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Evil and the Man: Ethics Versus Empirical History


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#1
Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux
  • 19755 posts

[Word Doc Attached]

 

The relationship between personal integrity and moral theorizing has always been challenging, and is arguably the most essential problem for modern philosophy to unravel and resolve.

 

Incorrect moral theories can be justly viewed as the greatest viruses to ever attack the human species – theories such as communism, fascism and other forms of totalitarian socialism – as well as generic nationalism – have caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of human beings in the 20th century alone. It is hard to think of any biological virus with a similar death count, except perhaps the black death of the early Middle Ages, which spread through the extreme and unsanitary poverty which resulted from the catastrophic moral and economic theories of monarchy and feudalism.

 

I have argued for many years that first we look to the man, and then we look to his theories. As a result, I have been endlessly accused of committing the logical fallacies of ad hominem and tu quoque. The ad hominem fallacy is an attempt to discredit a theory by attacking the theoretician, i.e. “Your argument is invalid because you are ugly.” Tu quoque is the fallacy of rejecting a moral theory due to the hypocrisy of the moralist. If a slave owner argues that slavery is immoral, we cannot reject the immorality of slavery because the moralist owns slaves.

 

However, while it is a fallacy to reject a moral theory due to the moral hypocrisies of the theorist, there are two components to rejecting a theory. The first is to prove that the theory is necessarily and universally false, and the second is to reject the competence of the theorist.

 

There are three arguments which support examining the moralist prior to examining his or her moral theories; the first is practical, and almost universally understood and practiced, while the second is logical, and not well understood as yet. The third will be examined at the end of this article.

 

The importance of the relationship between personal integrity and moral theorizing cannot be overstated. If we could have rationally excluded from the philosophical discourse of mankind the number of moralists who were themselves deeply immoral, we would have saved the world from, at a bare minimum, Communism and Nazism, whose death count rose above 100 million innocent people. Evil ethicists are the holocaust of humanity; if philosophy can be the instant sunlight to their endless vampirism, it could save more lives than all the doctors who have ever lived.

 

 

The Practical Objection  

A history of irrationality does not logically preclude a future of rationality – however, that is almost never how we make our decisions – individually, institutionally, or as societies.

 

If you are an indifferent undergraduate student, eking out marks in the mid-60% range, and then you apply for a graduate degree, you will be rejected by any mainstream university. You can rationally protest that a history of bad marks does not necessarily mean a future of bad marks, and you will be quite correct, but you will still be denied entrance. The university will reject you for two reasons; one obvious, and one more sophisticated.

 

The obvious reason is the well-established principle that by far the best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior. If you want to know how a man will act tomorrow, examine how he acted in the past. True, it cannot be established beyond a shadow of a doubt that a history of poor scholarship proves a future of equally poor scholarship, but it is the best indicator. Spaces in graduate programs are limited, and all who try but fail to secure graduate degrees waste scarce resources; therefore those resources should go to those with the greatest chance of success. An old, lame horse could theoretically win the Kentucky Derby, but would you bet on it?

 

The more sophisticated reason for rejecting the indifferent undergraduate applicant is that completing a graduate degree – and I say this from experience – requires planning, consistency, intelligence, foresight, negotiation and a basket full of other related skills. If, as an undergraduate, you get bad marks, it could be because you lack the intelligence to do better. If you lack the intelligence to do well in an undergraduate program, you will do even worse in a graduate program, where the demands for intelligence are higher. A man who cannot lift 50 pounds cannot lift 150 pounds.

 

If you possess the necessary intelligence to do well as an undergraduate, but lack the ability to plan, then you will do even worse in a graduate program, where planning requirements are even more stringent. A man who cannot plan a 10 page essay cannot plan a 100 page thesis.

 

We could go through all the other requirements for success in a graduate program, and compare them to your success in an undergraduate program, and understand that either you lack these skills and abilities, in which case you will fail, or you possess them, but lack foresight, planning, a work ethic, commitment, or any of the wide variety of other skills necessary for success, in which case you will also fail.

 

Still, from a purely logical standpoint, you could make the case that while relevant past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, it is not ironclad proof. While this argument will still not get you into a graduate program, it remains logically sound.

 

So what?

