. If the prospective chosen was that of the murder, then not only does the murderer believe that the murder of Mr. Hauser is right, but relative to the murder's prospective it actually is right or moral. The same is true of Mr. Hauser's prospective against his murder, it is only right relative to his prospective. Mr. Hauser seems to be arguing the opposite though. He seems to be stating that his murder would be wrong objectively, not subjectively.

"Only because then he will be killed in return." You ignore my statement that [Centrally, comparative advantage.] AND that [Worst case, what's the benefit of your death by revenge?]

The question then is why is one thing more advantageous than the other? For what reason, Mr. Hauser assumes that one thing is, the question becomes why? Furthermore I was specifically dealing with his revenge clause.

"Again Mr. Hauser shows a way of enforcing morality yet does not show why something is morally wrong." More people to protect and improve society. More specialization (an economic reason), more possible mates/genetic mixing (a biological reason), more to protect against predators and/or catch prey (a biological/survival reason), more to survive a massive change (50% of 10 is 5; 50% of 20 is 10.)...Morality that supports more of a population such that these various reasons (and others) are performed; each person would generally determine that they are moral because they would generally help the person.

The little word "they" at the end of this paragraph is referring to, is it the people or the prepositions? If it is the people what if they don't determine that these propositions are moral, are they wrong? If it is the prepositions what is some or most persons determine that they are not moral, does this make them not moral?

"This is much like the argument a five year old makes on the playground" Not at all; this actually has (if you even thought for half a minute on it) several determinations for what is 'moral'.

This is an assertion not an argument.

However, you (in your ignorance) assume that morality must be declared by one single thing that can't be questioned; that it begins only objectively. However, morality begins SUBJECTIVELY; being a part of someone's "character" and "manners" by eytmology.

Here Mr. Hauser seems to be quite irritated, assuming that I have not studied moral subjectivism. However even if that were the case he is equivocating the noun morality for the adjective morality. The difference would be something like how people should act and how they actually do. This is what I was getting at in my last post when I stated that Mr. Hauser had a way of enforcing morality but could not account for it. This may be part of the reason Mr. Hauser does not seem to be engaging the argumentation I have provided.

"What I said was why ought we do unto others?" Lead by example; prevent someone doing it to you; etc. Come on. This was presented by him ~470 BC in at-best-spiritual China. And he did not invent it; merely made it popular again.
However, having read Analects XV.24 where he 'proposes it' to a student, he specifically uses "reciprocity" as ONE WORD that can guide someone throughout life. Hence "do unto others...": expect what you do to be done to you; if you won't like it (SUBJECTIVE MORALITY) then don't do it.

Ghandi lead by example and followed the Golden rule, it did not prevent someone from shooting him in the head. Come on? This does not explain the rightness of doing unto others, it gives us a good way of acting moral though.

"Would murder, or holocaust be immoral?" Given the biblical reasons for murder, holocaust, genocide, homicide, rape, slavery, and other things along those lines, which most people (especially the religious) would tend to call immoral...Don't see how an animalistic nature makes it worse.

This is nothing more than a red herring.

"would rape be immoral?" Depends on if it harms the victim either mentally or physically (since rape is sexual intercourse WITHOUT CONSENT).
"then it is morally necessary for me to do so." No where did I state absolutes such as "necessary". It may be morally-supportable, yet given a trial against those harmed by the action, I would doubt they would stand up as acceptable reasons.

These statements are some of the most telling about Mr. Hauser. Rather than being a moral subjectivist he seems to be a moral objectivist, as explained earlier and as I have suspected since our first encounter, who specifically holds to a harm based morality, that is he places the temporary absolute that something is unethical or immoral if it causes unnecessary harm. We can certainly say that though giving chemotherapy to a cancer patient does cause harm, the harm is necessary now so that less harm, namely death, might not happen later. However this does appeal to the temporary absolute, my question is where does this absolute come from?

