Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shorter Makarios

Makarios on the Objectivity of Moral Values:

  • Morals are objective, not subject to people's reactions. Here's proof: when something wrong is done to you, you have a negative reaction in which you say the thing done to you was wrong.
The insights shorter-ized above were culled from the comments to the linked post.

'Shorter' concept lovingly borrowed from Sadly, No!


Anonymous said...

If morals are purely subjective then there is no point whatsoever in discussing or arguing about whether a certain moral action is right or wrong. Doing so would be as ridiculous as arguing about whether beef tastes better than chicken. If I like beef better than chicken and you like chicken better than beef, then there is nothing to discuss and no one is foolish enough to argue about such matters. HOWEVER, we often DO argue and discuss whether certain moral choices are right or wrong and we don't feel that we are being foolish. Thus, unless we are deluding ourselves about our ability to rationally discuss and argue about issues of whether certain choices are right or wrong, then morality must have an objective component.

Anonymous said...

Hi again. This is anonymous who first posted at 15:08. I wish to distinguish myself from the anonymous who posted at 15:01. Thanks.

Dale said...

Anon., I don't think morals are "purely subjective" and didn't say so. I was satirizing a poor argument.

That we argue about moral questions -- and feel that those arguments actually have some purchase in reality, and some hope of 'mattering' to how people think and act -- it does point up the reality as I see it: yes, morals have a reality to them; but they are not clearly detectable in the way that many things are. No one argues over whether there are rabbits, dandelions, or the sun -- we see these, and if we're unable to see, we can get there by way of other observations and deductions not having to do strictly with sight.

Not so morals. They're slippery. And there *is* an element of *wanting them to be real* that can tend to exceed the quality of the claim -- in other words, wanting our moral claims to stand up in the way that "the sun exists" stands up sometimes gets us to a state of overconfidence in them. It may be that their nature is such that we're simply not able to demonstrate them with the same finality as other objective realities. It may be that this circle will never be fully squared so long as human beings are constituted as they are.

Honestly, though, it doesn't keep me up at night. In the real world, for good or bad, attaching the word "objective" to moral claims, especially conflicting and contentious and controversial moral claims, doesn't have much to do with the outcome of the moral controversy in question.

Sure, it would be great to be able to show the fucktards of Iran/Saudi Arabia/North Korea (etc.) that they are morally f__ed up, and that this is as well-established as "the sun exists" and "rabbits eat their own dung."

I feel quite certain that the current leader of N. Korea deserves to be shot through head and tossed in a ditch (with or without a mouthful of his own shit); I am quite sure I can prove it based on reasonably uncontroversial postulates and factual observations. And? This advances what ball and to where? He's still alive and still being a filthy bastard -- let's start there.

We make these arguments. We believe them -- we are sure of them. Whether and how such convictions / claims / arguments function in and impact on reality is another thing.

Short note to both anons and all anons -- feel free to leave initials or a fake nickname or something. You don't have to sign up for terrifying google accounts to comment; you can just enter some kind of name. It helps. Thx.

larryniven said...

"Sure, it would be great to be able to show the fucktards of Iran/Saudi Arabia/North Korea (etc.) that they are morally f__ed up..."

What happened here, pray tell? I mean, I support the use of underscores pretty much without exception, but that seems a bit schizophrenic.

Also, where'd you find this guy? Usually people like him are featured somewhere, but your link was the first I'd heard of him.

Dale said...

LN, "Schizophrenic"!?!? You neglect to consider the very real -- all too real -- possibility that a monkey has laid its black eggs in my brain.

Anyhoo, yes. That is a weird turn of phrase, one I can't explain. I think I should have gone the full fuck, now that I look back on it.

Anyhoo, I discovered this treasure as a commenter to Stephen Law's blog. This was either today or yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Hello again. Anon. of 15:08 here. Dale, just wanted to say that your points are well taken. Thanks for making them. (Also, I will henceforth create a fake name for myself the next time I comment). I enjoy your blog. Thanks for blogging it.