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Re: [analytic] The Case for Non-Cognitivism

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  • SWM
    ... But it may just be true that such a rational theory isn t in fact truly descriptive of how moral valuing works in us! ... Not in some contexts. But maybe
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 8 5:50 AM
      --- In ai-philosophy@yahoogroups.com, Eray Ozkural <erayo@...> wrote:

      > The theory that morals are always based on emotion seems wrong to me.
      > Surely that doesn't conform to a rational theory of morals. (or ethics)

      But it may just be true that such a rational theory isn't in fact truly descriptive of how moral valuing works in us!

      > Accepting axioms isn't a matter of feeling

      Not in some contexts. But maybe it is in others? Moreover, one might distinguish between feelings on the one hand and suppositions and inclinations on the other. Perhaps the "feelings" are just an acompanying phenomenon that we happen to get along with certain suppositions and inclinations we happen to have. There is no reason to presume that feelings drive our choices in every case. They may just be important concomittants.

      > but it does involve the
      > unknown. However every useful rule of ethical/moral behavior would
      > develop naturally in an intelligent person and it has little to do
      > with accepting social norms.
      > I reject the notion that morality is so relative. That's an excuse of
      > Nazis and the like.

      Even the worst person imaginable thinks he or she is doing right when he or she acts, even if they grant that the choices they make are not in accord with, or are in direct conflict with, certain accepted norms (the standards of choice relied on by others).

      > In fact I think being ethical requires you to detach yourself
      > emotionally from the rotten society. It's a society of maggots so why
      > respect it? If you lived in Nazi Germany what would being moral
      > require you to do? Is conscience made up of feelings or stupid selfish
      > reasoning? I don't think so.
      > Most people are immoral because they are dumb and coward. Disgusting
      > human slime. Ewwww.

      That's both an emotive and a moral claim. To what extent do you think you can separate them?

      Would a conscious (or intelligent, if we want to separate this notion from the idea of being conscious) machine have to have feelings to be moral? Would it need to be able to empathize or would a system expressing or including a logical structure alone (a set of reasons that lead from one conclusion to the next) do the trick alone?

      Granted we should be able to program into machines various moral imperatives (do's and dont's) but is THAT what it means for us to be moral? If so, isn't that just to say it's a matter of our being conditioned or having some kind of inborn dispositions? But if THAT is true, then there isn't any basis for arguing with anyone to be morally good (in whatever way we take that to be) than otherwise, in which case the idea of moral claims as being defensible and a matter of rational choice goes straight out the window.

      And, of course, if that were the case, we couldn't just expect to take a sufficiently sophisticated AI and convince it to be moral (share our moral dispositions). Absent the right programming for specific moral choices, it would be entirely amoral.

      Any effort to produce a serious AI must take into account what it is that underlies human ethical (and other) value judgements,either to ensure that no resulting machine poses a threat to those values at some point down the road (as Bill Hibbard of the University of Wisconsin has written) or that such machines have the fullest range of capacities that we recognize as what it means to be conscious in ourselves.

      If successful AI is to lead to a better understanding of human mental life (the minds of humans), it must take account of all the elements we find in our lives and aim to replicate them as fully as possible. Only then will the AI project serve the larger purpose of enabling us to better understand how the human brain works and what human minds are.