"taken to its logical conclusions," Nope, you take it to the extreme (specifically this fallacy is the "slippery slope") and negate socially-instinctive behavior that others will help the less-fortunate/unlucky for the betterment of the population.
Remember: Vampire bats will offer unlucky individuals some of their food supply; this way the 'unlucky' bats will be more able to get food on their own and help society (defense, possible surplus, more sharing, etc.).

One need only look at the empirical evidence provided by amoral societies(not necessarily immoral, though I would argue they are) to show that this is not taken to an extreme. Mr. Hauser does however engage in the fallacy of "hasty generalization" applying a trait of a specific group of bats to mankind.

"Let us take it down a notch, is it wrong to steal? Mr. Hauser would say yes" Alas, a false assumption based on a non-sequitur.
It is (mostly) up to the victim whether it is "moral" or not. If they are harmed or percieve that they are harmed by it, then they will judge it as "immoral". Yet they may be persuaded if given reason (which begs the question: why not persuade/ask before taking?)

It does not follow? Fair enough. So then we must ask if ones do not know another is stealing from them is it wrong?

However, if you yourself judge that the act was immoral and you didn't have sufficient reason to support the act, then that makes it "immoral" by your standards...and then begs why you did it in the first place.

And if one thinks that stealing is moral, is it?

"if something being illegal means it is immoral as he seems to assert" I never assert that illegality and immorality are the same.
In fact, if you actually read instead of quote-mining and using straw-men...My words: [Keep in mind it was to this - tied to the Economic reason - I first brought in the 'your death by revenge' concept.]...
Even if it were not illegal, the family/friends/etc of the person you killed would get revenge on YOU, unless you hid ALL TRACES THAT IT WAS YOU, and ensured that they couldn't discover you to get revenge; because they judge revenge as providing justice/fairness/equality: the scale needs to be balanced.

I misread this statement " illegal is not immoral" as "illegal is immoral" and thus retract the portion on the equivocation of legality and morality. The question here of course becomes why do the scales need to be balanced? Why do the family/friends/etc need to get revenge? This way is quite contradictory to your golden rule way.

If it were illegal (meaning the townspeople collectively decided it would be 'immoral' amongst them), then those wronged/harmed (save the victim if killed) could turn to the law to enforce 'justice' and 'balance the scale'.

Could the townspeople collectively decide that murder was moral amongst them?

Your entire debasement of the presented ways (which was not even towards your direct ideas on morality) is filled with putting words where they don't exist, the preconceived AND FALSE notion that basic morality is NOT SUBJECTIVE, and slippery-slope arguments that ignore observation. Not to mention the "objective morality" of the Bible is filled with what blatantly exposes itself as bigotry and arrogance expressed by a maniacal tyrant.

Allow me now to dissect this paragraph because there is a lot in there. "Your entire debasement of the presented ways ... is filled with putting words where they don't exist." Aside from the section where I misread Mr. Hauser's words, and the other portion where he seems to have different standards form murder and theft, he has not shown that I added to his argument, equivocated, or ignored anything other than a hasty generalization. I quoted the entire note! I didn't remove one word nor did I add one, there is no way this could be considered quote mining or placing words in your mouth. (Screenshot)"the preconceived AND FALSE notion that basic morality is NOT SUBJECTIVE" Mr. Hauser has yet to prove that morality is not subjective, he is simply continuing to assert that it is. More ironic is the fact that he makes a non-subjective value statement about non-subjective morality. "and slippery-slope arguments that ignore observation." Mr. Hauser is the one ignoring observation, his argument from vampire bats is the epitome of hasty generalization, yet when asked to observe real world morality in amoral societies he turns to red herrings. "Not to mention the "objective morality" of the Bible is filled with what blatantly exposes itself as bigotry and arrogance expressed by a maniacal tyrant." This again is a red herring and a false claim. However even if it were true Mr. Hauser would not have shown that morality is subjective.


