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Integral Paradox

Three Points on UPB

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Hey guys, I'm new to forum, looking forward to being part of the FDR community.

 

I've been a huge fan of Stefan's youtube channel for a while, and I feel he's one of the most logically accute philosophers out there. I just read UPB, and I agree with most of its premises, and its conclusion about the hypocrisy of government. I do think there is room for improvement though.

 

Now I've read through a lot of the other threads here dealing with UPB, so let me state that I'm not trying to refute UPB as a whole. I acknowledge I am indeed using UPB to try to fix some of the details.

 

1) The first is the common objection about negation vs opposite. As has been pointed out by others, the opposite of an immoral action can't be the refraining from it, just like the opposite of a moral action can't be refraining from it. Otherwise neutral actions like me watching TV or picking my nose would be both moral and immoral. I propose that opposite of an immoral behavior would be a moral action (not non-action) that has a universally prefered outcome.

 

The opposite of murder (non-consensually taking a life) would be saving a life.

The opposite of rape is consentual sex.

The opposite of breaking someone's rib is mending their rib.

The opposite of giving people information that separates them from truth (lying) is giving them information that better connects them to truth (education).

The opposite of taking property that someone values without their consent (theft), is giving away something of yours that the other person values.

The opposite of being neglectful to those who need your care, is being attentive to those who need it.

 

Therefore someone who does none of the above can't be moral or immoral.

 

2) Another premise I feel is somewhat logically flawed is the idea that scientific theories are objective. You look under a microscope or into a telescope, and we won't find any scientific theories or math equations. Theories, and rationality itself exist in our minds in order to better predict the behavior of the objective, external world. Now I agree that UPB is a valid science, but I think a better term is "intersubjective" since it deals with shared, rational ought issues, which are held within a multitude of subjective minds.

 

If I stare at the box of tissues that is in front of me, then close my eyes and visualize it, it is not an "objective" image. What is in one person's imagination cannot be measured or observed. All content, including images, theories, symbols, concepts, and predictions in my imagination are subjective, no matter how well they reflect the external world, otherwise "subjective" only refers to aesthetics. This doesn't alter the framework of UPB however, and it is not a critique of the scientific method, it's just a critique regarding terminology.

 

3) On page 107, in the chapter "THE NECESSITY OF THE STATE?" Stefan uses this simplistic black and white way of referring to people as "good" or "evil." Even though we can define what moral and immoral behaviors might be, he fails to define what it means to be either a good or evil person. How many times does a person have to do something immoral to do be considered evil? Is there no room for complexity of character? I'm really surprised someone as intellegent as Stefan would use such simplistic rhetoric. It's called UPB for a reason, which is that it refers to behavior, not types of people. It's almost as bad as someone saying either you're a sinner or a saint. I agree that the necessity of government is morally hypocritical, but you can arrive at this by critiquing actions without putting people into two absolutistic "either/or" categories.

 

Looking forward to hearing what you guys think.

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Hey! Welcome to the forums!

 

1) The first is the common objection about negation vs opposite. As has been pointed out by others, the opposite of an immoral action can't be the refraining from it, just like the opposite of a moral action can't be refraining from it. Otherwise neutral actions like me watching TV or picking my nose would be both moral and immoral. I propose that opposite of an immoral behavior would be a moral action (not non-action) that has a universally prefered outcome.

 

The opposite of murder (non-consensually taking a life) would be saving a life.

The opposite of rape is consentual sex.

The opposite of breaking someone's rib is mending their rib.

The opposite of giving people information that separates them from truth (lying) is giving them information that better connects them to truth (education).

The opposite of taking property that someone values without their consent (theft), is giving away something of yours that the other person values.

The opposite of being neglectful to those who need your care, is being attentive to those who need it.

 

Therefore someone who does none of the above can't be moral or immoral.

This is a common objection as you've pointed out, but the answer is actually surprisingly simple. First we must recognize the impossibility of a positive moral rule (thou shalt) because of tests like the coma test. So the "negation" is the opposite in a negative moral rule (thou shalt not) such as "do not rape", the opposite of this rule must necessarily include some rape somewhere. And this applies generally to negative moral rules.

 

Obviously, the opposite of some positive moral rule is open to too much interpretation for an opposite to be very meaningful: what is the opposite of paint on the computer in front of you? We may be able to figure out the opposite there, but this is not enough to base a definition of a moral good and a moral evil.

 

This is talked about in this podcast in much more detail (if I remember rightly):

Shooting Down UPB...(a listener conversation)

http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FDR_928_Shooting_Down_UPB.mp3

 

 

 

2) Another premise I feel is somewhat logically flawed is the idea that scientific theories are objective. You look under a microscope or into a telescope, and we won't find any scientific theories or math equations. Theories, and rationality itself exist in our minds in order to better predict the behavior of the objective, external world. Now I agree that UPB is a valid science, but I think a better term is "intersubjective" since it deals with shared, rational ought issues, which are held within a multitude of subjective minds.

If I stare at the box of tissues that is in front of me, then close my eyes and visualize it, it is not an "objective" image. What is in one person's imagination cannot be measured or observed. All content, including images, theories, symbols, concepts, and predictions in my imagination are subjective, no matter how well they reflect the external world, otherwise "subjective" only refers to aesthetics. This doesn't alter the framework of UPB however, and it is not a critique of the scientific method, it's just a critique regarding terminology.

I think this is very interesting and has many implications, but the conclusion you draw here "science can be subjective" is categorically false.

 

There are many real phenomena that are completely subjective, that is they are observer relative. They would not exist without minds to experience them subjectively. Things like the value of goods, of pains, of psychological ill-health, and point score of certain actions in sports. They are (ontologically) subjective, and yet it's entirely possible to have an (epistemically) objective science (that term being redundant).