 

In countless areas, we sensibly reject people based upon prior personal habits or characteristics. A rational man does not date thieves; a sensible woman does not date a serial wife beater; a cautious investor does not hand his money over to a known cheat; I do not order goods from eBay merchants with terrible reputations, and so on. An examination of prior behavior helps keep us safe, although we cannot rationally prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that future behavior will match prior behavior. A rock thrown off a cliff will certainly fall to the ground; an immoral man can theoretically reform himself and find virtue.

 

One consistent strategy of inconsistent moralists is to create massive and generally incomprehensible tomes, and then demand that any who wish to reject their theories must first become an expert in their thoughts (as an added bonus, if they wrote in the critics non-native tongue, the critic must also learn that language as well.)

 

In this essay, I will argue that there is a far easier and more immediate way to reject the philosophical and moral propositions of any and all thinkers. It has to do with an examination of personal hypocrisy, but does not fall prey to either the ad hominem or tu quoque fallacies.

 

This is an essential task – if there was a rational way to reject the moral propositions of immoral people, this would be an incalculable boon to mankind. If we could first look to the man, rather than to his argument, then a bare skimming of his life history can be sufficient to avoid a detailed analysis of his moral propositions. It is easier to read a bullet point outline of Karl Marx’s personal life, say, then slog your way through the three mammoth volumes of “Capital” in the original 19th-century German.

 

If the diet section of your local bookstore has 100 books, and 99 of them have a morbidly obese author on the cover, it would be massively efficient to be able to reject the diets of the fat authors, and pick out the one lean and healthy writer.

 

This is not an unprecedented approach, and should not be surprising or foreign to us.

 

If your sister tells you she wants to date a man who brags about putting his last 15 girlfriends in the hospital with broken bones, what would you say? Assuming you are not a similar sadist, you would strongly urge her to avoid such a violent monster. If she is a petty logician, she might argue that we cannot say for absolute certain that he will be as violent in his future as he was in his past, and she will be technically correct.

 

She will also end up in the hospital with broken bones. Logically correct, but emotionally and physically shattered.

 

If a financial advisor wants your business, and you find out that he has cheated all his prior clients out of their life savings, will that affect your decision to put him in charge of your money? Of course it will – although you cannot prove as a rational certainty that you will be his next victim.

 

It is not just a person’s history that is relevant, but his attitude towards that history as well. If your potential financial advisor has not only cheated all his prior clients, but writes a blog detailing how happy it makes him to cheat people, laughing at all the ridiculous suckers that he has productively separated from their money, and his glee and delight in selecting his next victim, then “high probability” rises to “virtual certainty.”

 

It remains theoretically possible that such a man might miraculously find some sort of conscience after you give him all of your money to manage, or he could be struck by some brain illness that prevents him from executing his nefarious plans, or he could get hit by a bus, or any other such accident – but outside of random happenstance, a man with a history of immorality who openly delights in that immorality, will without a doubt be immoral in the future. To argue otherwise is to destroy any kind of rational cause and effect between thought and action.

 

We apply this reasoning again and again in society as a whole as well – a violent criminal who continues to revel in his past crimes, and delights in plotting new ones, should never be released from prison, and in fact rarely is. Remorse is the key to release.

 

A woman who was hit as a child is statistically far more likely to hit her own children, but this is not a certainty. However, a woman who was hit as a child, and who praises her parents for hitting her, and insists that hitting children is parental excellence – and that not hitting children is destructive and abusive – is certain to hit her own children (again, excluding random happenstance, such as an alligator chewing off all her limbs, at which point she will doubtless resort to headbutting them.)

 

Online marketplaces such as eBay rely on reputation systems, which allow potential purchasers to view reports of the past behavior of various merchants. A merchant with a spotless ten-year record is almost certain to ship you whatever you pay for; his past integrity provides the best proof of a successful transaction in the present. Merchants who cheated all prior customers are almost certain to cheat you, which is why no one buys from them.

 

There remains a difference, however, between practicing virtue and proclaiming virtue.

 

Deciding to cut down on my sugar intake does not make me a nutritionist; deciding against spanking my children does not make me a moralist. I might cut down on my sugar because it is too expensive, or because I’m concerned about cavities – I might decide against spanking my children because it hurts my hand, or because my children are getting larger and stronger.

 

An honest eBay merchant might in fact prefer that his competition is dishonest, since that would drive more business to his own store. Practicing a virtue is not the same as theoretically and universally proclaiming it as an abstract moral theory.

