zefreak

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Meetup in San Diego, CA, USA

I have certainly improved in this area over the years but still have bouts of anxiety when meeting new people. My biggest fear is that I will be an outlier at the meetup; I'm relatively young (24), have very little schooling with no degree and very little experience in group situations. I don't think it will be a huge problem though, as I'm sure there will be a huge overlap in our interests, such as cognitive science (my long term career goal), economics, game theory etc.

Meetup in San Diego, CA, USA

I might be there, assuming i can get over my fear of meeting strangers. Been hoping for a San Diego group for a while now!

Pluralistic Moral Reductionism

I think you are incorrect with regards to Hume's is-ought gap, although I find its relevance to be somewhat overstated. A hypothetical imperative such as your example relies on an equivocation between 'ought' as (1) a normative injunction and (2) conveying a possible causal pathway from here to there.

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Here is the incorrect syllogism:

Premise 1: A desires C (is)

Premise 2: B will produce C (is)

Conclusion: A ought to do B (ought)

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There is a hidden normative premise that is often ignored. It is

Premise 3: A should obtain its desires. (ought)

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The correct syllogism would then be:

Premise 1 (is): A desires C

Premise 2 (is): B will produce C

Premise 3 (ought): A ought to obtain its desires.

Conclusion: A ought to do B (ought)

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The necessity of Premise 3 is made clear by use of an admittedly extreme example:

P1: Hitler wants to kill a great number of people

P2: Zyklon B will kill a great number of people

C1: Hitler ought to use Zyklon B to kill a great number of people

While the conclusion is derived from the premises using definition (2) of the word 'ought', few would express it as a normative recommendation.

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Hume's fact/value dichotomy remains valid. A normative conclusion can only be validly deduced from a group of premises including at least one which is itself normative.

The function of belief - advice appreciated.

I think of such statements as signaling a preference or emotion rather than expressing a proper belief. Alternatively, the belief that it is wrong to kill people could simply mean that you expect to be in a poor emotional state if killing people occurs.

I think having a new category is unnecessary and a confusion, especially focusing on 'moral beliefs' that are simply a subset of preferences, or 'beliefs about my emotional response to a course of events or situation'.

Sam Harris' surprisingly modest proposal

I still think Ayer's chapter on ethics sums up morality pretty well, at least as most peole use the term. Is Harris referencing something other than an objective set of values? It seems he may be committing one great naturalistic fallacy if not, and if he is I wish he would ditch the term.