 

Economics is a science that looks at subjective things. The part of it that can be considered a science is objective, while the phenomena themselves are subjective. Same with psychology, praxeology etc.

 

Economics gives us a measure of the value that people subjectively assign to goods, and not the value itself. Psychology has an objectively causal account of psychological phenomena, and yet the psychological phenomena being looked at causally are themselves locked inside our heads where nobody can simultaneously experience them the way we do.

 

The science here describes the theories and methodologies we use to achieve objectivity in our claims about these phenomena.

 

Like a simulation isn't the thing itself, science is not what it's science-ing. The two are separate categories.

 

 

 

3) On page 107, in the chapter "THE NECESSITY OF THE STATE?" Stefan uses this simplistic black and white way of referring to people as "good" or "evil." Even though we can define what moral and immoral behaviors might be, he fails to define what it means to be either a good or evil person. How many times does a person have to do something immoral to do be considered evil? Is there no room for complexity of character? I'm really surprised someone as intellegent as Stefan would use such simplistic rhetoric. It's called UPB for a reason, which is that it refers to behavior, not types of people. It's almost as bad as someone saying either you're a sinner or a saint. I agree that the necessity of government is morally hypocritical, but you can arrive at this by critiquing actions without putting people into two absolutistic "either/or" categories.

Actually UPB evaluates propositions that inform behavior, not behavior itself. It obviously extends to behavior logically since those propositions involve behavior necessarily. And in the same way it extends to people who are themselves the ones who act that behavior out, since behavior is not being acted without the moral actor. If you can say that it applies to behavior, you ought to accept that it applies to people as well, not in the exact same sense, perhaps, logically it does describe something real and true about moral actors if it does describe the behavior these actors,... act. (Sorry for the confusing language).

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Hey! Welcome to the forums!

 

This is a common objection as you've pointed out, but the answer is actually surprisingly simple. First we must recognize the impossibility of a positive moral rule (thou shalt) because of tests like the coma test. So the "negation" in a negative moral rule (thou shalt not) such as "do not rape", the opposite of this rule must necessarily include some rape somewhere. And this applies generally to negative moral rules.

 

Obviously, the opposite of some positive moral rule is open to too much interpretation for an opposite to be very meaningful. We may be able to figure out the opposite there, but this is not enough to base a definition of a moral good and a moral evil.

 

This is talked about in this podcast in much more detail (if I remember rightly):

Shooting Down UPB...(a listener conversation)

http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FDR_928_Shooting_Down_UPB.mp3

 

 

 

1. Thanks for the clip, though I'm not sure it really addresses my point. I agree that all rules that should be enforced have to be stated through negation, or "ough not", but I don't see how what is not immoral is automatically moral. I'm proposing that immoral actions have opposites that can be initiated, and on page 53, Stef actually agrees with me:

 

The mugger who stabs you, however, is initiating an attack upon your life and health, which is why his attack is the moral opposite of the surgeon's efforts.

 

 

 

 

I think this is very interesting and has many implications, but the conclusion you draw here "science can be subjective" is categorically false.

 

There are many real phenomena that are completely subjective, that is they are observer relative. They would not exist without minds to experience them subjectively. Things like the value of goods, of pains, of psychological ill-health, and point score of certain actions in sports. They are (ontologically) subjective, and yet it's entirely possible to have an (epistemically) objective science (that term being redundant).

 

Economics is an objective science that looks at subjective things. The part of it that can be considered a science is objective, while the phenomena themselves are subjective. Same with psychology, praxeology etc.

 

 

 

2. The universe exists no matter how much we analyze it. It will continue to behave the way it does whether we believe in believe in gravity or believe in invisible spirits that make objects fall to the floor. Obviously the theory, or understanding of gravity reflects the objective external world better than anything supernatural, but the keyword is "reflect." Without minds, there is still an objective universe out there (otherwise we're forced to become idealists), but this universe operates regardless of our beliefs, or even knowledge, which we hold subjectively, or intersubjectively. But I think it comes down to the two definition of "objective." If we mean "without influence from feelings or emotions" then sure, science is objective, but if we definite it as "not dependent on the mind for existence," then science, logic, and rationality by definition, is not objective, since it requires the existance of the observer.

 

 

 

Actually UPB evaluates propositions that inform behavior, not behavior itself. It obviously extends to behavior logically since those propositions involve behavior necessarily. And in the exact same way it extends to people who are themselves the ones who act that behavior out. If you can say that it applies to behavior, you ought to accept that it applies to people as well.

 

 

3. True, UPB only applies to moral propositions, not behaviors. However, my point still stands that Stef didn't give a criteria for determining the existence of good or evil people. He had the burden of proof to show that morality is a valid field of science, and he succeeded. However, an advocate of every element of UPB has the burden of proof to clearly define what a good person is and what an evil person is. Why was Vlad the Impaler evil? Was it because he killed people (behavior), or because his actions were based on an irrational belief system? If it's the behavior itself, then is someone who orders genocide is not evil, if they're not doing the killing with their own hands?

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1. Thanks for the clip, though I'm not sure it really addresses my point. I agree that all rules that should be enforced have to be stated through negation, or "ough not", but I don't see how what is not immoral is automatically moral. I'm proposing that immoral actions have opposites that can be initiated[...]

The part in the book about moral opposites is how I described it above. I don't believe there is any requirement in UPB for "what is not immoral is automatically moral". Please correct me if it does.

 

 

 

2. The universe exists no matter how much we analyze it. It will continue to behave the way it does whether we believe in believe in gravity or believe in invisible spirits that make objects fall to the floor. Obviously the theory, or understanding of gravity reflects the objective external world better than anything supernatural, but the keyword is "reflect." Without minds, there is still an objective universe out there (otherwise we're forced to become idealists), but this universe operates regardless of our beliefs, or even knowledge, which we hold subjectively, or intersubjectively. But I think it comes down to the two definition of "objective." If we mean "without influence from feelings or emotions" then sure, science is objective, but if we definite it as "not dependent on the mind for existence," then science, logic, and rationality by definition, is not objective, since it requires the existance of the observer.