 

This essay is written to provide the ammunition to expose false moralists; therefore we are not primarily concerned with those who practice virtue, but with those who proclaim virtue.

 

To reiterate, moral hypocrisy on the part of the moralizer does not automatically disprove his moral theories.

 

A dishonest financial advisor may publicly speak about honor and virtue in financial dealings – his dishonesty does not disprove the value of honor and virtue. A counterfeiter’s fake money does not disprove the value of real money – rather, it affirms and relies on the value of real money.

 

A man who beats his wife may write many books on the virtue of nonviolent communication – the fact that he beats his wife does not invalidate the virtue of nonviolent communication.

 

However, that is not the end of our capacity to analyze the moral theories of immoral people.

 

If we can find an ironclad – i.e., not empirical, but analytical – argument which allows us to reject the moral theories of immoral people, we can literally save not just millions of hours of analysis, but millions of lives as well.

 

Not a bad way to spend an hour or so.

 

 

The Analytical Rejection  

Imagine that, in a loud bar, someone asks me for the name of a country that borders on Greece, but I hear him asking for the name of a flightless bird that Americans eat on Thanksgiving.

 

I reply, of course, “Turkey.”

 

Am I correct?

 

There are two ways of answering that – one is to focus on the conclusion, the other is to focus on the methodology. If I focus on the conclusion, then I have used the right word, and my answer is correct.

 

In the same way, if I only speak English, but somehow end up on a Japanese game show, and the host asks me a question, and I make some fake Japanese sounding syllables, and those syllables happen to be the correct answer, am I right?

 

A parrot can be trained to say “64.” If a man asks the parrot what two to the sixth power is, does the parrot’s response mean that it understands mathematics?

 

Of course not.

 

Suppose I am playing golf for the first time, and I miraculously sink a hole in one. If I never hit a golf ball again, am I the best golfer in history?

 

You could argue that I am, since I have the most perfect score possible throughout my entire career. However, I should not hold my breath for my entrance into the golfing Hall of Fame, or for lucrative endorsement deals, because my success does not arise from practice and consistent results, but rather from a freak accident and an avoidance of retesting my abilities.

 

My daughter likes to doodle and make up pretend letters and words – if, in one of her scribblings, she writes by accident “E=MC2” should I shout with joy and immediately label her a physicist? Of course not, I should smile at the odd coincidence, and accept that the random sometimes looks like the planned. Once every million years, the wind might carve the tops of sand dunes into the same equation; this does not mean that the wind should be granted a degree in physics.

 

If we imagine that the truth is in the answer, then these accidents are “true.”

 

If, however, we accept that the truth is in the methodology, then these accidents do not result in “truth.” They are not “false” either; they are just random or accidental. If I look at my daughter’s accidentally scribbled “equation," can I assign it a value of true or false?

 

I cannot.

 

That would be like suing a tree that fell on my car for the willful destruction of my property.

 

Accidents have no truth value; they are outside the realm of truth or falsehood or morality or immorality, they remain mere coincidence or happenstance with no philosophical content whatsoever. They are, in the memorable phrase of Richard Dawkins, “not even wrong.”

 

If one day, an ancient fragment of text is unearthed that proclaims that “Freedomain Radio will be the most popular philosophy show in the world,” that would be a fascinating coincidence, but it would neither be a true nor a false statement, since it is a mere statement without methodology. Since the work is not shown, the truth cannot be present.

 

When we are children, we are constantly told to “show our work.” Writing a number that matches the answer in a math problem is not enough, we must show how we arrived at our conclusion, or we are marked down.

 

In science or mathematics, it is not enough to say that you have solved a problem, you must also show how you have solved the problem, or it remains impossible for other people to evaluate your expertise.

 

Reproducibility is also essential to the scientific method, which is another reason why it is so important to show your work. If you claim that you have produced fusion in a jar, other scientists must be able to reproduce your findings, or they are automatically considered invalid. If other scientists cannot reproduce your experiments, that does not mean that your theory is false, it simply means that it is unproven, invalid, not in conformity to the scientific method. Again, it is “not even wrong.”

 

An ancient religion may have as one of its tenets the belief that the world is a sphere. This belief, since it is the result of divine revelation, and not scientific or mathematical investigation, is invalid, even though science will later prove that the world is in fact a sphere.

