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Can morals be grounded as objective knowledge (and are some moral principles self-evident)?

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In a current thread, objector JS writes:

>>ALL morals that we have, regardless of the source, regardless of whether they are objective or subjective, are filtered through humans. As such, we can never be absolutely sure that they are free from error. All of your “moral governance”, “reasoning and responsibility“, “self referential”, “IS-OUGHT” talking points are just that. Talking points. They are not arguments against what I have said about the fact that ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned. Unless, of course, you suggest that we shouldn’t use the reasoning capabilities that we were given. >>

This is of course reflective of common views and agendas in our civilisation and so it is appropriate to reply, taking time to address key issues at worldviews level:

KF, 32: >>Pardon, but it is now further evident that you have not seen the significance of self-evident truth in general.

Could you be in error that you are conscious?

If so, what is there that is aware to regard the possibility of error? (And this is about the bare fact of consciousness, you could be a brain in a vat manipulated by electrified probes to imagine yourself a man in the world and you would still be undeniably certain of the bare fact of your own consciousness.)

Speaking of, that error exists is also undeniably true. Let E be that claim, then put up the attempted denial ~E. In other words ~E means it is an error to say that error exists. So, E is undeniable.

2 + 3 = 5 is also self-evident and undeniable:

|| + ||| –> |||||

In general, SET’s are truths that — once we are able to understand i/l/o our experience of the world — are seen to be so, and to be necessarily so on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial.

Such lie at the heart of rationality, through the manifest fact of distinct identity. Take some distinct A like a bright red ball on a table, so the world W is:

W = {A|~A}

From this world partition, we instantly see that A is itself, and no x can be (A AND ~A), also that any x is (A X-OR ~A). That is, from distinct identity, the three first principles of right reason are immediately present: Laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction and Excluded Middle.

Likewise from distinct identity two-ness is a direct corollary and from that the natural counting numbers and much of the logic of structure and quantity follows — i.e. Mathematics (which is NOT primarily an empirical discipline). As a start, I use the von Neumann construction:

 

{} –> 0
{0} –> 1
{0,1} –> 2
etc, endlessly
thence {0,1,2 . . . } –> w, the first transfinite ordinal.

Much more can be said, but the above is sufficient to show that there are literally infinitely many things that we may know with utter certainty, starting from a few that are self-evident. But also, such SET’s are insufficient to construct a worldview; they serve as plumbline tests for worldviews.

In particular, that something like E is knowable to utter certainty on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial means, truth exists as what says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. Similarly, this is warranted to utter certainty and so some things can be known to utterly, absolutely cretain degree. Therefore any worldview that imagines that such knowledge is impossible collapses in fatal, central error. Subjectivism, relativism and post modernism, I am looking straight at you.

Going further, following the Kantians, many have been induced to imagine that there is an ugly gulch blocking us from knowledge on the external world of things in themselves. Ever since F H Bradley over 100 years ago, this is known to be false. For, the claim to know of such an ignorance gap is to claim to know something of the outside world, i.e. the claim is self referential and incoherent.

A plumbline

We may then infer freely, that we may and do know things about reality external to our interior lives. Though, as error exists is equally certain, we must be careful in warrant. As a first test, plumbline truths will help us. And for many things a lesser degree of warrant is more than good enough. For example on serious matters, we may have moral certainty, that it would be irresponsible to act as though some A were false, on the evidence to hand or reasonably accessible. For yet other things — including science by and large — plausibly or possibly so and reliable i/l/o the balance of evidence is good enough. And so forth.

I am taking a little time to show you that I am not just talking from empty talking points, there are grounds of warrant for what I have to say. And, speaking for this blog, on worldview matters we have spent years thinking through such core matters. As, they lie at the heart of how our civilisation is in the state it is.

Now, too, you will notice that in speaking of moral certainty, I highlighted responsibility, moral government. We intuitively know that we have duties to truth, care in reasoning, fairness, justice, neighbour who is as we are, and more.

All of this reflects how our life of reason is inextricably entangled with responsibility, duty, moral government. And, dismissive hyperskepticism seeking to sweep that away is manifestly a failure of such duties.

Were our rational faculty utterly unrestrained by responsibility, duty, moral government, it would fall into the cynical nihilism of utter manipulativeness and imposition by force: might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge,’ ‘justice’ and more. That is suicidally absurd. And you know better, as you know that the very force that energises dispute such as in this thread is duty to truth, sound reason and more.

Yes, the mere fact that we inescapably find ourselves trying to justify ourselves and show others in the wrong immediately reveals the massive fact of moral government, and that this is critical to governing ourselves in community. On pain of mutual ruin.

But then, that surfaces another point you wished to brush off with dismissive talking points: the IS-OUGHT gap. That IS and OUGHT are categorically distinct and hard to resolve and unify. That has been known since Plato and beyond. Since Hume, we have known it can only be resolved at world-root level, or else we fall under the guillotine of ungrounded ought. Reasoning IS-IS, then suddenly from nowhere OUGHT-OUGHT. Where, if OUGH-ness is delusion, it instantly entails grand delusion, including of the life of responsible reason itself.

Your root challenge is, there is only one serious candidate that can soundly bridge the gap: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being; worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature.

This is not an arbitrary imposition, we are dealing with worldviews analysis on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory adequacy (neither simplistic nor an ad hoc patchwork). If you doubt what I just said, simply put up a successful atlernative: ________ . (Prediction: v. hard to do.)

So, we are at world-root level, looking at generic ethical theism and the central importance of moral government in our life of reason.

The easy hyperskepticism that sweeps all before it on sheer rhetorical audacity is not good enough.

And, it is interesting that so far you have not readily found significant fault with the central Christian ethical teaching (which is of course profoundly Hebraic in its roots). It is there above, laid out in full. Kindly, tell us why those who acknowledge themselves to be under its government and will readily acknowledge that it is a stiff life-challenge are to be instantly, deeply suspect with but few exceptions.

And, tell us why a civilisation deeply influenced by such a teaching is to be branded with a scarlet letter instead of found to be in the sort of struggle to rise to excellence in the face of our finitude, prone-ness to error, moral struggle and too often our ill-will that are the anchor-points of genuine progress for our world.>>

I should add an earlier remark on two example of self-evident moral truth:

KF, 15: >>[I]mplicit in any contested argument is the premise that we have duties to truth, right and soundness in reasoning. On pain of twisting our intellectual powers into nihilistic weapons of cynical deception. In short X objects to Y, on the confident knowledge of in-common duties of intellectual, rational and epistemic virtue. The attempt to challenge ALL moral obligation would be self-referential and incoherent, undermining good faith reasoning itself.

I would go so far as to say this duty of care to truth, right and sound reasoning is self-evident and is typically implicitly accepted.

So, no, we cannot challenge ALL moral claims without undermining even the process of argument itself. No, we cannot dismiss general moral reasoning as suspect of being a blind appeal to authorities. No, mere consequences we happen to imagine (ever heard of the doctrine of unintended consequences?) or motives we think we read in the hearts of others (you are the same who seemingly views Christianity in general as though we are automatically suspect . . .) cannot ground such a broad-brush skepticism about moral reasoning.

We are already at self-referential incoherence.

Infinite regress comes out of the insisted on ALL and the inextricable entanglement of reasoning and moral duties as were outlined. Claim A is suspect so B must be advanced but implies another ought, so B requires C, and oops, we are on to infinity and absurdity.

General hyperskepticism about the moral brings down the proud edifice of reason too by fatally undermining its own self.

Selective hyperskepticism ends in inconsistency, exerting a double standard: stiff rules for thee, but not for me when such are not convenient to where I want to go . . . .

we need plumbline, naturally straight test cases.

One of these, as I outlined, is the inextricable entanglement of reason and duty to truth, right and soundness of logic.

In that light, we can then look at sound yardstick cases and clear the rubble of the modernist collapse of rationality and responsibility away.

For example, it is self-evidently wrong, wicked, evil to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually violate and murder a young child for one’s sick pleasure. (And, sadly, this is NOT a hypothetical case.)

Probe this case and you will see that such a child hath neither strength nor eloquence to fight or plead for himself or herself. And yet, were we to chance on such a demonic act in progress we are duty bound to try to rescue or at least bawl for help.

We are inescapably under moral government.

Which implies that IS and OUGHT must be bridged in the root of reality, on pain of reducing moral government to grand delusion that takes down rationality itself in its collapse.>>

Food for thought. END

357 Replies to “Can morals be grounded as objective knowledge (and are some moral principles self-evident)?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Can morals be grounded as objective knowledge (and are some moral principles self-evident)?

  2. 2

    No. Morals are merely subjective opinions… under a/mat faith-based philosophy.

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    –Can morals be grounded as objective knowledge —

    If there is not a final authority, no.

    If there is a final authority, the question is not necessary as moral are grounded in objective knowledge.

  4. 4
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF,

    Do you think the Qur’an is the verbatim word and the final divine revelation of God?

    I’m asking because it claims to be an infallible source of God’s word. So, if not, why haven’t you accepted it as such?

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    –Do you think the Qur’an is the verbatim word and the final divine revelation of God?–

    If the answer is no that sorta is the answer.

  6. 6
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF,

    I’ll ask the same question I’ve asked you repeatedly. Out of all possible beliefs, why did you choose those specific beliefs as examples of supposedly self-evident beliefs? Or to rephrase, how did you narrow down a subset of self-evident beliefs out of all possible beliefs?

  7. 7
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Out of all possible measures, did we arbitrarily pick a plumb line as way to measure verticals? No, we did not. There are a number of explanatory theories about how the world works, in reality, that explains how plumb lines work.

    If we didn’t setup a microscope correctly, we wouldn’t expect to receive accurate readings. Right? You can’t replace a lens with a banana and expect to see bacteria. In the same sense, if we thought a plumb line was not setup correctly, we wouldn’t expect it to give accurate vertical measurements. For example, if there was a object with very high mass nearby. Or if the plumbline was connected relative to a moving platform or vehicle, etc.

    In both cases, conclusions we reach from microscopes and plumb lines are theory laden. They are not mere appeals to authority. We can criticize the results in regards to if they were setup correctly based all of those theories.

    Just like our theory of the seasons, plumb lines and microscopes represent a long chain of independently formed, hard to vary, explanations about how the world works.

    However, what you’re suggesting is some kind of moral plumb line that is not based on explanatory theories about how the world works, in reality. Nor are you suggesting can be criticized in some way, like we can with actual plumb lines.

    It’s unclear how this is a good analogy.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR,

    Are you going to provide UB an example of a “quantum storage medium”?

    Coward.

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    I have good warrant to reject the Quran’s claim to be authoritative divine revelation, having to do with certain key claims therein. We are after all expected to test the claimed prophet. I don’t usually speak so directly on this, but you directly asked and on track record would wish to make a noise about not answering. Of course, in so directly answering, I take advantage of the fact that I am in a jurisdiction where it is safe to speak directly like this. I am on record on the matter, so this is nothing new.

    Second, we both know that a plumbline is a longstanding practical standard of the vertical and the straight, which has thus become embedded in discussions as a familiar reference . . . attempts to create oddball exceptions are besides the point. And, why I would choose the reality of consciousness [the first fact through which we address all other facts], or that error necessarily exists as a key breakthrough insight tied to how we seek warrant, or how distinct identity is pivotal to right reason AND the domain of numbers, as key test cases should be obvious. These, are central. For morals, I long since recognised that we must be rational and responsible, leading to the force of the point that duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness, justice etc are inextricably entangled in our life of the mind. The specific case of a kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered young boy is a fact of experience one saddening afternoon thirty-odd years ago when I went to dinner in a campus cafeteria as usual. None of this undermines the force of self evidence.

    That SET’s starting with LOI, LNC and LEM are central to reasoning soundly and responsibly has been a commonplace for thousands of years. That you would seem to wish to dismiss them as vital tests of soundness reflects on you, not on them.

    To see just how central, here is how you began your remarks, expanded:

    {D | ~D} + {o | ~o}

    You cannot even post an objection without implicitly relying on those principles.

    KF

  10. 10
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    You mean how you provided an explanation as to how you managed to infallibly identify a source of moral values and infallibly interpreted that source?

    Oh, that’s right. You still haven’t, after asking at least half a dozen times.

    Coward?

  11. 11
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    I have good warrant to reject the Quran’s claim to be authoritative divine revelation, having to do with certain key claims therein. We are after all expected to test the claimed prophet. I don’t usually speak so directly on this, but you directly asked and on track record would wish to make a noise about not answering.

    And what are those key claims? What tests are you referring to? You really haven’t answered the question as this is a vague response.

    Second, we both know that a plumbline is a longstanding practical standard of the vertical and the straight, which has thus become embedded in discussions as a familiar reference . . . attempts to create oddball exceptions are besides the point.

    They are not mere “exceptions”. Nor did anything I wrote indicated that plumb lines are not widely used.

    Rather, their wide use is accepted precisely due to explanations about how the world works, which defines under which conditions they return good readings of verticals. If they are not setup in accordance with that explanation, we would not accept their readings. Right?

    For every useful rule of thumb, there is an explanation. Plumb lines are no exception. If one merely assumes plumb lines will work because they worked in the past, they could end up with incorrect readings. This is because plumb lines are not magic. They need to be configured correctly and used under conditions that do not conflict with the underlying explanations for how they operate.

    So, again, the readings of a plumb line are subject to criticism as to how they are configured, etc. Those results are theory laden.

    And, why I would choose the reality of consciousness [the first fact through which we address all other facts], or that error necessarily exists as a key breakthrough insight tied to how we seek warrant, or how distinct identity is pivotal to right reason AND the domain of numbers, as key test cases should be obvious. These, are central.

    Just so I have this straight, you selected those particular beliefs by comparing how fundamental of a role they played in other beliefs and by selecting those for which we lacked good criticism, such as that we are conscious.

    Is that an accurate statement? Or are you suggesting that we do have good criticisms of the ideas that you presented, such as that we are conscious, and that we do not have good criticisms other beliefs that you did not select?

    IOW, it seems to me that what you did, is criticize a number of beliefs in various ways, then presented the ones that were left over as being basic-beliefs, since you lacked good criticisms of those that remained.

    The problem with this is that what you consider basic-beliefs would depend on you having exhaustive knowledge of what criticisms to apply when determining which beliefs are basic. There could be some criticism that might hold in the case of consciousness, or other beliefs, that you’re not aware of. Or criticisms that no one has thought of yet. At which point, those beliefs would no longer be basic.

    What “warrant” do you have for your belief that we will have no good criticisms of those ideas in the future?

    When making your response, note how you are basically criticizing those beliefs and seeing those criticisms fail.

  12. 12
    john_a_designer says:

    The problem with most of our regular interlocutors is that they do not even accept truth in a basic trivial sense. How can you have an honest discussion or debate if your interlocutor won’t engage with you honestly? Of course that raises the question the next question: how can you have an honest debate unless you share an interpersonal standard of honesty and truth? And how can we have an interpersonal standard of truth if it’s based on only one person’s subjective opinion? Or they smugly reject even the idea of any kind of interpersonal truth.

    So why do they keep showing up here? It appears to me that most of them take the most extreme position: they cannot even tolerate even the idea of truth.

    Frankly, it’s foolish to try to reason with someone like that.

  13. 13
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Wasn’t this question settled here several months ago when Barry asked whether or not it was always wrong to torture babies for fun. Only the a/mats here couldn’t or wouldn’t answer, “no.” That revealed their moral bankruptcy.

    The theoretical underpinnings of “yes, it’s always wrong” apparently need further explanation, and the right people are on it (see above).

    The question is, why are the a/mats lining up again to be morally strip-searched and exposed to have nothing of value to add to the conversation?

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I expected that reaction, never mind my caution on the obvious issues. Kindly cf here and here, also this. Much more can be said. KF

  15. 15
    rvb8 says:

    The Quran does indeed claim to be the final and most perfect teachings, laws, and set of morals laid out by Allah,God,Yaweh, via the medium of the Prophrt Mohummed(Blessed be His name).

    Surely this warrantless Islamic claim, supercedes all previous warrantless Jewish/Christian claims? If not by the default fact of, ‘progress’ alone?

    Kairos @9,

    “I take advantage of the fact that I am in a jurisdiction where it is safe to speak directly like this.”

    Yes! That is because your ‘jurisdiction’ is just that, a district obeying laws. Specifically enlightenment, constitutional, manmade laws. Sharia, Mishneh Torah, The Ten Commandments, hold no sway in your, ‘juridiction’.

    Because if they did Kairos, they would not only supply their own seperate confusing ‘moralities’, but demand everybody else, on pain of death, obey them.

    You see Kairos, atheists have a far clearer, and less occluded view of the times, when Christian ‘morality’ held sway.

  16. 16
    rvb8 says:

    Oh,

    and could we have a contribution sometime soon that does not have as their subject matter the following:

    1) The immorality of evolution.
    2) Darwin/Hitler/Stalin/Some some mass-murder committed in the US.
    3) Statistical impossibility of evolution.
    4) ‘Evolution can’t explain the complexity of…..”X”.’
    5) Miracles prove design. (First please provide evidence of miracles.)
    6) Manufactured friction within evolutionary Biology concerning evolution. (No! The biologists argue only over possible new mechanisms beyond RM+NS, and the evidence.)

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD & DfO, yup, the issues are obvious. That is why I started with truth, warrant and knowledge, including pausing to address Kantians. I also took time to show how moral government cannot be severed from acts of reasoning, as reasoning inherently involves duties to truth, sound logic, warrant, fairness and justice etc, on pain of becoming prostituted to the worst forms of might and manipulation make “right” “truth” etc nihilism. Further to this, if that sense of moral government that is implicit in arguing that the other person is in error and ought to get right about it is delusional, then this sets grand delusion loose on mindedness. Going on, the point of the case of the young abused and murdered child is that such a child has no hope of the might or the eloquence to impose its will in the face of a murderously predatory demonically lustful pervert. So, one is reduced to recognising that the other of equal nature is of equal worth and so the rights one expects to be respected on by consistency extend to the other. Where also the reality of such perverts points to the challenge of growing in virtue rater than evil, which is so often dismissed or ignored. There is the duty of neighbour to act in the face of assault on the helpless, which opens up a world of issues all the way to the last resort, just war in the face of demonic unyieldingly pitiless and predatory, tyrannical evil writ large. Then, we have to look at, where does such a moral law — written on our hearts and minds to the point where we cannot argue without implicit reliance on it — come from? that opens up the IS-OUGHT gap that has been there since Plato at least. Notice how there has been no cogent response oh, here is a world-root level alternative. No prizes for guessing why. Of course the silence on the central Christian ethical teaching in the other thread speaks for itself also. And more. KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, could we kindly have a comment from you that recognises the distinction between mere complexity and functionally specific complex organisation and associated information? KF

    PS: You need to consult Plato about nihilism.

    PPS: Kindly cf above on just why I spoke as I did in reply to CR’s insistent question. I need not elaborate further.

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Plato in The Laws, Bk X, to see how long the inherent amorality and nihilism of evolutionary materialism has been exposed on record, and of course just how long its advocates have tried to ignore this fatal problem:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    KF

  20. 20
    boru says:

    >>ALL morals that we have, regardless of the source, regardless of whether they are objective or subjective, are filtered through humans. As such, we can never be absolutely sure that they are free from error. All of your “moral governance”, “reasoning and responsibility“, “self referential”, “IS-OUGHT” talking points are just that. Talking points. They are not arguments against what I have said about the fact that ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned.>>

    ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned? — ALL moral actions without exception?

    Are you absolutely sure about that? — I mean, absolutely sure morally? — absolutely sure unquestionably?

  21. 21
    Origenes says:

    JSmith: They are not arguments against what I have said about the fact that ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned. Unless, of course, you suggest that we shouldn’t use the reasoning capabilities that we were given.

    One problem with Smith’s call for rational debate on self-evident truths is that his preferred world view cannot house any “reasoning capabilities” whatsoever. As most of us know, a materialistic world is necessarily an utterly moronic world.

  22. 22
    rvb8 says:

    kairos @19,

    patronising arguments from authority work, only if the person involved has the accomplishments behind him/her to carry off such bravado; you don’t. So I’ll try again.

    You take advantage of the protections afforded by an enlightenment document to push Christian morality; nice!

    What makes Chrisitian morality superior to Islamic morality; I can think of at least 1.3 billion people who will disagree.

    Time for you to give your usual pedantic opaque ramble followed by, ‘And thus my point is proved!’

    Why is Chrisitian morality the most bestest of allll other religionesis moralities?

    You (and everyone at UD), need to consult Democritus on science.

  23. 23
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    I’d point out that nothing in the threads you referenced conflicts with the position that there isn’t actually two kinds of beliefs: basic an non-basic. Rather what you call basic beliefs are just beliefs that we currently lack good criticism of.

    But, by all means, feel free to point out what good criticisms we have of what you call basic-beliefs. Or that you didn’t decide which beliefs are basic by criticizing them in respect to other beliefs.

    Can you provide an example that doesn’t fit? I don’t think you can.

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @ 2

    No. Morals are merely subjective opinions…

    Quite right. What else can they be?

  25. 25
    Seversky says:

    2 + 3 = 5 is also self-evident and undeniable:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    3 + 7 = 31?

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    RVB8, FYI, I cited Plato as a case in point from classical times on the amorality and nihilism of the evolutionary materialist framework, against the well known backdrop of the collapse of the Athenian democratic experiment through the Peloponnesian war. For example, ponder Alcibiades as a promising youth influenced by the currents of thought at that time and where he ended up, why; especially his strange relationship with Socrates. Plato is not being cited as a blindly adhered to authority. Your argument by sneering dismissal collapses. As for your further sneer at Christian “religious” morality, a simple glance at the OP will suffice to show that the subject is first objectivity of knowledge then of moral knowledge for us as morally governed creatures. In that context I have pointed to the significance of the IS-OUGHT gap and the only serious candidate solution, which happens to be generic ethical theism. That is a worldviews argument, not a theological one, and certainly not a Christian religious — how obviously you seem to view this word in that context as a dirty word — one. It is evident that you have sought to sneer and dismiss rather than carefully ponder. Fundamentally un-serious. I suggest you would be well advised to think again. KF

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, it seems you have failed to read the OP before commenting with intent to object. FYI, there is warrant offered up to and including concrete cases as to why there is objective moral knowledge. I suggest you start from the case of a kidnapped, sexually brutalised, murdered child, then come back to us on why it is only a matter of subjective perceptions, might and manipulation that he had a right to his live and to the inviolability of his person. Your attempted objection to basic arithmetic truths fails and does so in a way that after years of objecting here at UD you have not yet grasped the fairly simple concept of what a self-evident truth is. KF

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you evidently have failed to grasp the significance of distinct identity and its import for even how you can compose and address an objection. You are forced to rely on what you would deny in order to object. Clue no. 1. Further, you fail to understand the difference between a basic belief and a well-warranted, properly basic belief. In the cases above, to self-evidence. Your particular hobby-horse seems to lead you to imagine that you can simply put up an intellectual IOU on first principles of right reason. Meanwhile, just to object, you had to rely on distinct identity all along the chain of objection. You are trying to saw off the branch on which you are sitting. KF

    PS: Here is a classic, 2,000 year old observation on a key point:

    1 Cor 14:7 Yet even lifeless things, whether flute or harp, when producing a sound, if they do not produce distinct [musical] tones, how will anyone [listening] know what is piped or played? 8 And if the [war] bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So it is with you, if you speak words [in an unknown tongue] that are not intelligible and clear, how will anyone understand what you are saying? You will be talking into the air [wasting your breath]! [AMP]

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On plumblines, just for illustration.

    Consider a 100 Tonne house, core at 10 m from a classic Egyptian square with a 1 m string and 0.1 kg bob.

    F-side = 6.674e-11 x (0.1 x 100e3)/(10^2)

    = 6.67e-9 N

    F-vert = 0.1 x 9.81 = 0.981 N

    In short, the side force is probably less than that due to muscle shiver etc.

    For the original Carpentry and masonry purposes, a plumbline is an excellent standard of what is accurately straight and upright. In illustration terms, it is apt.

    The problem at work is clinging to a crooked yardstick as standard for straightness and accuracy, and something naturally straight and upright is more than good enough as a corrective.

    And, those who cling to crookedness in the face of what is naturally straight and upright imply much about themselves.

    KF

  30. 30

    Seversky @ 24: Objective. I believe that rape is objectively wrong, and not just a matter of subjective cultural choice or personal opinion. If you agree, then you have taken a big step toward theism. Congratulations.

    Also, please re-read my original post (below) and try to spot the essential points:

    “No. Morals are merely subjective opinions… under a/mat faith-based philosophy.”

    Here’s a hint. Pay close attention to the word “merely.”

    Here’s another hint. Pay close attention to the phrase “under a/mat faith-based philosophy.”

  31. 31

    rvb8 @ 15: Christian morality still holds sway. Always will.

  32. 32

    KF @ 26 to rvb8: “That is a worldviews argument, not a theological one, and certainly not a Christian religious — how obviously you seem to view this word in that context as a dirty word — one.”

    Ah, yes. Rvb8 hates everything theistic, but he reserves his most visceral hate for Christianity. He is a nasty, sneering sort of bloke. A true hater.

    Somebody needs a hug!

  33. 33
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    rvb8 @ 16,

    Oh, and could we have a contribution sometime soon that does not have as their subject matter the following:

    Oh, could we have military action sometime soon that does not attack the enemy’s weakest points, and does not use bullets or bombs or missiles? Those are so predictable and boring!

    You can always start your own blog, which is what any self-respecting lover of liberty would do. But Progressives, like every other idolatrous evil, never create anything. They only pervert what others have created.

    rvb8 @ 22,

    What makes Chrisitian morality superior to Islamic morality;[sic]?

    Said while safely nestled in Hong Kong, founded by a Christian nation and now protected from jihad and Islamist immigration by a Christian heresy known as Communism. You can put your money where your mouth is by going to live in a Muslim-founded nation instead of a Christian-founded one. Or you can go live in London, where the former is being replaced by the latter.

    And KF pedantic? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  34. 34
    Axel says:

    rvb8, we earn from authorities. It’s why schools and universities base their curricula on the works of authorities in the different areas, rather than those of unknown individuals, who might or might not be towering geniuses, who changes the paradigm pursued by the current authorities, generally until such time as mathematical proofs establish the new understanding. It’s safer.

  35. 35
    JSmith says:

    B

    ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned? — ALL moral actions without exception?

    Are you absolutely sure about that? — I mean, absolutely sure morally? — absolutely sure unquestionably?

    Since my statement wasn’t a moral statement, I don’t get the point of your question.

    I stand by by statement as being factually accurate. There is not a single moral action that is not open to questioning. If you can provide evidence of this not being the case, feel free to provide it. So far all that I have seen is righteous outrage against the statement without any supporting evidence.

  36. 36
    JSmith says:

    O

    One problem with Smith’s call for rational debate on self-evident truths is that his preferred world view cannot house any “reasoning capabilities” whatsoever. As most of us know, a materialistic world is necessarily an utterly moronic world.

    If you have read my comments you will know that I am not a materialist. Do you have any legitimate argument against my statement?

  37. 37
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR: Qur’an is the verbatim word and the final divine revelation of God?

    KF: CR, I expected that reaction, never mind my caution on the obvious issues. Kindly cf here and here, also this. Much more can be said.

    A quick scan of the pages you referenced suggests you think the Qur’an is not the verbatim word and the final divine revelation of God because…

    – It conflicts with Biblical idea of fallen man
    – It suggest that Christ wasn’t crucified, but taken to be by God’s side
    – It conflicts with Christian ideas about salvation
    – It suggests the Bible has been corrupt

    From this wikipedia entry….

    The issue of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus (Isa) is rejected by most (not all[1]) Muslims, but similar to Christians they believe that Jesus will return before the end of time.[2] Most Muslims believe Jesus was not crucified, but was raised bodily to heaven by God, a similar belief is found in the Gospel of Basilides,[3][4][5][6] the text of which is lost save for reports of it by other early scholars like Origen (c. 185 – c. 254). Basilides (??????????), was a leading theologian of Gnostic tendencies, who had taught in Alexandria in the second quarter of the second century. However, this view is disregarded by mainstream Christianity which only accepts the four gospels contained in the New Testament as genuine; the other twenty-eight, as heretical.[citation needed]

    Depending on the interpretation of the following verse, Muslim scholars have abstracted different opinions. Some believe that in the Biblical account, Jesus’s crucifixion did not last long enough for him to die, while others opine that God gave someone Jesus’s appearance or someone else replaced Jesus and the executioners thought the victim was Jesus, causing everyone to believe that Jesus was crucified. A third explanation could be that Jesus was nailed to a cross, but as his body is immortal he did not “die” or was not “crucified” [to death]; it only appeared so (this view is rare). In opposition to the second and third foregoing proposals, yet others maintain that God does not use deceit and therefore they contend that crucifixion just did not occur. The basis of all of these beliefs is the interpretation of this verse in the Qur’an:

    That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
    Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-

    Many of these views are compatible with the claims that “there is good historical evidence for the claims that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, died on a cross and rose from the dead,” The idea that Jesus was 100% man and 100% God (what kind of math is that?) doesn’t seem to preclude Jesus not being susceptible to crucifixion, with the actual cause of “death” being Allah taking him to heaven with him. Or he could have been taken moments before he actually died, etc. Why you’ve constrained such a being in this particular sense doesn’t, well, make sense.

    Regardless, this is an example of making arguments regarding which infallible source you should defer to and how to interpret that infallible source. You can no way of infallibly identifying or interpret said source. Reason always comes first.

    So, there you were, visiting the Vatican and you took a wrong turn and found yourself witnessing the pope as he solemnly declared that there is no force of gravity. You happened to have purchased, from the souvenir shop, a checklist of the official requirements for a declaration to count as ex cathedra, and you took the trouble to verify that each one was met. None of this constitutes direct observation of what you need to know. Did you observe infallibly that it was the pope? Did you do a DNA test? Can you be certain that souvenir checklists never contain typos? And how is your church Latin? Was your translation of the crucial phrase “no force of gravity” infallible? Have you never mistranslated anything?

    The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” either. Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. If you doubt this, look at the work of psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, and verify by direct experience the fallibility of your own direct experience. Furthermore, the idea that your reminiscences are infallible is also heresy by the very doctrine that you are faithful to.

    I’ll tell you what really happened3. You witnessed a dress rehearsal. The real ex cathedra ceremony was on the following day. In order not to make the declaration a day early, they substituted for the real text (which was about some arcane theological issue, not gravity) a lorem-ipsum-type placeholder that they deemed so absurd that any serious listener would immediately realize that that’s what it was.

    And indeed, you did realize this; and as a result, you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    You remain a believer, serious about giving your faith absolute priority over your own “unaided” reason (as reason is called in these contexts). But that very seriousness has forced you to decide first on the substance of the issue, using reason, and only then whether to defer to the infallible authority. This is neither fluke nor paradox. It is simply that if you take ideas seriously, there is no escape, even in dogma and faith, from the obligation to use reason and to give it priority over dogma, faith, and obedience.

    The real pope is unlikely to make an ex cathedra statement about gravity, and therefore you may be lucky enough never to encounter this particular case of the dilemma. Also, the real pope doesn’t just pull ex cathedra statements out of a hat. They’re hammered out by a team of expert advisors trying their best to weed out mistakes, a process structurally not unlike peer review. But if your faith in papal infallibility depends on reassuring yourself of things like that, then that just goes to show that for you, reason takes priority over faith.

    It is hard to contain reason within bounds. If you take your faith sufficiently seriously you may realize that it is not only the printers who are fallible in stating the rules for ex cathedra, but also the committee that wrote down those rules. And then that nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable. It is precisely because you, being fallible and having no infallible access to the infallible authority, no infallible way of interpreting what the authority means, and no infallible means of identifying an infallible authority in the first place, that infallibility cannot help you before reason has had its say.

    A related useful thing that faith tells you, if you take it seriously enough, is that the great majority of people who believe something on faith, in fact believe falsehoods. Hence, faith is insufficient for true belief. As the Nobel-Prize-winning biologist Peter Medawar said: “the intensity of the conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on whether it is true or not4.”

    My point being, the particular theological ideas about salvation, etc., which Islam conflicts with, are ones that you personally find appealing. And when questioned, you have some kind of rational argument as to why you should defer to that source, opposed to some other source. The problem is, this claim is easily varied. God, being all powerful and all knowing could have taken Jesus before his death, etc. There is no hard to vary account for salvation. Jesus’ divine side didn’t have any blood to shed. And we used to think blood had some magical property of life. But we no longer think this is the case. So, the whole idea of Christ’s blood being the reason for our salvation appears to be an easily varied explanation that is based on ancient ideas about the life giving properties of blood.

  38. 38
    critical rationalist says:

    @Axel

    rvb8, we earn from authorities. It’s why schools and universities base their curricula on the works of authorities in the different areas, rather than those of unknown individuals, who might or might not be towering geniuses, who changes the paradigm pursued by the current authorities, generally until such time as mathematical proofs establish the new understanding. It’s safer.

    And, like plumb lines and microscopes, we have good explanations as to why we should defer to schools, universities and other figures. We do not merely accept their claims without assuming some process is in place in which criticism has been applied in some way or another.

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you neatly omitted that there is a serious misrepresentation of the trinity doctrine of the Christian church, which erects a strawman. This is not a matter of disagreement on theology, but of basic error of fact as to what Christians believe and teach. This is then used to construct a whole concept of shirk as a sin of Christians which then is used to rationalise all sorts of other things on the general arraignment as of inherently suspect character, cf Q 9:29 in context and onward issues of dhimmitude — worse than apartheid. This is deeply disqualifying as to the basic credibility of the source of the Quran. That is, there is something absolutely central that is not right. Likewise, as regards the trial and crucifixion of Jesus per order of the local Governor, that is about as well authenticated a fact of history as we are going to get from C1. So, if the Quran gets that wrong too, something is deeply wrong here. Meanwhile, you go on and on, on rhetorical games on a tangent. Red herring led to strawman game over, that is not germane to the thread. Kindly cf the OP and respond to the subject: warranted credible truth as possible and actual for morals, i.e. objective moral knowledge.The focal issue FYI is epistemology not theology; until the epistemology is sorted out the theology and ethics etc cannot move beyond going in futile circles. KF

    PS: No authority — individual or institutional — is better than the underlying warrant per facts, reasoning and underlying assumptions. And on matters of science not even moral certainty is typically possible on theoretical frameworks as opposed to facts of observation. The OP is addressing cases of warrant to self evidence in general and as touching key ethical matters. This basic structure then sets up onward responsible thought and action on matters not subject to so high a standard. Matters that are pervasive and of enormous importance. Where, much is at stake.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    JS: re Since my statement wasn’t a moral statement, I don’t get the point of your question. Sorry, but it has been shown that all statements in an argument context are pervaded by moral considerations such as duties of care to truth, fairness, justice, soundness of logic, etc. There are no statements or acts of mind that do not imply these issues. You do not have to explicitly address a typical moral issue for the duties of moral governance to be at work. And if you do imply that you have no duties of care to truth, fairness sound reasoning etc then you are the worst kind of nihilist and cynical manipulator. So, in prudence we would have to disregard anything you have to say on any subject of interest as of zero credibility. That is one of the key errors in your reasoning. KF

  41. 41

    KF @ 40: “… all statements in an argument context are pervaded by moral considerations such as duties of care to truth, fairness, justice, soundness of logic, etc.”

    Brilliant.

  42. 42
    JSmith says:

    KF

    Sorry, but it has been shown that all statements in an argument context are pervaded by moral considerations such as duties of care to truth, fairness, justice, soundness of logic, etc.

    If you want to use rediculous arguments, that is your choice. According to your logic, “the sky is blue” and “water is wet” are moral statement. We all know that these are statements of fact (or not) with no moral value one way or the other. The moral aspect is the act of telling the truth or not. The action, not the statement.

    In all of your words you have never addressed my claim that all moral actions are open to questioning. I would even go as far as to say that this is a self evident truth. I am not talking about whether they SHOULD be open to questioning, but about whether they ARE open to questioning.

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    JS,

    [KF:] Sorry, but it has been shown that all statements in an argument context are pervaded by moral considerations such as duties of care to truth, fairness, justice, soundness of logic, etc.

    [JS:] If you want to use rediculous arguments, that is your choice. According to your logic, “the sky is blue” and “water is wet” are moral statement. We all know that these are statements of fact (or not) with no moral value one way or the other.

    And the underlying failure to see the obvious on your part comes bubbling up to the surface.

    Why, dear sir, is it significant that certain things are recognised as facts? Because they are warranted true to moral certainty. The duty of care to ascertain and respect things properly warranted as true emerges yet again.

    If you will glance back at what I actually said, you will see that I have pointed to how our life of the mind, especially as regards argument, is inextricably entangled with duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness, justice, prudence and more. As a direct consequence, all our inner life of the mind is pervaded with a moral dimension.

    In short, we are morally governed, rationally and responsibly significantly free creatures.

    Therefore, to point out this too often neglected fact in a context where it is highly germane, is not ridiculous.

    That you do perceive such a fact as ridiculous, speaks to an underlying problem. You have clearly made a crooked yardstick into a standard of straightness and uprightness and accuracy. The result is predictable: what is genuinely straight (a root meaning of “true” BTW), accurate and upright cannot meet the crooked yardstick test. So, if you cling to a crooked standard, you will have to dismiss what is sound.

    And that is one reason why plumbline test cases are so important.

    Cases that this thread and the previous will show, you keep on disregarding.

    In this case, imagining that such are ridiculous.

    I suggest, it is time for you to check the quality of your yardsticks.

    KF

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    Truth, thanks. KF

  45. 45
    Querius says:

    The OP seems to be an argument for Moral Rationalism, and some of the objections that followed centered on attempts to find contradictions between revelatory religions, which of course is an obvious non sequitur to all but those who are blinded by their ideology.

    That there are positive and negative consequences to one’s actions is simply pragmatic, which is why elements in our society are fighting so fiercely to protect immoral people from all consequences.

    I’m not a philosopher, but I’d suggest that we’re way out of our league in such arguments. For example, consider the following:

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/2653425?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    With all due respect, what we seem to be doing is trying to follow the faltering steps of Benedict de Spinoza . . .

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/spinoza/

    As someone who is enraptured by the person and teachings of Jesus, and the testimonies of his apostles, I follow the simple ideal presented by the prophet in Micah 6:8 (NASB)

    He has told you, O man, what is good;
    And what does the Lord require of you
    But to do justice, to love kindness,
    And to walk humbly with your God.

    And for my frequent failures, I trust in the atonement and forgiveness offered by God through his Son.

    Thus, I’m set free to delight in discovering God’s creation, to expend my labor in making life better for others through technology, and to contribute my testimony about the joy that fills my life to those who want a change in their lives.

    -Q

    P.S. Reflecting on the discussion, I’d anticipate that some will ask how to define justice, kindness, and humility. But I’d contend that to do so is simply redirecting the argument against the foundation of language. In other words, these terms must be self-evident for us to communicate at all.

  46. 46

    JSmith @ 42: Is the moral condemnation of rape really open to question? Is that not an unquestionable prohibition?

  47. 47
    JSmith says:

    KF at 43. I see a lot of words here but you continue to avoid addressing my claim that all moral actions are open to questioning. Since this OP was created to address my statement, it would be nice to actually see you do this.

  48. 48
    Origenes says:

    JSmith,

    My apologies for falsely assuming you are a materialist.

    JSmith: I see a lot of words here but you continue to avoid addressing my claim that all moral actions are open to questioning.

    Suppose that 2 + 2 = 4 is open to questioning. Would there be a basis for mathematics?

    If it is possible that e.g. killing a toddler for personal pleasure is a good thing, then can we discuss ethics? Where do we base our reasoning on?

    Put another way, if anything is debatable, what do we debate with?

  49. 49
    JSmith says:

    O

    My apologies for falsely assuming you are a materialist.

    Don’t worry about it. I share many opinions with materialists, so I can see the confusion.

    Suppose that 2 + 2 = 4 is open to questioning. Would there be a basis for mathematics?

    Is 2+2=4 a moral action? Because my claim is only about moral actions.

    If it is possible that e.g. killing a toddler for personal pleasure is a good thing, then can we discuss ethics? Where do we base our reasoning on?

    Put another way, if anything is debatable, what do we debate with?

    Just because something is open for debate doesn’t mean that the conclusion of the debate will ever change. But, thankfully, the conclusion did change with respect to the morality of slavery, the physical disciplining of a wife, the jailing of homosexuals and the denying of marriage to same sex couples did change.