There is already an established distinction between these senses of "objective". It's the difference between ontological objectivity ("dollar bills are made of green fibers") and epistemic objectivity which refers to truth claims.

 

The subjectivity we are talking about is ontological subjectivity for the reasons you've accurately stated.

 

The equivocation of these senses of the terms objective and subjective get us into lots of trouble, which you are probably already aware of to some degree. That's why I appreciate you raising that issue.

 

 

 

3. True, UPB only applies to moral propositions, not behaviors. However, my point still stands that Stef didn't give a criteria for determining the existence of good or evil people. He had the burden of proof to show that morality is a valid field of science, and he succeeded. However, an advocate of every element of UPB has the burden of proof to clearly define what a good person is and what an evil person is. Why was Vlad the Impaler evil? Was it because he killed people (behavior), or because his actions were based on an irrational belief system? If it's the behavior itself, then is someone who orders genocide is not evil, if they're not doing the killing with their own hands?

I don't remember whether or not any definition has been given, and probably it should be given, but I don't understand how you could conceivably divorce a person from their behavior. Maybe it's just a failure of my imagination...

 

Could you please state what Stef's argument was and give a clear argument about what exactly is the error? I can't say what Stef meant and I can't offer you a counter argument (or accept your argument) if you don't provide an argument yourself.

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The part in the book about moral opposites is how I described it above. I don't believe there is any requirement in UPB for "what is not immoral is automatically moral". Please correct me if it does.

 

 

Pg 66:

 

Clearly, if I proclaim that “X” is “the good,” then the opposite of “X” must be evil. If not raping is good, then raping must be evil.

 

^ That's the logic I'm arguing against. Stef had it right with the mugger and the surgeon. Those are real opposites.

 

2.

 

There is already an established distinction between these senses of "objective". It's the difference between ontological objectivity ("dollar bills are made of green fibers") and epistemic objectivity which refers to truth claims.

 

The subjectivity we are talking about is ontological subjectivity for the reasons you've accurately stated.

 

The equivocation of these senses of the terms objective and subjective get us into lots of trouble, which you are probably already aware of to some degree. That's why I appreciate you raising that issue.

 

"Epistemic objectivity" sounds like a contradiction to me, but it seems like we're basically in agreement as to why it may seem that way.

 

3.

 

Could you please state what Stef's argument was and give a clear argument about what exactly is the error? I can't say what Stef meant and I can't offer you a counter argument (or accept your argument) if you don't provide an argument yourself.

 

 

 

 
Logically, there are four possibilities as to the mixture of good and evil people in the world:
1. All men are moral.
2. All men are immoral.
3. The majority of men are immoral, and a minority moral.
4. The majority of men are moral, and a minority immoral

 

 

 

It's up to Stef to provide a criteria as to how a person can be labeled moral or immoral, or good or evil since it's part of his premise here (unless he's just being hypothetical about the premise to respond to 'government is necessary' arguments). As to how I would define it, how evil or immoral someone is can be measured by how much pain they've caused others through intellectual, emotional, or physical abuse. How good or moral someone is can be measured by how much suffering you've prevented in others through wisdom, compassion, and bravery.

 

The question is, once we've establish the criteria for a dichotomy at all, how do we go about sorting through where an individual ought to be placed within it? I don't think we can. As Steph has pointed out, even Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr were complex individuals, as we all are. A theoretical spectrum exists, but I don't think anyone has the ability to calculate where an individual fits within it to any meaningful degree of accuracy.

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Pg 66:

 

^ That's the logic I'm arguing against. Stef had it right with the mugger and the surgeon. Those are real opposites.

And I gave you the reasoning behind that.

 

I said:

 

 

This is a common objection as you've pointed out, but the answer is actually surprisingly simple. First we must recognize the impossibility of a positive moral rule (thou shalt) because of tests like the coma test. So the "negation" is the opposite in a negative moral rule (thou shalt not) such as "do not rape", the opposite of this rule must necessarily include some rape somewhere. And this applies generally to negative moral rules.

Obviously, the opposite of some positive moral rule is open to too much interpretation for an opposite to be very meaningful: what is the opposite of paint on the computer in front of you? We may be able to figure out the opposite there, but this is not enough to base a definition of a moral good and a moral evil.

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I disagree with the coma test, since I don't see how not doing a moral action is immoral, or how not acting immorally is moral. Non-actions cannot have moral content, since they are by definition contentless. Why not say "though shalt only have sex that is consentual"? It's a positive proposition that implicity bans rape.

 

Please explain how these two quotes aren't contradictory when it comes to how he defines moral opposites. In the first, opposite = negation. In the second, moral opposite = action, not negation.

 

"Clearly, if I proclaim that “X” is “the good,” then the opposite of “X” must be evil. If not raping is good, then raping must be evil."

 

"The mugger who stabs you, however, is initiating an attack upon your life and health, which is why his attack is the moral opposite of the surgeon's efforts."

 

 

Also wondering what your thoughts are to point #3.

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I disagree with the coma test, since I don't see how not doing a moral action is immoral, or how not acting immorally is moral. Non-actions cannot have moral content, since they are by definition contentless. Why not say "though shalt only have sex that is consentual"? It's a positive proposition that implicity bans rape.

This is the conclusion of the coma test: if a man in a coma can be immoral, then your moral argument is wrong.

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This is the conclusion of the coma test: if a man in a coma can be immoral, then your moral argument is wrong.

 

Does it work the other way around though?

 

"Clearly, if I proclaim that “X” is “the good,” then the opposite of “X” must be evil. If not raping is good, then raping must be evil."