 

The conclusion alone can never be correct, only the methodology can be correct.

 

This is a very tricky argument to understand, but it is absolutely essential.

 

A man in the ancient world who dreams that the world is a sphere is not correct, even though the world is in fact a sphere, because a dream is not a valid methodology for discovering rational truths about the world.

 

Truth, in other words, has nothing to do with the conclusion, and everything to do with the methodology.

 

One cannot be “accidentally correct,” any more than one can accidentally be the best golfer in history. The moment that a consistent methodology is bypassed, the conclusions are automatically invalidated.

 

If I openly state that I am diametrically opposed to the scientific method, I cannot be a scientist – even if, after endless pages of random scribblings, I accidentally write the equivalent of some valuable equation.

 

Monkeys tapping away on endless keyboards will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare; this does not mean that infinite monkeying is the artistic equivalent of the greatest poet in the English language, because what they produce is accidental, while what Shakespeare produced was purposeful.

 

In other words, the words “right,” “valid,” “correct,” “true” and so on all refer to the validity of the methodology, rather than the validity of the conclusion, or the answer.

 

 

Methodology versus Conclusion  

The word “correct,” refers to the validity of the methodology, rather than the answer provided. A correct methodology is a necessary, but not sufficient, requirement for truth. If you follow a valid methodology, your conclusions may be valid – if you do not, they are never valid.

 

In science, this means using the scientific method – a “valid” conclusion is one arrived at through the use of the scientific method, which is then validated by logical consistency, empirical tests, reproducibility, and so on.

 

This does not mean that the conclusion is absolutely and permanently correct, of course – scientific theories are overturned and superseded all the time, as measurement accuracy improves, new information arises, or better theories are developed.

 

Any answers which were not developed using the scientific method are automatically invalid – which really means beyond or outside testability. “Invalid" refers to the incorrect or absent methodology, rather than any specific answer.

 

If I tell you that my mathematical theory is correct because the answer is “4,” but I refuse to tell you any of the equations, propositions or methodology which produces the number “4,” am I correct? To pretend to evaluate that is to insult the word “correct.”

 

Answers can never be evaluated in the absence of rational, empirical and consistent methodologies. No conclusion, no answer, no proposition requires rational review or rebuttal if the methodology is either incorrect or absent. As the old saying goes, “that which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

 

If a man states – either implicitly or explicitly – that he rejects consistent methodologies, then his conclusions can be rejected as invalid without further examination. They cannot possibly be true, since truth results from a consistent methodology, and accidental “truths” are invalid by definition.

 

Sophists generally operate by stating emotionally pleasing or provocative conclusions, and refusing to show the consistent methodology that produced them. Rational thinkers are so often drawn into examining, evaluating and rebutting these statements, which is an unnecessary and even counterproductive waste of time and energy. These attempts not only promote the perceived value of sophistry, but insult the critical necessity for a consistent methodology in philosophical thought. Great thinkers should spend their time more wisely; philosophers have better things to do than fence with bumper stickers.

 

 

Consistency and Integrity  

If I say that spanking children is immoral, but I spank my own child, this of course does not disprove the proposition that spanking children is immoral, but it does prove something equally important in many ways.

 

If a scientist says that all gases expand when heated, except his own personal emissions, then he has involved himself in an immediate self-contradiction, and shown that he either does not understand the principle of universality, or is rejecting it for some nefarious purpose.

 

The moment someone claims that his proposition is universal, and then breaks that universality, he can no longer claim that his proposition is universal - or that he even understands the concept of “universality.” The scientist who says that all gases expand when heated, except for argon in Philadelphia during a full moon, can no longer say that all gases expand when heated, or must reject the exception he is creating for argon in Philadelphia during a full moon. If he does not even notice that he is both proposing and repudiating universality simultaneously, he is either a complete fool or a dangerous manipulator.

 

I have made the case elsewhere that moral propositions require and enforce Universally Preferable Behavior. A moralist who acts in opposition to his moral propositions is implicitly rejecting the fundamental requirement of universality.

 

A doctor who smokes, and says that smoking is bad for everyone except himself, makes the same error.

 

This is worth stating again: since moral propositions require universality, any moralist who rejects universality – either explicitly or implicitly – by acting in a manner counter to his propositions – has by definition rejected universality.