      > --
      > Eray Ozkural
      > http://myspace.com/arizanesil
      > On May 25, 2010, at 2:20 PM, gevans613@... wrote:
      > > Jud:
      > >
      > > It goes without saying that as a eliminative value theorist - but
      > > compassionate agent of concern for: *sensate feeling others* within
      > > my responding,
      > > ever-expanding and contracting circles of empathy (think ripples
      > > from the
      > > splash of a stone) I do not believe that morals or moralising in
      > > general,
      > > or lies and lying in particular (or the lack of them) exist. That
      > > is not to
      > > say that I am amoral in the natural language sense of the term. I
      > > believe
      > > that the word *morals* is no more than another term for *opinion*
      > > or *our
      > > emotional reaction* with regard to the way that we think the
      > > majority in a
      > > given social group should act or not act, or believe or not
      > > believe. Of
      > > course we are encouraged to believe what the dominant strata (in
      > > their many
      > > manifestations) within that society consider best for the stability
      > > and
      > > continuance of the hierarchical structure concerned and for their
      > > places within
      > > that structure. It boils down to the question of whether we are
      > > willing (or
      > > unwilling) to personally accept and comply with such social mores
      > > (or reject
      > > of those social mores) in accordance with what is our perception of
      > > the
      > > ramifications of an acceptance (or non-acceptance) of such agenderised
      > > opinion and what it implies for the nearest and soi-disant occupants
      > > of our
      > > individuate expanding *circles of empathy.* (lover, family,
      > > neighbours,
      > > district, town, county, state, country, continent, world - whatever.)
      > >
      > > Although almost unknown to the anglophone philosophical community,
      > > Axel
      > > Hägerström was a pioneer in ethics who made the most important break
      > > through in
      > > the subject during the twentieth century with his development of his
      > > non-descriptivist approach. Our anglophone perspective led us to
      > > neglect the
      > > Swede and treat A. J. Ayer and C. L Stevenson as the pioneers of
      > > *emotivism.*
      > > Emotivism for me is quite convincing (as well as confirming much of
      > > the
      > > responses on this list plus Hume on the domination of reason by
      > > emotion.
      > > Hägerström's thinking has a lot to say on the matter, amongst other
      > > things
      > > positing that opinion/morals is no more than a visceral or gut
      > > reaction to the
      > > fear that what is done to other people could happen to oneself.
      > >
      > > So when a murderer is hanged - we make a decision not to murder,
      > > which we
      > > rationalise and internalise as *murder is wrong* (rather than:
      > > *I wouldn't like that to happen to me*) or we witness some hapless
      > > political idiot (Nixon or Tony Blair for example) being exposed as
      > > an inveterate
      > > liar - compare Arendt's similar assessment of the vile Nazi
      > > Heidegger -
      > > (speaking illeistically - a typical emotive response by Jud) and
      > > shudder to
      > > think what it would like for us to be exposed to such ridicule and
      > > hatred.
      > >
      > > Much more interesting is Hägerström's theory of *value theory,* call
      > > ed “
      > > value nihilism” (värdenihilism) - by his critics who coined this
      > > pejorative
      > > label. Hägerström was famous for this value theory, according to wh
      > > ich
      > > moral judgements are cognitively meaningless; they cannot be true or
      > > false as
      > > they always involve a feeling. While Hägerström himself, as well as
      > > some of
      > > his ardent disciples, seemed to believe that his value theory would
      > > lead to
      > > a more forgiving and humane moral attitude, which would “rise as a
      > > Phoenix
      > > bird from the ashes”, the critics argued that the theory was respon
      > > sible
      > > for the collapse of European culture and even for the rise of
      > > totalitarian
      > > and antidemocratic ideas. En passant, I would be grateful for any
      > > comments
      > > on Johan Strang's - *The Scandinavian Value Nihilists: The Crisis of
      > > Democracy in the 1930s and 1940s* which can be accessed here:
      > > _http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/nordeuropaforum/2009-1/strang-johan-37/XML/
      > > #link3_
      > > (http://edoc.hu-berlin.de/nordeuropaforum/2009-1/strang-johan-37/XML/#link3
      > > )
      > >
      > > Of course, for a macro view of the problem, all this high falutin
      > > national
      > > and international drama from The White house and Number 10 which
      > > de-stabilises society from within needs to be reduced to and
      > > compared with the
      > > micro-social interaction within the family, the peer group, etc. Even
      > > small-scale *immorality* and *betrayal* initiates instability from
      > > within. Helen of
      > > Troy apart - in the past intertribal warfare (and worse) has been
      > > the result
      > > of little more than that of the wife of a hard-working goatherd
      > > misbehaving with the owner-farmer's son, whilst her cuckolded spouse
      > > dutifully tended
      > > the flock in order to put a mess of potage on the table. So
      > > historically
      > > (kicks against the moral (or immoral) pricks) has proved to be just
      > > as much
      > > danger for a given family, for a tribe and for a confederation of
      > > tribes, as
      > > Nixon's and Blair's lies had for the American and British people,
      > > and the
      > > onlookers of the wider world who looked on with horror as all hell
      > > broke
      > > loose.
      > >
      > > As for *white lies* - if they are motivated by a genuine desire to
      > > shield
      > > somebody we care about from unnecessary angst (rather than shielding
      > > ourselves from the angst of having to deal with their angst) I see
      > > no reason for
      > > even calling them lies (white or otherwise) but rather as examples
      > > of our
      > > loving concern for our fellow human beings - but all such behaviour
      > > is
      > > circumstantial and depends upon what our opinion is of what the
      > > best course of
      > > action appears to be the best one at the time.
      > >
      > > Comments?
      > >
      > >
      > > Sincerely,
      > >
      > > Jud Evans.
      > > Private Website
      > > _http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/study.htm_
      > > (http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/study.htm)
      > >
      > >
      > > Reifications (like biological infections of the gut)
      > > are memetic socio - neurological enculturations
      > > or useful fictions not necessarily advantageous
      > > to a prolonged welfare of their naive human hosts.
      > > Jud Evans.
      > >
      > > Freedom in humans consists of the ability to liberate
      > > themselves from the tyranny of reificationalist imprinting.
      > > Antonio Rossin.
      > >
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ------------------------------------
      > >
      > > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/analytic/
      > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > >
      > >
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