 

 

According to the above quote, the man in the coma is "good" for not raping, which makes as little sense as him being evil for not behaving morally.

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Does it work the other way around though?

 

According to the above quote, the man in the coma is "good" for not raping, which makes as little sense as him being evil for not behaving morally.

Good is distinct from virtuous.

 

Virtue looks more like:

 

 

Virtue and its Opposite

The opposite of “virtue” must be “vice” – the opposite of “good” must be “evil.” If I propose the moral rule, “thou shalt not steal,” then stealing must be evil, and not stealing must be good. This does not mean that “refraining from theft” is the sole definition of moral excellence, of course, since a man may be a murderer, but not a thief. We can think of it as a “necessary but not sufficient” requirement for virtue.

 

Each morally preferable action must by its very nature have an opposite action – because if it does not, then there is no capacity for choice, no possibility of avoidance, and therefore no capacity for virtue or vice. If I propose the moral rule: “thou shalt defy gravity,” then clearly morality becomes impossible, immorality cannot be avoided, and therefore the moral rule must be invalid.

 

If I propose the moral rule: “thou shalt not go to San Francisco,” this can be logically rephrased as: “thou shalt go anywhere but San Francisco.” In this way, the moral rule “thou shalt not steal” can be equally proposed in the positive form – “thou shalt respect property rights.” Since respecting property rights is a virtue, violating property rights must be a vice.

 

What is Missing

Conspicuously absent from the above list are traditional virtues such as courage, honesty, integrity and so on – as well as their opposites: cowardice, falsehood and corruption.

 

It may seem that these virtues should fall into the realm of aesthetically positive behaviour, such as being on time, but I for one have far too much respect for the traditional virtues to place them in the same category as social niceties. The reason that they cannot be placed into the category of universally preferable is that, as we mentioned above, the framework of UPB only deals with behaviours, not with attitudes, thoughts, states of mind or emotions. The scientific method can process a logical proposition; it cannot process “anger” or “foolhardiness.” These states of mind are not unimportant, of course – in fact, they are essential – but they cannot be part of any objective system for evaluating ethical propositions, since they are essentially subjective – and therefore unprovable – states of being.

 

Thus UPB can only deal with objectively verifiable actions such as murder, assault and so on.

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So virtue and vice are terms regarding the character of an individual, and good and evil regarding the behavior itself. Got it.

 

My point still stands that a "non-X" cannot be either good or evil since it has no content, it's a non-behavior. According to UPB, being in a coma is good behavior because it involves not doing evil.

 

If you go on to say that it doesn't apply because he has no choice, you've violated the framework of UPB since UPB can only make statements on behavior, not "states of mind."

 

I really think UPB has done a better job in its attempt to provide an objective way of evaluating moral propositions than any other system, it just needs to fix the opposite/negation dilemma, which I think is possible.

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I honestly can't tell if you're trolling me right now or not.

 

I have it in my head that your criticisms have been successfully countered, and that you are being obtuse in order to irritate.

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I honestly can't tell if you're trolling me right now or not.

 

I have it in my head that your criticisms have been successfully countered, and that you are being obtuse in order to irritate.

 

Feel free to leave my posts hanging if you feel I didn't come here in search for truth. My intention hasn't been to irritate you.

 

I reread the thread, and offer a crystilized version of what I propose since I indeed had certain things mixed up before.

 

1) Laws must be put in terms of "though shalt not," not because of the coma test, but because only laws regarding evil behavior can be made universal. Initiation of force and property theft are always immoral, whereas what is good is almost always based on context, often involving subjective emotions, which UPB understandably tries to keep at a minimum.

 

2) Moral opposites exist, but not through "rape vs not-rape" logic (which where the coma premise is off). Any behavior that is good or bad must be initated. A moral action should be defined as any action that repairs/heals/fixes the property of someone else, or actively prevents a future evil from occuring to someone else (without breaking a moral law in the process).

 

3) A law itself has no moral content, it is only a statement about that which does have moral content. Actions are empirical, and can have moral content since they can be initiated, but laws can only be valid or invalid (which UPB gives fantastic criteria for), but not good or bad.  Breaking a "shalt not" law requires initiation of immoral behavior, though adhering to a "shalt not" law  does not require initiation, therefore is not its moral opposite and cannot be defined as "good."

 

The three points I just provide what I feel is a valid definition of moral opposites that also mirrors Stef's mugger/surgeon example, and saves UPB from confusion about negation and opposites, while maintianing the necessary requirement of universal moral laws being stated as "shalt not."

 

That's as clear as I can get in my proposition. If you still feel I just formulated that to irritate you, feel free to give up on this thread, and maybe someone else will give their opinion. Thanks.

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Hey guys, I'm new to forum, looking forward to being part of the FDR community.

 

I've been a huge fan of Stefan's youtube channel for a while, and I feel he's one of the most logically accute philosophers out there. I just read UPB, and I agree with most of its premises, and its conclusion about the hypocrisy of government. I do think there is room for improvement though.

 

Now I've read through a lot of the other threads here dealing with UPB, so let me state that I'm not trying to refute UPB as a whole. I acknowledge I am indeed using UPB to try to fix some of the details.

 

1) The first is the common objection about negation vs opposite. As has been pointed out by others, the opposite of an immoral action can't be the refraining from it, just like the opposite of a moral action can't be refraining from it. Otherwise neutral actions like me watching TV or picking my nose would be both moral and immoral. I propose that opposite of an immoral behavior would be a moral action (not non-action) that has a universally prefered outcome.

 

The opposite of murder (non-consensually taking a life) would be saving a life.

The opposite of rape is consentual sex.

The opposite of breaking someone's rib is mending their rib.

The opposite of giving people information that separates them from truth (lying) is giving them information that better connects them to truth (education).

The opposite of taking property that someone values without their consent (theft), is giving away something of yours that the other person values.