    If we are to say that some moral actions can’t be questioned, ever, who makes this decision? The Pope? The Radical Imam? The KKK? The Dalai Lamma? Dawkins? Trump? I think that you can see where the danger lies in this view.

  50. 50
    Origenes says:

    JSmith @49

    O: Suppose that 2 + 2 = 4 is open to questioning. Would there be a basis for mathematics?

    JSmith: Is 2+2=4 a moral action? Because my claim is only about moral actions.

    My broader point is that one always needs a basis for one’s reasoning — in mathematics and ethics alike. There is no rationality possible when everything is open to debate.

    JSmith: Just because something is open for debate doesn’t mean that the conclusion of the debate will ever change.

    How do you debate ethics while anything is open to debate? How do you do mathematics while you do not know if 2 + 2 = 4 or 5 or 32?

    JSmith: But, thankfully, the conclusion did change with respect to the morality of slavery, the physical disciplining of a wife, the jailing of homosexuals and the denying of marriage to same sex couples did change.

    So, tell me, why is it wrong to take away a person’s freedom? Why do you say that slavery is “thankfully” abolished? You obviously assume the truth of things, which, according to your dictum, should be open to debate.

  51. 51
    JSmith says:

    O

    So, tell me, why is it wrong to take away a person’s freedom? Why do you say that slavery is “thankfully” abolished? You obviously assume the truth of things, which, according to your dictum, should be open to debate.

    Of course. We all think that our moral beliefs are correct. You only have to read KF’s comments to know that this is true. In fact, this may be the only self evident truth in this entire discussion. And it is this feeling of absolute certainty about our moral actions that is probably responsible for much of human suffering. An intelligent person will question why they act (or think) in certain ways, and change their behaviour based on their rational questioning about what they had always thought to be true.

    That is why it is critical to continually question what we consider to be morally based actions. The actions that continue to survive rational examination will survive. Those that don’t, like slavery and jailing homosexuals, won’t. The only people that oppose the questioning of their moral actions are those who fear being able to defend them.

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    JSmith @

    JS: Of course. We all think that our moral beliefs are correct.

    If so, no one would have any moral doubt, which is contradicted by countless testimonies.

    JS: In fact, this may be the only self evident truth in this entire discussion.

    Not so, but otherwise the mere possibility of rational debate rests on self-evident truths.

    JS: And it is this feeling of absolute certainty about our moral actions that is probably responsible for much of human suffering.

    Again, I do not agree. And BTW you are aware that people can do things they know are wrong, don’t you?

    JS: An intelligent person will question why they act (or think) in certain ways, and change their behaviour based on their rational questioning about what they had always thought to be true.

    Why would that change anything? If there is no basis for ethical thoughts what is there to rationally question? Perhaps you can give an example of such a rational intervention.
    Let’s start with this:
    Rational Question: Why do I not physically harm my two year old child?
    Rational Answer: ………

    JS: That is why it is critical to continually question what we consider to be morally based actions.

    How does that look like when there are no ethical values that are beyond debate? How do you build a house on quicksand?

    JS: The actions that continue to survive rational examination will survive. Those that don’t, like slavery and jailing homosexuals, won’t.

    According to the NCA, there is modern slavery and trafficking ‘in every UK town and city’.
    Anyway, you seem to be very optimistic about a radical “rational examination” of morality. I do not understand what you mean by that. I am saying that you cannot think without axioms. You can address that argument or not. Your choice.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, no, the OP shows that the category moral knowledge is non-empty. It does not attempt to impose rationalism as a criterion of morality. KF

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, you have tried to divert the issue. As noted in the OP your actual argument has been: “ALL morals that we have, regardless of the source, regardless of whether they are objective or subjective, are filtered through humans. As such, we can never be absolutely sure that they are free from error. accordingly I pointed out that knowledge in general has cases of utter certainty that we can attain to, key self evident truths. So the filtered through humans therefore inevitably uncertain case collapses at the outset. Obviously, one of the SET’s is, error exists, so not all claimed truths can meet this standard, actually they are relatively few and will never be enough to compose a complete worldview. Next, I point out that moral consideration and duty are inextricably entangled in reasoning so that one cannot effectively sever and wall off moral reasoning into a lower, suspect category without undermining all reasoning — the “infection” would instantly spread into all reasoning through undermining duties of care to truth, sound reasoning, fairness, justice, etc. As has been indicated above or pretty directly implied. Third, I took up a very specific real world case — one you have by and large dodged — and pointed out that it is a case of self-evident moral knowledge, i.e. certain on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. Your core case collapses. You have yet to face that. Of course, trivially one may question cases of knowledge, that has nothing to do with whether knowledge can in some cases be warranted to utter certainty by even finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill willed human beings. The real issue is quality of warrant, which you have not been so far able to seriously address. Nor is it the case that if I can question or doubt, I can safely dismiss, that sort of hyperskepticism is blatant error. And, cases of warrant to self-evident certainty include some moral cases. In short, your substantial case fails. And, hyperskepticism also fails. KF

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    O, well said, I don’t have time to do a point by point on everything. JS needs to know that many people find themselves trapped in wrongdoing, consenting to right principle but unable to escape. Famously, including Paul of Tarsus as he describes himself in that book he patently despises, in Rom 7. Second, others take positive delight in wrongdoing, including some truly horrific cases. That includes the one I have listed. The whole project of moral transformation and overcoming the mystery of dominating evil within goes beyond UD’s remit, but I can safely say that for 2,000 years the Christian answer has been spiritual rebirth and transformation from within by the indwelling, welling up Holy Spirit. KF

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, I see “We all think that our moral beliefs are correct. You only have to read KF’s comments to know that this is true.” Where have I given a presentation of the set of my moral beliefs, as opposed to a highly select few cases that I proceeded to establish as moral knowledge? The truthful — as opposed to rhetorical — answer is, nowhere. What I have argued is that all reasoning inevitably is entangled with duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness etc, on pain of pretty blatant absurdities on attempted denial. This you have sneered at and attempted a couple of failed counter examples to, forgetting that the whole tenor of your case has been an attempt to correct what you imagine to be my error. As in, self-refutation. Next, I presented a specific substantial case as a moral yardstick, abduction, sexual assault and murder of a child for pleasure. This is self-evidently evil as the attempt to suggest otherwise is instantly absurd. It is also highly instructive, as it draws out many principles of moral government that are of great moment. KF

  57. 57
    Seversky says:

    boru @ 20

    ALL purported moral actions are open to be questioned? — ALL moral actions without exception?

    Open to question? Yes. Are there moral actions you think should be exempt from being questioned?

  58. 58
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 27

    Seversky, it seems you have failed to read the OP before commenting with intent to object. FYI, there is warrant offered up to and including concrete cases as to why there is objective moral knowledge.

    Only if you define “objective” to include subjective beliefs that are common to most if not all individuals in society. Does inter-subjective agreement on an “ought” make it objective by virtue of residing in the mind of more than one subject?

    I suggest you start from the case of a kidnapped, sexually brutalised, murdered child, then come back to us on why it is only a matter of subjective perceptions, might and manipulation that he had a right to his live and to the inviolability of his person.

    I’m sure everyone here would agree that such an offense against a child is morally wrong. But we are all human. We can empathize with – and be appalled by – the suffering of the child and its family and friends. But, as I asked once before, can we not also imagine an alien race that lacks any empathy for the young of an alien species and, hence does not view as immoral acts that we find horrific?

  59. 59
    Seversky says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @ 30

    Seversky @ 24: Objective. I believe that rape is objectively wrong, and not just a matter of subjective cultural choice or personal opinion. If you agree, then you have taken a big step toward theism. Congratulations.

    I believe rape is wrong and I don’t need a god to tell me so. Are you saying you would have no way of coming to the view that it is wrong unless you were told that it was wrong by some moral authority? Need I remind you that the Old Testament has some distinctly unpleasant accounts which include children of vanquished peoples being raped and put to the sword by the victors? If that sort of behavior is objectively wrong now it must have been objectively wrong then.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky:

    [KF:] FYI, there is warrant offered up to and including concrete cases as to why there is objective moral knowledge.

    [S:] Only if you define “objective” to include subjective beliefs that are common to most if not all individuals in society. Does inter-subjective agreement on an “ought” make it objective by virtue of residing in the mind of more than one subject?

    You here reveal the true nihilistic horror of cultural relativism and its consensus [of the powerful enough to count] is the nearest to truth premise.

    Manipulate enough of the sufficiently powerful and kidnapping, binding, sexually assaulting and murdering a young child for pleasure is suddenly okay.

    See why we have seen the notion that there is nothing wrong with the ongoing, million more victims per week slaughter of 800+ million of our living posterity in the womb? And, of: it’s only fringe extremists and haters who object? So, also, of oh, those who count are seeing words like Christmas and Jesus as worthy of tracking as hate speech.

    No, it has nothing to do with feelings of empathy, it has everything to do with the rise of utterly destructive trends that cling to absurdities in the teeth of cogent cautions to the contrary.

    And of course, we do have a widespread sense of being under binding obligation to the truth, the logically sound, the right etc, indeed it is a general but often unstated premise of verbal disagreements and disputes. Your remarks above are tantamount to, we can safely classify such as delusion, anesthetise consciences of a critical mass and proceed as we please, regardless of consequences with those who don’t count. Those we have cleverly managed to dehumanise or demonise and scapegoat.

    Instantly, that is a species of arguing that the moral sense and voice of conscience are grand delusion. Such then pervades our life of the mind and ends in destructive absurdity. Taking down rationality with it, leading to a form of might and manipulation make right.

    Down that road lies a river of blood.

    But of course, who cares about such a silly notion as lessons of history?

    And so, over the cliff we go.

    BTW, I can also incorporate your:

    I believe rape is wrong and I don’t need a god to tell me so.

    But what we merely believe at any given time is subject to might and manipulation, per the horror story of the Parable of Plato’s Cave. So, what happens when the powers that be manipulate the shadow show game’s dominant narrative?

    This is a part of why I have pointed to the importance of understanding knowledge as (in the weak form sense) warranted, credibly true belief. What you have NOT stated above, is that you have warrant that rape etc are wrong to the point of credible truth. And, you have reacted to a case, a real case of kidnapping, sexual assault and murder for pleasure in this way.

    The reduction to absurdity should serve as a warning to all on the matches we are playing with here as a civilisation.

    And that is long before we get to the issue of bridging the IS-OUGHT gap at world roots level. Where it is to be noted that you have failed to place a cogent candidate on the table.

    If we are prudent, we will begin to realise what is at stake for our civilisation.

    But then, how many of us understand the Nuremberg defense, oh we were obeying the orders of legitimate command authority in accord with the duly passed laws of our state?

    Living memory history, duly forgotten.

    As is the counter argument that prevailed: we share a common, inherently valuable nature and are aware of a higher law that binds us, which law of our nature shows that what was done was a wrong, a crime against humanity on unprecedented scale.

    But then, who cares what silly ghosts from the dead past have to say?

    KF

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Heine warned us long since:

    Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [–> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . do not overlook the obvious], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame [–> an irrational battle- and blood- lust]. …

    The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

    Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world.

    At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [–> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [–> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns] will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll. [Religion and Philosophy in Germany, 1831]

    As did Provine:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    PPS: Trotting out the oh the OT has cases we can manipulate to look like the above, is irrelevant and a distortion. For those who are troubled by such all too common Internet Atheist talking points, I suggest here on as a start to a sounder balance on our Judaeo-Christian heritage.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: We should note a rhetorical agenda. “Open to question” is far too often the foot in the door for, if I can question, I can impose a selectively hyperskeptical, arbitrarily high level of demand for warrant (that I wouldn’t apply to what I am inclined to accept) then dismiss on the resulting double-standard. The consequences of this are of course utterly ruinous. So, again, I point to the importance of addressing the prior question, what is knowledge, and like unto it, what degrees of warrant are relevant. Then, we can address the issue of self evident truth thence moral cases. On these we can calibrate sound yardsticks we can then use to construct a wider view.

  63. 63
    Querius says:

    KF wrote

    Q, no, the OP shows that the category moral knowledge is non-empty. It does not attempt to impose rationalism as a criterion of morality. KF

    So how does the category of moral knowledge that you’re referring to become non-empty? How are self-evident truths discovered?

    According to plato.stanford.edu . . .

    One is a question of moral epistemology: how do human beings become aware of, or acquire knowledge or belief about, moral good and evil, right and wrong, duty and obligation? Ethical theorists and theologians of [Hume’s] day held, variously, that moral good and evil are discovered: (a) by reason in some of its uses (Hobbes, Locke, Clarke), (b) by divine revelation (Filmer), (c) by conscience or reflection on one’s (other) impulses (Butler), or (d) by a moral sense: an emotional responsiveness manifesting itself in approval or disapproval (Shaftesbury, Hutcheson).

    The OP seems to have chosen (a) above, right?

    -Q

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me lay out a summary of my actual moral beliefs (which has in it some indication of warrant), as I have long placed on record:

    . . . it is perhaps best to start with a very concrete case, one which is unfortunately not just theoretical:

    ASSERTION: it is self-evidently wrong, bad and evil to kidnap, torture, sexually violate and murder a young child. Likewise, by corollary: if we come across such a case in progress, it is our duty to try to intervene to save the child from such a monster.

    Almost all people will agree that such a case is horrible, and to be deplored. So also, they will agree that a duty of rescue obtains, or at least succor for someone left half dead. Thus, we see the significance of the Good Samaritan as a paradigm of neighbourliness across racial, religious, political and other dividing-lines or even outright enmity:

    Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

    29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30 Jesus replied,

    “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

    36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

    37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” [ESV]

    And, normally responsive people will at least grudgingly respect the following summary of such core, conscience attested morality from the pen of Paul:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Where, John Locke, in grounding modern liberty and what would become democratic self-government of a free people premised on upholding the civil peace of justice, in Ch 2 Sec. 5 of his second treatise on civil Government [c. 1690] cites “the judicious [Anglican canon, Richard] Hooker” from his classic Ecclesiastical Polity of 1594 on, as he explains how the principles of neighbour-love are inscribed in our hearts, becoming evident to the eye of common good sense and reasonableness:

    . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8 and alluding to Justinian’s synthesis of Roman Law in Corpus Juris Civilis that also brings these same thoughts to bear:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles; for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like .”) Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    It will be interesting to see how the objectors respond.

    KF

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, kindly, ponder the real world case I have given (which came to me by way of, there is a search on for C’s son, then the horror and shock of learning just what was found in bushes by an aqueduct on the far side of the campus, where there is a bridge he would have walked across on his way home from school) and say Seversky’s reaction to it. Much will emerge from that. KF

    PS: I have not sought to lay out a general theory of moral knowledge, but to show that the set, warranted credibly true (and reliable) belief is not empty, and that the moral subset is also non-empty. Such suffices to refute the sort of claim being addressed in the OP. A universal negative is overthrown by a single credible counter-example. I am FYI perfectly open to the point that our conscience and teachers help us to learn moral truth, or that the inherently good and truth-telling Supreme Being can and does speak through legitimate spokesmen. But in so noting I see that we are to test claimed prophets, cleave to the good and abstain from the mere shadow of evil in so listening to claimed spokesmen of God. Thus, responsible reason is a component of addressing moral learning but for sure rationalism (which as a starting move rejects the possibility that God is there and is not silent) is not a viable view. Especially, once we see that the IS-OUGHT gap must be bridged and can only be bridged at world-root level. Where, if moral government is delusional that taints all of our inner life with grand delusion, so we see self-referential absurdity as the consequence of rejecting that we are under real moral government that we are first aware of through conscience.

  66. 66
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, you neatly omitted that there is a serious misrepresentation of the trinity doctrine of the Christian church, which erects a strawman. This is not a matter of disagreement on theology, but of basic error of fact as to what Christians believe and teach.

    Ok, then let’s add that as well…

    – It conflicts with Christian ideas about the trinity doctrine.

    That’s just one more aspect where you reject the Qur’an which claims to be the verbatim word and the final divine revelation of God.

    This is yet another example of how you use reason to decide when to defer to a supposed infallible source and reason to interpret that supposedly infallible source. Reason always comes first.

    And, yes, this is about epistemology. That’s been my point all along. I’m referring to moral knowledge.

    I’ll tell you what really happened3. You witnessed a dress rehearsal. The real ex cathedra ceremony was on the following day. In order not to make the declaration a day early, they substituted for the real text (which was about some arcane theological issue, not gravity) a lorem-ipsum-type placeholder that they deemed so absurd that any serious listener would immediately realize that that’s what it was.

    And indeed, you did realize this; and as a result, you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    Note the emphasis here. You decided which infallible source to defer to on the death of Jesus, despite the fact that reports from local government would be identical in cases of Allah taking Jesus right before ie died or Jesus being unsusceptible to crucifixion. etc.

    You used reason to decide that you didn’t have to believe the Qur’an but you had to believe Christian doctrine in that particular case.

    Again, this is effectively what you would have done if you hand not believed the infallibility doctrine. You don’t seem to realize that reason always comes first, In my case, reason tells me to reject both the Qur’an and the Bible. Reason tells me I don’t have an infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.

    Of course, you seem to think that we have some guarantee that gives us a infallible minim amount of reason so we can make free choices. But that’s based on Christian doctrine that we are without excuse. And you’re decided to defer to that as well, via reason.

  67. 67
    critical rationalist says:

    Again, there are no hard to vary explanations in the Bible regarding salvation, etc. This is because God and Jesus are only related to salvation directly by claims made in doctrine. It could be equally replaced with some other “explanation” in the or the Qur’an. or some other holy text because it can be easily varied without significantly reducing it’s ability to “explain” salvation (which isn’t something that we can “observe”). God is all knowing, all powerful and perfectly “Good”. Any solution he came up with must be possible and must be “Good”.

    People here seem to find it arrogant to use reason to question God. But that’s exactly what they’re doing when they question the Qur’an or some other religious text or a particular interpretation. To accept one, they must reject others, and be “guilty” of what they accuse others of doing. Reason always comes first.

  68. 68
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Thus, responsible reason is a component of addressing moral learning but for sure rationalism (which as a starting move rejects the possibility that God is there and is not silent) is not a viable view.

    So then how do you escape using it first?

    It is hard to contain reason within bounds. If you take your faith sufficiently seriously you may realize that it is not only the printers who are fallible in stating the rules for ex cathedra, but also the committee that wrote down those rules. And then that nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable. It is precisely because you, being fallible and having no infallible access to the infallible authority, no infallible way of interpreting what the authority means, and no infallible means of identifying an infallible authority in the first place, that infallibility cannot help you before reason has had its say.

    What good does it do to say, there is some infallible source that prescribes some some value or duty that is applicable when faced with this specific moral problem. unless you have infallible knowledge as to what that duty or value should be? How dose that result in not using reason in the same way someone how doesn’t believe in the infallibility of that source?

    IOW, it seems that the process we both take is effectively the same as far as reason is concerned.

    For example, which aspects of the Bible are literal and with are metaphorical? Which knowledge do we have that is perfectly written on our hearts so we have no excuse when we run astray? The answers to those questions is decided by reason. You use it to decide when to defer to the supposedly infallible source. At which point, reason has had its say first.

  69. 69
    Origenes says:

    CR: Again, this is effectively what you would have done if you hand not believed the infallibility doctrine. You don’t seem to realize that reason always comes first, In my case, reason tells me to reject both the Qur’an and the Bible. Reason tells me I don’t have an infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.

    It is rather bothersome to watch CR making the same basic mistakes over and over again.
    Let’s break it down once more:

    CR: You don’t seem to realize that reason always comes first …

    Mistake 1: If reason comes first, then naturalism is no option. Followed by mistake 2:

    CR: In my case, reason tells me to reject both the Qur’an and the Bible. Reason tells me I don’t have an infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.

    In CR’s account, ‘Reason’ infallibly tells CR that there is no “infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.”

    CR’s reason claims that all sources of beliefs, acts of reasoning, etc., are fallible and posits a closed circle in which no beliefs can be said to be infallible or rational. Yet at the same time, CR’s reason arrogates to itself a position outside of this circle by which it can judge the beliefs of others, a move it denies to its opponents. Since the raison d’être of fallibilism is that there is no outside of the circle, CR’s reason does not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of the circle, and so its beliefs about the fallibility of beliefs or reasoning are just as fallible as those it criticizes. If all of the beliefs inside the circle are fallible, CR’s reason cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate.

    So again, CR, you would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which you can judge the judgment—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum. At no point can your reason step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow it to reject some beliefs as fallible while remaining infallible itself.

  70. 70
    critical rationalist says:

    Mistake 1: If reason comes first, then naturalism is no option.

    That’s a big assumption, because I do not recall stating that reason is the result of the supernatural.

    In CR’s account, ‘Reason’ infallibly tells CR that there is no “infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.”

    Nor did I say that reason is infallible. In fact, I’ve said faillabists must even question fallibilism itself.

    It is rather bothersome to watch Origenes making the same basic mistakes over and over again as this supposed paradox has been addressed here.

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    Criticizing something and having those criticisms fail is not the same thing as considering it to be infallible. Criticisms failing is what we actually have. When that happens, we can be comfortable knowing not that what’s left is true, but that the rival ideas that we have at the moment are false. Or there is some reason that we don’t know yet, that we don’t know yet, which will be discovered by criticism.

    See this video.

  71. 71
    JSmith says:

    KF at 54 and 56. It appears that you are incapable of answering a simple question. One that is completely on target with the OP. I know it is on target with the OP because your OP was a lack of response to one of my comments.

    I ask again. Are all moral actions open to questioning. Let’s start with a Yes or No, and then proceed from there.

  72. 72
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    You should know that Deutsch’s nonsense has already been addressed; e.g. here. But, let’s look at the garbage again:

    Deutsch: Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    Let’s break it down (again):

    Deutsch: Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: ….

    Does Deutsch even know what a paradox is? The way he uses it does not indicate that he does. How is self-reference /self-defeating statement a “paradox”?

    Deutsch: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself.

    So, the fallibilist claims that fallibilism is fallible. How? And what does it mean?

    Deutsch: And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true.

    How does the fallibilist accomplish this doubt? By which argument, chain of reasoning, set of beliefs — independent from fallibilism — does the fallibilist judge the fallibility of fallibilism? Put another way, ‘doubting fallibilism’ is based on what — see #69?
    Of course, Deutsch, who does not understand the problem at all, does not say.

    Deutsch: Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    No Deutsch. No, that cannot be true, because, that would be yet another self-defeating statement:
    1. Everything I think is true is false.
    2. “Everything I think is true is false” is something that I think.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    (3) “Everything I think is true is false” is false.
    Therefore
    (4) Not everything I think is false.

    CR, please stop quoting Deutsch. He is a complete failure on philosophy.

  73. 73
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Apparently, you didn’t actually read the quote or the article.

    Namely, that there seems to be a paradox. That’s what you’re assuming, right? I’m quoting that because it seems to be your position. And I’m pointing out that is addressed in the article.

    How does the fallibilist accomplish this doubt? By which argument, chain of reasoning, set of beliefs — independent from fallibilism — does the fallibilist judge the fallibility of fallibilism?

    Again, we guess, then test out guesses. None of our guesses are guaranteed to correct. We’re merely trying to be less wrong.

    Again…

    Criticizing something and having those criticisms fail is not the same thing as considering it to be infallible. Criticisms failing is what we actually have. When that happens, we can be comfortable knowing not that what’s left is true, but that the rival ideas that we have at the moment are false. Or there is some reason that we don’t know yet, that we don’t know yet, which will be discovered by criticism.

    Y seems like X. All of our best argument against X seem to be falling. So, for now, we’ll critically take X on board. All of our best arguments against X are just that. More guesses that we critically take on board, etc.

    This is what I mean when I say what KF calls basic-beliefs are just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of. That can change because in no way do I think that we currently possession all good criticisms of, say, consciousness, or any other supposedly basic belief.

    Given that I’ve made this argument at least a half a dozen times, it’s unclear why you’d assume I think our means of criticism is somehow infallible as well.

  74. 74
    john_a_designer says:

    Origenes,

    In CR’s account, ‘Reason’ infallibly tells CR that there is no “infallible way to identify an infallible source or infallibly interpret an infallible source if one existed.”

    Which is why everything else CR writes and pontificates about on this site is just meaningless pretention and posturing which he fallaciously assumes is the same as reasoning. Why does he think this way? Because like everyone else he’s “hardwired” to try to make sense of it all. However, if his naturalistic/materialistic world view is true, trying to make sense of it all is pointless. Obviously, CR is someone who has not come to terms with his own atheism. If he had he would not be here bothering us, not only because it is fallacious but because it is pointless, meaningless and foolish.

  75. 75
    Origenes says:

    CR@73

    CR: Apparently, you didn’t actually read the quote or the article.

    I provided the quote in its entirety and followed up with a point by point commentary … God give me strength!

    CR: Namely, that there seems to be a paradox. That’s what you’re assuming, right?

    No.

    CR: I’m quoting that because it seems to be your position.

    No, that does not seem to be my position at all. Did you read my post? I clearly state that self-reference is not a paradox. There is contradiction involved but not a paradox. Deutsch does not know what a paradox is, nor does he understand the problem he attempts to address.

    CR: And I’m pointing out that is addressed in the article.

    And I clearly show that Deutsch does not understand the problem.

    O: How does the fallibilist accomplish this doubt? By which argument, chain of reasoning, set of beliefs — independent from fallibilism — does the fallibilist judge the fallibility of fallibilism?

    CR: Again, we guess, then test out guesses. None of our guesses are guaranteed to correct. We’re merely trying to be less wrong.

    A: I guess that fallibilism is fallible
    B: Okay let’s test this.
    A: Good idea, I guess …
    B: All knowledge is fallible, including fallibilism. Therefore:
    1. All knowledge is fallible.
    2. *All knowledge is fallible* is knowledge.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    3. It is fallible that *All knowledge is fallible*.
    Therefore
    4. *All knowledge is fallible* is either self-defeating or meaningless.

    CR: This is what I mean when I say what KF calls basic-beliefs are just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of.

    You are incapable of understanding that criticism itself needs a foundation — see #69.

    CR: Given that I’ve made this argument at least a half a dozen times, it’s unclear why you’d assume I think our means of criticism is somehow infallible as well.

    You cannot judge/criticize when any such judgment/criticism would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate/criticize — see #69.
    But you will never be able to understand why that is.

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, really. What Christians have creedally believed about the trinity is a creedal, public fact since 325 AD and was in discussion long before that. Whether or no you agree or disagree with it is of no consequence, the matter is to describe it accurately; the Quran fails to do so and so shows that it has lost credibility at the required standard. Your continued talking points say you are not discussing in good faith so that is all I need to further note. KF

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, you have now outright spoken with disregard to truth. I have spoken to the primary issue long since (fallible thinkers like us can and do know some things to utter certainty including that we are conscious, that error exists, that the first principles of right reason are true and that certain moral claims — including one actually given — are self evidently true). A comparison with the OP will show that every one of these is highly relevant to the root issue. Since you insisted on a distractor, I explained why it was besides the point. I answered it specifically (it is trivially the case that one may question a moral or any other view) and corrected the trend it feeds (that if one hyperskeptically challenges one may set an arbitrarily high standard to make it seem that you are justified in dismissal). You are clearly not a good faith participant, game over. KF

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, sadly, right. KF

  79. 79

    KF @ 77: “JS, you have now outright spoken with disregard to truth.” and “You are clearly not a good faith participant… ”

    I have come to expect such attitude and behavior from a/mats. Just par for the course. And these deluded fools actually believe themselves to be morally superior to the rest of us. What a joke that is.

  80. 80
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Here is the short version of “finding the truth” flowchart:

    0. Start; go to 1.

    1. Could the universe have come into being by itself, without the direct action of a great being?
    Yes – go into blind limbo; No – go to 2.

    2. Could humans have come into being by themselves, without the direct action of a great being?
    Yes – go into blind limbo; No – go to 3.

    3. Do I owe my existence and my worship to that great being?
    No – go into blind limbo. Yes – go to 4.

    4. Will I worship that great being now?
    No – go into blind limbo; Yes – go to 5.

    5. Am I morally flawed and need great and immediate help?
    No – go into blind limbo; Yes – go to 6.

    6. Will I cry out to that great being as my moral superior and my savior from the evil inside me?
    No – go into blind limbo. Yes – go to 7.

    7. Will I determine to follow the directions to be sent by the great being, and wait? No – go into blind limbo; Yes – go to 8.

    8. When moral and spiritual light arrives from the great being, do I place my trust in it and obey it? No – go into blind limbo; Yes – go to 9.

    9. Now having known the Lord and the truth, will I make it my life’s mission to share what I have found with those in blind limbo? No – start the road to the dissolution of my society into blind limbo, and go to 10; Yes – begin to build a new community and society and go to 10.

    10. Blind limbo occupants irreversibly frozen in stone-hard corruption, and dumped into punishment in the universe’s garbage dump; those knowing the Lord and the truth re-created in an incorruptible form and united with the great being who saved them. The End.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    Draw the chart and I would post it.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, it seems that our critics cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the significance of self-evident first principles which are such that to reject them lands one in patent absurdity. They have also failed to see how double-edged self-referential arguments are. KF

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    Truth, sadly so. There comes a point where that needs to be noted for record. KF

  84. 84
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    KF @ 81,
    Will make a JPG version and get it to you 🙂
    Dean

  85. 85
    Querius says:

    KF,

    Sadly, there are many examples in history where what you and I regard as barbaric acts were treated as expedient, practical, religious, or in some cases, sporting.

    A survey of the Bible reveals some of these disgusting and horrific practices, including live infant sacrifice by fire.

    Even a brief study into Assyrian methods of torture as a practical means to intimidate the people of the ANE should fill anyone with revulsion.

    The ceremonial kidnapping and homosexual rape of boys at age 12 for eight years was institutionalized in Mycenaean culture, while women were confined to the narrow role of bearing and raising children.

    Where do these worldviews come from?

    Conversely, even rvb8 has resolutely resisted my playful nudges to get him to admit that without a Moral Lawgiver, it’s completely reasonable and practical to process aborted fetuses into nourishing and highly compatible protein that could be used to save the lives of millions of starving people in the world! Not to mention using them as a source for organ transplants and medical research. 😉

    -Q

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    Critical Rationalist

    This is what I mean when I say what KF calls basic-beliefs are just beliefs that we currently have no good criticism of.

    I think you may be misunderstanding the role of the natural moral law as a basis for making moral judgments. Just as we can reason from self evident metaphysical truths, such as the law of Identity, we can also reason from self-evident moral truths, such as the natural moral law. We know, for example, that stealing is wrong because we also know that community life would be impossible if everyone was a thief. No religious instruction is needed because reason alone makes the point clear.

    On the other hand, we can judge the quality of a religious world view based on its reasonableness. Christianity acknowledges the Natural Moral Law; Islam does not. Christianity provides for a consistent moral code, Islam, given its doctrine of abrogation, does not. Therefore, the former belief system is obviously superior to the latter, which cannot be the infallible word of God by virtue of its irrational foundations and the moral errors that follow.

  87. 87
    vividbleau says:

    Cr
    Origines in 72 and 75 has demonstrated that your position is self referentialy incoherent, if true it’s false. What’s so hard to understand?

    Vivid

  88. 88
    Origenes says:

    KF @80

    KF: … it seems that our critics cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the significance of self-evident first principles which are such that to reject them lands one in patent absurdity.

    Our critics pretend that knowledge can be based on nothing, by smuggling in certainty from nowhere.

    KF: They have also failed to see how double-edged self-referential arguments are.

    Thank you for noticing. It’s quite infuriating.
    CR honestly believes that Deutsch making a statement like:

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    … solves a colossal problem. There is so much wrong with Deutsch’s statement (see #72), that I do not know where to begin.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    JSmith says:

    KF

    I have spoken to the primary issue long since (fallible thinkers like us can and do know some things to utter certainty including that we are conscious, that error exists, that the first principles of right reason are true and that certain moral claims — including one actually given — are self evidently true).

    If I remember correctly, the example you used was that the torture and killing of children was self evidently wrong (immoral). Although anyone reading this would hopefully agree, there are plenty of historic examples where it was considered morally acceptable by many (eg, Central and South American societies, Nazis). Even a country such as the US refuses to sign the treaty banning land mines, with the full knowledge that a significant percentage of those killed and maimed by them are children.

    I answered it specifically (it is trivially the case that one may question a moral or any other view)…

    It is not that trivial considering the ease with which human societies justify changes/reversals in moral actions.

    …and corrected the trend it feeds (that if one hyperskeptically challenges one may set an arbitrarily high standard to make it seem that you are justified in dismissal).

    Nonsense. If a moral action can repeatedly survive rational and logical examination, it just becomes more reinforced in society. And, on the flip side, these types of examination have shone the light on actions that we once considered to be morally acceptable that we now consider not to be morally acceptable. Things like slavery, child labour, debtors prison, capital punishment, jailing homosexuals and denying marriage for interracial couples, interfaith couples and same sex couples.

    You are clearly not a good faith participant, game over.

    It must be nice to be able to declare victory by claiming that the other person is participating in bad faith.

  91. 91
    JSmith says:

    TWSYF

    I have come to expect such attitude and behavior from a/mats. Just par for the course. And these deluded fools actually believe themselves to be morally superior to the rest of us. What a joke that is.

    Did you have anything substantive to say about my claim that all moral actions are open to questioning, and that this is healthy for society? Or do you just take pleasure in drive by trolling?

  92. 92
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, again, what people may or may not imagine — clinging to absurdity — is beside the point. As for questioning, anyone may do so, that is utterly trivial. Such has utterly nothing to do with whether something is actually warranted. Even as the way you tried to question that it is self-evidently evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child for pleasure . . . and see how your rewording set up ever so many side tracks and evasions? There is a reason why I have stuck to a very concrete real case, as it does not leave room for the usual evasive rhetorical games but is replete with consequences. Where, it is quite clear from the evasive behaviour of many over years, that directly denying that such a demonic act is evil, is at once so absurd that they are uncomfortable to do so — as in De Sade’s nature has made us the stronger so we can do as we please with the weaker for our pleasure is plain demonic insanity. As for selective hyperskepticism games, you actually exemplified the first moves of several just now. Anyway, I am here speaking in brief for record, you have already established what you have been up to. And, the substantial answer has long since been given. KF

    PS: Again, I clip some longstanding remarks:

    Compare a fish, that we lure to bite on a hook, then land, kill and eat for lunch without compunction. And even for those who object, they will do so by extension of the protective sense we have about say the young child — not the other way around. But, unless there is a material difference between a young child and a fish, that sense of wrong is frankly delusional, it is just a disguised preference, one that we are simply willing to back up with force.

    So, already, once we let radical relativism and subjectivism loose, we are looking at the absurdity and chaos of the nihilist abyss, might (and manipulation) makes for ‘right.’

    Oops.

    At the pivot of the skeptical objections to objective moral truth, notwithstanding persistent reduction to absurdity, is the pose that since we may err and since famously there are disagreements on morality, we can reduce moral feelings to subjective perceptions tastes and preferences, dismissing any and all claims of objectivity much less self evidence.

    So, the objector triumphantly announces: there is an unbridgeable IS-OUGHT gap, game over.

    Not so fast, as there is no better reason to imagine that we live in a moral Plato’s Cave world, than that we live in a physical or intellectual Plato’s Cave world . . . . Now, the skeptical question is, do we live in such a delusional world (maybe in another form such as the brains in vats or the Matrix’s pods . . . ), and can we reliably tell the difference?

    The best answer to such is, that such a scenario implies general delusion and the general un-trustworthiness of our senses and reasoning powers.

    So, it undercuts itself in a turtles all the way down chain of possible delusions — an infinite regress of Plato’s cave delusions.

    Common good sense then tells us that the skeptic has caught himself up in his own web, his argument is self referentially incoherent.

  93. 93
    JSmith says:

    KF

    Even as the way you tried to question that it is self-evidently evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child for pleasure . . .

    Yet there have been examples of societies where this was morally acceptable. You may call them fringe, or trivial, or absurd, but they were real.

    Slavery was once morally acceptable, even in scripture. Is this an absurd example? The jailing of homosexuals was once considered morally acceptable. Is this an absurd example? It was once morally acceptable to physically discipline a man’s wife. Is this an absurd example?

    I am trying to have a serious discussion on the importance, both historically and in present day, of examining our morally based actions. We know that it has been instrumental in ending practices that most people today would consider to be morally unacceptable. Why would you think that we have everything correct now?

    If we are going to accept some of our moral actions as being self evidently correct (true), who gets to decide on this list? You? Me? Hitler? Some council? I’m sure that you can see the danger in this. Would it not be wiser to hold all of our moral actions up to the same yardstick? Rational, logical, evidence based examination? The ‘kidnapping, binding, sexually assaulting and killing of a young child for pleasure’ would never pass this examination. Maybe if this approach was taken by societies that conducted child sacrifices, the practice may have ended long before it did.

    I honestly don’t understand why you are so adamantly opposed to this concept. Is it possible that you are not sure that all of your morally held beliefs would pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination? I will be honest and admit that I am not sure if all of mine will.

  94. 94
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    Yet there have been examples of societies where this was morally acceptable. You may call them fringe, or trivial, or absurd, but they were real.

    Plenty of people do things that they know are wrong, including societies. They just find ways to rationalize their bad behavior. There are only three kinds of people who do not recognize objective moral truth. Those who have become slaves to bad habits, those who have been systematically brainwashed against it, and those who have a mental problem. For everyone else, it is self evident that you should not torture babies for fun.

    Let’s get it on the record, yes or no. Do you know that it is wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    Slavery was once morally acceptable, even in scripture.

    There are many different kinds of slavery, some of which are moral in the right context. Chattel slavery is always wrong; indentured servitude is not. Until you define your terms, your claim is meaningless. Meanwhile, you need to know that slavery in America was ended on the basis of the natural moral law.

    I am trying to have a serious discussion on the importance, both historically and in present day, of examining our morally based actions.

    Then make a serious attempt to address the issue. What is your standard for right and wrong? You obviously think, for example, that men should not mistreat women. Good. I can tell you why that action is wrong. It violates the inherent dignity of the human person, which we learn from the natural moral law. Can you tell me why you think it is wrong?

    If we are going to accept some of our moral actions as being self evidently correct (true), who gets to decide on this list?

    At the moment, the issue on the table is not how long the list should be but rather if anything at all should be on the list. So far you have not acknowledged the point. Is it self-evidently true that one should not torture babies for pleasure? Once you answer that question, I can take you to the next step and we can add to the list by discussing why it is wrong to steal or commit adultery.

    I’m sure that you can see the danger in this. Would it not be wiser to hold all of our moral actions up to the same yardstick? Rational, logical, evidence based examination?

    The natural moral law is inseparable from reason and logic. There is no difference. “Evidence,” on the other hand, has nothing at all to do with it. How in the world do you think that “evidence” could settle the question of what should be included in a moral code. One is in no way related to the other. If you believe otherwise, make your case. Take me from “here is the evidence of x” to “that is why x is right or wrong.”

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, the cultural relativism you are trying to advocate is a failed basis for moral grounding. Societies, as we all know, can be given over to great evils — as the 1 million more victims per week mass slaughter of posterity in the womb currently demonstrates. At Nuremberg, a key defence offered was cultural relativism, and the answer was to bring forth the same principles I have illustrated. All you are doing is rehashing fallacies and absurdities that have long been exposed — cultural relativism boils down to the rule of the might and manipulation of the inner power elites in some new Plato’s cave world or other. In short, utter absurdity. Which has already been pointed out, just ignored. KF

    PS: Beyond, I have no intent to wander all over the world of ideas, debate talking points and Internet atheist anti-Bible rants. If a sound moral framework is not established, that becomes little more than an excuse to wander into a morass of stubborn, mutually reinforcing moral errors backed by long since exposed selective hyperskepticism. In short, what I warned of on your “questioning” gambit stands clearly confirmed.

    It is clear that you have utterly no intent of mutuality, and you have already declared yourself beyond the pale of civility by resorting to a self-confessed blanket general bigotry of suspicion towards Christians — you cannot resort to such stubborn blanket prejudice without facing consequences of being recognised as not being a good faith participant in a serious discussion.

    Instead of going into such a morass, the root-issues have to be faced, and it is already obvious that you have refused to address the correction to the blunders identified and responded to in the OP. You refuse to acknowledge when your talking points have been appropriately corrected, and cling to several demonstrably self-referentially incoherent views. There is a name for that behaviour: irrationality, here by way of insisting on clinging to crooked yardsticks as standards of straightness and uprightness in the teeth of such having been exposed by plumblines.