 

Thus, the moment a moralist rejects universality, he cannot be a moralist – any more than a scientist who rejects the scientific method can be a scientist, or a mathematician who rejects mathematical principles can be a mathematician, or a philosopher who rejects logic can be a philosopher.

 

We do not need to evaluate the claims of a man who says that he is a scientist, but also openly states that he rejects the scientific method, because his rejection of the scientific method, as shown above, reveals that none of his conclusions can be valid or true, since truth exists only in the methodology, never in the conclusions.

 

In other words, we do not need to disprove the propositions of a man who rejects reason and evidence, since his rejection of reason and evidence means that none of his propositions can ever be valid; nothing accidental can ever be true.

 

How do we know that a moralist rejects universality?

 

One approach we can take is to examine his theories, and look for a consistent methodology – in other words, the moment that we find emotionally significant conclusions, without reasoning from first principles, we can reject the entire philosophy. Philosophy, like science and mathematics, requires consistency; the moment that a significant inconsistency is revealed – and is rejected, suppressed or ignored by the thinker – we can reject the philosophy as a whole.

 

This does not mean that perfect consistency is required, or that no errors can occur in a philosophy – or in a philosopher – but blatant and obvious inconsistencies or absences of rational methodologies are enough to discard the school of thought as a whole.

 

Philosophy-breaking errors must be fundamental to the field of study, or to the central propositions of the philosophy; disputes over statistics or syntax do not count.

 

A nutritionist who eats a candy bar once in a while can still be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist who eats only candy bars cannot.

 

A mother who values nonviolent communication, and yells at her son, is not necessarily a hypocrite, providing that she recognizes the deviance from her values, apologizes, does her best to figure out why she ended up yelling, and works hard to avoiding yelling again. Again, this does not mean that if she yells twice, she is automatically a hypocrite, as long as she continues to work diligently toward the goal of consistently achieving her values of nonviolent communication, and is open about her failings.

 

However, a parent who claims to value nonviolent communication, and constantly yells at her son, and only yells louder when her hypocrisy is pointed out, and blames her son for making him yell at her, and never admits fault, is about as obvious a hypocrite as can be imagined.

 

Correctness is in the methodology, and virtue is also in the methodology of pursuing virtue, just as health is in the methodology of pursuing health.

 

As long as people are open and honest about their moral deficiencies, and work conscientiously to correct them, virtue is achieved in the process of pursuing virtue. A dieter who eats cheesecake in a moment of weakness is still a dieter, as long as she throws out the remaining cheesecake and buys no more. A dieter who keeps eating cheesecake is no longer a dieter.

 

An anti-spanker who keeps spanking his child cannot possibly be a moralist, since she loudly proclaims a moral theory, which requires significant intelligence, and therefore her hypocrisy cannot result from a lack of intelligence. If a man proposes a moral theory, he is automatically accepting the value of consistency and universality – that is the basic power of morality. A man who proposes a scientific theory is automatically accepting the value of consistency and universality, as well as empiricism, which really is the foundation of the scientific method. We observe, and then we theorize about that which in general we cannot observe, at least as yet.

 

If a man lacks the intelligence to understand the concept of universality, then he will never propose a moral theory, which requires an understanding of the concept of universality. He may say that he does not like being hit, a preference he would share with apes, dogs and fish, but he will not say that hitting is morally wrong, since that requires universality, which he does not understand. The moment that he says hitting is morally wrong, he reveals an understanding of universality, and can no longer be considered too stupid to understand it. I cannot hold a complex conversation in Japanese, and then deny that I speak Japanese.

 

Thus all moralists reveal – again, either explicitly or implicitly – a deep understanding of universality.

 

If a moralist consistently acts against his own moral propositions, he is both affirming and denying the value of universality. Moral propositions require universality, but he denies that universality by creating – and usually hiding – exceptions for his own actions.

 

Once a scientist has created and maintained a personal exception for his general rule of physics (“I can fly!”), he has broken the methodology of universality, which is necessary for any scientific theory and thus he is no longer a scientist, and his theories do not need further examination.

 

Once a moralist has created and maintained a personal exception to his general moral rule, he has broken the methodology of universality, which is necessary for any moral theory – and thus he is no longer a moralist, and his theories do not require any further examination.

