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Questions for Moral Realists

Apart from that, what do you think of the other points? If you wish, we could continue a conversation on another online medium.

Questions for Moral Realists

I think that this is an important point: the previously argued normative badness of directly accessible bad conscious experiences is not absolute and definitive, or in terms of justifying actions. It should weight on the scale with all other factors involved, even indirect and instrumental ones that could only affect intrinsic goodness or badness in a distant and unclear way.

Questions for Moral Realists

Bad, negative, unpleasant, all possess partial semantic correspondence, which justifies their being a value.

The normative claims in this case need not be definitive and overruling in that case. Perhaps that is where your resistance to accepting it comes from. In moral realism, a justified preference or instrumental / indirect value that weights more can overpower a direct feeling as well. This justified preference will be ultimately reducible to direct feelings in the present or in the future, for oneself or for others, though.

Could you give me examples of any reasonable preferences that could not be reducible to good and bad feelings in that sense?

Anyway, there is also the argument from personal identity which calls for equalization of values taking into account all subjects (equally valued, if ceteris paribus), and their reasoning, if contextually equivalent. This could be in itself a partial refutation of the orthogonality thesis, a refutation in theory and for autonomous and free general superintelligent agents, but not necessarily for imprisoned and tampered ones.

Questions for Moral Realists

A bad occurrence must be a bad ethical value.

Why? That's an assertion - it won't convince anyone who doesn't already agree with you. And you're using two meanings of the word "bad" - an unpleasant subjective experience, and badness according to a moral system.

If it is a bad occurrence, then the definition of ethics, at least as I see it (or this dictionary, although meaning is not authoritative), is defining what is good and bad (values), as normative ethics, and bringing about good and avoiding bad, as applied ethics. It seems to be a matter of including something in a verbal definition, so it seems to be correct. Moral realism would follow. It is not undesirable, but helpful, since anti-realism implies that our values are not really valuable, but just fiction.

Minds in general need not have moral systems, or conversely may lack hedonistic feelings, making the argument incomprehensible to them.

I agree, this would be a special case, of incomplete knowledge about conscious animals. This would be possible for instance in some artificial intelligences, but they might learn about it indirectly by observing animals, humans, and getting contact with human culture in various forms. Otherwise, they might become morally anti-realist.

I have a personal moral system that isn't too far removed from the one you're espousing (a bit more emphasise on preference).

Could you explain a bit this emphasis on preference?

Decision Theory FAQ

I thought it was relevant to this, if not, then what was meant by motivation?

The inherent-desirableness of happiness is your mind reifying the internal data describing its motivation to do something

Consciousness is that of which we can be most certain of, and I would rather think that we are living in a virtual world under an universe with other, alien physical laws, than that consciousness itself is not real. If it is not reducible to nonmental facts, then nonmental facts don't seem to account for everything there is of relevant.

From my perspective, this is "supernatural" because your story inherently revolves around mental facts you're not allowed to reduce to nonmental facts - any reduction to nonmental facts will let us construct a mind that doesn't care once the qualia aren't mysteriously irreducibly compelling anymore.

Decision Theory FAQ

It's a reasonably good description, though wanting and liking seem to be neurologically separate, such that liking does not necessarily reflect a motivation, nor vice-versa (see: Not for the sake of pleasure alone. Think the pleasurable but non-motivating effect of opioids such as heroin. Even in cases in which wanting and liking occur together, this does not necessarily invalidate the liking aspect as purely wanting.

Liking and disliking, good and bad feelings as qualia, especially in very intense amounts, seem to be intrinsically so to those who are immediately feeling them. Reasoning could extend and generalize this.

Questions for Moral Realists

I slightly disagree with that on a personal moral level, and entirely disagree with the assertion that it's a logical transition.

Could you explain more at length for me?

The feeling of badness is something bad (imagine yourself or someone being tortured and tell me it's not bad), and it is a real occurrence, because conscious contents are real occurrences. It is then a bad occurrence. A bad occurrence must be a bad ethical value. All this is data, since conscious perceptions have a directly accessible nature, they are "is", and the "ought" is part of the definition of ethical value, that what is good ought to be promoted, and what is bad ought to be avoided.

This does not mean that we should seek direct good and avoid direct bad on the immediate present, such as making parties to no end, but it means that we should seek it in the present and the future, seeking indirect values such as working, learning, promoting peace and equality, so that the future, even in the longest-term, will have direct value.

(To the anonymous users who down-voted this, do me the favor of posting a comment saying why you disagree, if you are sure that you are right and I am wrong, otherwise it's just rudeness, the down-vote should be used as a censoring mechanism for inappropriate posts rather than to express disagreement with a reasonable point of view. I'm using my time to freely explain this as a favor to whoever is reading, and it's a bit insulting and bad mannered to down-vote it).

Questions for Moral Realists

I agree with what you agree with.

Did you read my article Arguments against the Orthogonality Thesis?

I think that the argument for the intrinsic value (goodness or badness) of conscious feelings goes like this:

  1. Conscious experiences are real, and are the most certain data about the world, because they are directly accessible, and don't depend on inference, unlike the external world as we perceive it. It would not be possible to dismiss conscious experiences as unreal, inferring that they not be part of the external world, since they are more certain than the external world is. The external world could be an illusion, and we could be living inside a simulated virtual world, in an underlying universe that be alien and with different physical laws.

  2. Even though conscious experiences are representations (sometimes of external physical states, sometimes of abstract internal states), apart from what they represent they do exist in themselves as real phenomena (likely physical).

  3. Conscious experiences can be felt as intrinsically neutral, good, or bad in value, sometimes intensely so. For example, the bad value of having deep surgery without anesthesia is felt as intrinsically and intensely bad, and this badness is a real occurrence in the world. Likewise, an experience of extreme success or pleasure is intrinsically felt as good, and this goodness is a real occurrence in the world.

  4. Ethical value is, by definition, what is good and what is bad. We have directly accessible data of occurrences of intrinsic goodness and badness. They are ethical value.

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