    I have to put on the table the animus and hermeneutic of suspicion you have already exerted and seem to refuse to recognise for just how ugly it is.

    Then, you have repeatedly tried to deflect the utterly clear case on the table with little more that oh I can cite cases of people in societies that have agreed to do grave evils so I can dismiss what answers to and would reform them. Such a view is suicidal, a surrender of responsible, rational, morally governed freedom, implicitly accepting might and manipulation make right amoral nihilism in its stead. Only, you obviously imagine you or those who you imagine are sympathetic to you will hold the handle, not the blade. That is how civilisations go over the cliff in a march of folly exemplified by the failure of Athenian democracy.

    Meanwhile, you are dodging and dismissing the underlying obvious fact that you expect us to abide by the duties of care to truth, sound reason, fairness, justice etc while implying a self serving hyperskeptical exception for yourself. The self-referential incoherence is glaring.

    I simply note to you for record of onlookers present and future, that there are circumstances of the lesser of evils, there are situations where the long-term good in a situation forces compromises due to the hardness of men’s hearts (as happened with the US framers and founders), there are situations where you face a culture of hereditary, genocidal clan warfare (as the Romans did with exported Canaanite culture at Carthage and particularly with the family of Hannibal).

    If we do not deal with moral first principles that rise above ruthless power games, we invite a march of ruinous folly. As, is happening with our civilisation and is compounded by dealing with consciences benumbed by the blood guilt of 800+ million victims of the holocaust of living posterity in the womb. The benumbed cannot think straight on morality, period. Not until they find a place of penitence. Which too often means shattering of life and even of civilisation that demonstrates undeniable failure and need to change.

    Frankly, with nukes in play this time around (and with for example the serious question of EMP being able to wipe out electronics in an instant leading to chaos and collapse then mass die-offs), we simply cannot afford that.

    It is time for a rethink and reform from the roots of our worldviews that draws back from the crumbling brink of an abyss.

    If, we are wise.

    Of which, I have my serious doubts.

  96. 96
  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    JS: You have already been answered on how self-evident truths are recognised as such (right there in the OP), and have been given key examples, which in your resort to self serving suspicion of the other, you have ignored. I could direct you to the OP but it is obvious you will refuse to look at it with any seriousness. I summarise yet again: a SET is first true, saying of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. Falsity cannot be a SET. Second, it is necessarily true (as opposed to contingently true), not on the say-so of some panel of manipulators not under your control, but on first principles of reason. That is, i/l/o appropriate experience and maturity commonly called understanding, we can recognise a SET on its evidence, just as advertised. Namely, once one understands what is claimed one sees that it is and must be true, on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial. Distinct identity instantly necessitates the triple first principles of right reason and two-ness thence the world of numerically anchored quantity. Just to try to object exemplifies and requires the use of distinct identity. To try to deny consciousness relies on consciousness. To deny error exists implies that error exists. When you can acknowledge such, and the implication that we are governed by duty to face and acknowledge then live by patent truth, then we can progress. If not, you simply confirm that you are acting on the premise of irrationality, which means that you must be governed as a horse or mule is (by force of bridle and bit etc backed up by operantly conditioned training and indoctrination), animals which have little or no understanding. KF

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The issue at work, c/o Plato’s parable of the mutinous ship of state, reflecting on the collapse of Athenian democracy in the context of the Peloponnesian 30 years war:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  99. 99
    tribune7 says:

    J.S.

    Even as the way you tried to question that it is self-evidently evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and kill a young child for pleasure . . . –Yet there have been examples of societies where this was morally acceptable.–

    Are you arguing that morality is contingent on the consensus of those in power?

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    Trib, unfortunately that is exactly what he is suggesting, but as a gambit. His real rhetorical game is to pretend that to question is to decide the case against anything he does not like. Where, he clearly does not like that there are first principles of right reason that are self evident, or self evident moral truths. he imagines that such a concept could fall into the hands of those who do not favour his agendas; not realising that SET’s are a basis for challenging blind authoritarianism to account before facts and evident reasons. In short, as is oh so common today, he wants to dictate morals (along with those he happens to favour) and will exert selective hyperskepticism and stereotypical scapegoating against those who he does not favour; as he has already done. No great surprise, Christians head that list. KF

  101. 101
    john_a_designer says:

    I try to avoid getting involved in discussions or debates with interlocutors like JSmith. If there are no true interpersonal moral standards or obligations, how can we trust anything he says or asserts? I don’t think that we can. To have an honest discussion or debate you need some kind of interpersonal, or “transcendent,” standard of truth and honesty.

    He’s using a rhetorical ploy that we have seen here many times before, pseudo-humility: “I’m not certain about moral truth, therefore, no one else can be either.” Even if the first part of what he apparently believes is true, how can he consistently believe the second? (That no one else can be certain about moral truth.) If he maintains or makes an argument that that’s true he is making a universal truth claim about truth, which he is claiming with his first premise no one can do. That’s a logical contradiction. But maybe he doesn’t believe the rules of logic are universal either.

    Frankly, I sincerely doubt that he honestly believes his own nonsense, which means he’s being dishonest and disingenuous. That’s why I think it is a waste of time to engage people like him.

  102. 102
    J-Mac says:

    Wisdom, including that on morals, is shown (or vindicated) to be right by its results…

    Can anyone predict whether the wisdom, or the guidance on morals today, will be vindicated , or shown to be right or wrong in 20 years? How about 50 years?

    Mt 11:19 “But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”

  103. 103
    JSmith says:

    SB

    There are only three kinds of people who do not recognize objective moral truth. Those who have become slaves to bad habits, those who have been systematically brainwashed against it, and those who have a mental problem.

    Wow. That’s a nice way to win an argument. I should have tried it. But I prefer to have honest discussions.

    Let’s get it on the record, yes or no. Do you know that it is wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    Since I would not like this to happen to my children, I would not like to see it happen to others. Basic golden rule, simple rational logic. That is why I said that it would never pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination. Or did you not read that?

    There are many different kinds of slavery, some of which are moral in the right context.

    And the context used to justify the enslavement of Africans was that they were inferior to Euoropeans and slavery was actually good for them. And that scripture allowed for it. Do you think that it could have be justified if we examined it rationally, logically and looked at the evidence?

    Meanwhile, you need to know that slavery in America was ended on the basis of the natural moral law.

    And it was justified on the basis of the natural moral law. I fail to see the point you are trying to make.

    Then make a serious attempt to address the issue. What is your standard for right and wrong? You obviously think, for example, that men should not mistreat women. Good. I can tell you why that action is wrong. It violates the inherent dignity of the human person, which we learn from the natural moral law. Can you tell me why you think it is wrong?

    Then why did it take until the mid 20th century to come to this realization? I assume that natural moral law does not change. I think that it wrong because I would not want to be physically disciplined.

    At the moment, the issue on the table is not how long the list should be but rather if anything at all should be on the list.

    No, the issue on the table is who decides what is on that list.

    The natural moral law is inseparable from reason and logic. There is no difference.

    And, supposedly, it has always been in existence. Yet we still had human sacrifices, slavery and holocausts, legal spousal abuse, child labour, persecution of homosexuals, etc.

    “Evidence,” on the other hand, has nothing at all to do with it. How in the world do you think that “evidence” could settle the question of what should be included in a moral code.

    I can’t believe that you are serious about this. Evidence is always important. We take actions that we think are morally based. We see the consequences of this action and, on occasion, modify or change those actions. The residential school system is an excellent example. We thought that we were doing the moral thing by removing indigenous children from their families and raising them as Christians. In hind sight, the evidence shows that we did most of them more harm than good.

  104. 104
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Are you arguing that morality is contingent on the consensus of those in power?

    No. Laws are contingent on the consensus of those in power. Morality is an individual set of “rules” that we assemble over time based on our experiences. Our “moral sense” is the overwhelming desire to follow these moral values and to have others follow them as well. The latter is problematic as everyone has a different set of moral values. Thankfully, most of us share many of these values ( don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie, etc.). If there is a self evident truth, it is not the nature of the individual moral values, it is the fact that all of us have this innate moral sense (moral governance in KF speak).

    Under the society we currently live in, most of our commonly held moral values would survive a rational, logical, evidence based examination. However, if we lived under an authoritative communist regime, we may modify some of these values, or they may become less commonly held. For example, many of us might set aside the “not lying” value on occasion as it may seriously conflict with one of our other values.

  105. 105
    JSmith says:

    JM

    Wisdom, including that on morals, is shown (or vindicated) to be right by its results…

    Can anyone predict whether the wisdom, or the guidance on morals today, will be vindicated , or shown to be right or wrong in 20 years? How about 50 years?

    I agree completely. Hence my argument that moral actions involve an evidence based aspect. Sadly, unless there is historic evidence to draw from, we often have to learn by our mistakes.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    JM, that window is far too short [cf. the rise and fall of Communism] and it invites another failed approach, pragmatism. Kant has a point, that evils cannot be universalised (as evil prospers by being a parasite on the good) but that is not the whole story, and it “works” so it is good or true etc is a big fail. Many abuses have worled for centuries, because they entrenched a dominant elite. We really do need to get back to recognising our inevitably, inescapably morally governed nature as responsibly and rationally significantly free creatures. KF

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, the law of hell (while we are on earth): do what thou wilt. KF

  108. 108
    tribune7 says:

    Laws are contingent on the consensus of those in power. Morality is an individual set of “rules” that we assemble over time based on our experiences.

    So if rules develop to kill people deemed dysgenic (or mandating child rape) they become moral?

  109. 109
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS: How one learns moral behaviour is distinct from how certain moral truths can be warranted, in some cases to self-evidence. Disagreement simply reflects that error exists. Which, recall, is a self-evident, certain truth. KF

  110. 110
    JSmith says:

    T7

    So if rules develop to kill people deemed dysgenic (or mandating child rape) they become moral?

    If they can survive rational, logical, evidence based examination, yes. It certainly can’t be any worse than what history has shown us can happen by blindly assuming that our morality comes from some mysterious, ill defined natural moral law.

  111. 111
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS: The life of reason is inextricably entangled with moral duties to truth, sound logic, justice etc. You cannot dismissively question core morality without undermining rationality, in an infinite regress. I add, the just above, given relevant history, inadvertently illustrates. KF

  112. 112
    J-Mac says:

    KF,

    Promoting morals and implementing them are two different things… I come from a catholic background, so I know an thing or two…Organized religions as a whole have failed… It’s just words (morals) that have little or no effect on most…

  113. 113
    JSmith says:

    JM, I tend to agree. Whenever someone says that something is “the moral thing to do”, I want to know why? If they have to jump through hoops and use all sorts of rationalization to justify it, I start doubting the morality of the action.

  114. 114
    J-Mac says:

    JSmith,

    This is just another aspect of the morality issues…People make up things and say they are moral…

    Is it a moral thing to do to insist on the contraception as immoral and prevent the African men from using condoms? Due to that there are villages and towns where there are only children because their parents died of AIDS. Many of those lives could have been saved if the Catholic Church changed their view of so called “morality”…

  115. 115
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    Since I would not like this to happen to my children, I would not like to see it happen to others. Basic golden rule, simple rational logic. That is why I said that it would never pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination. Or did you not read that?

    You did not answer the question. Is it wrong to torture babies for fun or not? Granted, you do not like the idea, but the torturer *does* like the idea. You have not explained why your likes should be preferred over his.

    For that matter, you have not stated that it is wrong for men to abuse women or for slave owners to abuse slaves. You have not even conceded that slavery is wrong. Is it? If so, how do you know?

    Then why did it take until the mid 20th century to come to this realization?

    Not all aspects of the natural moral law are self-evident, but they are all built on natural law principles as reason is applied over time. Also, the Christian religion provided a more clear explication by enumerating the Ten Commandments, which is the specification of the natural moral law (and the Golden Rule, for that matter.)

    No, the issue on the table is who decides what is on that list.

    No, if *any* human person or group gets to decide which acts are moral, then there is no justice. That is the whole point. Everyone, including the most powerful, should be subject to the natural moral law, so that they will not impose their own personal preferences on others. By your standard, the most powerful people are entitled to decide on the moral code. That sad condition is called tyranny.

    And, supposedly, it [the natural moral law] has always been in existence.

    Yes, at least in some primitive form. Like most truths, we can understand more about them through the passage of time. However, time has nothing to say about their origins. They are as old as human nature and they are defined by what is appropriate for human nature.

    Yet we still had human sacrifices, slavery and holocausts, legal spousal abuse, child labour, persecution of homosexuals, etc.

    Of course. People (and societal leaders) often do things they know they know are wrong.

    I can’t believe that you are serious about this. Evidence is always important. We take actions that we think are morally based. We see the consequences of this action and, on occasion, modify or change those actions.

    Without a standard of objective morality, you have no way of knowing which actions are morally based and which consequences are bad. You may not like the consequences of some acts, but there are others who do like them. That is why subjective morality doesn’t work. That is also why evidence is irrelevant in deciding what the moral code should be.

  116. 116
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 60

    You here reveal the true nihilistic horror of cultural relativism and its consensus [of the powerful enough to count] is the nearest to truth premise.

    Why should you fear a consensus morality? Do you really think so little of your fellow human beings that you believe they would knowingly sanction behavior that is harmful to themselves or those they love?

    Manipulate enough of the sufficiently powerful and kidnapping, binding, sexually assaulting and murdering a young child for pleasure is suddenly okay.

    There may be a corrupt few who indulge in such behavior and are powerful enough to hide their crimes, at least for while. But do you think that, once it was exposed to public scrutiny, they would be allowed to get away with it? And I seriously doubt that, however powerful they might be, they could influence society as whole to suddenly think it was okay.

    See why we have seen the notion that there is nothing wrong with the ongoing, million more victims per week slaughter of 800+ million of our living posterity in the womb? And, of: it’s only fringe extremists and haters who object? So, also, of oh, those who count are seeing words like Christmas and Jesus as worthy of tracking as hate speech.

    I am as opposed to abortion as you are, in my case on the grounds that I believe right to life should be extended to cover the whole of an individual’s existence as such, whatever the stage of development might be. But it’s a legal matter. If you want to stop abortion you are going to have to change the law.

    You are also going to have to change social attitudes

    You talk about the “holocaust” of legally aborted pregnancies but nothing about the millions of back street abortions and the hundreds of thousands of women who also died as a result of such unsafe procedures. And why did that happen? Why were those women driven to such desperate measures? It was because girls and women who found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy faced being shamed and shunned, treated as “fallen women” and exiled from their families and friends – or worse – by their societies. And this was on the grounds of a bigoted, sanctimonious interpretation of faiths that mandated and condoned such appalling treatment.

    So, if you want to rid the world of abortion you are also going to have to rid the world of the narrow, Puritanical versions of so-called faith that drive it. Good luck with that.

    And of course, we do have a widespread sense of being under binding obligation to the truth, the logically sound, the right etc, indeed it is a general but often unstated premise of verbal disagreements and disputes. Your remarks above are tantamount to, we can safely classify such as delusion, anesthetise consciences of a critical mass and proceed as we please, regardless of consequences with those who don’t count. Those we have cleverly managed to dehumanise or demonise and scapegoat.

    And if we puny and fallible human beings are under a binding moral obligation to the truth and doing what is right then how much more so is your maximally great and good God? Which brings us right back to the theodical question of why and how a maximally good God does not put a stop to so much suffering when it must be well within His power but beyond ours?

    Instantly, that is a species of arguing that the moral sense and voice of conscience are grand delusion. Such then pervades our life of the mind and ends in destructive absurdity. Taking down rationality with it, leading to a form of might and manipulation make right.

    I neither reject rationality nor do I deny that some sort of moral code is an essential component of any stable human society. It is precisely because I believe in the human capacity for reason that I believe that morals are something we can work out for ourselves.

    How did your God arrive at the moral prescriptions dispensed in the Bible? Was it on a whim? Did He just toss a celestial coin? Heads rape is good, tails it’s bad? I never believed that was the case and I’m sure you don’t either. The only alternative is that God reasoned them out. It’s just a shame that He never tells us the reasoning that led to them. Of course, if we are His creature then, amongst other things, He endowed us with a capacity for reason so we can work out morality for ourselves, can’t we?

    And so, over the cliff we go.

    You have this obsession with the lemmings and cliff metaphor. Yes, we face any number of potential catastrophes, some of which we can do something about, some of which are far beyond our powers at this time. The evidence from history is all we can do is work with what we have. We can’t rely on a maximally good God to get us out of trouble because, assuming He exists, it looks like He’s not going to lift a finger to help. It’s all down to us. We have no guarantees. There are forces in this Universe that could wipe us out in an instant but we are all we’ve got.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    JM, has religion failed any worse than government, education or financial and media institutions? I suggest the base problem is that we are finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed. This will mean that no organisation, culture or civilisation will ever measure up to an ideal standard. But, we can work to foster virtue, curb vice, and build-in support for reformation. A key to this is reasoned responsible discussion on sound and well warranted moral first principles. Here, bear in mind that the life of the mind itself is inextricably entangled with moral considerations such as duties to truth, sound reasoning, prudence, fairness and justice etc. In that context a fairer view across the long haul is that a certain civilisation up until recently routinely called Christendom, hasn undergone major waves of reform that have in material part been energised by gospel ethics tied to the principle that we have a moral law of our nature that governs us in accord with sound moral principles. One key transforming point was when printing was invented, Bibles in the vernacular were widely distributed, newspapers began to emerge and ordinary people began to have enough leisure to look beyond the next day’s toil, forces of reform from below were unleashed, leading to much of the emergence of modern liberty and representational, constitutional democracy specifically charged to recognise and defend inherent rights. Rights BTW being moral expectations that others have certain duties of respect due to our common human nature and the quasi-infinite worth of the individual. KF

    PS: Here is a critical point, when Locke set out to ground what would become modern democracy, as he cites “the judicious” Anglican Canon Richard Hooker in his Ecclesiastical Polity:

    [2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity ,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]

  118. 118
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, the history of manipulated, oppressive and ultimately ruinous marches of folly is long and telling. Yes, unity in upholding and enabling wrong under the influence of powerful elites is very possible. Reforms that make a big difference usually come from a few, who in a society under that sort of domination, will be targetted as in the wrong almost automatically, due to cutting across the grain. Indeed one absurd result of cultural relativism is that the dissident is wrong as he cuts across the consensus which in effect is the social definition of what is right. The implications are devastating. KF

    PS: It looks like I again need to point to Plato’s warning on the matter as his Socrates struggles with why education is often not enough to inculcate virtue in leaders (with Alcibiades and co lurking below the surface of the text):

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  119. 119
    J-Mac says:

    KF,

    Religion failed where it mattered the most and where it should have been the most successful… Your denying it won’t change the stats… Amen

    ETA: Should the governments be responsible for the adherence to the morals religions insisted on the most?

  120. 120
    kairosfocus says:

    Jm, I have suggested to you that you need to reflect on the general failure of human beings on matters of moral conduct and our need for ultimately spiritual transformation by him who is truth and light. I point out that institutions will fail, and that the realistic issue is the openness to sound reformation. Yes, hurt has been done, repentance and healing are needed, but we must not play the broad-brush dismissal game. There is truth about God as root of reality, there is truth about redemption and rescue. These can be well warranted and per the undeniable experience of literally millions, have had and continue to have positively transformational impact. Hurt, hurts (as I am working through still . . . ) but we must not allow it to cripple or warp us away from seeking and living by the truth and the right. And especially, he who is the truth and the right himself. In that context, healing of deeply wounded emotions may be a key step forward. KF

    PS: Law and justice are inherently moral considerations. It is a modernist fallacy to imagine otherwise.

  121. 121
    critical rationalist says:

    Deutsch does not know what a paradox is, nor does he understand the problem he attempts to address.

    paradox | ?per??däks |
    noun
    a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true: in a paradox, he has discovered that stepping back from his job has increased the rewards he gleans from it.
    • a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory: a potentially serious conflict between quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity known as the information paradox.
    • a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities: the mingling of deciduous trees with elements of desert flora forms a fascinating ecological paradox.
    ORIGIN
    mid 16th century (originally denoting a statement contrary to accepted opinion): via late Latin from Greek paradoxon ‘contrary (opinion)’, neuter adjective used as a noun, from para- ‘distinct from’ + doxa ‘opinion’.

    And this is not applicable, how?

    You are incapable of understanding that criticism itself needs a foundation

    Yes, you keep saying that. However, I’m suggesting you have confused non-agreement with not understanding.

    Sure, if we assumed that all criticism would always successful, then yes. But that’s not what’s assumed here.

    Again, you might want to watch the video. To paraphrase, fallibilism is the position that all human endeavors are not guaranteed to succeed. This includes criticism.

    Errors in an idea might go undetected for years, decades or never at all. And if we do not infallibly possess all possible criticisms, it’s unclear how we could infallibly criticize an idea. Those criticisms are not guaranteed to come. If everyone died except people who thought some ideas are not subject to criticism, the idea that criticism is key to the growth of knowledge might take hundreds of years to come again, or never at all. That whole idea perpetuates the idea that criticism of those ideas are impossible.

    Yet, this is what I’ve explicitly argued. At least a dozen times about supposed basic beliefs. So, it’s unclear how you’ve reached the conclusion that criticisms are infallible, therefore needing a foundation that is guaranteed not lead us into error.

    This is on example: the idea that some ideas are not subject to criticism is an idea that you consider not subject to criticism. It’s self perpetuating. .

    A: I guess that fallibilism is fallible
    B: Okay let’s test this.
    A: Good idea, I guess …
    B: All knowledge is fallible, including fallibilism. Therefore:
    1. All knowledge is fallible.
    2. *All knowledge is fallible* is knowledge.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    3. It is fallible that *All knowledge is fallible*.
    Therefore
    4. *All knowledge is fallible* is either or meaningless.

    Again, I’m not sure we’re reading the same comment…

    For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    That’s a criticism of the idea that fallibilism is false. The article continues…

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    …then goes on to present examples of how those might be false.

    I must now apologize for trying to trick you earlier: All the ideas that I suggested we might know infallibly are in fact falsehoods. “Two plus two” of course isn’t “four” as you’d discover if you wrote “2+2” in an arithmetic test when asked to add two and two. If we were infallible about matters of pure logic, no one would ever fail a logic test either. Stubbing your toe does not always hurt if you are focused on some overriding priority like rescuing a comrade in battle. And as for knowing that “I” exist because I think—note that your knowledge that you think is only a memory of what you did think, a second or so ago, and that can easily be a false memory. (For discussions of some fascinating experiments demonstrating this, see Daniel Dennett’s book Brainstorms.) Moreover, if you think you are Napoleon, the person you think must exist because you think, doesn’t exist.

    So….

    4. *All knowledge is fallible* is either self-defeating or meaningless.

    Either knowledge is infallible or self-defeating and meaningless? What foundation is that dichotomy based on. How do you know this?

    Again, seeing criticisms fail is not the same as assuming something is infallible. It’s bringing it on board critically.

    A: Fallibilism posits that all ideas all human endeavors are not guaranteed to succeed. This includes Fallibilism.
    B: What criticisms can we devise to test it?
    A: Take that idea seriously, for the purpose of criticism. What would be an implications of that?
    B: If fallibilism was false, that would imply one might be somehow infallible – at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?
    C: List things we think are certain about. Criticize those ideas by pointing out some ideas we thought we knew infallibly were indeed falsehoods.
    1: All knowledge might be false, including fallibilism.
    2: Fallibilism has withstood significant criticism to date
    3: Tentatively accept Fallibilism, but do not think it is immune from criticism.

    This is how knowledge grows. We conjecture ideas, then criticize them, discarding errors we find.

    Again….

    Criticizing something and having those criticisms fail is not the same thing as considering it to be infallible or meaningless/self-defeating. Criticisms failing is what we actually have. When that happens, we can be comfortable knowing not that what’s left is true, but that the rival ideas that we have at the moment are false. Or there is some reason why it appears to be false that we don’t know yet, which will be discovered by more criticism.

  122. 122
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, Deutsch has fallen afoul of the other meaning. He is actually, repeatedly incoherent. I add, for example: For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false? This sounds nice and open-minded but is actually highly misleading. First, if his fallibilism is false that is tantamount to there being propositions that are necessarily or undeniably true. And there are such, beyond reasonable doubt. Several are highlighted in the OP, the relevance of which is again underscored. It is undeniably true that one is conscious. It is undeniable and self-evident that error exists. It is self-evident that 2 + 3 = 5. It is undeniable that distinct identity exists which immediately means LOI, LNC and LEM are self evident, also that two-ness thence the naturals exist beyond doubt. And more. In short the seeming open-mindedness is actually based on refusal to acknowledge that it has been falsified. KF

    PS: Collins Dictionary:

    paradox (?pær??d?ks)
    n
    1. a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that is or may be true: religious truths are often expressed in paradox.
    2. (Logic) a self-contradictory proposition, such as I always tell lies
    3. a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics
    4. an opinion that conflicts with common belief. Also called (rare): paradoxy

  123. 123
    JSmith says:

    SB

    You did not answer the question. Is it wrong to torture babies for fun or not? Granted, you do not like the idea, but the torturer *does* like the idea. You have not explained why your likes should be preferred over his.

    For that matter, you have not stated that it is wrong for men to abuse women or for slave owners to abuse slaves. You have not even conceded that slavery is wrong. Is it? If so, how do you know?

    I think that torturing and killing children is wrong. As is slavery and spousal abuse. I draw these conclusions from rational, logical and evidence based examination. Or, more accurately, this examination has reinforced what my parents, teachers and friends have taught me. I assume that you think these things are wrong as well. Did you blindly accept the teachings of your parents and church, or did you use a little of your own thinking skills to confirm what you were told?

    Why should my “likes” be preferred over those of the person who wants to torture and kill children? When society seriously talks about making the torturing and killing of children morally acceptable, ask me. Until then, I will refrain from answering moronically stupid questions.

    Not all aspects of the natural moral law are self-evident, but they are all built on natural law principles as reason is applied over time.

    So, how much time must elapse before we know for certain that the moral values that are not self-evident are actually true?

    No, if *any* human person or group gets to decide which acts are moral, then there is no justice. That is the whole point.

    I believe that was my point as well.

    Everyone, including the most powerful, should be subject to the natural moral law, so that they will not impose their own personal preferences on others.

    Fair enough. Who decides what moral values and morally actions conform to natural moral law? At some point you get back to humans deciding what is morally acceptable.

    By your standard, the most powerful people are entitled to decide on the moral code. That sad condition is called tyranny.

    Some would call that historical reality. You can either bury your head in the sand and pretend that specific moral values are passed on from on high, or you can make every effort to make sure that your voice (and moral values) are heard by those that can impact society.

    Without a standard of objective morality, you have no way of knowing which actions are morally based and which consequences are bad.

    We all know whether or not our actions are morally based. Whether or not they would pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination is another story. And since we have no way of knowing with certainty what actions are based on objective morality, and which are based on subjective morality, what does it matter?

    You may not like the consequences of some acts, but there are others who do like them. That is why subjective morality doesn’t work. That is also why evidence is irrelevant in deciding what the moral code should be.

    Even with your example of objective morality, the kidnapping, raping and torturing of children, there is not unanimity. Just google Paul Bernardo.

    I still don’t see why some are so upset about the idea that all moral actions are open for questioning and that this is a good thing for society. Yes, it may result in some strongly held moral beliefs being discarded by society, like homosexuality being immoral, but if they can’t stand the light of reason, maybe they should go the way of slavery and legal spousal assault.

  124. 124
    tribune7 says:

    JS —

    So if rules develop to kill people deemed dysgenic (or mandating child rape) they become moral? . . . If they can survive rational, logical, evidence based examination, yes. It certainly can’t be any worse than what history has shown us can happen by blindly assuming that our morality comes from some mysterious, ill defined natural moral law.

    Then you don’t know history.

  125. 125
  126. 126
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    I think that torturing and killing children is wrong. As is slavery and spousal abuse. I draw these conclusions from rational, logical and evidence based examination. Or, more accurately, this examination has reinforced what my parents, teachers and friends have taught me. I assume that you think these things are wrong as well.

    It is important to know that these things are wrong and not merely to think they are wrong. It is also important to know that they are objectively, universally, and absolutely wrong. Otherwise, there is no way to educate those who claim that these things are not wrong.

    Equally, important, it is important to know which civil laws are just and which ones are unjust. Those which do not conform to natural law are unjust. Without that standard, you have no way of knowing which laws are just and which ones are not. Without respect for the natural moral law, people in power pass arbitrary laws that keep powerless people in slavery.

    Who decides what moral values and morally actions conform to natural moral law? At some point you get back to humans deciding what is morally acceptable.

    The “natural moral law,” as the term implies, is the morality proper to human nature. So in order to know which actions conform to the natural moral law, one must first know what human nature is like.

    Every created thing has a nature. Your automobile, for example, has a nature. Oil is good for your gas tank and water is bad for it. You may insist that you want the freedom to put water in your tank, but if you do that, then you are no longer free to drive your car. The question about which actions conform to the automobile’s nature, that is, which actions are good for it or bad for it, are determined by its nature and the purpose for its existence. If you don’t know why a thing exists, you cannot possible know what

    So it is with humans.

    You can either bury your head in the sand and pretend that specific moral values are passed on from on high, or you can make every effort to make sure that your voice (and moral values) are heard by those that can impact society.

    That begs the question about which moral values deserve to be heard and which ones ought to impact society.

    I still don’t see why some are so upset about the idea that all moral actions are open for questioning and that this is a good thing for society.

    Because it is hard enough to live a moral life when one knows the difference between right and wrong. It is impossible to live a moral life in the absence of moral education for the same reason that it is impossible to have an intellectual life in the absence of knowledge. If you don’t know the good, then you cannot do the good.

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, SB has given you a second chance. I suggest you heed it. KF

  128. 128
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS:

    Kindly observe how frequently this objector shifts the terms of discussion to what he is more comfortable with. In the latest round with SB, he “thinks” (and earlier “believe[s]”) that ” torturing and killing children [I insist on specifics of the actual case: for one’s pleasure] is wrong.”

    Of course, the point is that we can know this to certainty as it is self-evident.

    (I add: to try to deny it is patently absurd, it is and must be so. JS tries to evade this by speaking to personal or community responses or else to how we learn moral habits, or suggesting that some communities may have approved of such behaviour, etc. The evasiveness is telling: he WILL not acknowledge warrant to certainty establishing knowledge by the patent absurdity of the attempted denial. This is of course a form of warrant of A by reduction of ~A to absurdity. And, that some degraded communities have approved such behaviour or similar behaviour just shows how absurdly evil communities can become, and how their power elites can establish utter wickedness, requiring a huge effort to reform these communities. Ponder here, the formerly cannibal islands of the South Pacific and their response to the Christian gospel and its ethics.)

    Further to this, such a yardstick case surfaces principles and issues that then confer moral clarity and would then lead to actual moral growth.

    Self-evident key cases allow us to straighten out our crooked thinking. And to go on to broader matters, including first those where warrant is to utter certainty but the reduction to absurdity is not patent. Or, may even be complex or somewhat abstruse. Or, may have in it a pons asinorum.

    For instance, once we see that might/manipulation makes right etc is absurd, and recognise that even the weakest, least eloquent and most defenceless among us have genuine rights, we can proceed to see what would happen were certain behaviours X to become universal in a community. If the community would collapse in chaos and evils, or it would be impossible, we can also conclude to certainty that such is wrong. For, a main purpose of a community is to establish a needed social framework that fosters and protects human thriving from womb to senescence, people being individually of quasi-infinite value. All of this lies implicit in that telling case.

    This holds for example for lying, which were it utterly pervasive, would destroy communication, trust and community, ending in chaos. Lying parasites off the fact that most of the time truth is told, or else community would have already collapsed. This destructive parasitism points to the formally equivalent form of the Categorical Imperative: one may not use another of like moral worth as merely a means to one’s ends but must respect them as ends in themselves.

    Beyond, lies something like, it is to moral certainty a betrayal of duty to the community for influential media, educators etc to routinely give themselves over to manipulation and speaking with disregard to truth. Thus equally, they have duties of particular care connected to positions of deep and wide influence, to recognize and prize truth, truths, warrant, credible means of warrant, the body of relevant knowledge built up and passed on to us as a precious and fragile deposit that collectively promotes human thriving, even the goodwill built up that leads to institutional and individual credibility. So, to recklessly or willfully take advantage of privilege to promote what one knows or should know is false or slanderous etc is a betrayal of trust. One that is all too common and has ruinous effect.

    For simple example, when men of proved character and principle are subjected routinely to barrages of suborned and unwarranted accusation, this is destructive evil. Many accusations are by their inherent nature tainting; not least, because they feed the tendency to delight in tearing down another through gossip and slander. All the more so, when the target has stood up for inconvenient truth, principle or prudence and soundness of action. Such behaviour then drives the good and sound out of public life, leaving it in the hands of the wicked and unsound. The end of that is patent ruin. Where, physical assassination takes that to the next level. As, Plato’s parable of the mutinous ship of state so powerfully points out. And I would augment that with Ac 27 as a key real world case in point.

    BTW, this points onward to the significance of systematic failure to teach our children, at home, in the media, on monuments, in schools, during major cultural events etc, the key nuggets of history and treasures from the legacy of the great teachers.

    From Plato, I think every one should know the ship of state and the cave. That Moshe’s decalogue and unifying principles of love to God and to neighbour were literally the beginning of Alfred’s Book of Dooms and so of the common law system, or that Jesus’ extended commentary in his Sermon on the Mount are literally stripped out of the public’s eye is without excuse. Similarly, every child should know the second paragraph of the US Declaration of Independence, given its global impact. We should at least be familiar with the Magna Carta of the liberties. And more.

    And so forth.

    But, to make progress, true progress, one must first be willing to learn. This requires a willingness to trust, even with some calibration of trustworthiness.

    To date, sadly, that willingness has been clearly absent with this objector.

    KF

  129. 129
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: To see some of where this points, let us hear Cicero in De Legibus:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    Let me now add, Paul, allowing a fruitful interaction of thoughts in the roots of our civilisation:

    Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . .

    Rom 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong [NIV, “harm”] to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. [ESV]

    Now, let us see who dares deny and dismiss — as opposed to evading — the force of such.

    KF

  130. 130

    JSmith @123 said:

    Why should my “likes” be preferred over those of the person who wants to torture and kill children? When society seriously talks about making the torturing and killing of children morally acceptable, ask me. Until then, I will refrain from answering moronically stupid questions.

    Translation: “I have no means by which to answer this perfectly valid question, so instead I will just avoid it and call it “moronically stupid”.

    Fair enough. Who decides what moral values and morally actions conform to natural moral law? At some point you get back to humans deciding what is morally acceptable.

    At some point you get back to humans deciding everything, because we all have free will, the capacity for denial in the face of the obvious, the necessary, and int he face of overwhelming evidence. Our perceptions are subjective in nature, even when what we interact with is objective. So?

    We must act as if some things in our experience represent objective realities, whether we agree with it or not. Even solipsists must act as if there is an objective reality.

    Morality is similar; one can argue all day long that morality is subjective and they can profess their belief that it is so; they – including JS – most certainly behave as if morality is objective, as I pointed out in this thread:

    1. If morality is subjective (by individual or group), as atheists/materialists claim, then what any individual/group ought to do is necessarily relative to that individual/group purpose. IOW, if my purpose is to make a frozen margarita, I ought put ice in the blender. If my purpose is to make fresh peanut butter, I ought not put ice in the blender. The ought-ness of any task can only be discerned by mapping it to the purpose for which the act is committed. Under moral subjectivism, acts in themselves are just brute facts with no objective moral value; they must be mapped to the subjective purpose to determine subjective moral value (oughtness).

    2. The question “Is it moral to gratuitously torture children?” implies that whomever does such an act finds it personally gratifying in some way, and we are asking a third party if the act is moral or immoral. The only possible, logically consistent answer a subjective moralist (atheist/materialist) can give is that yes, it is moral, because the moral challenge is tautologically valid in the subjective morality model. If my purpose is to gratify myself, and torturing children gratifies me, there is a 1 to 1 mapping of act to purpose- I ought do so. It is moral by definition for anyone who is gratified by the act to do so for their own gratification.

    3. If the moral subjectivist says that the act is immoral “to them”, they are committing a logical error. The acts of others can only be morally evaluated according to that particular person’s subjective purpose, not according to the subjective purposes of anyone else. That is the nature of subjective commodities and relationships. Whether or not it is something a third party “ought” do for their purposes is entirely irrelevant and is treating the third party’s purposes as if they are objectively valid and binding evaluations on the acts of others.

    4. Would an atheist/materialist intervene if someone else was gratuitously torturing children? If they had the power to snap their fingers and eliminate this kind of activity from the world, would they do so? I suspect the answer to both would be: yes. Note how self-described moral subjectivists would treat their own personal preferences as if they were objectively valid and binding on others.

    5. Only a sociopath can truly act as if morality is subjective. “Moral subjectivism” is a intellectual smokescreen. It is a self-deception or an oughtright lie. Its proponents cannot even act or respond to questions as if moral subjectivism is true. They betray themselves as closet moral objectivists in denial, hiding from the implications of a morality they must live and act as if objective.

    So, when JS says he “thinks” it is wrong to do X, he is violating the necessary ramifications of his own subjectivist philosophy. Under moral subjectivism, NOTHING anyone else does is immoral unless they themselves say so. He attempts to hide from this under the cover of social contracts built upon the fabric of moral objectivism, avoiding the questions that point out his painful hypocrisy.

    Such a question – “Is anything permissable as long as a society agrees to it or makes a law allowing it?” is only “moronic” from the perspective of objective moral values. The answer is perfectly clear if one follows the logic from the subjective moral premise: yes, anything is permissible. Absolutely anything.

    JS has the luxury of denying something exists while blanketed in the warm comfort of a society built upon that very thing. He might as well deny that air exists even as he sits there breathing.

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Notice the “mysterious, ill defined natural moral law” case that has been brushed aside by JS: it is self-evidently evil to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually assault a young child, and it would be our duty to come to succour and rescue or at least cry out for help were we to discover such in progress. That dismissive reaction in the face of a highly specific, instructive real world case speaks volumes.

  132. 132
    tribune7 says:

    KF

    That dismissive reaction in the face of a highly specific, instructive real world case speaks volumes.

    The question it raises for me is where does this mindset come from? Too much Nietzsche? Aleister Crowley? JS says he’s not a materialist and claims to have a family. Where does he get the premise upon which is view is based?

    JS, can you answer?

  133. 133
    JSmith says:

    SB

    It is important to know that these things are wrong and not merely to think they are wrong. It is also important to know that they are objectively, universally, and absolutely wrong. Otherwise, there is no way to educate those who claim that these things are not wrong.

    You honestly don’t think that you could teach others why kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing children is wrong without invoking objective morality? That truly is sad.

    Equally, important, it is important to know which civil laws are just and which ones are unjust. Those which do not conform to natural law are unjust. Without that standard, you have no way of knowing which laws are just and which ones are not. Without respect for the natural moral law, people in power pass arbitrary laws that keep powerless people in slavery.

    Again, who decides which civil laws conform to natural moral laws and which ones don’t? It still comes down to drawing subjective conclusions.

    The “natural moral law,” as the term implies, is the morality proper to human nature. So in order to know which actions conform to the natural moral law, one must first know what human nature is like.

    It still comes down to humans deciding what morality is proper to this mythical natural moral law.

    That begs the question about which moral values deserve to be heard and which ones ought to impact society.

    Hopefully the ones that pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination.

    Because it is hard enough to live a moral life when one knows the difference between right and wrong.

    Who taught you right from wrong? Good from bad? And who did they learn it from? I try to lead a moral life, according to my own moral values. They were taught to me by my parents, teachers and life experiences. The same as yours. Does that make them objectively derived from some higher Being? Or is a more rational, logical, evidence based explanation that they are subjectively derived and the most successful have survived? The change in moral values over time suggests the latter.

  134. 134
    JSmith says:

    WJM

    Translation: “I have no means by which to answer this perfectly valid question, so instead I will just avoid it and call it “moronically stupid”.

    You can believe what you want. But I am not going to answer loaded questions that are geared towards setting up a strawman so that it can be knocked down. Those types of questions are dishonest at their core, just like asking you if you have stopped beating your wife and only accepting a yes or no answer.

    Under moral subjectivism, NOTHING anyone else does is immoral unless they themselves say so.

    So you may think. Moral subjectivist would disagree with you.

    He attempts to hide from this under the cover of social contracts built upon the fabric of moral objectivism, avoiding the questions that point out his painful hypocrisy.

