Re: ESSAY: 'Debunking Hippy-Dippy moral philosophy'

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Sat Jun 05 2004 - 00:29:50 MDT

 --- Thomson Comer <> wrote: >
---------- Original Message
> ----------------------------------
> From: Marc Geddes <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2004 17:40:40 +1200 (NZST)
> > --- Thomson Comer <> wrote:
> >
> > Your assertion that your
> >> morality of beliefs is objectivly the truth is
> >> utterly equivalent to you asserting that I am a
> >> sinner, violating the principles of life
> according
> >> to your god.
> >
> >Where did I ever make any such assertion? I
> wouldn't
> >be so arrogant as that! ;) My assertion was that
> >form of morality is objectively the truth, not
> >neccesserily mine! You have failed to grasp the
> >objective morality postulate: if morality is
> objective
> >there is a difference between KNOWLEDGE ABOUT
> morality
> >and MORALITY ITSELF. I do not regard my knowledge
> >about morality as being likely to be any more
> accurate
> >than anyone else.
> ----------
> Your assertion that some form of morality is
> objectively the truth is equivalent to asserting
> your own - indeed, your assertion is your objective
> truth.

Yes, O.K, just that one single assertion. Not the
rest of my morality. And I present that one assertion
as a hypothesis, not something I'm sure about.

> I reject your division between knowledge about
> morality and morality itself because morality is a
> subject that cannot be studied objectively. The only
> position any of us have to perceive morality is from
> our own ideological frame of reference, whether it
> is to attempt to diagnose real morality or to
> hypostulate on our own personal knowledge of
> morality. The only place the morality exists, for
> any of us, is within our ideological sphere. Because
> it cannot be studied in any manner, morality does
> not exist. It is equivalent to the existence of any
> other baseless ideological construct (god, spirit,
> samadhi, and so on) - human fantasy about imagined
> principles that cannot be observed or measured.

You are pre-supposing a tinny bit here aren't you? ;)
Science can draw objective conclusions about abstract
principles that cannot be directly observed or
measured with ease. Mathematics for instance. We
don't need to directly measure something to draw
objective conclusions. In modern non-axiomatic
reasoning methods, we can formulate hypothesis about
the world then draw conclusions based on the
explanatory power of the hypothesis. There are plenty
of wholly abstract concepts in science: quarks,
space-time, strings, membranes, magnetic fields, dark
energy to name but a few. The evidence for their
existence comes from the fact that postulating these
entities has explanatory power, not because they have
been directly measured.
> ----------
> >Your other points establish nothing. I could use
> the
> >same arguments to try to disprove the objective
> truth
> >of any branch of knowledge at all. For instance
> >someone could argue: 'We were entirely constructed
> by
> >a random, evolutionary proccess, our beliefs come
> from
> >our upbringing etc therefore we can't know anything
> >objective about mathematics: maths is all opinion.'
> >Of course that would be a non sequitor, just as
> your
> >arguments against objective morality are.
> -----------
> You could indeed use the argument of evolution to
> disprove any other branch of knowledge - but there
> are bodies of recorded data that can be used to
> objectively resolve disagreements. Science is made
> possible by the awareness of patterns in the
> construction of the world and the ability to measure
> those patterns in order to learn about them.

See above. Science is made possible by the ability to
formulate competing hypothesis and decide between them
based on the explanatory power of the various

> Math is the worst example you could choose for this
> scenario - mathematics is a continuous meta-study of
> layers of abstraction in boolean logic. Math is
> defined by the principles of numeric reasoning,
> principles that recursively reinforce themselves
> (and before Godel, it could be said these principles
> were absolute - now we know that even math's
> completeness is questionable). Math is objective
> because an alternate opinion is, definably, wrong.
> Until one human is able to construct an entire
> history of knowledge about a new branch of
> mathematics with changed base principles, the
> objectivity of it will remain concrete. You cannot
> launch a rocket with desire.

Right. The fact that maths is an abstract science
dealing with non-observable entities demonstrates that
science can draw objective conclusions about

> You seem to be proposing that in the future, when
> moral studies are at a more advanced state (and how
> many thousands of years have we had thus far?), we
> will be able to objectively measure them and define
> ideological truths through scientific study. I do
> wonder what medium you would expect us to be able to
> perform this study - or is there no expectation,
> only the assertion that morality is an objective
> reality that will be studied by some future
> scientific power we cannot yet conceive of?

We can formulate competing explanations about morality
and see what these explanations contribute to our
understanding of the world when we use them to predict
the outcomes of various human behaviours. Moral
hypothesis which have explanatory power would provide
indirect evidence for the objective existence of moral
principles. This is no different to how science goes
about the study of any other subject.

> As it is, the history presented to us of human
> action is the least evidential indicator of an
> objective moral arrow of truth available - evidence
> to the contrary of your position.

The history of human action is only evidence of the
relatively poor ability of humans to reason about
morality... ;)

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