"I am unsure of who this person is" Aside from being a Youtube-exclusive commentor/poster.
"then there is no need for the rude remarks about him." How about when you respond three times (each to seemingly-willful ignorance, by definition, even) expressing the concept he is getting wrong.

That might be a product of the difference in our view of morality.


"Get back to me if you feel that such an exchange would be profitable."
Honestly, given the amount of errors, flaws, and fallacies you make in trying to examine what I put, I would venture to say it seems not-likely-profitable.
I do admit some stuff I put could have been worded clearer and elaborated more. (And if the point of that post were merely to discuss such topics as those five methods of SUBJECTIVE morality, I would have elaborated more on them. Even shown evidence, definitions, and examples to support them.)

I am willing to grant that Mr. Hauser have not been precise, and perhaps not as clear as either of us would have wanted however aside from the bit on Illegality and Immorality and my mistake in thinking that Mr. Hauser would be consistent when relating to the immoralities of crime he has not shown I have misrepresented his arguments, at least from the reading given. He may have meant something different but that does not mean the fault lies with my reading but his ambiguity.

Grace and peace.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Idiots. Morality. Shit like that."...ad hominem, ignoratio elenchi, and inconsistent comparison

A friend of mine directed me to this facebook post because he felt the author, Anthony Hauser, was referring specifically to me. I am inclined to agree. However because I am not friends with Mr. Hauser I am unable to comment on his post to defend my position, therefor I will write here and also leave an open challenge to him for a public, formal, oral or written debate on this subject. I will also quote his post in full here so that he cannot accuse me of selective citation, I will however add my commentary throughout.

Mr. Hauser writes:
Recently, I have been "debating" idiots with no philosophical, theological, or even logical basis for any thought they have.

The "debate" he is referring to is another facebook post on Mr. Seth Fordham's wall from April 11, 2010 at 8:45 pm EST. Just another note he enters his monologue with ad hominem remarks about the people discussing these epistemic questions with. We must hope that Mr. Hauser will back up this universal negative with some documentation.

Mr. Hauser continues:
The one person claims to be God/Jesus...
And that the Second Coming was in 1992...
And don't get me started on how he avoids explaining Genesis 3, Genesis 6-9...
Or his literal-yet-metaphorical interpretation of Genesis 1-2. [Each day of creation was 7000 years, and he created on specific days but didn't create on them because he was like busy or something dealing with things that didn't exist at that time...]

This is quite interesting and I would agree that the person claiming to be God/Jesus hasn't the grounds for intelligibility, outside of what he borrows from true Christian belief, if that is indeed what they hold to. Also if the citation on genesis is accurate I would probably disagree with him on exegetical grounds. However this portion is not directly against me so this is all the commentary I will provide.

Going on Mr. Hauser seems to write of me: "Another claims that morality fails subjectively despite five different ways:" This is the part that specifically deals with me and the argument I put forth against how he can make any moral statement at all. My point was not that there are not ways to enforce morality, even subjective morality, but that he cannot give an account as to why anything is wrong. He in his 5 ways is answering how one might enforce morality but not why morality is necessary at all. The name for this in logic is Ignoratio Elenchi or missing the point. However for your sake I will examine each of his ways here and show you how each of them commit this common fallacy.

Mr: Hauser:
Economic -- Centrally, comparative advantage. Worst case, what's the benefit of your death by revenge? (Keeps saying that it's more beneficial to kill someone, and ignores the entire idea of revenge.)

Here we see that Mr. Hauser would like to enforce morality economically, that is one way of doing so, however this does not answer the question as to why it is more economic to be moral than not? Why is it wrong for the first man to kill? Only because then he will be killed in return. Yet wont this second killing invoke a revenge killing of its own, ad infinitum. Furthermore if the first killing is wrong why is it wrong? Why isn't the second?