    What does that fabric look like? How was it created? Are the objective moral values passed down from on high like the Ten Commandments? Are they things that we are all born with, like instincts? Are they genetically based?

    Societies rise or fall, in a large part, due to the actions of the people within them. If actions are allowed that undermine the stability of the society, the society will either fall or the action will be disallowed or be modified. Human history is full of failed societies, each with moral values different than those that our current society generally has in common. There doesn’t seem to be anything objective about all of that other than the fact that our actions have consequences. If that is what you mean by objective morality, then I would agree with you. But I don’t think that is what you mean.

    JS has the luxury of denying something exists while blanketed in the warm comfort of a society built upon that very thing. He might as well deny that air exists even as he sits there breathing.

    Except for the small difference that there is incontrovertible evidence for the existence of air, whereas the existence of objective morality is based on desire and word spinning rather than evidence.

  135. 135

    JS said:

    You honestly don’t think that you could teach others why kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing children is wrong without invoking objective morality? That truly is sad.

    Couple of questions for JS:

    1. Why would a moral subjectivist teach his kids that something is wrong in the first place? Wouldn’t that be like teaching your kids that enjoying chocolate ice cream is wrong, and enjoying vanilla is right?

    2. What form would that teaching take? Can you give us an example? Let’s say, how would you teach your children that it is wrong to steal?

  136. 136

    JS said:

    But I am not going to answer loaded questions

    How is it loaded?

    that are geared towards setting up a strawman so that it can be knocked down.

    What straw man is being set up?

    Those types of questions are dishonest at their core,

    How is the question dishonest?

    just like asking you if you have stopped beating your wife and only accepting a yes or no answer.

    Please explain how those questions are “just like” each other. The unfairness of the beating question lies in the limited confines of the “yes or no answer”; no one has presented such a limitation. You are free to point out how the question is unfair, if that is your view, and to offer an answer other than “yes” or “no”.

    Until you explain these things, all you are doing is waving your hands. Insisting that the questions that are asked of you to explain your views are “unfair” is just more hand-waving until you explain how they are unfair. Comparing them to another unfair question isn’t meaningful unless you point out how they are the same or similar. Just saying they are is not an explanation. Just saying that a question is loaded, moronic or unfair is not an explanation as to why it loaded, moronic or unfair.

    If you don’t have the capacity or desire to answer these tough, logical questions, then perhaps you should take your ball and go home and stop trying to pass rhetoric, emotional pleading and materialist talking points off as logic and reasoned debate.

  137. 137
    JSmith says:

    T7

    JS says he’s not a materialist and claims to have a family. Where does he get the premise upon which is view is based?

    JS, can you answer?

    I can probably be best described as being agnostic on materialism.

    The premise upon which my view is based is experience, observation, teaching, my parents, etc. The root of what we all are.
    With regard to objective vs subjective morality, my current views are largely based on reading many debates on the subject, reinforced by extensive reading on history and my observations through extensive world travel.

    I am probably like most here and would love it if moral values were objective. It would make life so much easier. But most of the arguments in favour of objective morality revolve around the dire consequences that would ensue if morality was subjective. Consequences that we have seen, repeatedly, throughout history. No number of Plato’s caves will change that.

  138. 138
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    I am probably like most here and would love it if moral values were objective.

    If God exists, moral values are objective.

  139. 139
    JSmith says:

    WJM

    Why would a moral subjectivist teach his kids that something is wrong in the first place? Wouldn’t that be like teaching your kids that enjoying chocolate ice cream is wrong, and enjoying vanilla is right?

    I was wondering when the “subjective morality is akin to the preference for a flavour of ice cream” nonsense would rear its microcephalic head. When you would like to start having a serious discussion, start asking some intelligent questions. You are not doing your argument any favours with nonsense like this.

  140. 140
    JSmith says:

    T7

    If God exists, moral values are objective.

    The one doesn’t necessarily require the other. God could just as easily have bound us to a sense of moral governance but left it up to us to figure out what moral values would fall under this moral governance. This seems more likely given that he imbued us with free will.

    There are many actions we perform routinely in life that make us feel uncomfortable and guilty if we don’t do. And many of these have nothing to do with classic morality. In my case these are things like opening a door for a woman, saying thank you, walking on the curb side when I am walking with a woman, etc. These are all actions of politeness that were drummed into me when I was young by my parents. Why can’t moral values act in a similar fashion? I am not saying that is how they work, just giving an example of how we become “governed” by behaviours that are 100% taught to us as children and are purely subjective in origin.

  141. 141

    JS said:

    I was wondering when the “subjective morality is akin to the preference for a flavour of ice cream” nonsense would rear its microcephalic head. When you would like to start having a serious discussion, start asking some intelligent questions. You are not doing your argument any favours with nonsense like this.

    Note how JS, once again, avoids answering serious questions by using rhetoric and invective to dismiss them. This demonstrates, for all to see, the paucity of his position because he insists on only answering the questions he prefers, and then refuses to even explain the reasoning why he considers other questions unworthy of being answered.

  142. 142
    Barry Arrington says:

    From my post The New Atheists Are Simpering Cowards

    Nietzsche was wrong and tragic and, in the end, insane. But at least he was brave and honest. Brave enough to stare into the abyss and honest enough to report back what he saw there. He would be disgusted by the puerile, simpering cowardice that characterizes atheism in the 21st century.

    JSmith’s refusal to address the issues raised by WJM put me in mind of that post. JS, if my worldview caused me to act like a puerile simpering coward — as yours does to you — I hope I would rethink it.

  143. 143
    JSmith says:

    WJM

    Note how JS, once again, avoids answering serious questions by using rhetoric and invective to dismiss them. This demonstrates, for all to see, the paucity of his position because he insists on only answering the questions he prefers, and then refuses to even explain the reasoning why he considers other questions unworthy of being answered.

    If you equate moral values to a preference of ice cream flavour, dont be surprised when you are not taken seriously. You can call it avoidance if you like. But those here with any intelligence can see it for the dishonest tactic it is. Your choice.

  144. 144
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    You honestly don’t think that you could teach others why kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing children is wrong without invoking objective morality? That truly is sad.

    That is an odd question coming from someone who, himself, doesn’t know they are wrong. I most certainly can teach others why these things are wrong. It is precisely because I know *why* they are wrong that I can teach them *that* they are wrong—if and only if they are willing to learn.

    Again, who decides which civil laws conform to natural moral laws and which ones don’t? It still comes down to drawing subjective conclusions.

    Whoever understands the principle of the NML is qualified to make that judgment. The bar is set higher for the natural moral law than for the civil law because legislators are there to promote the common good and not to make saints. Unfortunately, most governments these days do not seek to accomplish the bare minimum.

    It still comes down to humans deciding what morality is proper to this mythical natural moral law

    A thing can be self evident in two ways. It can be self evident in itself, or it can be self evident to someone. In the second case, a certain measure of moral freedom and education are needed. As I stated earlier, humans can be brainwashed into bad morality or they can develop bad habits that prevent them from grasping points that would have been obvious to them were they were not so impaired. The alcoholic or pornography addict, for example, suffer from impaired judgment. Still, if they can think clearly, the connection to the NML and civil law are evident in most cases. Example: Thou Shalt Not Steal: Therefore, identity theft is illegal. Do you grasp the connection?

    Who taught you right from wrong? Good from bad? And who did they learn it from? I try to lead a moral life, according to my own moral values. They were taught to me by my parents, teachers and life experiences. The same as yours. Does that make them objectively derived from some higher Being? Or is a more rational, logical, evidence based explanation that they are subjectively derived and the most successful have survived? The change in moral values over time suggests the latter.

    I know right from wrong instinctively in a primitive sense, but my education enabled me to fine tune my understanding. I know, for example, that human beings should not kill their innocent unborn children. In other words, I know that abortion (defined as the deliberate killing of a fetus, not the incidental death that may occur when saving the life of a mother) is everywhere and always wrong. Further, I know why it is wrong. I suspect that your so-called “rational, logical, evidence” allows you to rationalize this outrage. Is my suspicion correct?

  145. 145
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Is the Bible a science book? For example, should we defer to it In regards to mathematics, such a pi, or how many legs insects have?

    If not, why?

  146. 146
    StephenB says:

    J Smith to WJM

    If you equate moral values to a preference of ice cream flavour, dont be surprised when you are not taken seriously. You can call it avoidance if you like. But those here with any intelligence can see it for the dishonest tactic it is. Your choice.

    I think WJM was alluding to the fact that you describe your morality in exactly those terms:

    SB: Is it wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    J Smith:

    Since I would not like this to happen to my children, I would not like to see it happen to others. Basic golden rule, simple rational logic.

    So clearly, you were describing your morality in terms of likes and dislikes, in much the same way others like or dislike certain flavors of ice cream. The whole point of morality is to prompt us to do the right thing even when we don’t *like* it.

  147. 147
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    Gee Barry. I’m still waiting for you to provide an explanation as to how you’ve managed to infallibly identify a source of moral values and infallibly interpreted that source. What gives?

    Are you are coward for not providing one? Do you simply not have one and are avoiding the question?

    IOW, it seems like you’re calling the kettle black here, Barry.

    Let me rephrase: when faced with a moral problem, what’s the effective difference between….

    A: Presenting arguments that we should do X
    B Claiming we have a transcendent obligation to do something and presenting arguments that we should do X to fulfill that transcendent obligation.

    What’s the actual difference in practice? What does this boil down to if not criticism of some form?

    Seems to me that reason alway comes first. Even when deciding which infallible source to defer, when to defer to it, and how to interpret it.

    But, by all mean, feel free to explain how to get around that problem.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

  148. 148
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    The one doesn’t necessarily require the other. God could just as easily have bound us to a sense of moral governance but left it up to us to figure out what moral values would fall under this moral governance.

    Did God do this?

  149. 149
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, why on earth are you raising an irrelevancy but to serve as a red herring distractor led out to a strawman caricature soaked in ad hominems, to be set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere? Kindly, go to the OP and read it to see what is on the agenda, why. You may not like it on track record, but that is your problem, not the fault of the issue. People have been misled to doubt knowledge in general and moral knowledge in particular. That is a serious danger to our civilisation. It needs to be addressed. As one step, on the table is a real world case: it is self-evident that it is evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and murder a young child; also, if we came across the monstrous deed in progress, we are duty bound to try to rescue or at least cry out for help. Can you acknowledge this? If you deny it, kindly tell us why. If you duck or evade it, that tells us that you know what is warranted but do not wish to acknowledge it. We in effect have the still grieving father sitting in front of us, with his surviving sons. Now, tell us what you would have to say to them. KF

  150. 150
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS: this objector is commenting on an OP that replies to him, taking time to explain how we can in general warrant some things as self-evident. The SECOND case, after consciousness, is that error exists; which immediately entails that we must be careful in warrant. In the case of morals, no-one has here claimed to set up a scheme where every claim is warranted to self-evident certainty. Earlier, I took time to highlight that knowledge in general usage includes a weak form, warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief. I pointed out that there are only relatively few things that can be warranted to utter certainty on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. And, that is a process of responsible rational assessment, open to inspection by anyone. I have put up a real world specific, instructive case, only to see it repeatedly bent into a shape more amenable to evasive games. I now see a strawman target about infallible moral systems. It is even more clear that this objector is not acting responsibly, and that on a matter of utterly grave significance. This, is where our civilisation has reached. Weep for us, for the terrible consequences that are coming as we stubbornly insist on going ever closer to the crumbling edge of a cliff. KF

  151. 151
    JSmith says:

    SB

    That is an odd question coming from someone who, himself, doesn’t know they are wrong.

    By using rational, logical, evidence based examination, I know that they are counter to a long term stable society and therefore the thriving of myself, family and friends. Therefore, they are wrong. I don’t see that as a difficult process. Of course, you may think that an action that I think is morally acceptable (right) you may think is morally unacceptable (wrong). Sounds like every day life to me.

    Whoever understands the principle of the NML is qualified to make that judgment.

    Name them. Or, at least one. And provide me with the reason why they are qualified. And why those qualifications make the person infallible in judging. If you can’t, it still comes down to subjectivity.

    A thing can be self evident in two ways. It can be self evident in itself, or it can be self evident to someone.

    Unless it is self-evident to every sane person on earth, how can you say it is self-evident? It may APPEAR to be self evident to the person who thinks it is, but that doesn’t make it really self-evident.

    I know right from wrong instinctively in a primitive sense, but my education enabled me to fine tune my understanding.

    Since none of us has any reliable memories before the age of three, your claim that you know right from wrong instinctively is just an unsupported assertion. All you can really say is that from the time you can remember, your parents were constantly telling you what was right and wrong.

    In other words, I know that abortion (defined as the deliberate killing of a fetus, not the incidental death that may occur when saving the life of a mother) is everywhere and always wrong.

    But since there are a very large number of people who don’t believe it is wrong, it must be a subjective conclusion.

    I suspect that your so-called “rational, logical, evidence” allows you to rationalize this outrage. Is my suspicion correct?

    No.

  152. 152
    JSmith says:

    SB

    I think WJM was alluding to the fact that you describe your morality in exactly those terms:

    No, he was using a dishonest tactic which he always uses. Trying to equate the dislike you have for your child being killed with the dislike you have for chocolate ice cream. You have not resorted to such dishonest tactics and is the reasoning I am enjoying our discussion. Frankly, life is too short to put up with dishonesty.

  153. 153
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Did God do this?

    I honestly don’t know. But human actions throughout recorded history certainly suggest that it is a reasonable possibility. And, to be honest, if he did, it shows that he has faith in us and a high regard for the abilities he gave us. The idea gives me far more optimism than the idea that he had to instill moral values in us rather than letting us reason them out for ourselves.

  154. 154
    tribune7 says:

    I honestly don’t know.

    Then you don’t know that morals are not objective and eternal.

    But human actions throughout recorded history certainly suggest that it is a reasonable possibility. And, to be honest, if he did, it shows that he has faith in us and a high regard for the abilities he gave us.

    Knowledge of history shows that we are hopelessly lost without a savior.

  155. 155
    Barry Arrington says:

    JS asserts it is dishonest to try to equate the dislike you have for your child being killed with the dislike you have for chocolate ice cream.

    Umm, JS, did you not notice that you used the word “dislike” twice? WJM argues that you base your morality on subjective preference (i.e., what you “like”). He argues further that people base their decision about which ice cream to eat based on subjective preference (i.e., which ice cream they “like”).

    Everyone concedes that the felt intensity of your subjective preference that your child not be killed is much greater than the felt intensity of your subjective preference for, say, vanilla ice cream.

    OK. You feel the subjective preferences differently. They are still both subjective preferences.

    This is glaringly obvious and admitted by all brave atheists. Why do you run from this conclusion and even call it “dishonest”? See The New Atheists Are Simpering Cowards linked at 142.

    Do better.

  156. 156
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Then you don’t know that morals are not objective and eternal.

    I don’t believe that I said one way or the other. I am just arguing that there is no evidence to convince me that it is objective.

    Knowledge of history shows that we are hopelessly lost without a savior.

    Tell that to the Japanese, the Chinese, the Indians, the various indigenous peoples, etc.

  157. 157
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    I’m trying to bring up an irreverent subject?

    Again, I am suggesting you have confused basic, self-evident truths with beliefs that have survived criticism. Criticisms failing is not equivalent to an idea is immune to criticism.

    But, by all means, can you give an example of a “self-evident truth” that we have good criticisms of? Are you denying that, in choosing this example, your was compared it to a number of other examples?

  158. 158
    kairosfocus says:

    CR:

    >>
    149
    kairosfocusDecember 31, 2017 at 12:44 pm (Edit)

    CR, why on earth are you raising an irrelevancy but to serve as a red herring distractor led out to a strawman caricature soaked in ad hominems, to be set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere? Kindly, go to the OP and read it to see what is on the agenda, why. You may not like it on track record, but that is your problem, not the fault of the issue. People have been misled to doubt knowledge in general and moral knowledge in particular. That is a serious danger to our civilisation. It needs to be addressed. As one step, on the table is a real world case: it is self-evident that it is evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and murder a young child; also, if we came across the monstrous deed in progress, we are duty bound to try to rescue or at least cry out for help. Can you acknowledge this? If you deny it, kindly tell us why. If you duck or evade it, that tells us that you know what is warranted but do not wish to acknowledge it. We in effect have the still grieving father sitting in front of us, with his surviving sons. Now, tell us what you would have to say to them. KF
    >>

    Let’s hear what you have to say in the presence of a family with a son brutally ripped from among them by a monster, at age 8.

    KF

  159. 159
    JSmith says:

    CR

    Criticisms failing is not equivalent to an idea is immune to criticism.

    Which was exactly my point. I am comfortable in the fact that not kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing a child will pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination. As will many of our moral values. I don’t understand what KF and others are so afraid of. The obvious conclusion is that some of their more contentious moral values wouldn’t pass the test. The possibility that variations in human sexuality is a normal human condition is the one that jumps out at me. But maybe there is another.

  160. 160
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    By using rational, logical, evidence based examination, I know that they are counter to a long term stable society and therefore the thriving of myself, family and friends. Therefore, they are wrong.

    Good. If you know they are wrong, then we have a meeting of the minds. To know that something is wrong, and not just that it seems wrong, is to know that it is objectively wrong. No problem there.

    I don’t see that as a difficult process. Of course, you may think that an action that I think is morally acceptable (right) you may think is morally unacceptable (wrong). Sounds like every day life to me.

    On a derivative problem that involves the complexity of extenuating circumstances, yes, but on the issue of basic morality and the attendant defining principles, no. We both know that slavery is objectively wrong and, hopefully, we both know why it is wrong (it violates the inherent dignity of the human person). On the other hand, we could have legitimate disagreement over whether indentured servitude is wrong.

    SB: Whoever understands the principle of the NML is qualified to make that judgment.

    Name them.

    I said anyone who understands the subject. That would include me.

    And provide me with the reason why they are qualified. And why those qualifications make the person infallible in judging. If you can’t, it still comes down to subjectivity

    .

    To understand a subject is to be qualified to discuss it. The best proof anyone can supply for being qualified to discuss a subject is to demonstrate that quality by answering intelligent objections. As I said before, there are subjective elements at the periphery, but not over the central issues. So I am not saying that subjectivity never enters in.

    Meanwhile, I provided a specific example of the relationship between NML and civil law. Recall concerning the relationship between Tbou Shalt Not Steal and the illegal nature of identity theft, which you promptly ignored. Why did you do that?

    Unless it is self-evident to every sane person on earth, how can you say it is self-evident? It may APPEAR to be self evident to the person who thinks it is, but that doesn’t make it really self-evident.

    That is not true and I have explained several times why it is not true.

    Since none of us has any reliable memories before the age of three, your claim that you know right from wrong instinctively is just an unsupported assertion. All you can really say is that from the time you can remember, your parents were constantly telling you what was right and wrong.

    One cannot know the difference between right and wrong until he or she reaches the age of reason. Even then, much more education and life experience are needed.

    SB: In other words, I know that abortion (defined as the deliberate killing of a fetus, not the incidental death that may occur when saving the life of a mother) is everywhere and always wrong.

    But since there are a very large number of people who don’t believe it is wrong, it must be a subjective conclusion.

    All erroneous conclusions about objective truths are subjectively based. Abortion is objectively wrong. Surely, after acknowledging that slavery and spousal abuse are objectively wrong, you are not going to deny that abortion is objectively wrong—are you?

  161. 161
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    I am just arguing that there is no evidence to convince me that it is objective.

    What evidence do you want?

  162. 162
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    I am comfortable in the fact that not kidnapping, torturing, raping and killing a child will pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination.

    So why do people rape children?

  163. 163
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Good. If you know they are wrong, then we have a meeting of the minds. To know that something is wrong, and not just that it seems wrong, is to know that it is objectively wrong.

    No. It is still a subjective determination. Even though you and I might think that something is wrong, how do we convince someone who doesn’t? By telling him that it is objectively wrong? No. We do it by convincing him using rational, logical and evidence based arguments.

    We both know that slavery is objectively wrong and, hopefully, we both know why it is wrong (it violates the inherent dignity of the human person).

    No. We both agree that slavery is wrong. That is true. But why was it not so self-evidently and objectively true for several centuries? Claiming that it was just a brief aberration based on error won’t cut it. Far too many people, mostly European and American Christians, benefitted from it for far too long for it to have been a brief error in judgment. It was based on the self-evident truth of the day that black people were not fully human. A belief that long pre-dated Darwin. Hence the danger of declaring things to be objectively or self-evidently true.

    I said anyone who understands the subject [NML]. That would include me.

    How do you know that I am not qualified? Because I disagree with you? I’m sure you see where this leads.

    Recall concerning the relationship between Tbou Shalt Not Steal and the illegal nature of identity theft, which you promptly ignored. Why did you do that?

    Sorry. I wasn’t sure where you were going with that. Still don’t.

    One cannot know the difference between right and wrong until he or she reaches the age of reason. Even then, much more education and life experience are needed.

    Then you agree that we must rationalize and reason for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. Do you realize that this is what is meant by subjective?

    All erroneous conclusions about objective truths are subjectively based.

    Nice circular reasoning.

    Abortion is objectively wrong. Surely, after acknowledging that slavery and spousal abuse are objectively wrong, you are not going to deny that abortion is objectively wrong—are you?

    I never said that slavery and spousal abuse were objectively wrong. If they were, why were they morally and legally acceptable for much of western history. No, we now consider them to be wrong because of rational, logical, evidence based examination. I.e. subjective conclusions.

    And, yes, I don’t claim that abortion is objectively wrong. I claim that it is subjectively wrong. And rather than make it illegal just to assuage our conscience, I prefer to promote actions that have actually been shown to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates. Comprehensive, non judgmental sex education from an early age and unrestricted access to birth control. We know from history that making abortion illegal does not eliminate it. In fact, the abortion rates are lower now than they were before RvW. So, the question must be asked; what is more morally important, making abortion illegal and not actually reduce abortions (at a significant increased risk to women), or keep it legal and reduce abortions?

  164. 164
    JSmith says:

    T7

    What evidence do you want?

    Some moral value/action that has universal acceptance.

    So why do people rape children?

    I don’t know. You should ask them. You could start with the hundreds of priests who have done so; people who believe in objective morality.

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS et al: In the teeth of a demonstration of self evidence, we see oh you are afraid to examine. The point on how some wedded to a crooked yardstick as standard of straightness and accuracy will be found clinging to absurdity in the face of a major form of warrant speaks, quite sadly. The point of being induced to make crookedness the standard of straightness is that the genuinely straight cannot pass such a standard. Somehow, there is inexplicable resistance to: SET’s are truths which (for one of sufficient experience and understanding to be able to cogently address them) will be seen as true, and as necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial. Where, proposition A is as its denial ~A is reduced to absurdity is a well-known standard argument form; though for SET’s it is not a proof as suc; as, for instance LOI, LNC and LEM are necessarily involved in any attempted discussion of them, we cannot but use them. The OP offers a set of examples, which of course have been constantly evaded for over 150 comments now. No, not everyone will acknowledge a SET, some because they lack the base to understand, others because they are locked into schemes of thought that make it too costly in cognitive dissonance to acknowledge. See how something as simple as that to be conscious is SET, or that error exists is undeniable, or that 2 + 3 = 5, or that once distinct identity is, LOI, LNC and LEM instantly hold and also two-ness thus the set of naturals obtains has been evaded or dismissed for over 150 comments by people of obvious relatively high educational attainment. On my experience, as a rule that is because to frankly face and acknowledge the manifest reality of SET’s would shatter a whole worldview and linked life and/or socio-cultural agenda. Pons asinorum. Folks, weep: this is where our civilisation has reached even as it stands on the crumbling brink of an abyss. KF

    PS: As for abortion, we note that the ongoing holocaust of our posterity in the womb advances at a million victims per week on a total easily beyond 800 millions in 40+ years. Enabling behaviour shaped by and locking in the worst mass blood guilt in history; utterly warping ability to think straight on matters moral.

  166. 166
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Some moral value/action that has universal acceptance.

    There isn’t one. There are, however, people who would happily see you as an object to be used. Would you like those of us who believe in objective morality to back you up if they should try?

    So why do people rape children? I don’t know. You should ask them. You could start with the hundreds of priests who have done so; people who believe in objective morality.

    Hmmm. Or academics or Hollywood producers. If someone claims to believe in objective morality does he? And even if he does how could you judge that the objective morality he claims to believe is wrong?

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: See WHY I began with SET’s in general in the OP? KF

    PS: Just to refresh memories:

    KF, 32: >>Pardon, but it is now further evident that you have not seen the significance of self-evident truth in general.

    Could you be in error that you are conscious?

    If so, what is there that is aware to regard the possibility of error? (And this is about the bare fact of consciousness, you could be a brain in a vat manipulated by electrified probes to imagine yourself a man in the world and you would still be undeniably certain of the bare fact of your own consciousness.)

    Speaking of, that error exists is also undeniably true. Let E be that claim, then put up the attempted denial ~E. In other words ~E means it is an error to say that error exists. So, E is undeniable.

    2 + 3 = 5 is also self-evident and undeniable:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    In general, SET’s are truths that — once we are able to understand i/l/o our experience of the world — are seen to be so, and to be necessarily so on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial.

    Such lie at the heart of rationality, through the manifest fact of distinct identity. Take some distinct A like a bright red ball on a table, so the world W is:

    W = {A|~A}

    From this world partition, we instantly see that A is itself, and no x can be (A AND ~A), also that any x is (A X-OR ~A). That is, from distinct identity, the three first principles of right reason are immediately present: Laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction and Excluded Middle.

    Likewise from distinct identity two-ness is a direct corollary and from that the natural counting numbers and much of the logic of structure and quantity follows — i.e. Mathematics (which is NOT primarily an empirical discipline).

  168. 168
    doubter says:

    A few thoughts on this lengthy discussion.

    The “morality” (if you could call it that) leading from cold logic and rationality combined with materialism (or scientism) leads inexorably to a hell on earth. The fourth affirmation of Charles Tart’s The Western Creed expresses this quite well:

    “(1) – I believe in the material universe as the only and ultimate reality, a universe controlled by fixed physical laws and blind chance.
    (2) – I affirm that the universe has no creator, no objective purpose, and no objective meaning or destiny.
    (3) – I maintain that all ideas about God or gods, supernatural beings, prophets and saviors, or other nonphysical beings or forces are superstitions and delusions. Life and consciousness are totally identical to physical processes, and arose from chance interactions of blind physical forces. Like the rest of life, my life and consciousness have no objective purpose, meaning, or destiny.
    (4) – I believe that all judgments, values, and moralities, whether my own or others’, are subjective, arising solely from biological determinants, personal history, and chance. Free will is an illusion. Therefore, the most rational values I can personally live by must be based on the knowledge that for me what pleases me is Good, what pains me is Bad. Those who please me or help me avoid pain are my friends; those who pain me or keep me from my pleasures are my enemies. Rationality requires that friends and enemies be used in ways that maximize my pleasure and minimize my pain.
    (5) – I affirm that churches have no real use other than social support; that there are no objective sins to commit or be forgiven for; that there is no retribution for sin or reward for virtue other than that which I can arrange, directly or through others. Virtue for me is getting what I want without being caught and punished by others.
    (6) – I maintain that the death of the body is the death of the mind. There is no afterlife, and all hope for such is nonsense”

    It is also clear that human beings can have religious/spiritual belief systems that can lead them to a morality and to acts which we would consider inherently evil. The ancient Carthaginians are a case in point, where for centuries they burned their young children alive as sacrifices to their gods. Apparently, even the ancient Greeks and Romans who wrote about this had more interest in the practice as an oddity rather than as evil. Different cultures and belief systems.

    It would seem that as a practical empirical matter, for human beings “morality” is purely subjective. The Carthaginian example seems to make that clear. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of built-in moral “compass”, or instinctual morality, at least for the great majority of mankind. It seems to be a learned behavior and belief system with accompanying emotions.

    This still leaves open the question of whether or not there is ultimately an objective, absolute set of moral principles that are part of a higher, spiritual order of reality. In my opinion there is, but I don’t think this can be proven by some logical schema, and of course not by quoting holy books.

    I think there is empirical evidence, however. An example is the very many accounts of near-death experiences, in which a Golden Rule-like morality is inextricably embedded in parts of the experiences such as the life review. There is extensive veridical evidence from NDE accounts that attest to the reality of the experiences. If NDEs are true glimpses of a spiritual existence following physical death, then some sort of Judeo-Christian-like morality may be an objective reality.

  169. 169
    tribune7 says:

    2 + 3 = 5 is also self-evident and undeniable

    If we don’t accept that there are self-evident, undeniable and eternal truths we will all end up like Nietzsche

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    Re JS: yet another distractor. Perhaps he has not had to face the fact of moral struggle and enslaving iniquity. This is not a matter of “priests” in particular but of men and women from every walk of life with a huge variety of bondages to the acknowledged wrong. The annals of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step type programmes of recovery from ruinous addictions and habits should serve as grim warning. And that is in fact a good point of reference for the millions who have found recovery from all sorts of life-ruining bondages through the transforming power of God. But of course, that does not serve the agenda of those who set out not simply to deal with a particular scandal, but to taint the Christian faith in general. On that, the proof lies in the blatant one-sidedness, which is sustained now in the teeth of evidence that the very media were and are riddled with the like challenges. Again, a note for record, not an invitation to a side-track and rhetorical crocodile death roll. KF

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    Trib, re:

    169
    tribune7December 31, 2017 at 4:36 pm (Edit)

    2 + 3 = 5 is also self-evident and undeniable

    If we don’t accept that there are self-evident, undeniable and eternal truths we will all end up like Nietzsche

    That is exactly the problem we are facing, 170+ comments later. Weep for our civilisation stubbornly standing on the cracking, crumbling brink of an abyss. With nukes in play in the hands of people who think like we have been seeing. KF

  172. 172
    tribune7 says:

    KF, well said.

  173. 173
    kairosfocus says:

    JS: If you seem to struggle with that one is conscious is self-evident, or that error exists is undeniable, etc, it is not he-said vs he-said. I’m afraid, you have given utterly convincing demonstrations that you lack basic qualification to reason responsibly; much less handle advanced topics. SB’s ability to reason is not under question. And increasingly, sadly, in a very different way, neither is yours. KF

    PS: BTW, SB was not question-begging in pointing out that errors on objective truths are of subjective character. Someone made a mistake, which is a subjective phenomenon. We all remember getting sums wrong in school. Objective truths are credibly accurate to reality per good warrant. Such as, that my PC ran into difficulties a week ago requiring HDD replacement. Or, that my Father passed on in my presence and that of a caregiver in July this year, with his last words being the surrendering of his spirit to the Lord he loved for many decades.

  174. 174
    JSmith says:

    T7

    There isn’t one. There are, however, people who would happily see you as an object to be used. Would you like those of us who believe in objective morality to back you up if they should try?

    Absolutely. In the same circumstance, would you accept help from someone who believed in subjective morality? I really don’t understand your point.

    Hmmm. Or academics or Hollywood producers.

    Sure. But I don’t recall that they take the same paths as priests.

    If someone claims to believe in objective morality does he?

    Don’t know. I suspect most do.

    And even if he does how could you judge that the objective morality he claims to believe is wrong?

    I wouldn’t presume to. Only that he didn’t follow it.

  175. 175
    JSmith says:

    D

    It would seem that as a practical empirical matter, for human beings “morality” is purely subjective. The Carthaginian example seems to make that clear. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of built-in moral “compass”, or instinctual morality, at least for the great majority of mankind. It seems to be a learned behavior and belief system with accompanying emotions.

    That is what I have been trying to say.

    This still leaves open the question of whether or not there is ultimately an objective, absolute set of moral principles that are part of a higher, spiritual order of reality. In my opinion there is, but I don’t think this can be proven by some logical schema, and of course not by quoting holy books.

    I am still agnostic on the objective aspect, but otherwise, I think you are bang on.

    I think there is empirical evidence, however. An example is the very many accounts of near-death experiences, in which a Golden Rule-like morality is inextricably embedded in parts of the experiences such as the life review.

    Except that we can replicate NDE using chemical and other physical changes to the brain. But you did mention the golden rule. This is the closest we get to a common moral value that is seen throughout almost all societies. But it is also a rule that can very easily be figured out from first principles.

    Again, I am not certain that there are no objective moral principles. Just that if they exist, they seem to go on vacation quite frequently. Not what I would expect from an objective principle.

  176. 176
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, 2 + 3 = ___ ? Is or is that not self evident, why? KF

  177. 177
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    We both agree that slavery is wrong.

    No we don’t. I say that it is wrong and you say that it seems wrong to you. Do you not yet understand the difference?

    How do you know that I am not qualified?

    You are not unqualified to comment on the natural moral law because you disagree with me. You are unqualified because you know nothing about the subject. Surely, you will acknowledge that point.

    Sorry. I wasn’t sure where you were going with that. Still don’t.

    You mean that you really don’t understand that the civil law (identity theft is illegal) was shaped by the Natural Moral Law (stealing is wrong)?

    Then you agree that we must rationalize and reason for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. Do you realize that this is what is meant by subjective?

    No. We don’t use our reason to create a moral code proper to human nature. We use our reason to discover the one that is already there. That you think reason can create a moral code indicates that you are not using your reason.

    Everything has a nature, even your automobile. Do you use your reason to create a new subjective standard for your gas tank and fill it with water? Or, do you honor the objective standard that is already in place and fill it with gasoline?

    SB: All erroneous conclusions about objective truths are subjectively based.

    Nice circular reasoning.

    No, I was simply correcting your irrational formulation.

    I never said that slavery and spousal abuse were objectively wrong.

    Then you mislead me and your readers. You said that slavery *is* wrong, but what you really meant is that it merely *seems wrong to you. I thought that you had made some intellectual progress when such was not the case. Apparently, you don’t understand that “is” refers to what is objectively true and “seems” refers to what one subjectively perceives to be true.

    And rather than make it illegal just to assuage our conscience, I prefer to promote actions that have actually been shown to reduce unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates.

    Oh, I get it. You are saying, “I am personally opposed to abortion, but I support without qualification all the legislators who kill those infernal little pests.” Your previous claim that you do not support abortion was a fraud.

    Comprehensive, non judgmental sex education from an early age and unrestricted access to birth control.

    According to the baby killing machine called Planned Parenthood, an organization that you probably support, “more than half of women obtaining abortions (54%) had been using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.” Anyone who studies the statistics knows that birth control always leads to abortion.” Notice that I am presenting objective facts and you are relying on your subjective opinion.

  178. 178
    JSmith says:

    SB

    No we don’t. I say that it is wrong and you say that it seems wrong to you. Do you not yet understand the difference?

    No. I say that by all means of reasoning, logic and evidence, it is wrong. That is not the same as saying that it is objectively wrong.

    You are not unqualified to comment on the natural moral law because you disagree with me. You are unqualified because you know nothing about the subject. Surely, you will acknowledge that point.

    Actually I disagree because I know a lot about it. That is why I say that it doesn’t exist. At least not in the way that you think it does.

    You mean that you really don’t understand that the civil law (identity theft is illegal) was shaped by the Natural Moral Law (stealing is wrong)?

    Not stealing is also shaped by being able to live in a social group. It doesn’t need any higher reason.

    No. We don’t use our reason to create a moral code proper to human nature. We use our reason to discover the one that is already there.

    How do you know this? Where does it reside before we discover it? How does it deal with changes in technology?

    Then you mislead me and your readers. You said that slavery *is* wrong, but what you really meant is that it merely *seems wrong to you.

    There was no misleading. I conclude that slavery and spousal abuse is wrong for rational reasons. That does not make it objective or binding on others. But if most of society agrees with me, which it does at this point, we can force others to accept this. If you want to use KF’s rediculous “ might and manipulation” makes right, you can do so. But what he always excludes from that phrase is social agreement.

    Oh, I get it. You are saying, “I am personally opposed to abortion, but I support without qualification all the legislators who kill those infernal little pests.” Your previous claim that you do not support abortion was a fraud.

    Nonsense. I don’t support/condone smoking, drinking or marijuana, but I do not favour making them illegal. We have already seen that the consequences are worse than the activity. But I also noticed that you didn’t answer the question. What is more morally important, reducing abortions or making it illegal even though it won’t reduce abortions and will put women at increased risk? I opt for the former.

    According to the baby killing machine called Planned Parenthood, an organization that you probably support, “more than half of women obtaining abortions (54%) had been using a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.” Anyone who studies the statistics knows that birth control always leads to abortion.” Notice that I am presenting objective facts and you are relying on your subjective opinion.

    Check out stats on countries that have comprehensive and early sex education and unrestricted birth control. They have all seen a reduction in u wanted pregnancies and abortions.

    Well, off to a new year’s party. I hope you have i nice evening. It has been nice talking to you.

  179. 179
    critical rationalist says:

    Is it is wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    The straight answer is, what we actually face are concrete moral problems. We find ourselves in a position to take some action, opposed to a number of other options, or even no action at all. And those choices are in a moral context. Our knowledge of what we should do in those concrete situations is moral knowledge.

    It’s not even clear that you think there is such a thing as a moral problem to solve. If morality isn’t actually about solving concrete moral problems, then what is about?

    So, like someone in a spelling bee, I’ll ask you to rephrase the question. Use it in the form of a moral problem to solve.

    For example, when faced with a choice of wanting to have fun with my friends, do I find myself asking, “should we go see a movie, or go out for dinner at that new restaurant, or, this might sound a bit crazy, but what about torturing babies?”

    As one of these “non-theists”, I’m suggesting there is no infallible source of moral knowledge in the form of a herd-mentality or some authority. Nor is evil isn’t some cosmic supernatural force that tempts us, etc. Evil is a lack of knowledge. There will always be room for improvement via criticism. The alternative sounds rather, well, frightening, in that it implies there can be no better solutions to moral problems than what we already have.

    New moral knowledge results in better moral problems to solve, etc. And since it is genuinely created, we cannot predict the impact it will have. For example, It’s not that people thought the likelihood of networking computers together would topple dictatorships. They simply didn’t conceive of it at all. So, you could say that we will always be at the beginning of knowledge, including moral knowledge, just as the room numbers of all guests in Hilbert’s hotel are always at the beginning of those numbers.

  180. 180
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    But, by all means, can you give an example of a “self-evident truth” that we have good criticisms of? Are you denying that, in choosing this example, [you] compared it to a number of other examples?

    Still waiting….

  181. 181
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    No. I say that by all means of reasoning, logic and evidence, it [slavery] is wrong. That is not the same as saying that it is objectively wrong.

    Sorry, but that doesn’t work. When you say that slavery *is* wrong, which is an objective formation, when you really mean that it merely *seems* wrong to you, which is a subjective formulation, then you are trying to have it both ways. That is irrational.

    SB: You mean that you really don’t understand that the civil law (identity theft is illegal) was shaped by the Natural Moral Law (stealing is wrong)?

    Not stealing is also shaped by being able to live in a social group. It doesn’t need any higher reason.

    Social order is an objective, universal, and absolute good. It is not a matter if subjective opinion. It follows, then, that any moral code that that preserves the social order is also objective in nature.

    SB: We don’t use our reason to create a moral code proper to human nature. We use our reason to discover the one that is already there.

    How do you know this? Where does it reside before we discover it? How does it deal with changes in technology?

    If humans have a nature, then there is a morality proper to human nature that preceded human nature. That should be obvious. Apparently, you deny the fact of human nature.

    If you want to use KF’s rediculous “ might and manipulation” makes right, you can do so. But what he always excludes from that phrase is social agreement.

    KF is obviously right. There are only two standards for establishing civil law. It’s either the natural moral law or “might makes right,” which can manifest itself either as tyranny by the few or tyranny by the many. Again, if, as you claim, you are familiar with the natural moral law, then you would already know that.

    But I also noticed that you didn’t answer the question. What is more morally important, reducing abortions or making it illegal even though it won’t reduce abortions and will put women at increased risk? I opt for the former.

    The best way to reduce abortions is to promote the nuclear family, provide moral education, and stop the government from promoting the dangerous illusion of sex without consequences. If you treat children like animals, then they will behave like animals.

  182. 182
    critical rationalist says:

    @StephanB

    The best way to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies is to prevent the problem all together via better contraceptives. That doesn’t stop cases of rape or dangerous pregnancies.

    What we need are better solutions. That would be moral knowledge. Unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from achieving them is knowing how. For example, we have already created artificial wombs for late term lamb pregnancies. With refinement we could transfer any human pregnancy into such a womb. Or into the womb of a mother that could not conceive, etc.