 

If a man says that no parent should spank, and then spanks his own children, he is both affirming and denying the value of universality; he acts in opposition to his theory. In science, empiricism trumps theory; in ethics, a man is judged by how he acts, rather than what he says. Actions reveal what words obscure.

 

Einstein was an abusive husband; however, his scientific theories did not involve the ethics of human relationships, and so must be evaluated relative to the scientific method.

 

A moral hypocrite rejects consistency, which means that he rejects any rational methodology in the formulation and enactment of his moral theories.

 

As we have discussed above, we can reject without investigation anyone who fails to apply a rational methodology to his arguments. Personal hypocrisy – particularly in the realm of morality – reveals a rejection of universality, which means a rejection of any rational methodology in the formulation of the moral theory.

 

Since truth or validity is only in the methodology, and not in the conclusion, we do not need to examine the arguments of anyone who rejects a rational methodology, since their conclusions can never be true, or valid, or correct, or right – or, in the realm of morality in particular, moral.

 

 

Honesty and Morality  

If a moralist consistently acts in opposition to his own moral standards, then he is either honest about his immoral actions, or he is not. I have yet to hear of a well-known moralist who openly and proactively revealed his own hypocrisy; the universal tactic seems to be to hide one’s own immorality.

 

If a moralist publicly reveals his own hypocrisy, he openly reveals that he is evil by his own definition. If a moralist reveals himself as evil, why would one examine his ethical pronouncements? He might as well say, “I am an evil, untrustworthy liar, let me instruct you on truth and virtue!” What madness it would be to listen!

 

A man who defines himself as evil cannot by definition be trusted; since lying is generally a lesser form of evil, one cannot trust anything he says. Would you consent to be operated on by a surgeon who openly stated his desire to kill you?

 

This is why moralists hide their own moral transgressions; they know that they lose all power and credibility if their immoralities are revealed.

 

If a moralist hides his own immorality, he has revealed himself as a liar about the most important aspects of life; virtue, goodness and honesty. If a moralist compounds his own immorality with the immorality of lying about it, covering it up, then he is not to be trusted in any way, shape or form.

 

If a scientist openly states that he is falsifying his data, who would bother to examine his work?

 

When a moralist lies about his own immoralities, he is acting in a far more egregious and immoral fashion.

 

Really, that’s all you need to know about his “moral” theories.

 

Throw away the books, look to the man, and save mankind.

 

 

Honesty and Improvement  

When a moralist makes a moral argument, he is attempting to improve the ethics of mankind.

 

Making a moral argument contains within it the implicit premise that immorality results from a lack of information, understanding, statistics or wisdom – which are provided in the moral argument provided by the moralist.

 

In other words, to make a moral argument is to assume that people’s moral stature can be elevated through the ideas or arguments contained within that moral argument.

 

The moralist making the argument must by definition be in possession of superior information, since he is generating and making the argument about what goodness is, and why or how to be good.

 

A moral proposition thus assumes that moral excellence is improved by information, which is contained within the proposition. If moral excellence is improved by information, and the moralist has enough good information to generate a moral proposition, then the moralist must by definition have achieved greater moral excellence than those he lectures.

 

If you stop your car and ask me for directions, and I confidently give you those directions, we must assume that my knowledge about the directions in question is superior to yours. You lack information, I possess information, and thus can transfer it to you.

 

If a man provides information to improve the moral excellence of others, then the clear assumption is that being in possession of this information improves moral excellence.

 

If, however, the moralist is immoral, despite being in possession of the information he provides the others, then being in possession of this information does not improve moral excellence.

 

To go one step further, if the moralist is downright evil, despite being in possession of the information he provides to others, then being in possession of this information is associated with destroying moral excellence, and becoming evil.

 

Perhaps, you may say, the moralist does not follow the advice that he provides to others, just as a fat man with an excellent diet plan may recommend a diet that he does not himself follow.

 

If this is true, then the information that the moralist possesses does improve moral excellence, but the moralist does not wish to improve moral excellence, at least in himself.

 

For a moralist to not wish to improve moral excellence is a contradiction in terms – a moralist by definition is someone who wishes to improve moral excellence, just as a teacher is by definition someone who wishes to improve knowledge and skills, and a doctor is someone who wishes to improve or maintain health, and a nutritionist to someone who wishes to improve diet, and so on.