Mr. Hauser:
Defensive -- Protection in numbers. (Has yet to challenge this one.)
Again Mr. Hauser shows a way of enforcing morality yet does not show why something is morally wrong. This view simply enters the logical fallacies of Argumentum ad Baculum and ad Populum. This is much like the argument a five year old makes on the playground "Everyone knows that Sesame Street is the best show on TV and if you don't agree my big brother and his friends will beat you up." While this may be a good way to enforce morality, it does not give a reason why something is moral and something else is not just as my above argument does not show why Sesame Street is better than any other show on TV.

Mr. Hauser:
Empathetic -- Do unto others. (He calls empathy an emotion as though it's a counter to this method of morality.)
What I said was why ought we do unto others? For what reason should we? It seems as though Mr. Hauser assumes that we should because we should, yet isn't that by definition Petitio Principii (begging the question)?

Mr. Hauser:
Selective -- Let the only competition be for food, sex, and safety.Animals follow this (for the most part) and have gotten along fine for a long time before us. (Didn't respond to this one.)

This does not give us morality, furthermore if we were to exist in such a world would rape be immoral? According to this definition no, because it would simply be competition for sex. Would murder, or holocaust be immoral? No, one could just say they were trying to keep themselves or their country, tribe, what have you safe. Rather than create or give us a morality this system, taken to its logical conclusions, seems to produce a completely amoral society where as long as I can define my immorality as competition for food, sex or safety then it is morally necessary for me to do so.

Mr. Hauser:
Clean hands -- Why get your hands dirty killing someone? Why even use the time for killing someone and not something more productive? (He says that it doesn't take time to kill people [despite all the planning, finding, stalking, killing, and cleaning], and that you don't need to clean the scene because illegal is not immoral...Keep in mind it was to this - tied to the Economic reason - I first brought in the 'your death by revenge' concept.)

How do you know that killing someone is not the most productive thing to do? Mr. Hauser would say something along the lines that it takes away from the number of people trying to help society. I must ask then if it would be wrong to kill a mass murderer, you are going to get your hands dirty by doing this. Let us take it down a notch, is it wrong to steal? Mr. Hauser would say yes, when asked why he would appeal to revenge, someone would kill you if you did, as he stated before. If such were the case then it would run into the same problems as the "Economic way."
Also if something being illegal means it is immoral as he seems to assert by including it in what he understood my rejection to be, then is it immoral to have more than one child? If Mr. Hauser were a citizen of the People's Republic of China then he would have to answer yes, yet as a citizen of the United States of America he must answer no. So it is moral of US citizens to have more than one child, but not for Chinese citizens, that is of course only if illegal means immoral.

Mr: Hauser
A third idiot got a simple math concept wrong. I explained his error, and he kept up not understanding. Now he claims that he accepted help and "understood it the first time", but deleted the posts in question that he put that showed the concept went over his head and he wasn't taking advice.
Even worse an act of stupidity, he told me to read the posts that he DELETED, as though he forgot that he deleted them. What did he have to hide from public view that he deletes a series of posts and claims as one of the first things he said what was actually one of the last things?

I am unsure of who this person is however if there is a simple math concept that he got wrong then there is no need for the rude remarks about him. I agree that one should leave things said in public open so there might be accountability one the part of all parties involved.

Mr. Hauser:
Now, I know that no one will read this section. Or at least don't plan on anyone reading this. So here it goes: I will answer any questions anyone has on what I think about them. Either in person, through text, or through Facebook/email. I will also deeply consider what you think about me, if you choose to let me know. This goes to everyone, because I value (almost) everyone's opinions.

Mr. Hauser, as I said in the opening paragraph of this post I would be willing to engage you in a discussion of debate on any of the subjects you mentioned either in the title of this post (Morality) or in the opening line (Basis for Intelligent Thought). Get back to me if you feel that such an exchange would be profitable.

Grace and peace
Proverbs 18:17; 26:4-5

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul