christina

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Questions for Moral Realists

Interesting thoughts. Definitely agree that morality comes from people, and specifically their interactions with each other. Although I would additionally clarify that in my case I consider morality (as opposed to a simple action decided by personal gain or benefit) comes from the interaction between sentients where one or more can act on another based on knowledge not only of their own state but the state of that other. This is because I consider any sentient to have some nonzero moral value to me, but am not sure if I would consider all of them persons. I am comfortable thinking of an ape or a dolphin as a person, but I think I do not give a mouse the same status. Nevertheless, I would feel some amount of moral wrongness involved in causing unnecessary pain to the mouse, since I believe such creatures to be sentient and therefore capable of suffering.

I'm not sure how the rest of my morality compares to yours, though. I don't think there is any one morality, or indeed that moral facts exist at all. Now, this does not mean that I subscribe to multiple moralities, especially those whose actions and consequences directly contradict each other. I simply believe that if one of my highest goals is the protection of sapient life, and someone else's highest goal is the destruction of it, I cannot necessarily expect that I can ever show them, with any facts about the world, that their morality is wrong. I could only say that it was a fact about the world that their morality is in direct contradiction with mine.

Now I don't believe that anything I've said above about morality (which was mostly metaethics anyway) precludes my existence or anyone else's existence as a moral actor. In fact, all people, by their capability to make decisions based on their knowledge of the present state of others, and their ability to extrapolate that state into the future based on their actions, are automatically moral actors in my view of things. I just don't necessarily think they always act in accordance with their own morals or have morals mutually compatible with my morals.

Nevertheless, I think that facts are very useful in discussing morality, because sometimes people are not actually in disagreement with each other's highest moral goals--they simply have a disagreement about facts and if that can be resolved, they can agree on a mutually compatible course of action.

Politics Filtering and Higher Standard Discussions

Are you afraid of people who agree with you because you worry some will chime in with badly supported arguments? I imagine there are few things people enjoy less than seeing someone making a bad argument with the same conclusion as theirs, regardless of the quality of their own argument. Of course, I could be misinterpreting your statement here. Obviously, you could point out that their argument is flawed.

If they are making the same argument as you, though, and the only difference is how they make it, then you cannot say their argument is flawed (since from your perspective it is not and their attitude is not relevant to the truth value of the argument). In that case you just have to accept that you won't necessarily like everyone who holds the same position as you.

Are you worried that people may not be willing to discuss the issue at all if they feel too strongly about it? That does happen, but I think it is to be expected. Everyone has strong emotions sometimes, and one way a person might choose to deal with that is not to engage someone. That doesn't mean that everyone will do that, and it doesn't mean that the information on opposing viewpoints you are looking for can't be obtained through other means. So I think it's best not to worry about that.

I guess I'm not entirely sure what it is about strong opinions that troubles you, regardless of whether people would be expected to have them about a particular argument or not. The amount of emotion felt or expressed in an argument is not indicative of its quality. Only the logic contained therein is, and that is the only part that needs to be addressed if trying to understand other people's points of view. Perhaps I have addressed your concern above? You can let me know if I haven't, though.

Recommended reading on the ethics of Animal Cognitive Enhancement

It's also been said that ancient humans were more intelligent than modern ones. In fact, both the argument for human intelligence and the wolf-dog argument have put forward the idea that being domesticated lowers intelligence (in the case of humans, it can be said we domesticated ourselves). I don't really think this is a simple hypothesis to investigate at all given the complexity of investigating intelligence.

Some references:

News Article on Human Intelligence--News article discussing this hypothesis.

Gerald Crabtree--This is the researcher I've seen quoted a lot lately on the idea that ancient humans were more intelligent than modern ones. From the article above, and looking at his published work, it sounds like this is just a hypothesis he wants to test, rather than something that he has thoroughly investigated.

News Article on Dog-Wolf intelligence--This news article has some discussion of an experiment trying to determine differences between wolf-dog intelligence.

Politics Filtering and Higher Standard Discussions

I think there isn't really a problem with people discussing 'political' subjects, because the problem isn't politics. Really, anything that involves 'philosophy' and the word 'should' can be a potential problem, even if this is only implicit in the conversation. If you don't want to feel angry or to have people angry at you, the solution is simple--only talk to people you already agree with.