  183. 183
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Absolutely. In the same circumstance, would you accept help from someone who believed in subjective morality? I really don’t understand your point.

    Why should someone help you?

    Hmmm. Or academics or Hollywood producers. Sure. But I don’t recall that they take the same paths as priests.

    So?

    If someone claims to believe in objective morality does he? Don’t know. I suspect most do.

    I think most do too. OTOH, if someone claims to believe in something and violate the tenets of that belief, I’d suspect he doesn’t.

    And even if he does how could you judge that the objective morality he claims to believe is wrong? .. . .I wouldn’t presume to. Only that he didn’t follow it.

    So you wouldn’t judge that a priest who rapes a child is doing something wrong but merely observe he didn’t follow his principles?

  184. 184
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: This exchange outlined by SB from 146 and its pickup by CR are sadly instructive:

    SB: Is it wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    J Smith: Since I would not like this to happen to my children, I would not like to see it happen to others. Basic golden rule, simple rational logic.

    [SB:] So clearly, you were describing your morality in terms of likes and dislikes, in much the same way others like or dislike certain flavors of ice cream. The whole point of morality is to prompt us to do the right thing even when we don’t *like* it.

    Now, CR, 179:

    The straight answer is, what we actually face are concrete moral problems. We find ourselves in a position to take some action, opposed to a number of other options, or even no action at all. And those choices are in a moral context. Our knowledge of what we should do in those concrete situations is moral knowledge.

    It’s not even clear that you think there is such a thing as a moral problem to solve. If morality isn’t actually about solving concrete moral problems, then what is about?

    So, like someone in a spelling bee, I’ll ask you to rephrase the question. Use it in the form of a moral problem to solve.

    For example, when faced with a choice of wanting to have fun with my friends, do I find myself asking, “should we go see a movie, or go out for dinner at that new restaurant, or, this might sound a bit crazy, but what about torturing babies?”

    As one of these “non-theists”, I’m suggesting there is no infallible source of moral knowledge in the form of a herd-mentality or some authority. Nor is evil isn’t some cosmic supernatural force that tempts us, etc. Evil is a lack of knowledge. There will always be room for improvement via criticism. The alternative sounds rather, well, frightening, in that it implies there can be no better solutions to moral problems than what we already have.

    New moral knowledge results in better moral problems to solve, etc.

    In the context of the OP, this is actually a specific, real world case, with an eight year old boy on his way home from school as victim of some monster’s sick attack (who, so far as I know is still out there, he was never caught). So, we first know CR has either failed to do his home work of actually reading the context before commenting adversely, or thinks he can get a rhetorical opening by pretending that this is a mere vague hypothetical exercise.

    The problem, as stated in the OP is quite specific, though suppressing details out of respect for a still grieving family bereft of a son who went out to school as usual and was ambushed on his way home by someone seeking “fun” we suppose at the expense of personal violation and the life that was taken in the process.

    So, all of the evasive talking points just above come down to failure or refusal to face facts that were readily accessible, compounded by the usual rhetoric about criticism.

    All boils down to, refusal of a straight answer.

    We can therefore freely infer that CR cannot directly deny that the act was evil, but evades admitting it as self-evident truth would devastate his clever scheme of thought.

    Oh yes, there is the attempt to redefine evil as “lack of knowledge.” The evidence of this case is, that the monster knew what he did was wrong and that he was acting against such will, voice and force as an eight year old could exert. He BOUND and GAGGED his victim. He ambushed the victim, then carried out his crime where detection while in progress was unlikely then concealed his crime’s result. Those are strong marks of knowing this was wrong and that others would intervene as they knew this was wrong.

    No, evil is not a synonym for ignorance.

    Indeed, many who have faced an existential struggle to escape its entangling clutches will testify with Paul of Tarsus:

    Rom 7:21 So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], 23 but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members. 24 Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? [AMP]

    He knows and delights in what is good, he strives to achieve it, but finds himself in bondage to habitual, addictive, enslaving evils. He needs a power greater than himself to overcome and indeed in the next chapter that is exactly what he describes. Through living encounter with God in the face of Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit inhabiting his inner man a fresh, superior dynamic empowers him to escape the bondage of evils as he walks in the Spirit.

    The 12 Step type programme describes this sort of pattern in more generic terms, as AA’s Big Book describes.

    Where, too, the lesson is obvious. There are many evils that are particularly entangling, enslaving and destructive. If one does not nibble at the bait, one will not be hooked and will not face a desperate, possibly life-long existential struggle to keep from being destroyed.

    Which, we accept as a matter of course in teaching people to avoid cigarettes and gradually restricting access to advertising and the product itself. Last time I saw a pack up close, it had large-type explicit warning labels set apart in a distinct text box. In short, we all know that there are addictive, habituating, destructive evils and know that the community can spend efforts to reduce their incidence. The latest fad I see is to resort to so-called E-Cigarettes that dose out Nicotine but reportedly avoid tars — where nicotine is a known poison.

    But of course, other destructive evils are more entrenched in power structures and lobby to avoid the tobacco treatment. And in some cases they are so socially entrenched and readily accessible that attempts to prohibit only inadvertently entrench organised crime — alcohol and the US experiment with prohibition come to mind. Currently, it seems the war with ganja is heading for defeat and surrender in many jurisdictions. Though, I personally testify to seeing people horrifically zombified and reduced to shambling along like invalids, more or less permanently spaced out by the more potent varieties.

    And of course, the longstanding, sounder understanding of evil is that it is not an independent entity nor is it mere lack of knowledge. No, it is the wrenching, perversion, frustration or privation of what is good out of its proper end. The proper end of this eight year old boy was not to be seized and have his body used for the sick pleasure of a monster, then to have his life taken from him and have his remains hidden from view for long enough for the monster to make his getaway.

    This understanding is readily available but was of course studiously ignored.

    From all of this, we may now proceed to 180, where he then challenges me:

    [To KF:] But, by all means, can you give an example of a “self-evident truth” that we have good criticisms of? Are you denying that, in choosing this example, [you] compared it to a number of other examples?

    Still waiting….

    Here we see the insincerity at work even more directly. CR seems to actually know (or at minimum should know) that I have raised a real world case in specifying the child abduction example, key yardstick case on moral truth; and, had he looked at the OP he would have readily seen that I also addressed the issue that our whole life of the mind is inescapably bound up with moral government through patent duties of care to truth, sound reasoning, fairness and justice etc. Duties, that it seems CR is adroitly side-stepping.

    Taking the wider view that he is looking at cases of self-evidence, the OP will also reveal that I gave several cases of general SET’s, and two main ones on moral SET’s.

    In speaking of a very vague term “good criticism,” he seems to want us to show SET’s overthrown by critique. In fact, critique must rely on consciousness, the principles that stem from distinct identity (starting with setting out glyphs to form words), principles of argument resting on LOI, LNC, LEM etc. In short, he knows or should know that such are undeniable, on pain of patent absurdity. He cannot counter this, so he tries to turn the matter around and use the strength of establishing that something is self-evidently true against it. Once so established a SET A is known to be such that trying to assert ~A is absurd at once. That is why it is utterly certain.

    Let’s take up his more complete form in 157:

    I am suggesting you have confused basic, self-evident truths with beliefs that have survived criticism. Criticisms failing is not equivalent to an idea is immune to criticism.

    But, by all means, can you give an example of a “self-evident truth” that we have good criticisms of? Are you denying that, in choosing this example, your was compared it to a number of other examples?

    Here, CR simply refuses to recognise that just to write this out, he is forced to rely on distinct identity even just of letters. He has his crooked yardstick and he will challenge the accuracy and soundness of a plumbline that challenges his yardstick as crooked. (Indeed, earlier he tried to suggest that the plumbline metaphor is flawed because a nearby mass might pull it to the side, which I showed would likely exert a force of ~ 10^-9 N, compared to about 1 N for a typical bob. He of course seemed clueless on the context where the plumbob is a common metaphor for the naturally straight and upright precisely because of its longstanding utility in construction.)

    And more broadly, this discussion is on a particular subset of knowledge. We already had a discussion on what knowledge (as is typically used) is, and I successfully defended the definition that knowledge (in the weak, commonly used sense) is warranted, credibly true — and so also, reliable — belief. Where, truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not. Here, we have turned to a narrower question, certain truths that have special properties that make them utterly certain in their warrant so they are not merely credibly true but are undeniably true on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. These, were discussed in the OP above.

    In short, again and again, we see evasion of what is clearly established.

    KF

  185. 185
    Eugen says:

    CR

    “Evil is a lack of knowledge”

    I think lack of wisdom rather than knowledge is evil or leads to evil. Plenty of our atheist friends here may posses knowledge but seem to lack wisdom. We’ll help you gain wisdom but to do that, knowledge is not enough. To gain wisdom you have to be contemplative, humble and grateful. I predict hard work ahead of us 🙂

    Happy New Year

  186. 186
    StephenB says:

    SB: Is it is wrong to torture babies for pleasure? Or do you have some question about it? A straight answer to a straight question would be appreciated.

    CR

    The straight answer is, what we actually face are concrete moral problems,

    That is not a straight answer. That is an evasion.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    CR:

    I am suggesting you have confused basic, self-evident truths with beliefs that have survived criticism. Criticisms failing is not equivalent to an idea is immune to criticism.

    But, by all means, can you give an example of a “self-evident truth” that we have good criticisms of? Are you denying that, in choosing this example, your was compared it to a number of other examples?

    You are really running your pet paradigm into the ground. As a man once said, “if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” This problem is not a nail and you are using the wrong tool. Self evident truths have nothing at all to do with “criticism,” even if criticism happens to be your thing.

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A point by JS I picked up at 56 I believe is worth hihghlighting again: “We all think that our moral beliefs are correct. You only have to read KF’s comments to know that this is true.” By definition, of course, if someone actually believes something, s/he has a degree of significant confidence that it is true. Whether that confidence is well-grounded is a different matter. So, JS here wishes to verbally dismiss me for the thought-crime of actually having morally themed beliefs. Think about that, then think about the context highlighted since the OP and beyond, that all our life of the mind is tinged indelibly with implicitly accepted duties of care to truth, sound reasoning, fairness, the right and more. Indeed in the clipped remark, JS seems to imagine that his evidently implied belief that there are no credible moral truths worthy of being accepted, OUGHT to prevail over that whatever, KF’s view, that such things exist. The self-referential incoherence and lack of thinking through the matter are clear. And in the 100+ remarks since, sadly, things have got no better. Folks, weep for the state of our civilisation on this New Year Day in the year of our Lord 2018. KF

  189. 189
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, sadly, yes. Let us weep for what our leading lights have done to reduce people to this level, let us pray, then let us continue to provide steps towards a sounder alternative. KF

  190. 190
    StephenB says:

    Kf

    And more broadly, this discussion is on a particular subset of knowledge. We already had a discussion on what knowledge (as is typically used) is, and I successfully defended the definition that knowledge (in the weak, commonly used sense) is warranted, credibly true — and so also, reliable — belief. Where, truth says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not. Here, we have turned to a narrower question, certain truths that have special properties that make them utterly certain in their warrant so they are not merely credibly true but are undeniably true on pain of patent absurdity on attempted denial. These, were discussed in the OP above.

    KF, yes. It really is an odd thing that these people cannot even approach the concept of objective reality, or the “what is,” without denying its existence or trying to remake it in the image of their own personal fantasies.

  191. 191
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB to CR: “That is not a straight answer. That is an evasion.”

    Of course. CR proves regularly on these pages that he is a coward. He runs like a scalded hound every time someone asks him to put up or shut up. What he apparently fails to realize is that his evasions are themselves all too telling.

  192. 192
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, That is where ever so many grotesque ideologies, agendas and radical pushes come from. They refuse to acknowledge reality as it is and view those who seek to recognise and live with reality as it is — seeking truth to know and live by it — with extreme suspicion or hostility. In short, the project of science to seek to accurately observe, describe, understand and perhaps soundly respond to and where possible influence the world for the better is dying. Indeed, evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers are a big part of the problem. Then, they refuse to recognise that shaping policy, law and society on lies and fantasies is a road to ruin. It doesn’t matter if you dress up such lies and fantasies in a lab coat or a doctor’s coat. We would be ill-advised to put governance power in such hands. The current state of the university is a warning. And that’s also why throwing more and more money at the problem to drive through the agendas is proving to be counter-productive. Then, the next resort is to outlaw and turn policing agencies on those who dare question the agenda.The recent case where it sounds now — as in, there is a whistle blower — like sniper teams were sent out against traditional ranchers and those who went to put their own bodies between the out of control BLM and another policing agency mass killing event should be a wake up call. KF

  193. 193
    critical rationalist says:

    @stephenB

    Those Newtonians running their theory into the ground, when they explain the motions of apples *and* planets and all objects we know of! And then those general relativists, explaining the motions of those things at very high speeds!

    Since I don’t have an example of a self evident truth that we have good criticism of, I’ll just say something vague, like running their theory into the ground.

  194. 194
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Sorry, but that doesn’t work. When you say that slavery *is* wrong, which is an objective formation, when you really mean that it merely *seems* wrong to you, which is a subjective formulation, then you are trying to have it both ways. That is irrational.

    You are just arguing over semantics, like WJM does when he uses terms like ‘preference of ice cream’. I could just as easily respond with something like, ‘slavery doesn’t seem wrong to you?’ But I won’t ask that because it would be a dishonest tactic. I say that slavery *is* wrong because it cannot survive a rational, logical, evidence based examination. Any examination conducted by humans may use objective facts but it is ultimately subjective in nature.

    Social order is an objective, universal, and absolute good. It is not a matter if subjective opinion. It follows, then, that any moral code that that preserves the social order is also objective in nature.

    No, social order is not an objective, universal and absolute good. The society in Orwell’s 1984 was very ordered. The Indian society under the caste system was very ordered. North Korean society is very ordered. I’m sure that is not what you intended to say. There is far more to society than just being ordered.

    But we are not talking about whether or not a stable society is objectively good. We are talking about the “moral” actions that we undertake in order to obtain that “objectively” good society. I have never said that there were not objective facts, or self-evident truths. That would be a very different discussion. We are talking about whether or not our morally based actions are objectively, self-evidently good. And I argue that they are not.

    If humans have a nature, then there is a morality proper to human nature that preceded human nature. That should be obvious. Apparently, you deny the fact of human nature.

    No, I accept that there is a human nature. For example, we are gregarious, we are curious, etc. I also accept that there are moral values that allow human societies to thrive. But these values can change based on the conditions humans find themselves. For example, the values optimal for a small interrelated agrarian population will be different than those for a city of ten million people of different ethnic and religious background. For example, the concept of and respect for personal property we’re very different for Euoropeans and native Americans. They both worked effectively for each group but they were not compatible when the societies came together.

    KF is obviously right. There are only two standards for establishing civil law. It’s either the natural moral law or “might makes right,” which can manifest itself either as tyranny by the few or tyranny by the many. Again, if, as you claim, you are familiar with the natural moral law, then you would already know that.

    I am familiar with NML. I just think that it is nonsense at least in the way it is being used here. KF’s nonsense claim completely ignores reason and social agreement. But admitting that would undermine his world view.

    The best way to reduce abortions is to promote the nuclear family, provide moral education, and stop the government from promoting the dangerous illusion of sex without consequences. If you treat children like animals, then they will behave like animals.

    That didn’t work in the 1800s or 1900s. Why do you think it would work now? The abortion problem will not be solved by simply making it illegal. Or supporting the nuclear family. It will take a multi-pronged approach. And pretending that humans aren’t sexual animals will only make it worse. We have to acknowledge the reality that people are going to have sex and make sure that they have the knowledge and tools to make good decisions. A good example to look at is smoking. Smoking rates have dramatically decreased, largely through education efforts.

  195. 195
    JSmith says:

    T7

    Why should someone help you?

    We are rational animals. We can see past immediate self gratification. I know that if I help you, you are more likely to help me. We both benefit.

    I think most do too. OTOH, if someone claims to believe in something and violate the tenets of that belief, I’d suspect he doesn’t.

    What about free will. This sort of argument is the same one that some people use to argue that Christians never commit atrocities. If they did, then they weren’t true Christians. It’s nice to have your cake and eat it too.

    So you wouldn’t judge that a priest who rapes a child is doing something wrong but merely observe he didn’t follow his principles?

    No. I would conclude that what he did was wrong because it would not pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination.

  196. 196
    JSmith says:

    SB

    KF, yes. It really is an odd thing that these people cannot even approach the concept of objective reality, or the “what is,” without denying its existence or trying to remake it in the image of their own personal fantasies.

    I must have missed where I said that I don’t accept objective realities. This discussion is about whether our morals are objectively derived or objectively derived. I think I even said that it is probably an objective fact that we are under moral governance. It is what this moral governance is acting on that is in contention.

  197. 197
    kairosfocus says:

    JS:

    I would conclude that what he did was wrong because it would not pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination

    In short, there is warranted, credibly true and reliable belief that such an act is wrongful or evil. That is, we here have acknowledgement of moral knowledge.

    KF

  198. 198
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    Why should someone help you? We are rational animals.

    So you don’t think someone might rationally conclude he could be hurt by helping you? Suppose if it is mere inconvenience and he rationally concludes his time is better used watching television?

    And if we are “rational animals” why do some rape children? The reality might bother you but it is the reality and you are ignoring it.

    What about free will (with regard to the observation regarding people who violate the tenets of the principles they claim to hold.)

    Yes. People have the free will to lie and violate the tenets of the principles they claim to hold especially when it advances their cause.

    So you wouldn’t judge that a priest who rapes a child is doing something wrong but merely observe he didn’t follow his principles? . . .No. I would conclude that what he did was wrong because it would not pass a rational, logical, evidence based examination.

    So it is wrong because it is illogical? Says who? It would make perfect sense to the perpetrator. And to succeed in his crime much less get away with it for years would require reasoning and planning.

  199. 199
    JSmith says:

    T7

    So you don’t think someone might rationally conclude he could be hurt by helping you?

    The first thing they teach you in any first aid course is to never provide first aid if it is dangerous to you to do so. The only thing worse than one injured person is two injured people.

    Suppose if it is mere inconvenience and he rationally concludes his time is better used watching television?

    Some people will do this. Probably more than you think. I prefer to play the odds.

    And if we are “rational animals” why do some rape children? The reality might bother you but it is the reality and you are ignoring it.

    Some are more rational than others. I thought that would become obvious by reading comments on this blog. How am I ignoring the fact that some people rape children?

    Yes. People have the free will to lie and violate the tenets of the principles they claim to hold especially when it advances their cause.

    Agreed.

    So it is wrong because it is illogical? Says who?

    Are you seriously saying that if you examined it rationally that you wouldn’t conclude that it is wrong?

    It would make perfect sense to the perpetrator.

    How does that change if I agreed that it was objectively wrong?

    And to succeed in his crime much less get away with it for years with it would require reasoning and planning.

    And a cover-up by church authority, all the way up to the Pope.

  200. 200

    A/mat are illogical…and thus wrong.

    JS @ 199: “How does that change if I agreed that it was objectively wrong?”

    If you agreed that it was objectively wrong, you would actually be in a position to say that it was right or wrong based on some objective standard. Otheriwse it is just your opinion.

  201. 201
    tribune7 says:

    So it is wrong because it is illogical? Says who? Are you seriously saying that if you examined it rationally that you wouldn’t conclude that it is wrong?

    You claim “We (as in human beings) are rational animals.” So why do some human beings rape children.?

    And I would not examine it “rationally”. I would examine it emotionally, and I would know with certainty that I would be correct to treat it with emotion (anger, loathing) because it offends the spirit in me that the Power That Is has given us.

    Now, you have asked for some absolute universal moral value. How about “love”? Would you agree that that is an absolute universal moral value?

  202. 202

    JS @ 199: By the way, your opinion means very little to me and I am sure that mine means very little to you. How does natural selection (or some other Darwinian mechanism) fix that problem?

  203. 203

    t7 @ 201: No way that JS believes in any universal moral value. That would be too much like inching toward God. Poor soul would never do that.

  204. 204
    JSmith says:

    TWSYF

    If you agreed that it was objectively wrong, you would actually be in a position to say that it was right or wrong based on some objective standard. Otheriwse it is just your opinion.

    Supported by rational, logical, evidence based examination. As opposed to your opinion that it is objective with no evidence supported rationale to support it? I think that mine carries more weight.

    By the way, your opinion means very little to me and I am sure that mine means very little to you. How does natural selection fix that problem?

    Why should it. My respect for a person’s opinion is based on how rationally sound the opinion is. It is independent of their world view, religion or political stripe. I assume you do the same.

    No way that JS believes in any universal moral value. That would be too much like inching toward God. Poor soul would never do that.

    Who said I didn’t believe in God?

  205. 205
    tribune7 says:

    JS

    You described yourself “as being agnostic on materialism” (137).

    Do you believe in God?

  206. 206
    JSmith says:

    T7

    You described yourself “as being agnostic on materialism” (137).

    Do you believe in God?

    Yes. There is nothing incompatible with the two statements.

  207. 207
    critical rationalist says:

    This seems to be the crux of the issue..

    Suppose that 2 + 2 = 4 is open to questioning. Would there be a basis for mathematics?

    That’s exactly what we’re suggesting. And you have’t conflicted with the idea.

    If all of our criticisms of 2 + 2 = 4, etc., fail, then yes, there is a basis for mathematics. And, they have continued to fail. Criticisms failing is all we have.

    For example, how did you specifically pick 2 + 2 = 4, and all other propositions listed here, as candidates for immunity from criticism? Why not some some other propositions, such as the angles of a triangle sum to two right angles, or that the city you live in exists, etc?

    Did you not conclude those specific propositions would best make your point because they were the most unambiguously true of all the candidate propositions you considered including in your argument?

    If so, then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true each of those candidate propositions was in relation to the other candidates? Did you not stop and criticize them by an attempt to quickly consider reasons or ways they might be conceivably false?

    It seems that, if you didn’t criticize them, then you have no way of concluding those specific propositions would best make your point. If they were immune from criticism, then did you arbitrarily choose them?

    IOW, nothing you’ve said conflicts with the idea that there is no dichotomy between non-basic beliefs and basic beliefs. What you call basic beliefs are beliefs that we do not have good criticism of, as opposed to being immune to criticism.

  208. 208
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    You are just arguing over semantics, like WJM does when he uses terms like ‘preference of ice cream’.

    Words mean things. When you use them, you are accountable for the way that most people would understand them. To say something *is* wrong is to say that it is objectively wrong, which means that it is wrong for everyone. If, on the other hand, morality is subjective, as you indicate, then everyone is free to decide the matter for himself, which means that such an act is not immoral for anyone whose subjective morality can justify it. So you should simply express your opinion accurately: Torturing babies *seems* wrong to you but you have no objection against their baby-torturing morality since they are entitled to define their morality subjectively just as you are entitled to define your morality subjectively.

    No, social order is not an objective, universal and absolute good.

    Social order is most definitely an objective, universal, and absolute good.

    The society in Orwell’s 1984 was very ordered. The Indian society under the caste system was very ordered. North Korean society is very ordered. I’m sure that is not what you intended to say. There is far more to society than just being ordered.

    That last sentence is very confused. We are discussing order, not something “far more.” None of these societies you mentioned are well-ordered. They are all tyrannical. A well ordered society is one that functions in a way that serves the common good, which makes it an objective good for that reason. The societies that you mentioned are not objectively good because they do not allow for diversity in unity. Liberals, like yourself, clamor for a false diversity at the expense of unity; tyrants, like Hitler, insist on a false unity at the expense of diversity. The natural moral law indicates that both elements must be present for a well-ordered society, which is objectively a good thing since, as indicated, it promotes the common good. Of course, you don’t recognize the common good because you disavow all forms of objective good.

    I have never said that there were not objective facts, or self-evident truths. That would be a very different discussion.

    Please don’t try to have it both ways again. You have said that there are no objective moral truths and that there are no self-evident moral truths. That is the issue on the table.

    We are talking about whether or not our morally based actions are objectively, self-evidently good. And I argue that they are not.

    No, KF and I, are arguing that *some* moral actions are objectively and self evidently good (or bad) and that we can, through the use of reason, derive the morality of other kinds of actions from the ones that are self evident. That is the way the natural moral law works. Hence, it is self-evidently true that we should not murder, from which we can conclude that we should not commit wanton acts of violence or even degrade others through cruelty of speech. The last two points are not necessarily self evident, but they are objectively true nevertheless. Such acts violate the objective moral code. Their morality is not a matter of subjective opinion.

    For example, we are gregarious, we are curious, etc. I also accept that there are moral values that allow human societies to thrive. But these values can change based on the conditions humans find themselves.

    Our human nature is not defined by gregariousness, which is a personality trait. Our human nature is defined primarily by our intellect, by which we can know the good, and our will, by which we can do the good. It is our nature to strive for things that are objectively good–to survive, to procreate, to form communities, and to use our intellects and wills for the purpose of making good decisions. Again, it is obvious that these goods are objective in nature. It follows that the moral code that supports those actions must also be objective.

    It is good and natural, for example, for humans to form communities. That is because they were created as social beings, which is an objective, unchanging truth. That is one of the reasons why solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments that can be inflicted. There are subjective elements to come into play, of course, because changing conditions and differing personalities make it necessary to find different ways to apply these same objective unchanging truths.

    I am familiar with NML.

    I don’t think so.

    I just think that it is nonsense at least in the way it is being used here. KF’s nonsense claim completely ignores reason and social agreement. But admitting that would undermine his world view.

    You have not addressed the point that we both made. Subjective morality always leads to tyranny.

    And pretending that humans aren’t sexual animals will only make it worse.

    The nature of a human is different from the nature of an animal. Yes, humans are part animal, but their nature transcends that of an animal. To assume that humans are mere animals is to subject them to the worse kind of abuse. Humans can reason, animals cannot. Humans can restrain their impulses, animals cannot. Humans can know the difference between right and wrong, animals cannot. Humans can become saints or scoundrels, animals cannot. Most importantly, humans can, and often do, pervert their nature, animals cannot.

  209. 209
    StephenB says:

    CR:

    Those Newtonians running their theory into the ground, when they explain the motions of apples *and* planets and all objects we know of! And then those general relativists, explaining the motions of those things at very high speeds!

    What in the name of sense are you talking about. Newton didn’t apply his scientific methodology or his scientific explanations to pass judgment on self evident truths. He began the entire enterprise with self evident truths because he was a rational man.

    Since I don’t have an example of a self evident truth that we have good criticism of, I’ll just say something vague, like running their theory into the ground.

    What is it about *self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation* that you do not understand?

  210. 210
    J-Mac says:

    JSmith,

    Who said I didn’t believe in God?

    Surprise… surprise… Tell us some more… I’d be interested…

    I guess Barry’s OP on you being a “simpering coward” doesn’t really address the issue anymore, does it?

  211. 211
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    CR: Since I don’t have an example of a self evident truth that we have good criticism of …

    What do you mean by “good criticism”? I suppose that you do not mean criticism that fails ….

    CR: If all of our criticisms of 2 + 2 = 4, etc., fail, then yes, there is a basis for mathematics. And, they have continued to fail.

    So? Do we have “good criticism” of 2 + 2 = 4? Whatever “good criticism” means?

    CR: Criticisms failing is all we have.

    We do not have 2 + 2 =4, I exist, A = A and so forth? All we have is “criticism failing”?
    – – – –
    Put another way: what are you talking about?

  212. 212
    critical rationalist says:

    @StephenB

    You seem to be equating unification, in the ability to apply an idea to what was thought to be separate areas as “running a theory into the ground”. Future quantum gravitists would apply their theory to apples and planets and relativistic speeds and at the very small scale! Will they ever stop running their theory into the ground?

    Unification is what Popper did in his theory of knowledge. It’s applicable across what was thought to be separate areas. When I use it in multiple places, it’s because its applicable across those areas. Then again, running a theory into the ground is a vague criticism, so I might have got what you meant wrong.

    What is it about *self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation* that you do not understand?

    What is it about “you have confused misunderstanding with disagreement in that it mistaken” that you do not understand?

    Nor is this a response to criticisms presented in #207.

    Is this argument by dictionary definition? The origin of the word Atom?

    late 15th century: from Old French atome, via Latin from Greek atomos ‘indivisible’, based on a- ‘not’ + temnein ‘to cut’.

    If we go by that definition, then atoms are indivisible. Yet, they can be split. Nor would reciting this definition act as a defense from nuclear weapons.

  213. 213
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    I gave an example of what I mean in my comment.

    If so, then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true each of those candidate propositions was in relation to the other candidates? Did you not stop and criticize them by an attempt to quickly consider reasons or ways they might be conceivably false?

    Attempting to conceive of reasons or ways why something might be false is criticism of that idea.

    Good criticism of an idea would be a good argument containing some reason or ways that it might be false. Criticisms failing is not the same as being immune to criticism.

    From the Fabric of Reality list…

    On 22 Apr 2011, at 2:57pm, John Clark wrote:

    > On Fri, Apr 22, 2011 wrote:
    >
    >> does your criterion admit that “2 + 2 = 4” is falsifiable?
    >
    > Certainly. If Tommy has two cupcakes in a box and then Tommy puts two more
    > cupcakes in a box and Tommy doesn’t now have 4 cupcakes in a box then the
    > idea has been proven false.

    Yeeees…. but more importantly, no.

    The thing is, if carried out under the conditions implied, the outcome would not refute the theory that 2+2=4 but rather, it would refute the theory that the Tommy-cupcake-box system accurately models the numbers 2 and 4 and the operation of addition.

    This is exactly analogous to why, as I argued, the fossil rabbit in the Jurassic stratum would not refute the theory of evolution: experimental testing is useless in the absence of a good explanation.

    What would a good explanation that 2+2 doesn’t equal 4 look like? I can’t think of one; that’s because the theory that it’s true is, in real life, extremely hard to vary. That’s why mathematicians mistake it for being self-evident, or directly intuited, etc. And it is of course my opinion that 2+2 does in fact equal 4, so I’m not expecting to find a contrary theory that is at all good as an explanation. But, for instance, Greg Egan’s science-fiction story Dark Integers explores essentially that possibility (albeit only for very large integers).

    The analogy between the theory of evolution and the 2+2 theory is in fact closer than the mere difficulty of imagining a good explanation to the contrary. Both of them, if false, would seem to involve there being laws of physics that directly mess with the creation of knowledge, in what we would consider a malevolent way. This makes for very bad explanations, but that doesn’t affect the logic of the issue so here goes: The analogue of creationism being true, then, would be something like that there is really no such entity as the number 4 because the axioms of arithmetic as we know them are blatantly inconsistent, and that the laws of physics act on neurons to make us unconsciously confabulate excuses for ignoring the physical effects of that.

    — David Deutsch

  214. 214
    Origenes says:

    CR to StephenB

    CR: What is it about “you have confused misunderstanding with disagreement in that it mistaken” that you do not understand?

    Everything. I have read that sentence three times and I have no idea what it means.

  215. 215
    critical rationalist says:

    Everything. I have read that sentence three times and I have no idea what it means.

    I have already stated that I’m disagreement with the statement “*self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation*”, not that I do not understand it.

    Is there something about that statement that StephenB doesn’t understand?

    I can conceive of the idea, “traveling from earth to Jupiter in normal space in eight seconds” yet think it is mistaken, because it would imply traveling in normal space faster than the speed of light.

    Defining “Rapid Earth-Jupiter velocity” as the speed it would take to reach Jupiter from Earth in eight seconds, does’t somehow make traveling from earth to Jupiter possible in eight seconds.

  216. 216
    critical rationalist says:

    Note: I have presented good criticism of the idea that some ideas are not subject to criticism in #207.

    Merely responding that self-evident truths are defined as being not subject to criticism doesn’t somehow make that a bad criticism.

  217. 217
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    Ah more from the anti-philosopher Deutsch!

    Wiki: To Deutsch, … aspects of a good explanation, and more, are contained in any theory that is specific and “hard to vary”. He believes that this criterion helps eliminate “bad explanations” which continuously add justifications, and can otherwise avoid ever being truly falsified.

    Those who think that Deutsch must therefore hold that evolutionary theory is a bad explanation are in for a small surprise:

    Deutsch: The analogy between the theory of evolution and the 2+2 theory is in fact closer than the mere difficulty of imagining a good explanation to the contrary. Both of them, if false, would seem to involve there being laws of physics that directly mess with the creation of knowledge, in what we would consider a malevolent way.

    Wait a minute, wait a minute … what is Deutsch saying here? If 2 + 2 = 4 is false, then there are “laws of physics that directly mess with the creation of knowledge, in what we would consider a malevolent way.” .. *what??*
    And, what a coincidence (!) the same can be said if it were the case that evolution is not true. Because if evolution is not true, then, (isn’t it obvious?!) we also get “laws of physics that that directly mess with the creation of knowledge, in what we would consider a malevolent way.”
    *What is this poor devil talking about???*

    This makes for very bad explanations, but that doesn’t affect the logic of the issue so here goes:

    Those laws of physics, that directly mess with the creation of knowledge in a malevolent way, make up for bad explanations? *Whaaat??*

    The analogue of creationism being true, then, would be something like that there is really no such entity as the number 4 ….

    Wait a minute, …. if creationism is true, then, … it would be like there is no number 4 … *What madness am I reading here?*

    … because the axioms of arithmetic as we know them are blatantly inconsistent …

    *What?*

    … and that the laws of physics act on neurons to make us unconsciously confabulate excuses for ignoring the physical effects of that.
    — David Deutsch

    ….
    Question: Is it unethical to ban a person for being crazy?

  218. 218
    StephenB says:

    CR:

    I have already stated that I’m disagreement with the statement “*self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation*”, not that I do not understand it.

    No, actually this is the first time you have stated the point using those words and, as a bonus, the first time it was comprehensible.

    Now that I know what you are talking about–an event worth celebrating–I will ask the obvious question:

    Why do you disagree with my statement? It reads, “self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation.”

  219. 219
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, perhaps you should start with, once there is some A (say, a bright red ball on a table) with distinct identity, we may view the world W as partitioned, W = {A|~A}. From this distinction, immediately A is itself, no x is both A AND ~A, any x is A X-OR ~A. These are not “subject to criticism,” as criticism must inevitably start there. The very attempt to deny these, immediately depends on them. These are prior to criticism, in the usual sense or any idiosyncratic sense CR et al may choose to apply. These come first, in short. KF

    PS: Newtonian dynamics (which are not universal i/l/o small and/or fast moving bodies at appreciable fraction of c) are inductive, not self evident.

  220. 220
    doubter says:

    JSmith @ 175:

    “Except that we can replicate NDE using chemical and other physical changes to the brain.”

    Materialists like to claim this, but the best drugs and chemicals and brain deficits like oxygen deprivation can do is poorly mimic a few of the less important features of NDEs – nothing like the actual experiences. Actual NDEs involve heightened, vivid “realer-than-real” experiences sometimes involving passing through a tunnel, entering an otherworldly realm, encountering a brilliant light and seeing deceased relatives and friends, a life review, revelations and life lessons, intense positive emotions and mystical feelings, and an (often unwilling) return to the body. These memories are not hallucinations or of imagined events, as shown by several studies including the use of EEGs. These memories are very similar to memories of real events especially in terms of their richness and strong emotional content.

    On top of this there is the large body of veridical evidence from the accounts, where for instance NDEers describe (as perceived from a detached location above), later verified details of their medical treatments and rescusitations and details of conversations and statements by the medical personnel. All this occurring while their brains were simply not operating due to conditions like cardiac arrest.

  221. 221
    JSmith says:

    JM

    JS: Who said I didn’t believe in God?

    JM: Surprise… surprise… Tell us some more… I’d be interested…

    I believe that God created the universe and created the conditions needed to lead to us. Other than that, I am agnostic.

    I guess Barry’s OP on you being a “simpering coward” doesn’t really address the issue anymore, does it?

    I wouldn’t know. I tend not to take any OP seriously when it starts with a childish insult. However, some here seem to be attracted to those types of childish antics like dogs in heat. Sadly, it says more about them than it does about me.

  222. 222
    J-Mac says:

    JSmith @221,

    That’s a fair response…

    You don’t believe in abiogenesis, do you?

    BTW. I feel for many people who read UD… If they don’t have strong faith, they can easily became atheists…

  223. 223
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Words mean things. When you use them, you are accountable for the way that most people would understand them.

    No. I am accountable for what I mean. If others don’t understand what I meant then it is my responsibility to rephrase it in a way that, hopefully, gets my meaning across. Which is what I did.

    To say something *is* wrong is to say that it is objectively wrong,

    When I say that vanilla ice cream *is* better than chocolate ice cream, does this mean that I am making an objective claim?

    which means that it is wrong for everyone.

    So, chocolate ice cream is wrong for everyone.

    If, on the other hand, morality is subjective, as you indicate, then everyone is free to decide the matter for himself, which means that such an act is not immoral for anyone whose subjective morality can justify it.

    People who do things that most of us would consider to be morally wrong (raping a child) fall into two categories:
    1) those who, through reasoning, conclude that it is wrong and do it regardless (we call them legally culpable); and,
    2) those who have reasoned it through and come to the conclusion that it is not wrong (we call them not legally culpable. ie. innocent by reason of insanity).
    Why would we acknowledge this in law if we don’t see it at some frequency above that of a statistical anomoly? Again, we are dealing with majority rules. You and KF may not like it, but this is what we see on a daily basis.

    That last sentence is very confused. We are discussing order, not something “far more.” None of these societies you mentioned are well-ordered. They are all tyrannical.

    Tyrannical societies tend to be the most ordered societies in history. Don’t confuse ordered with stable.

    A well ordered society is one that functions in a way that serves the common good, which makes it an objective good for that reason.

    You just lectured me on the use of the word *is* and then follow up with the improper use of the term *well ordered*. Totalitarian regimes tend to be very well ordered. Everything and everyone in the place and role assigned to them.

    Please don’t try to have it both ways again. You have said that there are no objective moral truths and that there are no self-evident moral truths. That is the issue on the table.

    I feel like I am repeating myself but I have never claimed that there are no objective/self-evident truths. Just that moral values and actions don’t qualify.

    No, KF and I, are arguing that *some* moral actions are objectively and self evidently good (or bad)…

    And I have asked how and who comes up with list. If you answer that it is something that anyone can figure out for themselves, then you are talking about a subjective conclusion. If you answer that only qualified people can use reason to draw the correct conclusion then you are still talking about a subjective conclusion. If you answer that it is something that we all innately know and can figure out if we think about it, we are still talking about a subjective conclusion. Even if there is some finite list of objective values, they still require subjective interpretation that is open to error. Therefore, indistinguishable from subjective.

    It is good and natural, for example, for humans to form communities. That is because they were created as social beings, which is an objective, unchanging truth.

    I agree that it is natural for humans to form communities. And I agree that the fact that we are social beings has been an objective truth throughout our history. But whether or not this is objectively good is an opinion that we have nothing to compare to. I suspect that the universality of our moral governance comes from our social nature (or causes our social nature). What this moral governance works on is subjective in nature. Over time, the most successful moral values will become more and more prevalent, to the point where they approach universality. But that does not make them objective in origin.

    You have not addressed the point that we both made. Subjective morality always leads to tyranny.

    What’s to address? Tyranny exists. If morality is objective, it can obviously lead to tyranny. If morality is subjective, it can lead to tyranny as well.

  224. 224
    Eugen says:

    Atheists have strong faith of course. There are plenty of new religions they invented and are strongly pushing them on others. Environmentalism, sexual revolution, global warming, social justice etc are examples of new atheist religions

  225. 225
    JSmith says:

    JM

    You don’t believe in abiogenesis, do you?

    I am not sure about that. But if God set up the universe such that life could rise from non life, is it really abiogenesis?

    BTW. I feel for many people who read UD… If they don’t have strong faith, they can easily became atheists…

    Certainly not by the arguments of atheists. But maybe from not wanting to be associated with the childish behaviour of a handful of the theistic commenters.

  226. 226
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    When I say that vanilla ice cream *is* better than chocolate ice cream, does this mean that I am making an objective claim?

    Yes, that is what it means. You are saying that chocolate ice cream is better than any other kind. Of course, one can be forgiven for using imprecise language on matters of little importance. Not so with the subject of morality.

    To be accurate, though, you would need to say that you like chocolate ice cream better than any other kind, but people with different tastes are free to disagree. Then you would be in the subjective realm.

    Tyrannical societies tend to be the most ordered societies in history. Don’t confuse ordered with stable.

    That is incorrect. A well ordered society is one that functions in a way that serves the common good, which makes it an objective good for that reason. It is also one that integrates diversity in unity, as indicated.