 

If I say that I am a teacher who wishes to destroy knowledge in others, then I cannot be a teacher.

 

If I say that I am a moralist, but do not wish to improve moral excellence, then I am not moralist.

 

If I say that I am a moralist, but wish to improve the moral excellence of others, but not myself, then I have broken universality, and can no longer claim to be a moralist, as discussed above.

 

In this way, we know that a moralist who practices immorality can never be taken seriously, and should in fact be avoided at all costs, both as a person, and a theoretician.

 

 

Immorality and Mimicry  

Those who imitate a value cannot claim to be ignorant of the utility of that value. If I am a counterfeiter, my main goal is to produce money that mimics as closely as possible the legitimate money in circulation.

 

A counterfeiter cannot claim to have no idea of the value of money, since he attempts to artificially create that value by imitating valid money as closely as he can – in fact, the imitation is driven solely by the counterfeiter’s knowledge of the value of money.

 

A counterfeiter who wishes to remain both profitable and out of prison has two main goals – the first is to avoid any methodology that easily separates real money from fake money – a counterfeit detection machine, say – and the second is to make sure that counterfeit bills only ever go out of his wallet, never back into it.

 

If a cell-phone based counterfeit detection machine (CDM) is invented, which sets off an alarm any time someone attempts to use fake money, the counterfeiter will very quickly go out of business. Thus it is in the interest of the counterfeiter to prevent these CDM’s from coming into existence.

 

In this essay, I am attempting to provide mankind a highly portable counterfeit detection machine in the realm of morality – i.e., that the arguments of a moralist may be universally and rationally dismissed if he consistently practices immorality, and in particular if he hides that immorality in any way.

 

Counterfeiters both support and reject universality – they support the universal value of money, which they attempt to prey on by mimicking its value through their own shoddy creations – and they reject universality, in that they are very happy to spend counterfeit money, but very unhappy to receive it.

 

In the same way, counterfeit moralists are very happy to lecture others on moral universals, but are always very unhappy when those universals are applied to their own lives.

 

Counterfeiters hate and fear counterfeit detection machines; anyone who gets very upset with this essay is almost certainly a sham moralist, and a highly dangerous person, and a fundamental enemy of mankind.

 

 

Explicit Versus Implicit Hypocrisy  

Let us take the case of Karl Marx. Marx railed against the evils of exploiting workers, but refused to pay his maid a penny for decades, and then got her pregnant, and refused to acknowledge or pay for his own son, who remained – likely as a result – a member of the working class, a welder, and prominent in the welders’ union.

 

Marx spent decades actively striving to hide his paternity, since he feared the loss of his moral prestige if it were found out. (There are countless examples of Marx’s exploitation of just about everyone he came in contact with, but we will just focus on this example for the moment.)

 

If Marx had openly and publicly declared his unwillingness to pay his maid, and openly affirmed his own fathering of a working-class son – and his refusal to pay for him – then he would have openly declared his contempt for the concept of universality, and thus utterly undermined his own ethical propositions.

 

If the exploitation of workers is evil, then Marx was evil. An evil moralist breaks universality, and certainly cannot be trusted, since he has openly declared himself as evil.

 

As the historian Paul Johnson has noted, Marx was unable to find a single example of any worker who was never paid a penny by his or her employer, except in his own household – which means that Marx was a far more egregious exploiter then the capitalist bourgeoisie that he condemned. Also, in the Communist Manifesto, Marx railed against the sexual exploitation of workers by employers – if he had openly revealed his sexual exploitation of his own unpaid worker, his manifesto would have become a tortured psychological case of repression, projection and displaced shame, and a piece of bad moral comedy, rather than a tragically influential work.

 

However, by hiding his own immoralities – especially according to his own values – Marx revealed that he perfectly understood the value of consistency in moral theories and actions. In other words, he knew that, if his own immoralities were revealed, his moral theories would have taken a possibly mortal blow.

 

Thus, Marx cannot claim to not understand the power and value of universality in moral propositions – his act of hiding his own egregious moral violations perfectly shows his understanding of the power and value of universality.

 

Marx also cannot claim the excuse of occasional deviation from moral ideals – the dieter who eats a piece of cheesecake in the middle of the night, or the peaceful parent who yells once every two years – since his financial and sexual exploitations lasted for decades, and his denial of paternity and legal and financial responsibility for his son lasted until his death, and was actively hidden by Marx, Engels and their followers.