In fact, people can happily discuss politics and philosophy all day long, and do so all the time--as long as both parties already agree with the other's conclusions.

Now, I am assuming what you actually wanted to know was how to discuss politics with someone you don't already agree with. In order to do that one has to be able to separate the argument the person is making from their emotional response to it. if you can't do that, then anything that is significantly meaningful to you will be something you cannot meaningfully discuss with anyone you disagree with.

The goal of such discussions shouldn't be to convince someone that you are right, but to find the root cause of the disagreement to begin with. It's very important to make logical arguments and not use fallacies as arguments. When you feel strongly about a subject, this may be difficult. Also, if the other person has already made an argument for their case, you need to respond to the points they made. Otherwise you're just talking past each other. I agree that you shouldn't be obscure--that is a way to create a monologue, or perhaps talk with people who know whatever linguistic password you've set up, which may mostly be people you already agree with. I guess that works in the sense that one avoids confronting people they don't agree with.

The truth of the matter is that if you want to discuss anything at all important with someone you disagree with, there's going to be strong feelings involved. If someone presents a logical argument, regardless of the emotions involved, your response needs to address their argument, and not their or your emotional response. If you can't do that, then you might try understanding your opponent's side by choosing to read work from the most intelligent people who hold the same opinion they do. If you think those people's arguments are worthless (not merely wrong, but unintelligent and without any logical scaffold) then you probably won't be able to have a logical discussion of the subject with people you disagree with. And that is because if you think that, you are probably having trouble putting aside your own emotions on the subject. There is no such thing as an argument that cannot be argued using logic, or that has never been argued using logic. The question merely becomes what that logical infrastructure has been built on. Somewhere in there is the basic component that you and your equally logical countepart (who nevertheless believes the opposing viewpoint) disagree on.

LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance

My thought is that it would be best not to offer in the particular situation you gave. That is, it was night, and presumably there was no life-threatening danger to her from the rain.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with being generous, but there are always other factors to consider. If, for example, you want to hold doors open for people or offer to carry heavy things, that is fine, as long as you do that for everyone consistently and don't take offense if anyone refuses. Also, you may want to consider the context. Even if you are not a scary person, offering to help somone with a minor task if the area is dark and/or deserted can be perceived much differently than in a more typical context.

I would advise you to continue to make the effort to recognize when you may be conforming to undesireable cultural norms, as you have been doing here. That is the first step to taking action on this extremely pervasive issue.

Having Trouble Posting

Thanks. I will take a look at it. Once I finish setting it up and sift through the codebase to find the templates and other frontend interface things, I'll see what I can do.

Having Trouble Posting

There are a number of issues with post visibility on this site. When I first posted here, it actually took a week for me to figure out just how to make my post visible. And when I posted here again recently after not posting for a while, I had this problem again, although the last time it was actually a different issue, I believe.

As a programmer, my analysis is that many of the issues about post visibility that bother me would not really require major code changes. Most are just usability-type things, like better placement or sizing for interface functionality. The search issue you mentioned might require slightly more tweaking. Unfortunately, it sounds from your comment below that there really is no one actively maintaining the site.

Honestly, I wish I could try fixing some of it myself, but even if I could get access the code (I heard somewhere that it is open source?), I have no idea how I would get approval for the changes.

Having Trouble Posting

Thank you! I can see my posts now when following those instructions. I confess, I didn't want to post an entire discussion article just to ask this question, but I was going crazy trying to figure it out.

LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance

Why wouldn't you offer to assist a male who had no umbrella? That seems rather uncharitable of you.

How to offend a rationalist (who hasn't thought about it yet): a life lesson

I am confused why your friend thought good social justice arguments do not use logic to defend their claims. Good arguments of any kind use logic to defend their claims. Ergo, all the good social justice arguments are using logic to defend their claims. Why did you not say this to your friend?

EDIT: Also confused about your focus on axioms. Axioms, though essential, are the least interesting part of any logical argument. If you do not accept the same axioms as your debate partner, the argument is over. Axioms are by definition not mathematically demonstrable. In your post, you stated that axioms could be derived from other fundamental axioms, which is incorrect. Could you clarify your thinking on this?

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