    I feel like I am repeating myself but I have never claimed that there are no objective/self-evident truths. Just that moral values and actions don’t qualify.

    You have said that there are no self-evident moral truths. If you acknowledge self-evident truths in other contexts, then we have a meeting of the minds to that extent. However, it should be evident that we are discussing moral truths, since the self evident truths concerning logic and causality are not under discussion.

    If you answer that it is something that anyone can figure out for themselves, then you are talking about a subjective conclusion.

    The process of apprehending an extra-mental, self-evident truth is subjective, but the extra-mental self-evident truth that is apprehended is objective. We have the investigator (subject) and the thing being investigated (object), Hence, we make the distinction between subjective and objective.

    I agree that it is natural for humans to form communities. And I agree that the fact that we are social beings has been an objective truth throughout our history.

    It is always good to come to a meeting of minds.

    But whether or not this is objectively good is an opinion that we have nothing to compare to.

    There are five objective goods appropriate to human nature. [a] to seek what it good [b] to survive [c] to perpetuate the species [d] to live in community and [e] to use the faculties of mind and will to make choices. It should be obvious that these are all objective in nature. That means they are good for humans because that is the way humans were made. It has nothing to do with anyone’s subjective opinion.

  227. 227
    J-Mac says:

    1. I would have to be theistic abiogenesis…

    2. I agree…

  228. 228
    StephenB says:

    KF concerning CR

    SB, perhaps you should start with, once there is some A (say, a bright red ball on a table) with distinct identity, we may view the world W as partitioned, W = {A|~A}. From this distinction, immediately A is itself, no x is both A AND ~A, any x is A X-OR ~A. These are not “subject to criticism,” as criticism must inevitably start there. The very attempt to deny these, immediately depends on them. These are prior to criticism, in the usual sense or any idiosyncratic sense CR et al may choose to apply. These come first, in short. KF

    That would be an excellent approach. However, I want to know *why* CR disagrees so that I design the appropriate response. That is why I chose to ask a question rather than provide an explanation for something that was not asked for. He did, after all, pose an objection without providing a reason for it. Let’s find out how worthy it is, then we can both weigh in.

  229. 229

    JS, just a quick comment: There is no evidence whatsoever that the material conditions enabling biology are built-in to the laws of physics. To the contrary, there is enormous evidence that they are not. Life is the product of a very specific (and well-documented) organization that “sits on top” of dynamics. Such an organization can be found nowhere else in the cosmos except in the use of written language and mathematics (i.e. two unambiguous correlates of intelligence).

  230. 230
    kairosfocus says:

    JS,

    You have been scathingly dismissive and have even trampled on the memory of an 8-year-old victim, but have yet to tell us why REJECTING the following does not immediately land us in patent absurdity.

    First, a bit of background:

    Were our rational faculty utterly unrestrained by responsibility, duty, moral government, it would fall into the cynical nihilism of utter manipulativeness and imposition by force: might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘knowledge,’ ‘justice’ and more. That is suicidally absurd. And you know better, as you know that the very force that energises dispute such as in this thread is duty to truth, sound reason and more.

    Yes, the mere fact that we inescapably find ourselves trying to justify ourselves and show others in the wrong immediately reveals the massive fact of moral government, and that this is critical to governing ourselves in community. On pain of mutual ruin.

    A simple scan of the thread above will suffice to substantiate this picture and it will render any attempt to deny it patently absurd. It is operationally absurd to deny the fact that our rational interior life is morally governed, and those who set out to benumb or render that government ineffective become monstrous in one way or another. We can start with, typically ending in the “what can I get away with” mode of might and/or manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘justice’ etc.

    (This is already heavily pregnant with deep world-structure consequences and challenges any worldview that cannot adequately address such, especially by providing a sound bridge between IS and OUGHT in the world root, the only place where such is feasible.)

    Now, the yardstick case should be viewed in this context:

    For example, it is self-evidently wrong, wicked, evil to kidnap, bind, torture, sexually violate and murder a young child for one’s sick pleasure. (And, sadly, this is NOT a hypothetical case.)

    Probe this case and you will see that such a child hath neither strength nor eloquence to fight or plead for himself or herself. And yet, were we to chance on such a demonic act in progress we are duty bound to try to rescue or at least bawl for help.

    We are inescapably under moral government.

    Which implies that IS and OUGHT must be bridged in the root of reality, on pain of reducing moral government to grand delusion that takes down rationality itself in its collapse.

    Now, a review of the thread above and others that interact with it will show evasions, distractors, side-steps, appeals to personal feelings, thought and beliefs etc, but never a direct denial. This is because the attempted denial of what this sadly real case shows would at once end in monstrous, nihilistic absurdity. It would also mean, in practical terms, pretty directly the breakdown of wider civil society into feuding clans that take revenge on any member of the other group for real or imagined slights or wrongs. One of the promises of the state was to end the perpetual civil war of the clans by enforcing a system of just civil law that fosters broader human thriving through the civil peace of justice.

    Part of the implied terms of the covenant of government in the nation under God; speaking historically.

    Of course, the civil order can be subverted, by tyranny, by corruption, by manipulation and deceit, and more. All of these are forms of nihilist breakdown. And in that context, failure to protect children from monstrous predators is a pretty strong indictment.

    (I know, I know, many are ever so eager to pounce on the Roman Catholic church and even to extend this to “Religion” the better to advance their nihilism. I am a convinced Protestant, but I always thought there was something cynical afoot on that; especially as at the same time the same forces were busily undermining the ability of Boy Scouts to prevent access to their boys by predators. By their inconsistencies shall ye know them. The current unfolding scandals and accusations suffice to show that through the cynical hypocrisy that has now been exposed. By their hypocrisies shall ye further know them. And yes, I am also very concerned that unsubstantiated tainting accusations that lack sound warrant are patently there and have in some cases been weaponised to take down or try to take down people. That too is a warning; sooner or later someone is going to revert to the clan feud when the institutions sufficiently fail to defend innocent reputation. In a feudal context, the penalty for lese majeste against leading members, historically, has consistently been very strict: death. Clan survival in a shame/honour culture depends on respect for the clan lord and his key associates. The clan will take down those who fail, from within. Rule 303 at 800 – 1,000 yards range is very feasible and is in fact not capable of being stopped, especially if one deals with those of the I have nothing left to lose mentality. We are playing with dangerous fire.)

    So, do we want to keep on standing on the cracked, crumbling edge of an abyss?

    Coming back to focus, the evidence is undeniable that we find ourselves under moral government, under a law of OUGHT. One, we cannot escape. And, to suggest that this is “only” subjective is to imply it is delusional. But once that virus is let loose, it cannot be checked. We are here looking at grand absurdity that is self-referential, infinitely regressive (it would take in every act of reasoned mind) and so absurdly ruinous.

    Those are precisely the marks of self-evident truth.

    Going further, the particular case is highly instructive on specific duties of care to the individual due to his or her quasi-infinite worth and dignity rooted in being human. In short, being made in the image of God as a rational, responsible, morally governed unique individual, a living, enconscienced soul.

    Having, thus, been endowed with “certain unalienable rights.”

    Among which are life, liberty, pursuit of sense of calling [aka happiness], fruit of mental or manual toil, honestly acquired property, innocent reputation, conscience, innocent expression, innocent association, petition for redress of legitimate grievance and more.

    Thence, that legitimate governments are instituted among men to enforce the civil peace of justice above and beyond what feuding clans can do. Thus, governments gain and hold legitimacy through the expressed consent of the governed, conditional on carrying out their responsibilities under the broader scope of nationhood under the Supreme Lord and Just Judge of the cosmos, its founder and our creator. Thus, they must respect the laws of our morally governed nature, which are in relevant parts evident to responsible honest competent reason.

    Let us again hear Cicero in De Legibus, The Laws (Echoing Plato):

    —Marcus [in De Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man. We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    From 1765, let us hear Blackstone in his commentaries on the laws of England:

    Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being . . . consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will. This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws . . . These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly [NB: cf. Exod. 20:15 – 16], should hurt nobody [NB: cf. Rom 13:8 – 10], and should render to every one his due [NB: cf. Rom 13:6 – 7 & Exod. 20:15]; to which three general precepts Justinian[1: a Juris praecepta sunt hace, honeste vivere. alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. Inst, 1. 1. 3] has reduced the whole doctrine of law [and, Corpus Juris, Justinian’s Christianised precis and pruning of perhaps 1,000 years of Roman jurisprudence, in turn is the foundation of law for much of Europe].

    So much for dismissive rhetoric about being “vague” and “mythical” etc. No, there is a huge corpus of law and commentary, state documents and history of ideas. But, we project our ignorance in place of readily accessible facts to the contrary, starting with the US DoI of 1776 and its historical antecedents. But so often we are led to disbelieve what our lying eyes tell us, by those who pretend to be our intellectual superiors.

    Reduction to patent absurdity trumps any clever, sophisticated argument, friends.

    That’s why it is so feared and despised.

    When therefore a higher magistrate becomes destructive to such ends, by gross negligence, corruption, repeated scandal, abuses and oppression, or blatant tyranny, it is the collective right of the people, the clans, the nation, to act through interposed lower magistrates (including popular representatives) to petition for redress. And where a deaf ear is turned to remonstrance, to remove and replace failed government, making due reforms as necessary. Where, the general election is an institutionalised, peaceful means to achieve such.

    And we could go on and on, but enough has been said to outline the utter unreasonableness and cynical irresponsibility of the attempt to besmirch this historic view of morality and where it takes the community. Yes, cynical, as there are many in positions of due responsibility to educate who have abundant access to relevant materials that would substantiate a truer and fairer view who have instead perpetuated a deceptive, polarising, one-sided narrative.

    It is time to ask, to what end are they heading? Why?

    KF

  231. 231
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, feel welcome to go around the bush yet again. I predict, you will find nothing more substantial than many others have, who have tried. KF

  232. 232
    kairosfocus says:

    UB, yes. Unfortunately, I doubt that such facts will make much of an impression (due to the calculated impact of polarising narratives), though I can always hope to be shown wrong on this. KF

  233. 233
    critical rationalist says:

    Why do you disagree with my statement? It reads, “self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation.”

    The things you call self evident truths are subject to critical evaluation. So, they are not actually imune from critical evaluation. And I’ve provided example of just that in #207. There is no dichotomy between basic beliefs and non-basic beliefs. There are just beliefs that we have currently have no good criticisms of. Criticisms failing are all that we have.

    Nothing anyone has said here has contradicted this. Criticisms always failing is not being immune from criticism.

    Claims that X needs to be true, otherwise you couldn’t do Y is a criticism of the idea that X is false.

    Deciding to call something a self evident truth doesn’t magically make it immune from criticism.

  234. 234
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the material conditions enabling biology are built-in to the laws of physics.

    I don’t know why you insist on using such vague terminology. For example, what do you mean by “enabling biology”?

    We can make exact statements about this entire problem space via constructor theory. Specifically, which material transformations must be possible for life, what is the appearance of design, what would qualify as a set of physical laws in which life if possible, but does not contain contain the deign of replicators or even specific organisms, and does that match our actual laws of physics, etc.

    And we can do this by segmenting physical systems into a more fundamental way: a constructor, a substrate to be transformed and inputs/outputs, which represent either possible or impossible tasks. This is a new mode of explanation, which is not possible in the current conception of physics.

    This question is addressed in detail in this paper…..

    Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory explains how the appearance of purposive design in the sophisticated adaptations of living organisms can have come about without their intentionally being designed. The explanation relies crucially on the possibility of certain physical processes: mainly, gene replication and natural selection. In this paper I show that for those processes to be possible without the design of biological adaptations being encoded in the laws of physics, those laws must have certain other properties. The theory of what these properties are is not part of evolution theory proper, and has not been developed, yet without it the neo-Darwinian theory does not fully achieve its purpose of explaining the appearance of design. To this end I apply Constructor Theory’s new mode of explanation to provide an exact formulation of the appearance of design, of no-design laws, and of the logic of self-reproduction and natural selection, within fundamental physics. I conclude that self-reproduction, replication and natural selection are possible under no-design laws, the only non-trivial condition being that they allow digital information to be physically instantiated. This has an exact characterisation in the constructor theory of information. I also show that under no-design laws an accurate replicator requires the existence of a “vehicle” constituting, together with the replicator, a self-reproducer.

    So, the actual laws of physics we do have are no-design. That is, they do not already contain the design of replicators or specific organisms, already present there. Yet we do not need to add anything to our laws of physics for life to be possible.

    High fidelity replicators are passible They can be described as a network of possible tasks, that have possible subtasks and further possible subtasks that eventually end up at possible generic tasks that are not replication specific.

    This is what it means to say our laws of physics are no-design.

  235. 235
    Origenes says:

    CR @234

    CR: The things you call self evident truths are subject to critical evaluation.

    In order to better understand what you are saying, can you provide us with a critical evaluation of “error exist” and/or “A = A”?

    CR: So, they are not actually imune from critical evaluation.

    When a critical evaluation does not produce a single dent or scratch, can it not be said that the evaluated item is “immune” from critical evaluation? Put differently, when you say that “error exists” is “not actually immune from critical evaluation”, are you saying that critical evaluation of “error exists” is successful and leads to the revising of “error exists”?

  236. 236

    We can make exact statements about this entire problem space via constructor theory

    No you can’t.

    You (very publicly) run from your own statements.

    See Here and Here, and Here.

  237. 237
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, CR does not understand that to critique first principles of right reason, he has to implicitly use said principles. Actually, to think at all in concepts or to try to communicate in any coherent fashion. This is part of the problem. KF

    PS: Let Error exists be E. Deny, ~E, this means it is an error to believe that error exists, it refutes itself, E is undeniably true. Likewise, to do this one has to be conscious. To be conscious is self-evident also, you cannot be deceived that you are conscious though you can be about the content of your consciousness. See the OP. This is a measure of how sad a day we live in.

  238. 238
    critical rationalist says:

    Such an organization can be found nowhere else in the cosmos except in the use of written language and mathematics (i.e. two unambiguous correlates of intelligence).

    That same physical system can also be subdivided / explained as a constructor, substrate and input / outputs. That organization can be found in abundance in the cosmos. It’s a more fundamental explanation.

  239. 239
    Barry Arrington says:

    Upright BiPed @ 236,

    The truly astonishing thing is that CR continues to post and post and post as if everyone does not know this too be true. As trolls go, he is particularly brazen.

  240. 240
    Barry Arrington says:

    “For example, what do you mean by ‘enabling biology'”

    Now CR wants to district by playing definition derby.

    Classic. See https://uncommondescent.com/ddd/definition-deficit-disorder/

  241. 241
    Origenes says:

    KF: CR does not understand that to critique first principles of right reason, he has to implicitly use said principles. Actually, to think at all in concepts or to try to communicate in any coherent fashion.

    Exactly. I have asked CR a dozen times what “guesses” and “criticism” are based on. Never did I get a response.

    I have explained over and over again and in various ways, that fallibilism is absurd and self-defeating. CR refuses to understand that in order to criticize his championed fallibilism one needs a position distinct from fallibilism, thus, we would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which one can judge fallibilism—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum..
    The only response I have got is some idiotic text by that comedian Deutsch (see #72).

  242. 242

    That organization can be found in abundance in the cosmos.

    We can now add this to the list of statements you make about the existence of things, but can’t provide any actual examples of.

    After you provide an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic, then you can provide an example of semiotic organizations “found in abundance in the cosmos”.

  243. 243
    critical rationalist says:

    You (very publicly) run from your own statements.

    You mean I’ve “run” from your failed understanding of the argument?

    Again, the papers I’ve referenced indicates what tasks are necessary for symbols and that task is necessary for information in both quantum and classical systems. So, why on earth would you expect me to think that symbols were not possible in quantum systems?

    What responsibly to I have to defend your failed understanding of the argument presented?

  244. 244
    critical rationalist says:

    After you provide an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic, then you can provide an example of a semiotic organization “found in abundance in the cosmos”.

    Apparently, you still don’t get it.

    Are you calming the the only way to subdivide the translation system is in a semiotic triad? Is that what you’re claiming?

  245. 245
    Origenes says:

    CR: That same physical system can also be subdivided / explained as a constructor, substrate and input / outputs. … It’s a more fundamental explanation.

    It can only be a “more fundamental explanation”, if constructors are not themselves physical systems, but, instead, are fundamental to physical systems. However, since constructors are physical systems — even Deutsch admits to this — and “physical systems are a more fundamental explanation of physical systems” is incoherent, it is not an explanation at all; let alone ‘more fundamental’.

  246. 246

    CR says” “You mean I’ve “run” from your failed understanding of the argument?”

    Are these not your words?

    ”Just as the scope of Newton’s laws does not scale to very high velocities required to build GPS satellites, your “theory of information” does not scale to the level of quantum storage mediums” – critical rationalist, Nov 6, 2017

    It looks like to me you are saying that a description of semiosis does not scale to the use of a quantum storage medium.

    Are these your words?

    “your “theory of information” does not scale to quantum storage mediums” — critical rationalist, Nov 8, 2017

    and here…

    “UB’s theory of information is an approximation which does not scale”. — critical rationalist, Nov 29, 2017

    and here …

    “UB’s theory of information does not scale” – critical rationalist, Dec 6, 2017

    and here …

    “Since your theory of information does not scale” — critical rationalist, Dec 9, 2017

    You sure appear to be saying that semiotic descriptions do not scale to the use of a quantum storage medium.

    Okay.

    Provide an example of using a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic, or do the intellectually responsible thing and acknowledge that you can’t (at which time I will be happy to continue the conversation and disabuse you of your remaining misconceptions of the topic).

  247. 247
    JSmith says:

    UB

    JS, just a quick comment: There is no evidence whatsoever that the material conditions enabling biology are built-in to the laws of physics. To the contrary, there is enormous evidence that they are not. Life is the product of a very specific (and well-documented) organization that “sits on top” of dynamics. Such an organization can be found nowhere else in the cosmos except in the use of written language and mathematics (i.e. two unambiguous correlates of intelligence).

    You may be right. But if God can create life, he can certainly create conditions for it to develop without his further input.

  248. 248
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, there is a known source of complex, functionally specific and coherent organisation and information. The only actually known source. We also know that it is maximally implausible for such FSCO/I to arise from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. The blind-spot of materialism is that it tries to force-fit FSCO/I into a slot that it simply will not fit. There is nothing inherently abhorrent in intelligently directed configuration, whether of a text such as your comment, or of the equally alphanumeric text in D/RNA or the functional organisation of the physics and circumstances of a cosmos. Save, that it seems that many today react with a numinous horror that seems to trace to deep fear whenever something that may be the shadow of the Eternal One impinges on anything they care about. Indeed, it sometimes seems to me that, often, the rhetoric of pejorative projection and accusation and suspicion I see from too many of atheistical or quasi-atheistical bent may well reflect that fear. KF

  249. 249
    StephenB says:

    SB: Why do you disagree with my statement? It reads, “self evident truths are not subject to critical evaluation.”

    CR: The things you call self evident truths are subject to critical evaluation.

    Incredible: I ask CR why he thinks that self evident truths are subject to critical evaluation and he answers by saying that self-evident truths are subject to critical evaluation.

  250. 250
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus

    SB, feel welcome to go around the bush yet again. I predict, you will find nothing more substantial than many others have, who have tried.

    KF, the point is to keep the heat on and demand answers. That is one of the most important functions of a question. At times, we do far too much explaining and not enough demanding. I am happy to answer all questions directed to me, and I expect my dialogue partners to respond to mine. We don’t hold people accountable by explaining things. We hold them accountable by asking them to explain things. If they fail to deliver or evade the point, anyone who is lurking will get the message. We are writing to influence members of our audience, not our adversaries.

  251. 251
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @249

    CR does not provide a single example of a critical evaluation of a self evident truth. That’s why I asked him to provide one in #235.

    CR: I’ve provided example of just that in #207.

    No, CR has done no such thing. #207 has nothing to do with a critical evaluation. It is simply incoherent nonsense.

    What’s even more incredible is that CR refuses to understand that any ‘critical evaluation of self evident truths’ necessarily depends on self evident truths itself.
    In the words of Kairosfocus:

    CR does not understand that to critique first principles of right reason, he has to implicitly use said principles. Actually, to think at all in concepts or to try to communicate in any coherent fashion.

  252. 252
    JSmith says:

    SB

    KF, the point is to keep the heat on and demand answers. That is one of the most important functions of a question. At times, we do far too much explaining and not enough demanding.

    I hope you accept that I have made every effort to answer your questions. You may not agree with the answers but that is different than not answering.

    We don’t hold people accountable by explaining things. We hold them accountable by asking them to explain things.

    I think that accountability requires both. In short, an honest back and forth without resorting to loaded questions or insults. If I run into a commenter that resorts to these dishonest tactics I simply stop reading their comments or responding to them.

    If they fail to deliver or evade the point, anyone who is lurking will get the message. We are writing to influence members of our audience, not our adversaries.

    This is true. But don’t be surprised if the message they get is not the one that you expect them to.

  253. 253
    JSmith says:

    This thread has dropped off the “recent comments” list. As I was the one who triggered this OP, my ego dictates that I get it back on the list. Maybe we can make it to 360.

  254. 254
    StephenB says:

    J Smith @252, If you read the posts at 249 and 250, you will notice that my comments were about CR and not you.

  255. 255
    JSmith says:

    SB

    J Smith @252, If you read the posts at 249 and 250, you will notice that my comments were about CR and not you.

    Which pretty much explains my comment at 253. EGO. 🙂

  256. 256
    StephenB says:

    Origenes @251:

    That is correct. The point of subjecting any proposition, theory, or assertion to a “critical evaluation,” is to test its truth value. If a certain proposition is self-evidently true, then it doesn’t need to be tested for truth value since it is already known to be true. Self evident truths are not to be criticized or evaluated, they are the means by which we criticize and evaluate everything else. Obviously, CR does not grasp the point.

  257. 257
    StephenB says:

    JS: “Which pretty much explains my comment at 253. EGO. ????”

    Fear not. Your fifteen minutes of fame will be extended either on this thread or the other.

  258. 258
    JSmith says:

    SB at 256, I wouldn’t have a problem if we had an infallible means of determining what is a self-evident truth. Sadly, history is full of claims of self-evident truths. Why the reluctance to expose them to examination? Is it s fear that your self-evident truth will be shown to found wanting?

  259. 259
    Origenes says:

    StephenB: Self evident truths are not to be criticized or evaluated, they are the means by which we criticize and evaluate everything else.

    This should be carved in stone.

    CR’s fallibilism is the idea that all knowledge is fallible. This idea lives on in CR based on CR’s inability to understand that “all knowledge is fallible” is itself knowledge and ,thus, fallible.
    In short, self-reference is something CR cannot grasp. CR is the kind of person who can say stuff like: “Certainty cannot possibly exist” or even “No one is talking at this moment” and not blink an eye.

  260. 260
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes, self-referential claims are very tricky and we should learn to be extra-cautious in making such. One who is conscious should realise that if s/he doubts that he knows that bare fact incorrigibly, there is the slight matter of who is there to doubt. To reason or communicate, one relies on distinct identity and so should not doubt its corollaries, LOI, LNC, LEM and the implication of [1] A & [2] ~A, so number and thus the naturals etc. To doubt moral knowledge as a bare fact, one should reckon that one senses duties to truth, sound logic, fairness etc in all reasoning so if that sense is delusional, one taints all of one’s mental life with grand delusion, including here an infinitely regressive chain of doubts. The real problem, I suspect is that there is a palpable IS-OUGHT gap and such can only be bridged at world-root level. As there is only one serious candidate (after centuries of debate) those who are alienated from God face a sobering challenge. That then comes out in arguments as we see above, for they expect us to be under moral government in the life of the mind — or else they have become utterly ruthlessly and cynically manipulative. It is really hard to be in that corner, but it is one that too many of our civilisation’s intellectual leadership have painted themselves into over the past several centuries; often putting on a lab coat in so doing as to them science seems to pretty nearly monopolise serious knowledge. But in fact, Science is perhaps the capital example of weak form knowledge, especially insofar as we address its theories i/l/o the pessimistic induction of theory after theory having had to be replaced across time. So, we have no grounds to hold confidence that our current crop will not suffer much the same fate. KF

  261. 261
    kairosfocus says:

    JS,

    I note your 258:

    I wouldn’t have a problem if we had an infallible means of determining what is a self-evident truth. Sadly, history is full of claims of self-evident truths. Why the reluctance to expose them to examination? Is it [a] fear that your self-evident truth will be shown to found wanting?

    . . . and think we need to respond yet again.

    Not least, without these matters being clarified, onward discussion — such as of controversial questions regarding origins, science, scientific inference on reliable signs, the design inference, linked worldviews, dominant narratives and major cultural agendas thence linked policy matters — may well be futile. Doomed from the outset.

    One of the very first self-evident truths is, that error exists; which we may symbolise as proposition E. This, is obviously central to your claims above and to your projected fear.

    But in fact, as has been repeatedly pointed out, certain things can be established as utterly certain beyond responsible doubt. I did not say, beyond pathological doubt or hyperskeptical dismissal. Such, are a different thing.

    Now, kindly, tell us what is fallible in the chain, E, so we may posit the denial ~E. We then can note that ~E means it is error to assert E. So, on the attempted denial, we would establish E.

    E cannot be successfully denied.

    Similarly, E AND ~E would be necessarily false and so fails of being true, being also an error (presuming one asserting such intends truth).

    Likewise, you and I are aware of ourselves, we are conscious. So, if we doubt this, WHO is there to doubt?

    Is not bare consciousness, then, utterly certain, notwithstanding that we may be in error on some of the contents of conscious awareness or thought?

    Again, behold a bright red ball on a table, A.

    The world W is thus W = {A|~A}, demonstrating distinct identity.

    What is wrong or untrustworthy in the corollaries,

    [LOI:] A is itself,

    [LNC:] no x in W is A AND ~A, and

    [LEM] any x is A X-OR ~A?

    Likewise, going back to E, why are you so confident of your fallibility in ALL reasoning?

    Then, please explain what is uncertain in

    2 + 3 = 5

    i.e. || + ||| –> |||||

    And so forth.

    Is it then, responsible or reasonable to suggest fear of critique as motive for positing that established SET’s are above “criticism,” indeed are the basis for such insofar as critique is rational and responsible?

    In this light (and yes, these cases are there in the OP), do you or do you not recognise that in certain limited cases even a finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed mind can attain to utter, self-evident certainty?

    Or, that such core SET’s are foundational to reasoning?

    If you still deny such, kindly explain why: _______

    (Then, kindly explain how you avoid the implication of being conscious _____ and relying on distinct identity ____, also the grounds for your apparent utter certainty that error exists ____ )

    Later, we can address the concept that some things may be rightly seen by one with an adequate base of experience and understanding, as necessarily true on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial.

    As for CR’s objection to choosing such, we can note that consciousness is a first fact and the means of accessing others, the potential for error is a universal concern, and to reason we rely on distinct identity. Including, to reason regarding structure and quantity — Mathematics.

    After that, we may ponder how we are subjectively aware of an inner and outer world, but may accurately describe what is as being so and what is not as not being so, thence how we may soundly warrant certain things we believe such that on these things we have knowledge in the common, weak sense as well as in a few cases the strong sense just addressed.

    Then, we may look at moral truth and knowledge claims in light of the pervasive sense that we have duties of care to truth, sound reason (hence the concern over fallibility), as well as to fairness/justice and equity etc. Including, a certain sadly real-world case:

    It is self-evidently wicked, wrong and evil to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child for one’s pleasure. Where, were we to encounter such in progress, we would be duty-bound to seek to rescue the victim or at least to bawl for help.

    And yes, I hold this to be a moral yardstick case that is highly instructive, given that the child is vulnerable, lacks strength and lacks eloquence to defend or even speak for itself. (In the real case — pardon an ugly fact — gagged with his own school socks.) This brings up the world of duties as a neighbour in a community.

    Surely, you will accept that much pivots on the above, so it is worthy of serious consideration.

    KF

  262. 262
    critical rationalist says:

    The point of subjecting any proposition, theory, or assertion to a “critical evaluation,” is to test its truth value. If a certain proposition is self-evidently true, then it doesn’t need to be tested for truth value since it is already known to be true. Self evident truths are not to be criticized or evaluated, they are the means by which we criticize and evaluate everything else. Obviously, CR does not grasp the point.

    My point was and has continues to be: how does a proposition obtain the status of being “already true” before reason has its say? The application of reason, being a form of criticism.

    How might we infallibly possess a complete list of all the ways a proposition might be false at the time of considering it? What about the creation of genuinely new knowledge in the fields of human biology, neurology and epistemology, etc. that we do not have right now? Nor are we even guaranteed to actual come up with all the possible ways to criticize something at all. It might take years, decades, centuries, millennia or never even come at all.

    Criticisms failing and continuing to fail as we develop new ones are all we have. Persuasion is “critical evaluation”

    If you hold some source to be infallible, how did you infallibly identify it among others? How do you infallibly interpret it? How do you infallibly determine when to defer to it?

    For example, in respect to the Bible (assuming you’ve somehow managed to infallibly identify it) what is metaphor and what is literal? is the Bible a science book? Should we defer to it on matters of mathematics and the number of legs on insects?

    What about the Quran? It claims to be the verbatim and final revelation of God. So, why haven’t you decided you do not need to defer to it as well?

    No one has addressed #207. Let me quote it for your convenience..

    For example, how did you specifically pick 2 + 2 = 4, and all other propositions listed here, as candidates for immunity from criticism? Why not some some other propositions, such as the angles of a triangle sum to two right angles, or that the city you live in exists, etc?

    Did you not conclude those specific propositions would best make your point because they were the most unambiguously true of all the candidate propositions you considered including in your argument?

    If so, then how did you determine how obviously and unambiguously true each of those candidate propositions was in relation to the other candidates? Did you not stop and criticize them by an attempt to quickly consider reasons or ways they might be conceivably false?

    It seems that, if you didn’t criticize them, then you have no way of concluding those specific propositions would best make your point. If they were immune from criticism, then did you arbitrarily choose them?

  263. 263
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origines

    It’s particularly humorous that you yourself are a fallibilist about fallibilism, and apparently didn’t recognize it.

    See the above quote from #207. That’s what it means to be a fallibilist about fallibilism. And that’s what you did when you wrote:

    Suppose that 2 + 2 = 4 is open to questioning. Would there be a basis for mathematics?

    You picked 2 + 2 = 4 because you thought it, out of possible others, was most obviously and unambiguously true. Are you saying you didn’t quickly try to conceive of ways it might be wrong in relation to other possible candies?

    Did you arbitrarily pick 2 + 2 = 4?

  264. 264
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF.

    Likewise, you and I are aware of ourselves, we are conscious. So, if we doubt this, WHO is there to doubt?

    Thank Zeus we’re not limited to what criticisms you can conceive of. And we supposedly don’t have any imagination?

    This has already been addressed.

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    …then goes on to present examples of how those might be false.

    I must now apologize for trying to trick you earlier: All the ideas that I suggested we might know infallibly are in fact falsehoods. “Two plus two” of course isn’t “four” as you’d discover if you wrote “2+2” in an arithmetic test when asked to add two and two. If we were infallible about matters of pure logic, no one would ever fail a logic test either. Stubbing your toe does not always hurt if you are focused on some overriding priority like rescuing a comrade in battle. And as for knowing that “I” exist because I think—note that your knowledge that you think is only a memory of what you did think, a second or so ago, and that can easily be a false memory. (For discussions of some fascinating experiments demonstrating this, see Daniel Dennett’s book Brainstorms.) Moreover, if you think you are Napoleon, the person you think must exist because you think, doesn’t exist.

    Why do you think you have an exhaustive list of every possible criticism that could be leveled against any idea? Is it really that difficult to connive of not having such an exhaustive list?

  265. 265
    StephenB says:

    JS

    SB at 256, I wouldn’t have a problem if we had an infallible means of determining what is a self-evident truth. Sadly, history is full of claims of self-evident truths.

    I notice that you provided no examples. What self evident truths have been found not to be self evident? Please be specific. Surely, you understand that scientific claims do not count.

    JS

    Why the reluctance to expose them to examination? Is it s fear that your self-evident truth will be shown to found wanting?

    Who is reluctant? We shout if from the rooftops. The most important ones are law of non contradiction, law of identity, Principle of sufficient reason, Law of causality, and natural moral law. All those principles are self evident. They can be self-evident in two ways: In themselves or to someone else.

  266. 266
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    You sure appear to be saying that semiotic descriptions do not scale to the use of a quantum storage medium.

    We can chalk this up as yet another example of a fallible interpretation.

    This comment actually quoted part of the paper that talks about symbols in particular. So, even if you didn’t bother to read the paper….

    1 Introduction
    In some respects, information is a qualitatively different sort of entity from all others in terms of which the physical sciences describe the world. It is not, for instance, a function only of tensor fields on spacetime (as general relativity requires all physical quantities to be), nor is it a quantum-mechanical observable.

    But in other respects, information does resemble some entities that appear in laws of physics: the theory of computation, and statistical mechanics, seem to refer directly to it without regard to the specific media in which it is instantiated, just as conservation laws do for the electromagnetic four-current or the energy-momentum tensor. We call that the substrate-independence of information. Information can also be moved from one type of medium to another while retaining all its properties qua information. We call this its interoperability property; it is what makes human capabilities such as language and science possible, as well as biological adaptations that use symbolic codes, such as the genetic code.

    Again, when pointing out we need a more fundamental theory of information that scales to both classical and quantum systems, which explains why symbols are possible, it’s unclear why you would think I though symbols were impossible in quantum systems.

    What doesn’t scale is a means of cloning information in quantum systems. And that caused us to develop a more fundamentally theory of information.

    From this comment

    That’s odd. I referenced an entire paper which presents a physical theory of information, which includes programable constructors. When I asked if you were presenting a theory of information, you refused to answer the question until after being asked point blank at least a dozen times. At which I pointed out said theory of information was incomplete.

    For example, the referenced theory spans both classical and quantum physics. In addition, for information to be instantiated into a medium, it requires reversible computations, which includes a material source of the information to be copied. Your supposed “theory of information” doesn’t address any of those issues. So It’s unclear how criticizing your theory represents a failure to engage the issue.

    Apparently, your strategy is to present an incomplete theory of information that does’t address copying, as if that somehow makes it immune to the problem of cloning in quantum systems.

    Did the designer magically make information appear in the first cell?

  267. 267
    critical rationalist says:

    I notice that you provided no examples. What self evident truths have been found not to be self evident? Please be specific. Surely, you understand that scientific claims do not count.

    Are you saying we could have an example of something previously deemed immune from criticism, in principle, then somehow not deemed immune in principle?

    A proposition is either true or false. However, a claim that a proposition is self evidently true is to claim that it is immune to criticism, in principle, not that it was somehow found false. If you tried to find out ways it was false, even thought all of them failed, that represented criticizing it and concedes that it wasn’t immune, in principle, in the first place.

    For example, Is the proposition that some propositions are self evident itself a self evident proposition? If one thinks so, wouldn’t they just keep claiming it’s immune, in principle, to be criticized, and keep ignoring criticisms of it?

    This wouldn’t be just any kind of mistake. it would be a mistake that actively thwarts itself from being found as a mistake. It perpetuates itself.

  268. 268
    Origenes says:

    CR @

    CR: My point was and has continues to be: how does a proposition obtain the status of being “already true” before reason has its say?

    No, that is not your point at all. Your “point” is that every proposition is fallible. According to you, it can never be settled whether a proposition is true or false — “no proposition is immune to criticism.” One problem with this is that certain propositions are obviously immune to criticism. Here you apply a little trick: by not making a distinction between successful and failing criticism (‘criticism is criticism’) you claim that there is criticism nonetheless — irrespective of the fact that there is no criticism of e.g. ‘error exists’ which makes any sense whatsoever.

    You then go on to claim that:

    CR: Criticisms failing and continuing to fail as we develop new ones are all we have.

    This is yet another self-defeating statement, as can be easily demonstrated:

    1. We only have criticism.
    2. Objects of criticism are not criticism.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    3. We do not have objects of criticism.
    4. We do not have criticism.

    If we only have criticism then there is nothing to criticize. And if we have nothing to criticize then we do not have criticism.

    CR: No one has addressed #207.

    A blatant lie — see #217.

    CR: It’s particularly humorous that you yourself are a fallibilist about fallibilism, and apparently didn’t recognize it.

    I hold that fallibilism is a self-defeating and incoherent idea, which is not quite the same as being a ‘fallibilist about fallibilism.’

  269. 269
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    I see your, for example:

    My point was and has continues to be: how does a proposition obtain the status of being “already true” before reason has its say? The application of reason, being a form of criticism . . . .

    For example, Is the proposition that some propositions are self evident itself a self evident proposition? If one thinks so, wouldn’t they just keep claiming it’s immune, in principle, to be criticized, and keep ignoring criticisms of it?

    This wouldn’t be just any kind of mistake. it would be a mistake that actively thwarts itself from being found as a mistake. It perpetuates itself

    Do you realise that to say the above you had to rely on distinct identity? That to “criticise” the first principles of right reason you would have to rely on the same? Not to mention, on your conscious rationality and our recognition that error exists. And so forth?

    Second, it needs not be self-evident that there are SET’s for there to be SET’s, this is no example. You have set up a strawman rhetorical target.

    You have from the OP on, several examples of real SET’s.

    At no point have you showed a serious attention to the fact that just to argue you have to rely on distinct identity. Thus, your last claim seems to be a turnabout projection. It seems you need to take a look in the mirror.

    As for your projection, if you are being responsibly critical, you should be looking at what is being actually claimed, both by cases given and by definitions given. We already have cases in point here, so let me lastly highlight definition from the OP:

    In general, SET’s are truths that — once we are able to understand i/l/o our experience of the world — are seen to be so, and to be necessarily so on pain of patent absurdity on the attempted denial.

    Do you see why such truths, once duly and properly recognised — in key cases such as first principles of right reason they cannot be proved (they are the base for proofs, and for thought and communication) though in some other cases a SET may be provable relative to some framework, separate from its self-evidence — are certain?

    As in, instant, patent reduction to absurdity on the attempted denial.

    So, onward “criticism” reflects a hyperskeptical, irresponsible mentality that wishes to cling to absurdities, not healthy reason. Healthy reason is willing to accept what is well-warranted i/l/o responsible means of support, it is not forever harping on doubting and dismissing or sidelining and ignoring without good reason.

    I trust we will see a more cogent response from you going forward.

    KF

    PS: Let me highlight an example from you to show just how supercilious your approach has been:

    [KF:] Likewise, you and I are aware of ourselves, we are conscious. So, if we doubt this, WHO is there to doubt?

    [CR:] Thank Zeus we’re not limited to what criticisms you can conceive of. And we supposedly don’t have any imagination?

    This has already been addressed.

    CR/Zeus’s alter ego, kindly explain to us how you are aware enough to criticise without being certain of the bare fact of your conscious existence. In short, reflexively pondering WHO is there doing the criticising is highly relevant and exposes the patent absurdity of allowing one’s doubts that one is conscious to undermine one’s certainty of that bare fact. And if you bothered to look at the OP, you would see that even gross delusion at brain in a vat being led to imagine a false reality level does not overturn the bare fact of being conscious.

    As for “This has already been addressed” that reminds me of the force of a point by UD Blog’s president when he has had to hold you up as an example of the utter difference between making cogent argument and merely stubbornly continuing to type out talking points. The latter is little more than obscurantism.

    I repeat: WHO is “criticising,” other than a conscious entity, even at the remove of say an AI that was programmed to spew forth talking points?

  270. 270
  271. 271

    CR said:

    A proposition is either true or false.

    Is this self-evidently true?

    However, a claim that a proposition is self evidently true is to claim that it is immune to criticism, in principle, not that it was somehow found false.

    Self-evidently true statements are those without which reasoning, or reasoning about a thing, cannot ensue, like “a proposition is either true or false” (which I would change to “a properly worded proposition is either true or false”). If we do not accept that “a properly worded proposition is either true or false”, reasoning cannot proceed.

    If there is no self-evident moral truth, there is nothing to reason about morality from other than personal preferences. Now, you can state your personal preference, and there may be reasoning as to what the best way is for you to be moral within that framework, but such an argument (if rational) cannot decide what morality should be about in the first place, because that is just a matter of personal preference.

  272. 272
    JSmith says:

    SB

    I notice that you provided no examples. What self evident truths have been found not to be self evident? Please be specific. Surely, you understand that scientific claims do not count.