The opposite of being neglectful to those who need your care, is being attentive to those who need it.

 

Therefore someone who does none of the above can't be moral or immoral.

 

2) Another premise I feel is somewhat logically flawed is the idea that scientific theories are objective. You look under a microscope or into a telescope, and we won't find any scientific theories or math equations. Theories, and rationality itself exist in our minds in order to better predict the behavior of the objective, external world. Now I agree that UPB is a valid science, but I think a better term is "intersubjective" since it deals with shared, rational ought issues, which are held within a multitude of subjective minds.

 

If I stare at the box of tissues that is in front of me, then close my eyes and visualize it, it is not an "objective" image. What is in one person's imagination cannot be measured or observed. All content, including images, theories, symbols, concepts, and predictions in my imagination are subjective, no matter how well they reflect the external world, otherwise "subjective" only refers to aesthetics. This doesn't alter the framework of UPB however, and it is not a critique of the scientific method, it's just a critique regarding terminology.

 

3) On page 107, in the chapter "THE NECESSITY OF THE STATE?" Stefan uses this simplistic black and white way of referring to people as "good" or "evil." Even though we can define what moral and immoral behaviors might be, he fails to define what it means to be either a good or evil person. How many times does a person have to do something immoral to do be considered evil? Is there no room for complexity of character? I'm really surprised someone as intellegent as Stefan would use such simplistic rhetoric. It's called UPB for a reason, which is that it refers to behavior, not types of people. It's almost as bad as someone saying either you're a sinner or a saint. I agree that the necessity of government is morally hypocritical, but you can arrive at this by critiquing actions without putting people into two absolutistic "either/or" categories.

 

Looking forward to hearing what you guys think.

What is a "universally preferred outcome"? 

I'm pretty sure it's not the opposite of actions but the opposite of rules. The opposite of murder may be saving a life or giving birth or whatever but the opposite of "Thou shalt steal" would be "Thou shalt not steal" or "Refrain from stealing". If one doesn't notice that then they may think Stef is confusing negation with opposite.

 

Scientific theories are objective because they're valid or invalid regardless of what you think. If you're going to use "inter-subjectivity" then just get rid of "objective" altogether because everything is in our mind. There is a valid distinction between things that are objective and subjective. 

 

Stef recently did a video on Evil

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What is a "universally preferred outcome"? 

I'm pretty sure it's not the opposite of actions but the opposite of rules. The opposite of murder may be saving a life or giving birth or whatever but the opposite of "Thou shalt steal" would be "Thou shalt not steal" or "Refrain from stealing". If one doesn't notice that then they may think Stef is confusing negation with opposite.

 

Scientific theories are objective because they're valid or invalid regardless of what you think. If you're going to use "inter-subjectivity" then just get rid of "objective" altogether because everything is in our mind. There is a valid distinction between things that are objective and subjective. 

 

Stef recently did a video on Evil

 

Thanks for the reply PT!

 

I was somewhat unclear in my first post. See my last post where I layed out my proposal about opposites more clearly.

 

I listened to the video, and unfortunately I'm left with even more questions than before. Evil must have knowledge of virtue, but I don't see how that applies to a mugger. He talks about how a mugger knows that someone would rather give up their wallet then die, won't give them the wallet voluntarily, and will want to keep the wallet as their own after it is stolen. Yet I don't see how that demonstrates that a mugger has a "deep knowledge of virtue." The example of politicians manipulating people's desire for good is a great example according to his definition, I'm just not picking up on how it fits the mugger. Maybe someone can explain what I'm missing.

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Thanks for the reply PT!

 

I was somewhat unclear in my first post. See my last post where I layed out my proposal about opposites more clearly.

 

I listened to the video, and unfortunately I'm left with even more questions than before. Evil must have knowledge of virtue, but I don't see how that applies to a mugger. He talks about how a mugger knows that someone would rather give up their wallet then die, won't give them the wallet voluntarily, and will want to keep the wallet as their own after it is stolen. Yet I don't see how that demonstrates that a mugger has a "deep knowledge of virtue." The example of politicians manipulating people's desire for good is a great example according to his definition, I'm just not picking up on how it fits the mugger. Maybe someone can explain what I'm missing.

I can't respond to your last post because I can't understand it. I would have to guess what you mean half the time and I don't know what terms and concepts are yours or just your interpretation of Stef's or some mixture of the two. I think your question about opposites and negations has been answered. 

A mugger has knowledge of virtue. 

 

What is a "universally preferred outcome"? I ask because it seems to me you may be angling towards the opposites of immoral "actions" being moral actions that achieve this outcome.

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I can't respond to your last post because I can't understand it. I would have to guess what you mean half the time and I don't know what terms and concepts are yours or just your interpretation of Stef's or some mixture of the two. I think your question about opposites and negations has been answered. 

A mugger has knowledge of virtue. 

 

What is a "universally preferred outcome"? I ask because it seems to me you may be angling towards the opposites of immoral "actions" being moral actions that achieve this outcome.

 

Yes, that is what I meant, but I should have just stuck with Stef's terminology to avoid confusion. I continue to use Stef's terminology in the post I referred to in order to make my proposal of why the coma test isn't necessary for the requirement of moral laws to be stated as "though shalt not" (though I totally get why he felt it was needed).

 

I listed the examples he gave for what muggers have to know in order to do what they do, but I don't see how any of those examples had to do with virtue. Please help me out, since you're in agreement with his statment.

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1) The first is the common objection about negation vs opposite. As has been pointed out by others, the opposite of an immoral action can't be the refraining from it, just like the opposite of a moral action can't be refraining from it. Otherwise neutral actions like me watching TV or picking my nose would be both moral and immoral. I propose that opposite of an immoral behavior would be a moral action (not non-action) that has a universally prefered outcome.

 

The opposite of murder (non-consensually taking a life) would be saving a life.

The opposite of rape is consentual sex.

The opposite of breaking someone's rib is mending their rib.

The opposite of giving people information that separates them from truth (lying) is giving them information that better connects them to truth (education).

The opposite of taking property that someone values without their consent (theft), is giving away something of yours that the other person values.

The opposite of being neglectful to those who need your care, is being attentive to those who need it.

 

Therefore someone who does none of the above can't be moral or immoral.

Here's a bit from my UPB jargon page: Opposite: Stef doesn't actually use a different definition for this word, but he uses it in a context that confused some of his critics. For example, he begins by examining several possible categories (always good, sometimes good, positively aesthetic, personally preferred, neutral, etc.) He uses some of his other definitions to narrow down the range of possibilities to consider, so that only 2 possibilities remain. In that context, it is a bit confusing but not technically incorrect to use "not X" and "the opposite of X" interchangeably. Given the narrow context of the discussion, where he considers only two possibilities, "not X" and "the opposite of X" both refer to the same concept.

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I originally linked the wrong podcast. Here's the right one:

 

The Molyneux Problem And Universally Preferable Behavior

http://media.freedomainradio.com/feed/FDR_2246_the_molyneux_problem_and_UPB.mp3

 

This is a fully explicit conversation on the topic of moral opposites. It should answer your concerns.

 

Thanks Kevin. It was a good listen, though I cringed a bit throughout since the person Stef was talking to didn't really seem to know what his own argument was (no offense if that's a member here). Stef didn't have a chance to address the objections/proposals I had, since the person he was debating didn't really know where he was going. Stef basically just clarified things already in UPB, since the person didn't understand it.

 

I feel I do understand it. And if those here still feel I don't, I'll email him with my ideas on how to potentially fix the reasoning for the framework a little, and let you know what he thinks.

 

I agree that the moral opposite of "X" needs to be in the same category of "X", but some action must be initiated. "Not-X" is necessary for creating valid laws, but adhering to "though shalt-not murder" is morally neutral. While adhering to the law of not murdering, there's still room to actually perform the moral opposite of murder, which would be stopping/preventing it.

 

Once again, here's what I proposed: 

1) Laws must be put in terms of "though shalt not," not because of the coma test, but because only laws regarding evil behavior can be made universal. Initiation of force and property theft are always immoral, whereas what is good is almost always based on context, so it would be difficult to forumlate any absolutes.

 

2) Moral opposites exist, but not through "rape vs not-rape" logic (which where the coma premise is off). Any behavior that is good or bad must be initated. A moral action should be defined as any action that repairs/heals/fixes the property of someone else, or actively prevents a future evil from occuring to someone else (without breaking a moral law in the process).

 

3) A law itself has no moral content, it is only a statement about that which does have moral content. Actions are empirical, and can have moral content since they can be initiated, but laws can only be valid or invalid (which UPB gives fantastic criteria for), but a law itself cannot be not good or bad.  Breaking a "shalt not" law requires initiation of immoral behavior, though adhering to a "shalt not" law does not require initiation, and is not its moral opposite and cannot be defined as "good."

 

 

The three points I just provide what I feel is a valid definition of moral opposites that also mirrors Stef's mugger/surgeon example, and saves UPB from confusion about negation and opposites, while maintianing the necessary requirement of universal moral laws being stated as "shalt not."

 

If you guys have objections to the above, I'm all ears, though please criticize the logic of my proposal rather than trying to explain how I'm misunderstanding UPB. Thanks.

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The coma test is valid, but it does not have the sweeping consequence of erasing all positive obligations. It only invalidates very simplistic positive rules such as "Thou shalt give to charity, even when in coma." The rule to give to charity when there is good opportunity for it, is not violated by the man in coma. (leaving open for debate what is a good opportunity)

 

1) Laws must be put in terms of "though shalt not," not because of the coma test, but because only laws regarding evil behavior can be made universal. Initiation of force and property theft are always immoral, whereas what is good is almost always based on context, often involving subjective emotions, which UPB understandably tries to keep at a minimum.

 

When properly formulated, positive moral rules can be universal. They cannot impose an actual obligation in all circumstances, but neither do property right rules. For example, the prohibition against theft does not impose any actual negative obligation on a man living alone on an island. Positive rules are based on context, but negative rules are also based on context.

 

Also, ownership rules do not remove subjectivity. Ownership lets the owner decide what is forbidden with his property. But the decision of the owner is based on his own subjective opinion... It is civilized to let the owner decide, but still the owner might be making a mistake, because he is not infallible.

 

The UPB framework places all non-enforceable rules in the realm of aesthetics, outside of morality. I think this is unwarranted. For example, it can be morally required to stretch out your hand to help a drowning man, while it would be wrong (and absurd) to grab the hand of another one and pull it toward the drowning man. There can be valid moral rules that are wrong to enforce. For this reason, positive obligations are not in contradiction with ownership. A moral rule requiring charity can be valid, while theft is still wrong.

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The coma test is valid, but it does not have the sweeping consequence of erasing all positive obligations. It only invalidates very simplistic positive rules such as "Thou shalt give to charity, even when in coma." The rule to give to charity when there is good opportunity for it, is not violated by the man in coma. (leaving open for debate what is a good opportunity)

 

 

When properly formulated, positive moral rules can be universal. They cannot impose an actual obligation in all circumstances, but neither do property right rules. For example, the prohibition against theft does not impose any actual negative obligation on a man living alone on an island. Positive rules are based on context, but negative rules are also based on context.

 

Also, ownership rules do not remove subjectivity. Ownership lets the owner decide what is forbidden with his property. But the decision of the owner is based on his own subjective opinion... It is civilized to let the owner decide, but still the owner might be making a mistake, because he is not infallible.