    Yes, I realize that scientific claims don’t count. Science does not conclude truth.

    Let’s try the “not killing” is objectively good. One of the moral values that is almost universally held by people.

    Who is reluctant? We shout if from the rooftops. The most important ones are law of non contradiction, law of identity, Principle of sufficient reason, Law of causality, and natural moral law. All those principles are self evident. They can be self-evident in two ways: In themselves or to someone else.

    Please remember that I never claimed that there were n self evident truths. Only that moral values don’t fall into this category.

  273. 273
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, strawman. Murder is the issue. Those who quote KJV, use an older usage where slay would be closer to what kill means now. You also keep oscillating and giving mixed messages on SET’s in general. That’s why I have emphasised getting that right. In that context, the life of reason is pervaded by duties to truth, sound reasoning, fairness, justice, equity etc. If the sense of being governed by moral law that we are aware of is delusional, then it creates grand delusion pervading the life of the mind. And, it is infinitely regressive, the act of doubt or critique is an act of mind itself, so the chain races off. In short, either rationality boils down to manipulation and general lying, enmeshed with grand delusion or we are in fact under the government of ought, of duty, and as a result can have genuine rights beyond might and manipulation. So, the point is, the first is patently absurd, we are under moral government if we are to be rationally, responsibly free. Then, in that context, I have put up a case, sadly, real world. I suggest to you that you ponder very carefully before dismissing its force with terms you have used such as “nonsense.” For, it is absurd to deny that what was done to that child was wrong, evil, wicked. Robbed of liberty, robbed of safety in innocent passage home from school, robbed of a voice to plead his case, robbed of innocence and the inviolability of his body, robbed of the right to say no, robbed of his life. Robbed of justice. Plese ponder the fire you are playing with. KF

  274. 274
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR: “A proposition is either true or false.”

    WJM: “Is this self-evidently true?”

    Game, set, match.

    It is amusing to watch fools such as CR employ self-evident truths to argue for the proposition that there are no self-evident truths.

  275. 275
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, it has not passed our notice, too, that “I never claimed that there were n[o] self evident truths” is not at all equivalent to a clear acknowledgement that there in fact are SET’s. Given your evident moral stance, prudence already dictates that we must view your claims with much closer scrutiny, for cause. Do you see how corrosive the attitude you have been projecting is to sound community? and yes, I have in mind the Categorical Imperative as was already discussed. KF

    PS: The rhetorical trick of substituting a lesser word also does not escape notice. You used a synonym for opinions, one that is often walled off from possibility of truth: moral VALUES. Yes, we may prize moral truths, such as our unalienable rights to life, liberty, untrammelled innocent pursuit of life-purpose, innocent reputation (remember your blanket suspicion?), innocently acquired property, innocent association, conscience and worship, and more, but that does not remove the claim that there are rights held by virtue of being morally governed responsible and rational creatures from the realm of being truth-claims and indeed well warranted ones. Where, core rights-claims such as right to life are in fact self-evidently true. Without the right to life, nothing else stands. Including, when the holder of that life is defenceless and voiceless like that schoolboy.

  276. 276
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: After all the clouds of rhetoric, it is helpful to hear again Canon Hooker as cited by Locke in the 2nd treatise on civil govt, Ch 2 sec 5:

    [2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity ,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]

    A warning on the fire we are playing with.

    KF

  277. 277
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, it actually starts with typing, which depends on distinct identity in order to communicate using text. That is how absurd — and too often, stubbornly unreasonable — the objections are. KF

  278. 278
    Barry Arrington says:

    JSmith,

    You have admitted to not being certain that it is wrong to treat women as if they are not persons. You have admitted to not being certain it is wrong to treat black persons as if they are inferior to white persons.

    You are evil. Everything you say is tainted by evil. Therefore, everything you say should be disregarded.

  279. 279
    kairosfocus says:

    BA,

    while I am not happy with your phrasing, you have indeed raised a highly significant point. Those who undermine the objectivity of morals undermine rights and therefore the basis for sound reforms. They also routinely do so by dehumanising the targetted victims. This does not just affect women and blacks or Jews or Arabs, but in the end, everyone.

    And, I think per fair comment that the 3/5 compromise in the US Constitution requires a further thought or two, as there is a common perception that I do not think bears up, on inspection:

    Art 1 Sec 2, 3rd para: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

    There is no actual 3/5 of a person implication. There is a 3/5 of population count rule, which was a compromise to “solve” a dilemma. Those against slavery did not want slaves counted as they had no vote and would over-weight the representation of the slave-holding states. Slave holders actually wanted the slaves counted without pro-rating for this very reason as it would give them serious leverage in the Congress. The underlying challenge was a union was seen as necessary for viability and the long term good.

    As it was, the 3/5 count seems to have shifted the numbers of seats from 33 to 47 at the first. that gave the South effective control and set up many sorrows to come. But, as time went on, immigration to the North — yes immigration — shifted the balance away from the South.

    The other ticking clock was the 20-year stop-line on the slave trade, which was matched by the UK’s own abolition of the trade.

    So, the root issue was refusal to accord to the slaves the natural right to be free, enforced by a power bloc with an effective veto through a nuclear option. So destructive was that option, secession, that in the end it triggered civil war.

    A lesson on how stubborn we can be in clinging to advantageous absurdities.

    So, now, let me turn to the far worse asp we are playing with.

    Many have sought to dehumanise our posterity in the womb and this is a material factor in the enabling of the ongoing abortion holocaust at a rate of a million more victims per week, on the Guttmacher-UN numbers. Over 40+ years, that is more than 800 million, and I have seen numbers that are up to nearly double that.

    It matters not, this is the worst holocaust ever.

    It is going on on our watch, it turns on dehumanising the victims and asserting an alleged right to choose to kill posterity in the womb.

    In support of this, medicine, nursing, health professions, law, law enforcement, courts, parliaments, politics, the media, education and more are increasingly tainted with corruption and blood guilt.

    The issues of moral truth are of the utmost significance for the future of our civilisation, and right now, our generation does not look good at all.

    KF

    PS: This is one time wiki is reasonable: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Fifths_Compromise

  280. 280
    StephenB says:

    JSmith

    Let’s try the “not killing” is objectively good. One of the moral values that is almost universally held by people.

    No one ever said that not killing is objectively good. Don’t be misled by dubious translations and misleading interpretations. The proposition is that not murdering is objectively good. Do you have any other examples where something was once understood as self evidently good and is not now so understood?

  281. 281
    JSmith says:

    SB

    No one ever said that not killing is objectively good. Don’t be misled by dubious translations and misleading interpretations. The proposition is that not murdering is objectively good.

    OK, let’s stick with how you would argue that not murdering is objectively good.

  282. 282
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, the first right: life. Without which you have no other rights or freedoms or capabilities such as to reason. A right, being a binding moral claim and expectation that one be respected in a relevant way due to the dignity of being human. Now, are you prepared to argue that you have no right to your life above what force you can exert to deter attacks? Do you see the absurdities that follow on denying right to life? KF

  283. 283
    StephenB says:

    JS

    OK, let’s stick with how you would argue that not murdering is objectively good.

    kairosfocus provided a good answer. I suggest that you read it carefully. Meanwhile, I will add something very important.

    One does not argue *for* self-evident truths, one argues *from* self evident truths. That you would ask for an argument to prove that murder is objectively bad or that not murdering is objectively good indicates that you are either not rational or not sincere.

  284. 284
    JSmith says:

    SB

    kairosfocus provided a good answer. I suggest that you read it carefully. Meanwhile, I will add something very important.

    Sorry, but his writing is so obtuse that I can’t be bother reading his comments. However, feel free to paraphrase in a way that can be easily understood.
    <One does not argue *for* self-evident truths, one argues *from* self evident truths. That you would ask for an argument to prove that murder is objectively bad or that not murdering is objectively good indicates that you are either not rational or not sincere.
    We are disagreeing and discussing whether or not self-evident moral truths exist and you say that you can’t defend them because they are self-evident? Forgive me if I call that what it is. Nonsense. It is circular reasoning at its best. If a self-evident moral truth cannot be supported with evidence, rational argument and logic, then it is nothing more than an unsupported opinion no better than a preference for ice cream.

  285. 285
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, keep up your excuses, they reveal how self-deception works. Maybe, eventually it will reach a level where we can help you. Meanwhile, I’ll take SB’s “good answer” over your “obtuse” I don’t bother to read any day. KF

    PS: Let’s see the very thing you specifically dismissed:

    the first right: life. Without which you have no other rights or freedoms or capabilities such as to reason. A right, being a binding moral claim and expectation that one be respected in a relevant way due to the dignity of being human. Now, are you prepared to argue that you have no right to your life above what force you can exert to deter attacks? Do you see the absurdities that follow on denying right to life?

    Now, kindly explain to us just what about the above is so “obtuse” that you can neither understand nor bother to read.

    (Or, is the real issue that you have been programmed with an agenda, and have chosen a handy excuse to brush off something that does not fit the crooked yardstick you are using as a standard of straightness, accuracy and uprightness? As in, if your standard of “straight” is crooked, then what is really straight will seem to be absurdly out of alignment. Hence, BTW, the importance of plumb-line, patently naturally straight references. In this case, self-evident truths. And, I do recall your impatient brushing aside of the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of a child as an illustrative case on Moral SETs, as nonsense. That did seem really over the top; but the over-wrought and disrespectful , irritated reaction may well be a sign of what is going on deep within. I also recall your declared attitude of hyperskeptical suspicion to Christians and the Christian faith, which could go a long way to explain your behaviour in recent weeks here at UD.)

  286. 286
    kairosfocus says:

    SB,

    I do think that one needs to be brought to the point of recognition of the power and legitimacy of a claim to self-evidence.

    That is, one may be in the position that s/he lacks tools to understand a SET, or may even fall afoul of a pons asinorum. Certainly, the Angelic Doctor contemplated this case.

    So, learning experiences conducive to enabling understanding of what is claimed are in order. But, if the horse is unwilling to drink, that may be a bit of a challenge.

    Then, one may be invited to contemplate the next issue: what happens were one to try to deny the SET. The patent absurdity should help that aha moment.

    Though of course when we look at the significance of distinct identity, just to object one already must use the LOI, LNC and LEM. Attempted denial refutes itself, but also we see that these things cannot be proved as any proof must start there.

    Indeed, I think we can see that grudgingly, JS is being forced to realise that he cannot simply brush aside SET’s, in the face of cases such as error exists. Of course, the concession is grudging and has a line of retreat built in.

    So far, JS is not realising how he sounds by being evasive, dismissive and obviously irritated when he is confronted with a particularly horrific sexual assault and murder of a young child. However, he is so locked into there being no objective moral truths that he cannot concede that the attempted denial is patently absurd.

    Such consistently evasive tactics are in the end telling.

    KF

    PS: I sometimes find this analogy helpful. Is it possible to stand at one and the same spot on the Earth and be due north of London, Bridgetown Barbados and Los Angeles? We tend to think in 2-d terms and so it seems odd. the answer is obvious once we are led to think in 3 dimensions: the North Pole, where all lines of longitude converge to a point.

  287. 287
    StephenB says:

    J Smith

    We are disagreeing and discussing whether or not self-evident moral truths exist and you say that you can’t defend them because they are self-evident?

    Your answers are becoming progressively irrational. Self evident truths cannot be argued for because they are the means by which we argue for everything else. The law of non-contradiction, for example, cannot be argued FOR. It can only be argued FROM. To argue for it one would need a more basic principle and there are no more basic principles than that. So it is with all other self evident truths. You can’t use “evidence” to prove them. Evidence does not inform self evident truths; self evident truths inform evidence.

  288. 288
    StephenB says:

    kairosfocus:

    I do think that one needs to be brought to the point of recognition of the power and legitimacy of a claim to self-evidence.

    That is, one may be in the position that s/he lacks tools to understand a SET, or may even fall afoul of a pons asinorum. Certainly, the Angelic Doctor contemplated this case.

    Yes. This is what St. Thomas meant when he said that a thing can be self evident in two ways, in itself, and to others. The latter often, though not always, requires some familiarity with the subject matter.

  289. 289
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, aye, the Angelic Doctor was wise, the “dumb ox” whose bellowing has filled the world. The challenge of sufficient familiarity to understand accurately what is being claimed is there, the challenge to have enough vision to see a patent absurdity (of the many kinds!) is there. Then we have the cognitive dissonance-triggered panic attack that can happen when a favourite — but crooked — yardstick is put up against a plumb-line and oops, there’s daylight. So, which report do you believe, why . . . and that in a po mo age that suspects “Aristotelian logic” and “black and white” thinking or “authoritarianism,” etc etc are there. And it sure looks suspicious that you argue that you have to start FROM SET’s to reason and argue successfully in a domain. And, first plausibles that do a lot of work that is unwelcome will be challenged by vested interests that do not want to go that way. RIGHT to life that exists for the defenceless and voiceless . . . sounds good, but but but muh fetus that is so inconvenient! So, better challenge that suspect notion of self evidence and keep moral values comfortably subjective and relative. What, might makes might nihilism; perish the thought! KF

  290. 290
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, SET’s are understood and acknowledged not proved, but we also see that their denial quickly goes over the brink into patent absurdity. One form is self-referential incoherence. One form is, that one smuggles in the thing being denied to try to disprove it. Another, is that the denial ends in grand delusion that undermines rationality. I forgot: the alternative claim or scenario may be far more open to serious doubt or challenge than the first claim, to a degree that gives pause: patently, maximally implausible. (A good example is, we live in a Plato’s cave world of shadow shows confused for reality.) There are many more ways to be absurd. On moral truths, a key first SET is the moral government of reason itself through duties to truth, sound logic, fairness etc; so if one undermines moral government as delusional, one eats up rationality. Likewise, one finds oneself in hypocrisy or inconsistency, parasiting off the fact that people in community do not normally act that way, or the community we need to thrive will be undermined. Likewise, we find that we cannot evade the concept that we have rights, which are binding moral expectations that we be respected, first and foremost our lives. If something then implies a lack of reciprocity with others of like morally governed nature and/or potential, that is absurd. (That is the sense in what seems to be Franklin’s markup to the original draft DoI: self-evident, not sacred and undeniable. A key deep idea source here is Rom 1:20 “clearly perceived . . . in the things that have been made. So [men] are without excuse.”) The nihilism of might or manipulation makes right, truth, justice etc is its own refutation. And much more again. No, it is not merely imposition and trickery — where rhetorical “disproof” by sneering, suspicion, empty accusation, stereotyping, scapegoating and hyperskepticism are all absurd too. KF

  291. 291
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Your answers are becoming progressively irrational. Self evident truths cannot be argued for because they are the means by which we argue for everything else. The law of non-contradiction, for example, cannot be argued FOR.

    And presupposes that what you consider to be self-evident truths are actually self-evident truths. OK. Let’s play this game. I claim that subjective morality is a self-evident truth. Since it is a self-evident truth, I don’t have to provide arguments for it. I think I like this game.

  292. 292
    kairosfocus says:

    JS,

    Your empty turnabout assertion was long since answered in Plato’s warnings.

    Let’s try, first, The Laws, Bk X:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    See where such radical relativism and subjectivism end up? As a matter of history?

    KF

  293. 293
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let’s continue with his parable of the mutinous ship of state:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

    Again, this is anchored in the history of the collapse of Athens.

  294. 294
    StephenB says:

    JS

    And presupposes that what you consider to be self-evident truths are actually self-evident truths. OK. Let’s play this game. I claim that subjective morality is a self-evident truth. Since it is a self-evident truth, I don’t have to provide arguments for it. I think I like this game.

    Let me make sure I understand you. Forget about morality for the moment. I want to discuss logic and nothing else. Are you saying that the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity are not self evident–that they require proof by reason and evidence?

  295. 295
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Let me make sure I understand you. Forget about morality for the moment. I want to discuss logic and nothing else. Are you saying that the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity are not self evident–that they require proof by reason and evidence?

    No.

  296. 296
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, do you actually hold that LOI, LNC and LEM are self-evident? Why or why not? KF

  297. 297
    critical rationalist says:

    CR: My point was and has continues to be: how does a proposition obtain the status of being “already true” before reason has its say?

    Origenes: No, that is not your point at all. Your “point” is that every proposition is fallible. According to you, it can never be settled whether a proposition is true or false — “no proposition is immune to criticism.” One problem with this is that certain propositions are obviously immune to criticism.

    Every proposition is fallible because there are no infallible sources that we can defer to by which to prevent us from falling in error. Reason has its say first.

    But, again, feel free to provide an example where reason doesn’t come first.

    Here you apply a little trick: by not making a distinction between successful and failing criticism (‘criticism is criticism’) you claim that there is criticism nonetheless — irrespective of the fact that there is no criticism of e.g. ‘error exists’ which makes any sense whatsoever.

    Again, to claim there is no criticism of ‘error exists’ that makes any sense is to say we lack any good criticisms of the idea that “error exists” is false. We have bad criticisms that “don’t make any sense” so they fail. And our conclusion that they do not “make sense” comes though fallible reasoning.

    To repeat yet again, I’m saying the idea that there is a dichotomy between non-basic beliefs and basic beliefs is false. What you call basic beliefs are just beliefs that we currently lack good criticisms of. You still have yet to contradict that.

    From the article…..

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    If we find one example where we’re infallible, about at least some things, then its not universality true.

    Perhaps you’ll respond when KF will not…

    Is the Bible a science book? Should we defer to it on matters of mathematics, biology or cosmology? If not, why?

    Which aspects of the Bible are literal and with are metaphorical? Which knowledge do we have that is perfectly written on our hearts so we have no excuse when we run astray? The answers to those questions are decided by reason. You use it to decide when to defer to the supposedly infallible source. At which point, reason has had its say first.

    From the article…

    Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance: If your disease has been cured by medical science, and you then become aware that science never proves anything but only disproves theories (and then only tentatively), you do not respond “oh dear, I’ll just have to die, then.”

    CR: Criticisms failing and continuing to fail as we develop new ones are all we have.

    This is yet another self-defeating statement, as can be easily demonstrated:

    1. We only have criticism.
    2. Objects of criticism are not criticism.

    “All we have” is in reference to the false dichotomy listed above. But, surely you knew that already because it must be obvious what I meant, right?

    CR: No one has addressed #207.

    Origenes: A blatant lie — see #217.

    Apparently, you homed in on “2+2=4”, then ignored the fact that the rest of #207 comment is directed at other people’s actions, not whether 2 + 2 = 4 is a hard to vary explanation.

    What you responded to is #213 by calling the criticism presented as “crazy”. But that’s yet another example of pointing out how we lack a good criticism of 2 + 2 = 4.

    The analogy between the theory of evolution and the 2+2 theory is in fact closer than the mere difficulty of imagining a good explanation to the contrary.

    That’s exactly what that means. We have no good explanations of how 2 + 2 = 4 might be false. And, apparently, you agree with him.

    I hold that fallibilism is a self-defeating and incoherent idea, which is not quite the same as being a ‘fallibilist about fallibilism.’

    Yet, you keep effectively arguing that we lack good criticism of those ideas. What gives?

    Did you arbitrarily pick 2 + 2 = 4, in that it had nothing to do with evaluating how obviously and unambiguously true you thought it was in relation to other possible propositions you considered? Are you claiming you didn’t present it, due to quickly considering reasons or ways they might be conceivably false, then concluding that specific propositions best make your point?

    What is that if not criticism?

  298. 298
    critical rationalist says:

    You have admitted to not being certain that it is wrong to treat women as if they are not persons. You have admitted to not being certain it is wrong to treat black persons as if they are inferior to white persons.

    What do you mean by certain? What does anyone’s certainty about it have to do with it being true or not, or whether they will treat women as if they are not persons or treat black persons as if they are inferior to white persons, or if they would vigorously work to discard errors everyone might have in all of our moral ideas, including the ones above and including myself.

    I don’t expect anyone to come up with good criticism of those ideas. Yet, I would be surprised if 10,000 years have gone by without someone devising a relevant. significant new criticism to that we haven’t thought of yet. And I have a reasonable expectation that criticism would fail as well. And when it did, it would result in a better understating as why it is true that its is wrong to treat women as if they are not persons or treat black persons as if they are inferior to white persons.

    Furthermore, what’s particularly frighting is the idea of anyone who thinks they have infallible access to an infallible source of moral truths, an infallible set of rules of when to defer to it and an infallible means of interpreting. That implies that morally knowledge is infallibly known, which means it can never improve and no new criticisms to improve it could ever be developed. We make progress when we discard errors from out ideas. Even the best of our moral knowledge is incomplete and contains errors we can discard. That’s how all knowledge grows, including moral knowledge.

    Apparently, you think we live in some specially privileged time in which we happen to poses all moral knowledge that will ever exist. Furthermore, your assuming that human beings cannot create knew knowledge which will have an vast and significant impact beyond what we can reason about today. Jesus is coming soon? Our ability to bring about genuine, significant change must be limited, otherwise we could interfere in Gods plan? IOW, I have no good explanation as to how we could infallibly possess an exhaustively complete list of which criticisms could be applied to those ideas. If we cannot conceive of the impact of genuinely new knowledge, then how can we conceive of moral problems it will present? How can we reason about what ways it could be wrong?

    What about universal income or healthcare? Future generations will likely will look back at us, wondering how we could have taken so long to implement something so basic and self-evidently true, just like we look back at slavery, etc. What about same sex marriages? Apparently, you think the love between a same sex couple is somehow inferior to that of a heterosexual couples. Is that a self evident truth?

    What we if could regenerate as a person of a different race or gender as if we had been born that way from birth? That would in and of itself give us an idea about what those people experience. And that could have profound moral implications. I think the idea that it is wrong to treat a woman as if they are not a person or a black person as if they were inferior to white people would pass that criticism with flying colors. And I think it would convince some people that had not been convinced before. But do I think it would somehow mean no other revenant and valid criticism could be leveled at those ideas? No, I do not.

    Having an infallible list of what we must include also implies an infallible list of what we need not include and therefore can exclude as well.

    What about future sentient artificially intelligent argents? Are you certain it would be wrong to treat them as if they were not persons or inferior to human beings? Would they have the rights to profit from or to retain the rights to new knowledge they create? Can you just turn them off? What does it mean to be a person, etc.?

    If we keep our own fallibility in mind, could it be that, actually, all moral truths follow logically from epistemological considerations, rather than just some of them? And it could it be that the moral imperative to not destroy the means of correcting mistakes is the only moral imperative?

    Destroying our discounting that means seems like a fundamental evil that perpetuates itself.

  299. 299
    StephenB says:

    SB: Let me make sure I understand you. Forget about morality for the moment. I want to discuss logic and nothing else. Are you saying that the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity are not self evident–that they require proof by reason and evidence?

    No.

    So you do acknowledge that self evident truths do not require proof by reason and evidence to support them. Why, then, would you ask me to prove my claim that moral truths are self evident if you already know that NO self evident truth can be proven. You might want to claim that moral truths are not self evident, but it would make no sense to ask me to prove that moral truths are self evident. Do you understand your error?

  300. 300
    JSmith says:

    SB

    So you do acknowledge that self evident truths do not require proof by reason and evidence to support them.

    Yes. But, they do not lack support through reason and evidence.

    Why, then, would you ask me to prove my claim that moral truths are self evident if you already know that NO self evident truth can be proven.

    I didn’t say that self-evident truths couldn’t be proven. I said that they didn’t need to be. I can certainly use reason, logic and evidence based examination to “prove” the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity. And if I doubted that they were true, providing that information would go a long way to convincing me that it was true.

  301. 301
    StephenB says:

    I didn’t say that self-evident truths couldn’t be proven. I said that they didn’t need to be. I can certainly use reason, logic and evidence based examination to “prove” the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity.

    Go ahead and use reason, logic, and evidence to prove the law of non-contradiction.

  302. 302
    kairosfocus says:

    CR:

    Every proposition is fallible because there are no infallible sources that we can defer to by which to prevent us from falling in error. Reason has its say first.

    Absurdly false and counter to facts in evidence.

    Just because we are fallible does not entail that in every case there is a residual uncertainty regarding the truth of propositions. A significant number of things are necessarily true, and a relevant subset of these are self-evidently true. For instance, it has been repeatedly shown that error exists is undeniably true, Likewise, as a conscious individual, you are incorrigibly and undeniably known to yourself to be conscious as a bare fact. and that we don’t have a list of all SET’s or an infallible rule for grounding all truths etc etc, is utterly irrelevant to what we now have in hand. The bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    Your problem is that you have made a crooked yardstick your standard, a type of fallibilist skepticism and you have a major challenge in acknowledging its failures.

    For example: in the above you have exerted great certainty about fallibilism, asserting a universal affirmative that is thus self-referential. It implies that fallibilism is uncertain also, so that what your claim boils down to is a policy declaration that you will treat all claims as fallible, with the convenient exception of the core elements of your system.

    Now the oh the sources are fallible claim fails through the key issue of degree of reliability. A good car, calculator or computer will admittedly be fallible, but they are sufficiently reliable to be very effective and useful. Likewise, our reasoning process. The abstract possibility of error can be compatible with the reality of effective and trustworthy performance in many relevant cases.

    And in the case of relevant SET’s such as are seen in the OP and thread above, we have claimed truths that are so, are warranted to be necessarily so, and that can be confirmed by insightful inspection backed up by the examination that shows the attempted denial leads to patent absurdity. Denying that error exists directly leads to the implication that it is an error to assert that error exists, so error exists is undeniable. To try to deny one’s consciousness has to use said consciousness so is self-defeating. And so forth.

    So, the answer to such fallibilism is the sufficient reliability of our reason. Sufficient to function in some cases to utter certainty.

    Your scheme fails the test of factual adequacy.

    As for reason, your implication is, that it is a sufficiently reliable capacity to be trustworthy and respected. But, it too depends on self evident truths connected to distinct identity. For instance you are conscious and may consider the appearance of a bright red ball on a table. It matters not here whether it is instantiated physically, or is imagined, or is a computer generated graphic or is a product of electrical stimulation of a brain in a vat. The appearance is enough to distinguish ball A from rest of world ~A. The world partition is immediate:

    W = {A|~A}

    From this we instantly see that A is itself, also that this is distinct from ~A which is also itself. Then, no thing x in W can be A AND ~A. Any x will be A X-OR ~A. this is due to A’s distinct identity as a thing.

    This is not a proof, it is an instructive explanation for the willing. For, to discuss such, at every step of the way we had to rely on distinct identity. This is the root of reasoning and it is undeniably true, forced truth.

    Similarly the dichotomy marks distinct things so quantity. From that we see two-ness, thence the endless chain of the naturals necessarily following.

    Going on, we can consider also how 2 + 3 = 5:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    This too speaks for itself so that one who understands sees that this is necessarily and undeniably so on pain of absurdity. And yes, one may construct an axiomatic scheme that leads up to this, but that scheme is less certain than the above. And we hardly need to point to Godel’s incompleteness result to see that.

    The end of all this is that you have put up a crooked yardstick as reference standard for straightness, accuracy and uprightness. It has failed the test of the naturally straight and upright plumb-line. So, now, whose report will you believe, why?

    KF

    PS: Red herrings on the Bible are obvious distractions intended to taint the discussion. They are readily addressed elsewhere and we need not end up in a pointless distraction. Sufficient is on the table, and unresponsiveness or evasion or clinging to absurdity will not help you or your claims.

  303. 303
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, observe how JS has used the rhetorical excuse of my alleged “obtuse[ness]” to duck actually affirming or denying that he believes that SET’s actually exist. As for the oh we can “prove” LNC, he of course fails to adequately reckon with the circularity involved in any such proof attempt. Something well known since was it Epictetus? KF

  304. 304
    StephenB says:

    KF, the best that can be done in the form of a demonstration is to assume that LNC isn’t true and then take note the absurdities that follow. But that exercise, though useful in a way, does not really prove that the principle is true. If there is nothing more basic than the principle, then their is no prior standard one can appeal to for a formal demonstration.

  305. 305
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, indeed to utter such an example or to write it out or type it out, or even to draw, will immediately and necessarily rely on it, due to the use of distinct identity to make intelligible thought or communication and action. This is an age that is not particularly humble before truth, so that irks some, who imagine that they are seeing some decree by a suspect panel (especially some imagined Magisterium backed up by an inquisition) and so they imagine themselves to be in heroic rebellion. Ironically, they are the establishment now, in the USA for sure. But all that such means is that absurdity is driving the ship of state. KF

  306. 306

    CR at 266 responding to me at 246,

    We can chalk this up as yet another example of a fallible interpretation.

    There is no misunderstanding here, CR. Your claim is that descriptions of semiotic systems do not scale to quantum storage mediums. In response, you’ve been asked to provide any example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic. You can’t do so, and thus, any example you give will immediately refute your claim. And here we are.

    Your claim is falsified by the facts, and you don’t have the intellectual integrity to acknowledge this. So, over and over and over again, you attempt to hide this refutation in mountains of words and further dissembling. There is no misunderstanding in this whatsoever. It is called intellectual dishonesty.

    You (very specifically) took my claim that semiotic descriptions apply to “any form of recorded information”, and you presented a counter-claim that semiotic systems didn’t apply to “quantum storage mediums”. You stated, (quoting me) that “…“any form of recorded information” would include quantum information mediums” and then you stated “this simply doesn’t apply”.

    But, it does. And thus, your further dissembling is irrelevant to that core fact.

    So, there is no misunderstanding, CR. When you have the integrity to acknowledge the fact that quantum storage mediums require semiosis in order to function, I’ll then be happy to disabuse you of your remaining misconceptions on the subject. There are plenty.

  307. 307
    JSmith says:

    SB

    Go ahead and use reason, logic, and evidence to prove the law of non-contradiction.

    I assume that you missed my scare quotes around “prove”. The law of non-contradiction can certainly be tested.

    Law of non-contradiction: states that contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time, e.g. the two propositions “A is B ” and “A is not B ” are mutually exclusive. [wiki]

    Statement 1) 2 + 2 = 4

    Statement 2) 2 + 2 = 5

    Two contradictory statements. Only one is true. The law has been tested and upheld. You can repeat this in millions of different ways, lending further support to the law.

  308. 308
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, had you but taken a moment to look at my “obtuse” comment, you would have seen that the attempt to “prove” or even play around with LNC inescapably has to implicitly use it. Just to communicate or even to think in images and language. In short, you are showing significant signs of major conceptual misunderstanding. KF

  309. 309
    tribune7 says:

    CR

    Every proposition is fallible because there are no infallible sources that we can defer to by which to prevent us from falling in error. Reason has its say first.

    Every human being is fallible. We are designed to fail. Our eyesight goes, our minds go and our bodies go.

    The only way you can make sense out of anything — FWIW, you basically said you can’t make sense out of anything — is to appeal to the divine.

  310. 310
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR: “Every proposition is fallible”

    Is that proposition fallible?

    CR, if my assertions failed the “self-referential incoherence” test, I hope I would rethink my position. But I doubt that you are bothered by the self-referential incoherence of your position.

  311. 311
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    Is that proposition fallible?

    I haven’t preceded every statement with “This is a conjecture”. So, what? Do I need to put a disclaimer at the top of every comment?

    I’ve stated my position several times. I’ve quoted examples of what it means to be fallable about fallibilism. I’ve pointed to examples of other people being fallible about fallibilism it when they don’t seem to realize their doing it. And, strangely, they still keep denying it, despite their actions not conflicting with it.

    It’s like some kind of wack-a-mole. When I clarify one misconception, some other previously clarified misconception gets brought up again, etc. What gives?

    One way to attach an idea one finds objectionable is to present a false version of it then point out how it is false. It’s disingenuous.

    I’m not saying there is no objective truth. I’m saying that we do not have an infallible way of identifying any such source of it, an infallible way of determining when to defer to any such source or it or an infallible way of interpreting it. Reason always has its way first. And we only have fallible access to it.

    But, by all means, feel free to present some new criticism of that idea.

  312. 312
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you have failed to address cogently, self-referential incoherence. FYI, that is a means of falsification.You are also studiously avoiding addressing self-evident propositions that are true beyond reasonable, responsible doubt, indeed are certainly true. recall, distinct identity, consciousness, error exists and co? You have had to implicitly use these just to comment. And then there is 2 + 3 = 5. Notice, this is not a discussion about authorities as oracles of unquestionable truth, it is a question about specific truths that are self-evident i/l/o a discussion that explains what self-evidence is. You seem to be so hung up on fearing authorities beyond your favourite ones that you have pounded away at a strawman. Kindly, see again the OP and 302 above. KF

  313. 313
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    I assume you’re referring to this comment.

    To use an analogy, it’s like you’re arguing for Newton’s laws of motion….

    UB: What does it take to launch rocket (Newton’s laws of motion)? You’re denying established knowledge!

    CR: Newton’s laws are an approximation that doesn’t hold at very high velocities. As such, you can’t use it to build, say, a global positioning system. Furthermore, Einstein’s explanation, the curvature of space time, is more fundamental. It assumes something completely different is happening, in reality, yet doesn’t require rebuilding bridges and buildings.

    UB: What does it take to launch rocket (Newton’s laws of motion)? You’re denying established knowledge!

    [repeat]

    Even then, Newton’s laws unified the motion of the planets and falling apples. That’s one of the goals in constructor theory, including and expressing certain apparently anthropocentric attributes such as knowledge in physical terms.

    From your website….

    The Information Tetrahedron is a visual aid for understanding translation. It is a model of the material conditions required to translate any form of recorded information, including the information recorded in DNA. The translation of an informational medium enables the production of effects that are not determined by the material properties of the medium being translated. Instead, those effects are determined elsewhere within the system of translation. This relational architecture – with one arrangement of matter evoking an effect, while another arrangement of matter determines what the effect will be – establishes a physical discontinuity in the system. This discontinuity enables prescriptive control of effects that are not limited by local dynamics. Such effects can only be derived from the contingent organization of the individual systems that translate information.

    Except, “any form of recorded information” would include quantum information mediums and this simply doesn’t apply. Is this not “accepted knowledge”?

    How can your argument hold when it only applies to classical information mediums? Or are you claiming it does apply beyond classical mediums to quantum mediums as well?

    Furthermore, those three things can be expressed as part of a network of tasks and subtasks in constructor theory. They represent knowledge.

    Apparently, you disagree with this despite having no concrete criticism of it. What gives?

    And immediacy after, I wrote….

    Are claiming those three things cannot be expressed in a more fundamental way as part of a network of possible tasks with subtasks, etc. as described in section 3.1 in this paper?

    Furthermore, beforehand, you wrote….

    There is a fundamental principle within physics sometimes referred to as the minimum total potential energy principle. This principle is related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and simply states that any physical object (regardless of its size or composition, as big as a planet or as small as a molecule) will distort and twist, and naturally orient itself to seek its lowest potential energy state.

    However, I pointed out here, thermodynamics in the current conception of physics did not scale to quantum systems.

    Words refer to ideas. And, if a key part of dividing a physical system into a semiotic triad depends on this dichotomy of rate independence in a classical way, then yes. that would not be possible in quantum mediums.

    Again, I’m suggesting that a semiotic system can be expressed in a more fundamentally way as a network of possible tasks. And this gets around the inability to make exact statements necessary to apply semiosis to quantum systems.

    Is a “semiotic system” not a way of subduing a physical system? Does it not transform some substrate? Are there not inputs and outputs? Does some aspect of the system remain the same in a net way, allowing it to perform that transformation again? The transformed substrate not the thirdness referred to in the triad?

    IOW, a semiotic system is only a approximation to what constructor theory can describe in a more fundamental way.

  314. 314

    CR said:

    I’m not saying there is no objective truth. I’m saying that we do not have an infallible way of identifying any such source of it, an infallible way of determining when to defer to any such source or it or an infallible way of interpreting it. Reason always has its way first. And we only have fallible access to it.

    How can reason have it’s way first? How does one “reason” one’s way towards a method of reasoning without first producing an axiom or principle of reasoning? How do you go about reasoning your way towards a reasoning process?

    But, by all means, feel free to present some new criticism of that idea.

    Your continued insistence that the fact that we have a fallible reasoning and perceptual process necessarily means we do not have the capacity to recognize self-evident, objective truths is flawed logically because it ignores the potential that we may have other means at our disposal for recognizing self-evident truths.

    Just because someone can look at a bird and think it is a lizard, or look at a bird and call it a lizard, doesn’t make the bird a lizard. Not recognizing a self-evident truth, or misidentifying something as a self-evident truth, does not logically mean such things do not exist or that we have no means by which to recognize them.

    A loose perceptual analogy: A man with his eyes shut may not know what the open-eyed man is pointing at, and may insist that the sighted man cannot be sure, but that doesn’t mean the man with his eyes open doesn’t really know what is sitting on the tree limb.

    I challenge you to take a subject, like abortion or slavery or something like that, and show us an example of your process of “reasoning first” towards a conclusion about whether or not one should abort or have slaves (or whatever). I don’t want your theory explained, I’d like to see an example of it.

  315. 315

    JS said:

    Two contradictory statements. Only one is true. The law has been tested and upheld. You can repeat this in millions of different ways, lending further support to the law.

    If the law of non-contradiction is to be tested, it must be tested without using the law of non-contradiction to determine the validity of the results, or else you are using the very yardstick in question to measure your results. How does one go about testing the law of non-contradiction without implicitly relying on it to separate a success from a failure? How does one even set the experiment up without relying on the LoI?

  316. 316
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, you have failed to address cogently, self-referential incoherence.

    Words are shortcuts for ideas. What Ideas are you referring to when you say “self-referential incoherence”? Unpack that for me.

  317. 317
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, the unpacking has been done any number of times, and with specific references in this thread just for one. Sorry, I will not go do that over and over again. Beyond, when a proposition A includes itself or its utterer in the context of its reference, it is particularly vulnerable to implying some B such that if A then A AND ~ A. For simple case, We have an English speaker saying, I cannot speak English. For other case, saying something that fatally undermines rationality when arguing about reasoning and warranting truth etc. Which is the general class of your problem and Mr Deutsch’s problem. KF

  318. 318
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, to CR:

    Your continued insistence that the fact that we have a fallible reasoning and perceptual process necessarily means we do not have the capacity to recognize self-evident, objective truths is flawed logically because it ignores the potential that we may have other means at our disposal for recognizing self-evident truths.

    I would add, and just to speak or type or think in a language, one has to use distinct identity (and would collapse into utter confusion if one were to try to avoid using it).

    I have already spoken to the issue of sufficient reliability to be workable.

    SET’s are on the table, just studiously ignored or dismissed.

    But I am sure that there is a growing recognition of the problem.

    KF

  319. 319
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM to JS:

    How does one go about testing the law of non-contradiction without implicitly relying on it to separate a success from a failure? How does one even set the experiment up without relying on the LoI?

    Prezactly.

    KF

  320. 320
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    You are also studiously avoiding addressing self-evident propositions that are true beyond reasonable, responsible doubt, indeed are certainly true.

    “beyond a reasonable doubt” refers to idea as well. What might that be?

    That we have no reasonable criticisms of them? And how do you define what a reasonable criticism is? That would be, well, reason. And how do we know that we considered all reasonable doubts we have today? Could one have been accidentally omitted when you criticized it? Could new doubts be proposed in the future? Will we not use reason to determine if they are, well, reasonable?

    Again, it seems that no one has managed to actually contract what I’ve said. However, still think I might have missed a criticism. Or misinterpreted someone’s argument or someone, including myself, might come up with a good criticism of it in the next our, or next week, next year, a century from now, or a millenia from now. etc., or possibly never at all, if we all gave up on criticizing it. Or if we destroyed ourselves in some global conflict / biological epidemic / astroid strike, etc.

  321. 321
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I am not obligated to quote the dictionary to you, one definition at a time. I will note that reasonable, responsible doubt is specifically distinct from hyperskeptical dismissal of what is not convenient or welcome. When X is warranted to this degree, it would be indefensible to act as though X were false on a matter of great moment. That is why this standard is exacted when someone’s life may be on the line, or his freedom. Just last month, I saw a jury release a rape accused on grounds that there was sufficient doubt that it would be unsafe to convict. The look on his face as the judge told him to open the door to the box, he was free to leave thanks to the decision by the jury based on their life experiences, was a study itself. I trust he has learned a sobering lesson. KF

  322. 322
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    CR, I am not obligated to quote the dictionary to you, one definition at a time.

    So, the way to create knowledge is to just define words correctly? That would be methodical essentialism, and I’ve referenced criticism of that elsewhere.

    A word is shorthand for an idea not for some imaginary perfect definition. As such, we should be willing to change terminology to talk in ways that other people understand. That is, we should be willing to use their definitions. Furthermore, we should never try to be more precise than is necessary to address the problem we are dealing with since this will lead to loss of clarity. The best summary of his position on this issue is (Unended Quest, p. 24):

    Every increase in clarity is an intellectual value in itself; an increase in precision or exactness has only a pragmatic value as a means to some definite end – where the end is usually an increase in testability or criticizability demanded by the problem situation…

    and

    Dykes then goes on to argue as follows:

    The crux of the case against Hume was stated in 1916 by H.W.B. Joseph in An Introduction to Logic: “A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connexion between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert that it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be.” Hume’s whole argument – persuasive though it may be – is, to borrow Joseph’s words, “in flat conflict with the Law of Identity.”

    Existence implies identity. It is not possible to exist without being something, and a thing can only be what it is: A is A. Any actions of that thing form part of its identity: “the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is.” Thus to deny any connection between a thing, its actions, and their consequences, is to assert that the thing is not what it is; it is to defy the Law of Identity.

    It is not necessary to prolong this discussion. Entities exist. They possess identity. By careful observation – free from preconception – we are able to discover the identities of the entities we observe. Thereafter, we are fully entitled to assume that like entities will cause like events, the form of inference we call induction. And, because it rests on the axiom of the Law of Identity, correct induction – free from contradiction – is a valid route to knowledge. The first premise of CR is therefore false.

    This argument doesn’t solve the problem at all. The problem of induction as stated by Hume is that our expectations of the future don’t follow from what we have observed in the past. To see why let’s take Dykes’ example of the hawthorn, which he claims will not produce grapes. How does he know it won’t produce grapes? Perhaps some scientist will genetically engineer hawthorns to produce grapes. And even if he doesn’t the fact that it won’t produce grapes doesn’t follow merely from the fact that it hasn’t in the past.

    To put this in Dykes’ language, if we were to accept that existence implies identity that would not tell us the identity of any specific entity. And indeed characterising the issue as being about the identity of the object in question is a bad way to think about it. Whatever the thing in question is we need an explanation of how it works to say what it will do next and why. And we won’t be able to tell what we can predict about the entity in question without such an account. Why do hawthorn bushes not produce grapes? That has to do with a complicated set of circumstances in its evolutionary past that selected against hawthorns producing relatively large fleshy fruit and refers to lots of things that are not hawthorn bushes, like human beings who did not selectively breed hawthorn bushes to get them to grow grapes. Stating this theory in terms of definitions would make it less clear because the explanation involves tying together many different entities and so the whole explanation would have to be repeated many times in slightly different ways.

    Note also that Dykes’ approach to creating knowledge amounts to defining terms in the right way: that is, to the idea of methodological essentialism that I criticised in my comments on Section 1.

    That does’t give us infallible access either.

    I will note that reasonable, responsible doubt is specifically distinct from hyperskeptical dismissal of what is not convenient or welcome.

    There were questions in my comment. You haven’t answered them.

    …how do you define what a reasonable criticism is? That would be, well, reason. And how do we know that we considered all reasonable doubts we have today? Could one have been accidentally omitted when you criticized it? Could new doubts be proposed in the future? Will we not use reason to determine if they are, well, reasonable?

    Are you suggesting those are unreasonable doubts? If so, why?

  323. 323
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: let us hear as a capital example of the point, the founding father of the modern anglophone school of jurisprudence, Simon Greenleaf:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction. [–> that is, his focus is on the logic of good support for in principle uncertain conclusions, i.e. in the modern sense, inductive logic and reasoning in real world, momentous contexts with potentially serious consequences.]

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd. [–> the issue of warrant to moral certainty, beyond reasonable doubt; and the contrasted absurdity of selective hyperskepticism.]

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them. [–> moral certainty standard, and this is for the proverbial man in the Clapham bus stop, not some clever determined advocate or skeptic motivated not to see or assent to what is warranted.]

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved. [–> pistis enters; we might as well learn the underlying classical Greek word that addresses the three levers of persuasion, pathos- ethos- logos and its extension to address worldview level warranted faith-commitment and confident trust on good grounding, through the impact of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in C1 as was energised by the 500 key witnesses.]

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind [–> in British usage, the man in the Clapham bus stop], beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal [–> and responsible] test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [= definition of moral certainty as a balanced unprejudiced judgement beyond reasonable, responsible doubt. Obviously, i/l/o wider concerns, while scientific facts as actually observed may meet this standard, scientific explanatory frameworks such as hypotheses, models, laws and theories cannot as they are necessarily provisional and in many cases have had to be materially modified, substantially re-interpreted to the point of implied modification, or outright replaced; so a modicum of prudent caution is warranted in such contexts — explanatory frameworks are empirically reliable so far on various tests, not utterly certain. ] [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    We can freely assume that CR as an educated person is familiar with the legal standard, proof beyond reasonable doubt as opposed to the mere preponderance of evidence, and why the former is applied to cases of criminal law. So, the above on his part is plainly frivolous. KF

    PS: Note on this, that CR has been studiously avoiding the substance in the OP and above in this thread and has instead sought to grandstand with talking points that have been repeatedly corrected for cause and has set up and knocked over strawman after strawman. Where as just one instance, he is in trouble over the first principles of right reason rooted in distinct identity. In the end, that tactic tells us more than a failed attempted substantial answer would.

  324. 324
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Your still not disagreeing with me.

    This is just more reasoning about when to defer to a source.

    Saying there is no reasonable doubt is to say we have no good criticism. In many cases, evidence could be planted, witnesses tampered with, etc. However, that would require some great conspiracy and we would need some good explanation as to why everyone would be in on it. We would need a good criticism of the idea that there was no conspiracy. And if we have none, then the evidence stands. But if we did have good criticism of that idea, then that evidence would be deferred to in a different way.

    Furthermore, as technology advances, the way we decide whether we defer to evidence changes. What hard to vary explanations do we have for it? For example, what criticism could we level at evidence being false? Can a photo be manipulated? How about a video?

    How about a witness’ memory? How about all of the witness’ memories, as unwilling conspiracists? If we discovered some alien species had been hiding in orbit with the capacity to implant false memories at the time of the crime, witness testimony would suddenly become suspect. We would have good criticisms of it. We suddenly have a reasonable doubt. So, this is an example where new criticism of an idea can come along which result in changing out previous decision to defer to it.

    Or are you suggesting we should continue to defer to their memories of first person experiences because it’s not subject to criticism?

    Again, reason always comes first.

    IOW, what was reasonable doubt in the past is not necessarily reasonable doubt today, Nor will it be so in the future. That entire quote is an argument about principles of criticism, not some standard that is frozen in time. At the time empiricism was in play and that represented our theory of knowledge.

    The difference between an unreasonable and reasonable doubt is, well, reason itself.

  325. 325

    I pointed out here, thermodynamics in the current conception of physics did not scale to quantum systems.

    If this was actually relevant to the issue, then you’d be offering me an example of a quantum storage medium that was not semiotic. But its not, and so you don’t. And here we are.

  326. 326

    When you acknowledge the facts on the table (that quantum storage requires semiosis) then we can move on to the rest of your misconceptions.

    And if you think it is unfair for you to have to acknowledge the facts before I’m willing go any further (…the word “if” being a gracious replacement for the word “since”) then you must have enjoyed writing the unnecessary thousands of words you’ve written (to avoid the facts) more than I’ve enjoyed wading through them.

  327. 327
    Origenes says:

    CR @322

    CR: This argument doesn’t solve the problem at all. The problem of induction as stated by Hume is that our expectations of the future don’t follow from what we have observed in the past.

    So, our expectation that the sun will rise tomorrow morning does not follow from what we have observed in the past. Okay, got it (sigh …).

    CR: To see why let’s take Dykes’ example of the hawthorn, which he claims will not produce grapes. How does he know it won’t produce grapes?

    Because from what we have observed in the past, Einstein.

    CR: Perhaps some scientist will genetically engineer hawthorns to produce grapes.

    Perhaps we can change a ball into a pillow and then it no longer bounces. What kind of argument is that? If one “genetically engineer hawthorns to produce grapes”, then you change hawthorns into something else, so they are no longer hawthorns, just like a ball that is changed into a pillow is no longer a ball.

    CR: And even if he doesn’t the fact that it won’t produce grapes doesn’t follow merely from the fact that it hasn’t in the past.

    Because you say so?

    CR: To put this in Dykes’ language, if we were to accept that existence implies identity that would not tell us the identity of any specific entity.

    No, of course not! And no sane person would claim such a thing. ‘Temperatures below zero imply frozen water’, does not tell us the specific temperature of the frozen bucket in my backyard. How could it? And more importantly: who would expect it to do that job?

    CR: And indeed characterising the issue as being about the identity of the object in question is a bad way to think about it.

    Ridiculous. The writer, doesn’t seem to understand, that an object without an identity cannot be thought about at all. Talking about a ‘bad way’ to think about stuff …

    CR: Whatever the thing in question is we need an explanation of how it works to say what it will do next and why.

    More nonsense! Obviously we first need to observe what a thing does — IOWs the thing observed in the past. Then, and only then, can we ask the questions ‘how does that work?’ “why does the earth orbit the sun?’ and so on. It is not the case, like CR suggests, that we can predict what a (natural) thing will do next, without it ever seen in action.

  328. 328
    Origenes says:

    //follow up #327//

    CR: Why do hawthorn bushes not produce grapes? That has to do with a complicated set of circumstances in its evolutionary past that ….

    The question “why do hawthorn bushes not produce grapes” (obviously) assumes that hawthorns do not produce grapes. It is truly remarkable that you allow yourself to make that assumption without explaining its basis. You should have, since you have argued that it does not follow from prior observations.

    BTW ‘why’ is a different question. The question up till now was: ‘Do hawthorn bushes produce grapes?’ And there is perfectly reasonable answer to that latter question that follows from what we have observed in the past: ‘No, they do not.’

  329. 329
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    with all due respect, you have created such a grab-bag sense of the term “criticism” that it makes it hard for a serious discussion to proceed. The fatal ambiguity you have created has been noted by others.

    Now, at no time has anyone equated moral certainty with necessary, infallible truth. Just the opposite, the issue you asked me to explain further has been, how does one decide on matters of great moment in the face of residual uncertainty; and Greenleaf answers on centuries of courtroom experience, with survival of civil society in the stakes. That is worlds apart from there being self-evident truth in general, which is so to utter certainty, beyond any prospect of reversal.

    You will note that above I spoke to certainty beyond reasonable, responsible doubt . . . stage I . . . then went on to indeed, utter, self-evident certainty . . . stage II. The OP demonstrates the latter over and over for general truths.

    Where, such truths are such that the attempt to deny immediately lands in patent absurdity, in various ways.

    This, you need to acknowledge instead of holding in reserve the tactic of a hypothetical onward challenge, reflecting the fatal error of selective hyperskepticism.

    If you disagree then your job is to overturn the cases on the table, which you cannot — showing just how empty your continued objections are.

    Then, on moral truths, we find that our whole life of reason is pervaded and inextricably entangled with duties to truth, sound logic, fairness, prudence and more, showing moral government. This is normally manifested through an aspect of consciousness, conscience. If that sense is false, it is delusional, and we face grand delusion spreading across our reasoning, perceiving, claiming to know, everything.

    This is absurd, it cannot be seriously sustained.

    We are then left to conclude that we are under moral government, and we must take where that leads us as we bridge the IS-OUGHT gap at world-roots level. There being only one serious candidate — if you doubt, kindly provide a coherent alternative: ______ (Predictably, fail.)

    The serious candidate is: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being, worthy of loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. And yes, that is densely packed, this is a big, hard question we deal with.

    In that general context, I put on the table an instructive, sadly real-world, case: it is evil to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and murder a young child for sick pleasure. Like unto it, if we came across this infamy in progress, it would be our duty to try to rescue or at least bawl out for help.

    The attempt to deny the evil of the substance here, will at once be absurd. And the case is instructive about much broader moral principles.

    The evasions, side-tracking and disractions we have seen above therefore speak telling volumes about the mental and moral state of our civilisation at this time.

    KF

  330. 330
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes (attn CR), the pivot is, identity. A is itself and will act as itself in accord with its core nature. That may be manifest so that it is readily seen that a thorn bush does not produce grapes, and a grape is not thorny. This extends to subtler cases, up to the world having a nature that exhibits consistent behaviour that can be identified from sufficient observations, to high empirical reliability. This is the basis of inductive reasoning, which CR is desperate to discard. KF

  331. 331
    Origenes says:

    KF

    It is becoming more and more apparent that CR is at an all-out war with reason on every level. Now that we learn that even the law of identity is on his hit list, it can no longer be a surprise that any text by CR — any text at all — is confused and riddled with fundamental mistakes.

  332. 332
  333. 333
    Origenes says:

    KF,

    Perhaps it is comforting for CR — but not for us — to know that he is nowhere near the only one.

  334. 334
    kairosfocus says:

    In him we live and move and have our being, like it or lump it.

  335. 335

    Origenes at 331.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that CR is at an all-out war with reason on every level.

    Yep.

    To CR on Sept 26, 2017

    Read John Von Neumann on the threshold of complexity for prescriptive synthesis. Ask Turing if his system needed anything on the tape. Ask him if it needed a way to read that tape. Ask Peirce if representation and interpretation are not complimentary parts of a system. Ask Pattee if that system requires complimentary physical descriptions as well. Ask Crick if his adapter hypothesis was necessary. Ask Nirenberg if he could have calculated the code instead of demonstrating it. The problem is not that you don’t have anything to go on; the problem is that you ignore it. For all intents and purposes, you appear to be at war with it.

  336. 336
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    If this was actually relevant to the issue, then you’d be offering me an example of a quantum storage medium that was not semiotic. But its not, and so you don’t. And here we are.

    Just so I understand you correctly, the process of subdividing a physical system into a semiotic triad – I.E. which part is the representation, object, interpretant, etc., – does not depend on a dichotomy of which aspects of that physical system are rate-independent vs which parts are not rate-independent, or any other classical only attributes?

    Is that what you’re telling me?

    Because, at a minimum, I pointed out that there was no theory of thermodynamics that actually scaled. Specifically, there were well known problems below the scale of molecules. So, it’s unclear how you could subdivided a physical system without devising a new way to subdivide a quantum system that handles the scale dependent issues with thermodynamics / rate independence, etc., and correlates with a semiotic triad

    IOW, it would seem that someone would need to significantly reformulate the means by which to subdivide physicals systems that works for both classical and quantum systems. Right?

    For example, most people here seem to think that quantum mechanics is non-local, which results in this spooky action at a distance, etc. How can something non-local be any part of the triad? If you take an instrumental approach, then all you get are possibilities, not actuals. Or you might say that we scan simulate quantum systems using classical systems, so that’s not a “problem”. But, mere predictions are based on probabilities, and need not say anything about what’s happening there in reality. Classical simulations are, well, classical, which means they are approximations, etc.

    Again, I’m not suggesting we cannot have symbols in quantum systems. I’m saying that it’s unclear how, based on any current semotic explanation, we can subdivide any physical system that isn’t an approximation and can be better explained with a more fundamental theory.

    This is why I’ve repeatedly stated that this argument is no stronger than any other claim of irreducible complexity, with all of its warts and problems.

    Of note, you haven’t even acknowledged this for some reason. Apparently, it’s out of style these days, and you don’t want to associate with it anymore?

  337. 337

    CR, when you acknowledge that a “quantum storage medium” is part of a semiotic system we can move on to the rest of your misconceptions.

  338. 338
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    CR (to UB): Just as the scope of Newton’s laws does not scale to very high velocities required to build GPS satellites, your “theory of information” does not scale to the level of quantum storage mediums.

    UB: You sure appear to be saying that semiotic descriptions do not scale to the use of a quantum storage medium.

    Okay.

    Provide an example of using a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic …

    CR: Just so I understand you correctly …

    What is there to understand CR? The situation is perfectly clear: you claim that descriptions of semiotic systems do not scale to quantum storage mediums. In response, UB has asked you to provide an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic.
    So, why not support your claim with an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic?
    That’s all you have to do. Any example of such a storage system will do the job. What are you waiting for?
    There is no reason whatsoever for your continuous postponement.

  339. 339
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    CR, when you acknowledge that a “quantum storage medium” is part of a semiotic system we can move on to the rest of your misconceptions.

    I’ve asked you a specific question about how to subdivide a physical system into a semiotic triad. And I asked it based on one of you attempts to clarify what you mean by rate-independence, in which you referred to a claim about the role that thermodynamics plays in subdividing such a system. However, if there is no constant way to divide a physical system into a semiotic triad then what does it mean to say ‘a “quantum storage medium” is part of a semiotic system’?

    At which point, all you’re left with is a claim of irreducible complexity, which again you still haven’t addressed.

  340. 340
    critical rationalist says:

    In response, UB has asked you to provide an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic.

    And I’ve asked UB how one goes about subdividing a physical system into something that “is semiotic”. How can I give an example of what something is not without an example of what that something is?

  341. 341

    Ah yes, the return of the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” defense, where you suddenly pretend to not understand what has been presented, and then just as sudden, you go back to dissembling about quantum memory and all the rest of it. We’ve been through this several times over the course of several months.

    The last time you pulled this defense, I answered your question in detail (which was headlined here), and so, you clearly already have these answers.

    In your response at the time, you stated: ”it’s not that I “do not follow” what UB presented. It’s very much the opposite.”

    Thus, I don’t intend on going through the game again.

  342. 342
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    It’s unclear how a deficiency I’ve been referring to from the beginning, and has yet to be addressed, is somehow a “I don’t know what you’re taking about” defense. You have yet to present a theory of information that scales to quantum systems. In fact, many people have attempted to bring information into fundamental physics and have been unsuccessful. Von Neumann attempted to bring his replicator vehicle into fundamental physics and was unsuccessful as well.

    What I’m suggesting is that we can bring information into fundamental physics via constructor theory. And we can do so because it is a new mode of explanation which is not limited by the current conception of physics. This is nothing new.

    Just looked at the referenced OP. Found this…

    1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information.

    This does’t tell me how to subdivide *any* physical system into “representations’ How does a representation actually perform the role it plays in *any* physical system? How does it scale?

    2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented.

    This doesn’t tell me which constraints must be possible or impossible to establish what is represented. In the absence of this, it’s unclear if those necessary constraints are available in quantum systems.

    3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. a reading-frame code)

    Is spatial orientation the only way to associate between representations and referents in the translation system, or just classical systems, or any semiotic system?

    Again, it’s unclear how to subdivide any physical system into these roles, which would include a quantum system as well.

    As I’ve pointed out, Newton’s laws predict the same outcome as general relativity when it comes to launching rockets into space. Yet, general relativity suggests someone thing completely different is happening there, in reality. Newton’s laws are an approximation and general relativity is a more fundamental theory.

    I’m suggesting the same thing in the case of semiotic systems. This doesn’t mean I’m suggesting symbols are impossible in quantum systems. Rather, I’m suggesting that you need a more fundamental theory to achieve them. Perhaps a constructor theory of semiotic systems, which would reformulate semiotic system into constructor theoretic terms?

    The point being made is that we already have an example of a transition from replication specific to non-replications specific constructor tasks. Constructor theory allows us to model the entire gradient because it scales from primitive replicators to high fidelity replicators, including semiotic systems. It is this feature of constructor theory is what allows us say in exact terms that the design of replicators is not already present in the laws of physics.

    Are you suggesting that they are present in the laws of physics? Last time I checked you didn’t seem to think that was the case.

    4) functional coordination (semantic closure) between two sets of sequences; the first set establishes the constraints that are necessary to interpret the representations, and the second set establishes a system whereby the representations and their constraints are brought together in the specify way required to produce a functioning end product – an autonomous self-replicator. Coordination is required because changes to the first set affect the second set.

    This doesn’t seem to be applicable as I don’t think you’re claiming a quantum storage medium, such as a hypothetical future room temperature superconducting “quantum thumb drive” could replicate itself.

  343. 343

    CR, you make so many uninformed and anthropocentric statements, I do hope you’ll acknowledge reality so that I can correct you on them.

  344. 344
    Origenes says:

    While we all wait for CR to provide an example of using a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic …, it is perhaps a suitable moment to reflect on one of the many misconceptions that underpin constructor theory.

    CR: So, the actual laws of physics we do have are no-design. That is, they do not already contain the design of replicators or specific organisms, already present there. Yet we do not need to add anything to our laws of physics for life to be possible.

    The general idea seems to be: if A is shown to be possible, then A is explained. We can find this mistaken idea often Deutsch’s writings, e.g.:

    I conclude that self-reproduction, replication and natural selection are possible under no-design laws …

    A tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747. Indeed, it is possible, but CR & Deutsch needs to be informed that it is nowhere near an explanation.
    In a way it is saddening that there is a need to point these things out.

  345. 345
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, you make so many uninformed and anthropocentric statements, I do hope you’ll acknowledge reality so that I can correct you on them.

    Why don’t you start by correcting me on how to subdivide a physical system into a semiotic triad?

  346. 346
    critical rationalist says:

    First you fail to quote what the problem in question that the paper was directed at. Then you make assumptions about what the relevance is in respect to possible and impossible tasks. And then you suggest this somehow means Deutsch is mistaken.

    For example,

    The general idea seems to be: if A is shown to be possible, then A is explained.:

    That’s a mistaken interpretation of constructor theory.

    von Neumann finally produced a viable toy model, [15], within cellular automata, but at the cost of severing the connections with actual physics. That model is thus inadequate to address the current problem – whether self-reproduction is compatible with the actual laws of physics un-augmented by any design of adaptations.

    The prevailing conception also forces a misleading formulation of the problem, as: what initial conditions and laws of motion must (or must probably) produce accurate replicators and self-reproducers (with some probability)? But what is disputed is whether such entities are possible under no-design laws.
    More generally, it cannot express the very explanation provided by evolution- ary theory – that living organisms can have come about without intentionally being designed. It would have aimed at proving that they must occur, given certain initial conditions and dynamical laws.

    To overcome these problems I resort to a newly proposed theory of physics, constructor theory. [16, 17, 18]. It provides a new mode of explanation, expressing all laws as statements about which transformations are possible, which are impossible and why.

    This is not a naive claim that something is “possible”.

    This brings counterfactual statements into fundamental physics, which is key to the solution. The explanation provided by the theory of evolution is already constructor-theoretic: it is possible that the appearance of design has been brought about without intentionally being designed; so is our problem: are the physical processes essential to the theory of evolution – i.e., self- reproduction, replication and natural selection – possible under no-design laws?
    I shall show that they are (in section 2-3) provided that those laws of physics allow the existence of media that can instantiate (digital) information (plus enough time and energy). Information has an exact physical characterisation in the constructor theory of information [17].

    I also show that under no-design laws an accurate self-reproducer requires an accurate (i.e., high-fidelity) replicator, and vice versa. Thus, the replicator- vehicle logic von Neumann envisaged is here shown to be necessary for accu- rate self-reproduction to be possible under such laws. This provides physical foundations for the relation between “metabolism” and replication (as defined by Dyson, [10]). In addition, that vehicles are necessary to high-quality replicators under our laws of physics (despite replicators being the conceptual pillar of evolutionary theory), informs the current debate about the necessity of organisms. The latter was recently doubted by Dawkins [19]: “ Just as life did not have to become multicellular […] so living materials did not have to become packaged into discrete, individual organisms [..] behaving as unitary, purposeful agents. The only thing that is really fundamental to Darwinian life is self-replicating, coded information – genes, in the terminology of life on this planet.”.
    Constructor Theory’s mode of explanation also delivers an exact physical expression of the notions of the appearance of design, no-design laws, and of the logic of self-reproduction and natural selection.(5)
    Finally, Wigner’s argument implies that accurate self-reproduction is incom- patible particularly with quantum theory, thus challenging its universality – a claim that others, with different motivations, have also made [20, 21, 22]. I shall demonstrate (in section 4) a quantum-mechanical (kinematical) model of the logic of self-reproduction, updating von Neumann’s, thus rebutting those claims. This, incidentally, clarifies how self-reproduction differs from cloning a quantum state (which has occasionally caused some confusion [20]). It also vindicates that self-reproduction – and even (possibly artificial) self- reproducers employing quantum coherence – are compatible with quantum theory.

    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living enti- ties can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has [yet to be] proposed; and those claims have [yet to be] been properly refuted.

    Constructor theory supplements Neo-darwnisms.

  347. 347
    Origenes says:

    CR:

    Deutsch: It provides a new mode of explanation, expressing all laws as statements about which transformations are possible, which are impossible and why.

    This is not a naive claim that something is “possible”.

    Well, yes, it is exactly that.
    Your claim is that laws, as statements about what is possible, are explanations.
    They are not.

  348. 348
    critical rationalist says:

    Your claim is that laws, as statements about what is possible, are explanations.

    Words are shortcuts for ideas. So, it’s helpful if you read the paper on constructor theory itself, where it expands on what is meant by that phrase. I can try to summarize it for you….

    Deutsch: It provides a new mode of explanation(1), expressing all laws(2) as statements(3) about which(4) transformations(5) are possible(6), which are impossible(7) and why(8).

    (1) Constructor theory is a new mode of explanation because it does not start with initial conditions, then apply laws of motion, as in the current conception of physics. Explanations come from subsidiary theories. If your car slides off the road and stops in a snow bank, you don’t want to know where your car will go if you do nothing. You want to know where your car can be made to go. Preferably to your intended destination. Getting there would represent a network of physical transformations on your car.

    So, is it a explanation in the current conception of physics? No, it’s not. Is it a completely reductionist theory? No, it’s not, either. Does that mean it’s not a new mode of explanation, no it does not. Constructor theory puts reductionist and emergent explanations on the same level. Again, this is because it doesn’t treat initial conditions as having priority.

    (2) What is being expressed? Laws in the current conception of physics. They are reformulated in constructor theoretic terms.

    (3) What kind of statements? Principles about laws, similar to how the laws of thermodynamics are principles.

    (4) With transformations? This refers to a very specific set of task or set of tasks, not just some vague idea of something being possible, in reference to some scientific theory, such as quantum theory, or information, etc. They can be combined in a network of tasks. Constructor theory is developing an algebra of tasks that can be use to combine networks, etc.

    (5) Transformations refers to Tasks (short for Construction Task). They are defined as a substrate, inputs / outputs and an abstract constructor, which might be a composite.

    (6) Some construction tasks are possible. That is to say, a constructor can cause the substrate to be transformed in a specific way, given the right inputs / outputs. etc. And the task can be repeated because the constructor part of the system does not undergo net change.

    (7) Otherwise, such a task is impossible. It is prohibited by the laws of physics. There is no in-between. This dichotomy is a key aspect of constructor theory. The constructor cannot undergo net change, or it’s not a “constructor” in the sense of constructor theory so it’s an impossible constructor task.

    (8) The “why” is also found in subsidiary theories. And, in the case of the constructor theory of life, it includes Neo-Darwinism. The entire gradient from primitive, highly inaccurate replicators to high-fidelity, programmable replicators can be modeled as a network of construction tasks, with substrates, inputs / outputs, etc. Furthermore, the appearance of design and no-design laws can also be specified exactly in constructor theoretic terms, which are referenced as part of the explanation.

  349. 349
    Origenes says:

    CR @348

    Some questions about (1):

    “Constructor theory is a new mode of explanation” of what? What exactly does it explain? Please be specific.

    “You don’t want to know where your car will go if you do nothing.” Why is it that I do not want to know that?

    “You want to know where your car can be made to go. Preferably to your intended destination.” What does agent causality and intentionality have to do with constructor theory?

  350. 350
    critical rationalist says:

    “You don’t want to know where your car will go if you do nothing.” Why is it that I do not want to know that?

    There are some aspects of physical reality that cannot be captured using the traditional conception of physics. Why? Because they are about what can, or cannot, be made to happen to a physical system; not about what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion.

    It is in this sense that constructor theory supplements traditional physics. If your goal was to arrive at a particular destination, you want to know where you car can be made to go, not where it will go if you do nothing.

    See this video, which contrasts the traditional conception of physics.

    of what? What exactly does it explain? Please be specific.

    The role transformations in physical systems play in fundamental scientific theories, like information, living things, etc. For example we can define information based on what physical transformations of systems are possible and which are impossible.

    From the abstract….

    Constructor theory seeks to express all fundamental scientific theories in terms of a dichotomy between possible and impossible physical transformations – those that can be caused to happen and those that cannot.

    For example, copying information is a transformation of a physical system.

    See this video for details on construction tasks.

    The “theory” part of Constructor theory is the idea that it’s possible to express all fundamental scientific theories in this way, along with a notation of how to formally express it. However, subsidiary theories are what explain things in constrictor theoretic terms, such as the constructor theory of life.

    See this video for details.

    “You want to know where your car can be made to go. Preferably to your intended destination.” What does agent causality and intentionality have to do with constructor theory?

    As I’ve stated elsewhere, the medical community consists of free, intelligent agents. They intend for their actions to treat and cure all diseases, such as cancer. Yet, we still do not have a treatment for all cancers. Why? Because a patient will only be successfully treated when the knowledge of how to kill cancer cells, without killing the patient, was present there. Causing just those cells to die is a transformation of a physical system.

    Any such treatment would be a series of constructor tasks. And how to bring them about is knowledge. So, merely being a free, intelligent agents is insufficient as an explanation. The requisite knowledge must be present there, in some form. An intelligent agent cannot merely choose to arrange some bits on a flash drive in such a way that it would be knowledge of how to treat all forms of cancer, right?

    If you were accidentally sent the plans to a boat instead of a car, and you followed them to the letter, your intention to build a care would not prevent the outcome from being a boat. Right?

    Knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief. So, raw materials would be transformed into a boat, rather than a car, because the knowledge of how to build a boat was present there. Your belief that it would result in something else doesn’t change this fact. Nor can you just choose that it should result in something different.

    So, in constructor theory, “the most significant quantity affecting whether physical transformations happen or not is knowledge.” This is what it means when I say, unless something is prohibited by the law of physics, the only thing that would prevent *us* from achieving it is knowing how. However, knowledge, in constrictor theory, isn’t limited to knowing subjects.

  351. 351
    critical rationalist says:

    An intelligent agent cannot merely choose to arrange some bits on a flash drive in such a way that it would be knowledge of how to treat all forms of cancer, right?

    This is why I keep pointing out either ID’s designer is a complex, knowledge laden entity, or it depends on some external knowledge which it just copied there from “somewhere”. In both cases, an explanation is needed for that knowledge, because it is the most significant quantity that explains the functionality in question.

    So, you’re stuck with the same problem, that ID claims must be explained by a designer, etc. All you’ve done is push the problem up a level without improving it because you have the equivalent of that same knowledge in some well adapted physical system.

    Or ID’s designer isn’t really “just abstract”, but also has the specific ability to make knowledge spontaneously appear out of nothing, while creating the cells of an organism. If so, when will that be added to the “scientific” theory of ID?

    The origin of any biological feature is the origin of that knowledge.

    Some designer that “just was”, complete with that knowledge, already present, doesn’t serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared”, complete with that knowledge already present.

  352. 352
    Origenes says:

    CR @350

    CR: For example we can define information based on what physical transformations of systems are possible and which are impossible.

    Okay, so you can define things in some idiosyncratic terms, but what does the theory explain? Please be specific.

    CR: if your goal was to arrive at a particular destination, you want to know where you car can be made to go, not where it will go if you do nothing.

    Where the car goes in case I do nothing is part of the possible destinations, so, again, why is it that I do not want to know about that?

    O: What does agent causality and intentionality have to do with constructor theory?

    CR: … [incoherent anti-agent-causality-rant]

    So, what does agent causality and intentionality have to do with constructor theory? Why do you keep mentioning an intelligent agent who intents things, does things and want to know certain things & not other things?

  353. 353
    critical rationalist says:

    Okay, so you can define things in some idiosyncratic terms, but what does the theory explain? Please be specific.

    What theory? Constructor theory itself of the constructor theory of information? Please be specific.

    CR: if your goal was to arrive at a particular destination, you want to know where you car can be made to go, not where it will go if you do nothing.

    O:Where the car goes in case I do nothing is part of the possible destinations, so, again, why is it that I do not want to know about that?

    The car isn’t going anywhere soon because it’s in a snowbank. And you’re not at your destination because your car slid off the road while driving there.

    I guess you could change your mind, but you cannot arrive somewhere you already are.

    Furthermore, as I stated, constructor theory supplements the current conception of physics. This doesn’t mean the current conception hasn’t been successful. And, in many cases you can recover the traditional initial conditions and laws of motion. But constructor theory is more fundamental because some aspects of physical systems are about what can, or cannot, be made to happen, not about what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion.

    CR: … [incoherent anti-agent-causality-rant]

    Can you point out what you think is incoherent or factually incorrect in what I wrote? Merely saying it is a “anti-agent-causality-rant” is extremely vague criticism.

    Your comment was anti-constructionist-rant. So there! (See how that works? Or should I say, how it doesn’t work, actually)

    So, what does agent causality and intentionality have to do with constructor theory?

    You asked me that already. If you didn’t get what you wanted previously, why do you think repeating the exact same question again would be helpful?

    Why do you keep mentioning an intelligent agent who intents things, does things and want to know certain things & not other things?

    I keep mentioning them to distinguish those specific aspects from Knowledge, significant quantity affecting whether physical transformations happen.

    For the same reason I mentioned the medical community, which consist of intelligent agents who intend things, does things, whats to know certain things, and not other things, etc. cannot merely choose some arrangement to matter to contain the treatment for all cancers, etc.

    For the same reason I said that unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from achieving it knowing how (knowledge.)

    If you only have the plans or knowledge to build a car and a boat, you cannot just choose to build a third option. Your desire or intent to build some other option, like a helicopter, is insufficient. Raw materials will only be transformed into a helicopter if the requisite knowledge is present there.

    Perhaps you mean how does knowledge grow? Variation controlled by criticism. And what role does people have in the creation of it? People and nature can create non-explanatory knowledge, but only people can create explanatory knowledge by noticing a problem, conjecturing theories about how the world works, and then testing those theories to find errors and discard them.

    Knowledge is information that plays a causal role in being retained when embedded in. a storage medium. This includes books, brains and the genomes of organisms. Knowledge that doesn’t play a causal role as well or at all, can be replaced by other knowledge that does.

  354. 354
    Origenes says:

    CR:“Constructor theory is a new mode of explanation”
    O:”What does it explain?
    CR: “What theory?”
    Constructor theory

    CR: “But constructor theory is more fundamental …”
    More fundamental then what?
    CR: .. because some aspects of physical systems are about what can, or cannot, be made to happen, not about what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion.
    Why is that “more fundamental”? By what standard? Why isn’t it the case that “what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion” is the most fundamental?

    So constructor theory does not explain what happens, but instead what can happen or not happen. But if one knows what happens, or rather, can predict what will happen, then, isn’t it a given what can and cannot happen?
    On what basis does CT hold that anything other than what happens can happen?

  355. 355
    critical rationalist says:

    @origenes

    Is there some reason you keep quoting me incompletely, then asking questions based on the incomplete quote?

    CR:“Constructor theory is a new mode of explanation”

    O:”What does [Constructor theory] explain?

    A new way of explaining things is not a concrete explanation.

    Singing is a mode of communication. A song is sung. Songs are concrete examples of singing.

    Explanations in constructor theory are subsidiary theories, such as the CT of life.

    However, I did write…

    The “theory” part of Constructor theory is the idea that it’s possible to express all fundamental scientific theories [possible or impossible construction tasks], along with a notation of how to formally express it. However, subsidiary theories are what explain things in constrictor theoretic terms, such as the constructor theory of life.

    From the summary…

    The principles of constructor theory that I have proposed may be false. For instance, the composition principle, in the form stated in Section 1.2, may only be an approximation. But if the idea as a whole is false, something else will have to remedy the deficiencies of the prevailing conception. Something else will unify emergent-level laws such as the Turing principle and the principle of testability with the other laws of nature. Something else will provide an exact statement of the second law of thermodynamics, and a full statement of the content of conservation laws. A different approach will generalise the theory of computation and von Neumann’s constructor theory, and support laws about substrate-independent quantities such as information. And incorporate into fundamental physics the fact that the most significant quantity affecting whether physical transformations happen or not is knowledge.

    So, constructor theory could be thought of as an explanation for how we can explain things at a more fundamental level than the current conceptions of physics.

    CR: “But constructor theory is more fundamental …”
    O:More fundamental then what?

    The current conception of physics, which is based on initial conditions and laws of motion.

    CR: .. because some aspects of physical systems are about what can, or cannot, be made to happen, not about what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion.
    O: Why is that “more fundamental”? By what standard? Why isn’t it the case that “what happens to it given initial conditions and laws of motion” is the most fundamental?

    If you can explain something in one mode, but not another, then that mode is more fundamental. Quantum mechanics is more fundamental than classical physics because it is an approximation. We do not have a theory of quantum gravity, so we know that either general relativity, quantum mechanics or both are false, in that they are incomplete to some degree. Then again, all theories are false in this sense. We just look for theories that are less incomplete than the ones that came before them, etc.

    What we can explain with the current conception of physics is a subset of what you can explain with constructor theory. And you can recover the current conception of physics from constructor theory. Not, vice versa. It underlies both Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, which is our current most fundamental theories in the current conception of physics.

    On what basis does CT hold that anything other than what happens can happen?

    First, there can be many explanations for the same phenomena. For example, the constructor theory of life was directed at the claim that, due to specific aspects of quantum mechanics, the design of replicators had to be ready present in the laws of physics since they replicated with high fidelity. So, despite being possible because, well we are concrete examples, there were questions regressing what transformations are necessary for it to occur and why. Part of that explanations includes the dichotomy that some transformations are impossible as well. For example, digital information refers to constraints on specific transformations that cause them to “snap” into place, which helps prevent an error catastrophe.

    Cells are constantly reproducing in our body, what we want is to bring that process into fundamental physics. And that’s not just saying it’s possible.

    Second, “what happens can happen” sounds like the future will resemble the past, in that what has already happened can be made to happen again. However, constructor theory is about what can be made to happen, even if it hasn’t happened before.

    To use an example, imagine a contrived scenario where we had yet to build any kind of Turning machine, but aliens drop on off a modern day computer as part of some defense system to ward of some other alien attack.

    If we took it apart without understanding the theory of computation, we might assume that silicon plays some special, exclusive role in how it works. Therefore, we would have no idea that computers could also be build with vacuum tubes, or even wooden cogs. However, once we again develop the theory of computation, we know that silicon doesn’t play a exclusive role and we would expect something happen that had never had happened in the past: a computer made out of cogs, etc.

    So, no, it’s not just about “what happens can happen” it’s about what can be made to happen, even if it’s never happened before.

    From the paper….

    The prevailing conception regards the initial state of the physical world as a fundamental part of its constitution, and we therefore hope and expect that state to be specified by some fundamental, elegant law of physics. But at present there are no exact theories of what the initial state was. Thermodynamics suggests that it was a ‘zero-entropy state’, but as I said, we have no exact theory of what that means. Cosmology suggests that it was homogeneous and isotropic, but whether the observed inhomogeneities (such as galaxies) could have evolved from quantum fluctuations in a homogeneous initial state is controversial.In the constructor-theoretic conception, the initial state is not fundamental. It is an emergent consequence of the fundamental truths that laws of physics specify, namely which tasks are or are not possible. For example, given a set of laws of motion, what exactly is implied about the initial state by the practical feasibility of building (good approximations to) a universal computer several billion years later may be inelegant and intractably complex to state explicitly, yet may follow logically from elegant constructor-theoretic laws about information and computation (see Sections 2.6 and 2.8 below).
    The intuitive appeal of the prevailing conception may be nothing more than a legacy from an earlier era of philosophy: First, the idea that the initial state is fundamental corresponds to the ancient idea of divine creation happening at the beginning of time. And second, the idea that the initial state might be a logical consequence of anything deeper raises a spectre of teleological explanation, which is anathema because it resembles explanation through divine intentions. But neither of those (somewhat contradictory) considerations could be a substantive objection to a fruitful constructor theory, if one could be developed.

  356. 356
    Origenes says:

    CR:“Constructor theory is a new mode of explanation”
    O:”What does constructor theory (CT) explain?
    CR: “A new way of explaining things is not a concrete explanation.”
    What does CT not concretely explain? (sigh)

    CT explains A. What is A? And my next question would be: if CT explains A with B, what is B?

  357. 357
    critical rationalist says:

    subliterary theories in constructor theory explain which constructor tasks are possible and why.

    As I’ve said, it is a new mode of explanation because Initial conditions do not play a special role in constructor theory.

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