 

The UPB framework places all non-enforceable rules in the realm of aesthetics, outside of morality. I think this is unwarranted. For example, it can be morally required to stretch out your hand to help a drowning man, while it would be wrong (and absurd) to grab the hand of another one and pull it toward the drowning man. There can be valid moral rules that are wrong to enforce. For this reason, positive obligations are not in contradiction with ownership. A moral rule requiring charity can be valid, while theft is still wrong.

 

 

The initiation of rape, murder, or theft isn't really based on context, the example of a guy on an island doesn't make sense. Moral rules are about how your actions effect other people. There has to be someone else involved in order for morality to exist at all. Saving a drowning person is morally good if you choose to do it, but you can't say that you're obligated to in all situations, especially if it would involve risking your own life. Too many grey areas.

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The coma test is valid, but it does not have the sweeping consequence of erasing all positive obligations. It only invalidates very simplistic positive rules such as "Thou shalt give to charity, even when in coma." The rule to give to charity when there is good opportunity for it, is not violated by the man in coma. (leaving open for debate what is a good opportunity)

Actually this is covered in detail in the book. You cannot make arbitrary distinctions between people. Being in a coma is not a valid moral category.

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The initiation of rape, murder, or theft isn't really based on context

 

The word "initiation" establishes a historical context that does not contain an earlier initiation. If you have been attacked by everyone, it is impossible to initiate force. Relevant parts of the context of theft are whether you are the owner of the property, and if not, whether the owner has given permission.

 

It depends on how we define context and what we see as the action itself. We could define an action very narrowly, only seeing it as movement of atoms and energy. In that case, all moral rules are completely based on context.

 

Saving a drowning person is morally good if you choose to do it, but you can't say that you're obligated to in all situations, especially if it would involve risking your own life. Too many grey areas.

 

 

Is it your position that:

1. moral rules with positive obligations are difficult to determine in detail, or

2. moral rules with positive obligations cannot be valid ?

I would agree with the first proposition, that it is difficult. But I don't see why a rule would be invalid, because it is difficult to determine all the details of it.

 

 

Actually this is covered in detail in the book. You cannot make arbitrary distinctions between people. Being in a coma is not a valid moral category.

 

 

Humans are subject to morality because of their ability to exercise free-will and do things. A man in coma can do nothing. This is morally very relevant. Children have less ability to understand the consequences of their actions, so moral rules apply adjusted to them. Healthy adults also do not have all the same ability. Valid moral rules take ability into account.

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Humans are subject to morality because of their ability to exercise free-will and do things. A man in coma can do nothing. This is morally very relevant. Children have less ability to understand the consequences of their actions, so moral rules apply adjusted to them. Healthy adults also do not have all the same ability. Valid moral rules take ability into account.

The coma test is about moral absolutes. "Give to charity when it's convenient" is not universal, thus not a valid moral proposition. You don't get to make these kinds of distinctions. You can't say "thou shalt not murder, except when wearing a green costume".

 

Moral absolutes cannot be true one time, but not another or for one person and not another. It has to apply universally.

 

A man in a coma cannot murder, and if a child murders a person, it's still evil.

 

One reason this point about universals and moral absolutes is important is because the consequence of the fact that something is immoral is that you can use force to prevent it. And you can absolutely use force to stop a child from murdering someone. But giving to charity, eh, no...

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I agree that the moral opposite of "X" needs to be in the same category of "X", but some action must be initiated. "Not-X" is necessary for creating valid laws, but adhering to "though shalt-not murder" is morally neutral. While adhering to the law of not murdering, there's still room to actually perform the moral opposite of murder, which would be stopping/preventing it.

 

I haven't had my coffee yet, so bear with me, this is just the thought that comes to mind..

 

As best I can reason, there is no such thing as a "non-action" No living human being can "not-act" We are moral actors, we are constantly in a state of moral action. When I eat a sandwich, I am simultaneously not doing every other conceivable action at that time. Remember when your parents told you that withholding information was the same as lying? A sin of omission? This is perfectly valid as far as I can tell because speaking falsehood is an action that you should be held accountable for, but not speaking the truth is also an action. In a sense, thought it might be a limited way of conceptualizing it, every action that is not murder, is the opposite of murder since you must prefer those actions over the action of murder... when your preferences are not in line with universal preferences, that is where you are in a state of immorality. 

 

I imagine it almost like a computer that constantly checks if I am in a state of virtue by evaluating every action I preform. If action X = murder, or rape, or theft, or assault, then immorality... else morality. It's like nutrition, eating a grapefruit is not "nutritionally neutral" because it does not counter some poor food choice, and likewise I am in  a state of health until I eat poorly, then I am in a state of errant health until that is rectified.

 

Like I said, I literally just woke up and turned on the computer, skimmed through the thread, and this is my reaction... it's almost certainly wrong at some point. :P 

 

I love talking UPB though, so I had to jump on this before I started my day. 

When properly formulated, positive moral rules can be universal. They cannot impose an actual obligation in all circumstances, but neither do property right rules. 

 

If they are not universally applicable, then they are not valid moral rules, and in fact, they are not even valid aesthetic rules as those are universal as well. Property rights are universally applicable, you have no right to forcibly take my kidney or any other article of my property ever, not 100 years ago, not 100 years in the future, not in ghana, not in baltimore, not while wearing a sombrero, not while singing "don't sleep in the subway, darling." A man living alone on an island is still obligated to not infringe on others property rights, the anecdotal fact that he would have to get on a boat to conceivably do that is irrelevant, he is still prohibited from doing it.

 

It would be like saying 2+2 no longer equals 4 because you don't have a pen or paper to figure it out.

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I haven't had my coffee yet, so bear with me, this is just the thought that comes to mind..

 

As best I can reason, there is no such thing as a "non-action" No living human being can "not-act" We are moral actors, we are constantly in a state of moral action. When I eat a sandwich, I am simultaneously not doing every other conceivable action at that time. Remember when your parents told you that withholding information was the same as lying? A sin of omission? This is perfectly valid as far as I can tell because speaking falsehood is an action that you should be held accountable for, but not speaking the truth is also an action. In a sense, thought it might be a limited way of conceptualizing it, every action that is not murder, is the opposite of murder since you must prefer those actions over the action of murder... when your preferences are not in line with universal preferences, that is where you are in a state of immorality. 

 

I imagine it almost like a computer that constantly checks if I am in a state of virtue by evaluating every action I preform. If action X = murder, or rape, or theft, or assault, then immorality... else morality. It's like nutrition, eating a grapefruit is not "nutritionally neutral" because it does not counter some poor food choice, and likewise I am in  a state of health until I eat poorly, then I am in a state of errant health until that is rectified.

 

 

So under that premise, there's no neutral behavior? The person in a coma is as moral as someone saving people's lives? If not, it seems like moral behavior would have to be organized as [immoral < moral < VERY moral]. Like I said, I understand having to say "though shalt not" for wording laws, but not for determining moral opposites, and what people seem to ignore is that Stef himself used the surgeon as an example as the moral opposite to a mugger stabbing someone. To me, adhering to a valid law is not the opposite of whatever behavior the law condemns.

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No, I don't think there is neutral behavior... at least not in that sense. 

 

The reason we value a surgeon saving a life a opposed to someone simply not murdering is that we generally tend to celebrate saving someone's life, but it's not a question of was that action moral/immoral, it's a question of how much we subjectively value that action. Me giving you a bouquet of flowers is no more or less moral than me drinking a glass of water, but you value the former action more because it makes you happy. The surgeon saving someones life is more helpful to society, it's a greater display of empathy, etc etc. but it is not more or less moral; that's just not the criteria on which you make that comparison... it would be like judging a talent show on whomever was the tallest; that's not what we compare when we analyze those two actions...

 

Being in a coma must necessarily be moral because you're not initiating force and saving someone's life must necessarily be moral because you're not initiating force. They are equal only in that they equally do not violate the NAP

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No, I don't think there is neutral behavior... at least not in that sense. 

 

The reason we value a surgeon saving a life a opposed to someone simply not murdering is that we generally tend to celebrate saving someone's life, but it's not a question of was that action moral/immoral, it's a question of how much we subjectively value that action. Me giving you a bouquet of flowers is no more or less moral than me drinking a glass of water, but you value the former action more because it makes you happy. The surgeon saving someones life is more helpful to society, it's a greater display of empathy, etc etc. but it is not more or less moral; that's just not the criteria on which you make that comparison... it would be like judging a talent show on whomever was the tallest; that's not what we compare when we analyze those two actions...

 

Being in a coma must necessarily be moral because you're not initiating force and saving someone's life must necessarily be moral because you're not initiating force. They are equal only in that they equally do not violate the NAP

 

So you disagree with Stef's statement below?

 

The mugger who stabs you, however, is initiating an attack upon your life and health, which is why his attack is the moral opposite of the surgeon's efforts.

 

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No, again, I think you're missing the point. A surgeon saving someone's life IS the moral opposite of stabbing someone because saving someone's life does not violate the NAP.

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No, again, I think you're missing the point. A surgeon saving someone's life IS the moral opposite of stabbing someone because saving someone's life does not violate the NAP.

 

I see your point now, which is that the opposite of an immoral action is included in the immoral action's negation.

 

To me, this lowers the bar a bit too low when deciding what is and isn't moral behavior, since it would mean that the surgeon, the person in a coma, and all inatimate objects are equally moral. Forget about virtue and values, most people are not going to get on board with UPB if it can classify inanimate objects, or dead people as moral, and I think UPB has the potential to gain much more influence outside the FDR community if this counter-intuitive framework can be tweaked a bit.

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I see your point now, which is that the opposite of an immoral action is included in the immoral action's negation.

 

To me, this lowers the bar a bit too low when deciding what is and isn't moral behavior, since it would mean that the surgeon, the person in a coma, and all inatimate objects are equally moral. Forget about virtue and values, most people are not going to get on board with UPB if it can classify inanimate objects, or dead people as moral, and I think UPB has the potential to gain much more influence outside the FDR community if this counter-intuitive framework can be tweaked a bit.

 

 

Sorry, i think you're getting mixed up again... inanimate objects are not moral actors and are incapable of being either moral or immoral. A dead person is an inanimate object so same reasoning is appropriate. The coma test is kind of colloquial, at least to me, just a way of illustrating the need to reject positive obligations, there are more technical and syllogistic ways to do that as well. 

 

I don't understand what's counter intuitive about it nor why that makes it bad? Nutrition is incredibly counter-intuitive, we don't say "we should tweak the framework of nutrition so that we recommend you eat fats and sugars more because that's more intuitive." Having a man in a white coat drill into your gums to preform a root canal is incredibly counter-intuitive, but guess what, it saves you pain and agony orders of magnitude more severe in the long run. Science is not always intuitive, that's why it's objective, it doesn't matter how we feel about it. The science of ethics, and of nutrition, and physics etc are all kind of "counter-intuitive" (ethics even more so considering the massive amounts of propaganda we ingest concerning ethics!)

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If there are no neutral actions, a person in a coma is being moral even though they have no ability to be immoral. This asserts that free will is irrelevant when coming up with criteria for moral behavior.

Please add the UPB tag to this thread. I would do it myself, but only the original poster may do so.To me, the opposite/negation controversy is nitpicking. Stef reduced the possible cases to two. An ethical theory either creates a prohibition or an obligation. If it is not one, it is the other. In that context, "opposite" and "negation" mean the same thing, the other possibility. One might object that there are more than two possibilities, but that is a different argument.

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