 

A man who claims a moral ideal, and consistently acts against that moral ideal, and hides his own hypocrisy, obviously does not value or follow universality in any empirical or practical sense whatsoever.

 

A man whose theories rely on universality, but through his actions reveals that he does not value or follow universality, may be rejected without further examination. His moral theories can never be true, since he rejects the only methodology – reason and evidence – that can establish truth or falsehood.

 

Again, the equivalent is a man whose theories rely on the scientific method, but who does not value or follow the scientific method – such a man’s theories can never be true, since he has rejected the only methodology – the scientific method – that can establish the validity or invalidity of a scientific theory.

 

Arguing that we can examine the truth of a conclusion without examining the methodology that produced it is like arguing that we can examine the truth of ownership without examining any prior events or circumstances. There is no way to logically establish the ownership of a bicycle by looking at a man riding it. He might be the legitimate owner of the bicycle, or he might have just stolen it, or he might be renting it, or he might be taking it for a test ride, or he might be bicycling in his sleep, or any of another thousand possibilities. A man playing with a child might be the father, he might be an uncle, a friend, a sinister stranger, or a cuckolded husband who merely believes that he is the father.

 

We cannot determine the truth of the statement, “employers exploit workers,” without examining the methodology which produced the statement. If the man producing the statement rejects rational methodologies – either explicitly or implicitly – the statement is invalid, even if it can be later logically proven that employers do exploit workers. If the moralist exploits his own workers, then he cannot claim that it is a universal evil - unless he is willing to admit that he is evil - and therefore he immediately loses the value of universality, and therefore cannot be a moralist. A man who proposes a moral theory while empirically disproving that moral theory through his own hypocritical actions, must be automatically dismissed. Nothing he says can ever be true, even if a few things he said may eventually be proven through a rational and consistent methodology.

 

Philosophy starts with empiricism, since if matter did not behave in a consistent and predictable manner, reason – not to mention science, or life itself – would never have come into being. In the same way, an examination of moral theories must start with an examination of the moralizer, to determine whether any rational analysis of his propositions is even possible.

 

We do not bring science to the imaginary physics of our nightly dreams; we do not bring biology to the painted “aliens” of Star Trek; we do not bring geology to the fantastical lands of Middle Earth, because they are the products of whimsy and entertaining imaginations.

 

A man demanding a Nobel Prize in science for his random scribbles can be dismissed without examination – in the same way, a moralist who consistently practices moral inconsistency can be dismissed without examination, since he has proven his contempt for consistency, which is a necessary – but not sufficient – requirement for any valid moral theory.

 

Thus proving moral inconsistencies in the life of a moralist is sufficient cause to reject his arguments as a whole – and this rejection does not fall prey to either the ad hominem and tu quoque fallacies. The argument can be summarized thus:

 

1.   Arguments can be true if they follow a consistent methodology; there is no such thing as “accidental validity.”

2.   Any argument proposed by a man can be rejected as invalid if he does not follow or understand a consistent methodology.

3.   Ethical arguments require universality.

4.   Any ethical argument proposed by an ethicist can be rejected if the ethicist does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.

5.   An ethicist who consistently acts in contradiction to his stated moral theories shows that he does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.

6.   Since this ethicist does not follow or understand the requirement of universality, none of his arguments or conclusions can be valid, since the concept of “validity” only applies to the methodology, not the conclusion.

7.   Such a person can no longer be called an ethicist, since he has shown by his actions that does not understand or follow the requirements of ethical arguments.

 

The analogy in science would be:

 

1.   Arguments can be true if they follow a consistent methodology; there is no such thing as “accidental validity.”

2.   Any argument proposed by a man can be rejected as invalid if he does not follow or understand a consistent methodology.

3.   Scientific arguments require conformity with the scientific method.

4.   Any scientific argument proposed by a scientist can be rejected if the scientist does not understand or follow the scientific method.

5.   A scientist who consistently acts in contradiction to the scientific method shows that he does not understand or follow the requirements of science.

6.   Since this scientist does not follow or understand the requirement of science, none of his arguments or conclusions can be valid, since the concept of “validity” only applies to the methodology, not the conclusion.

7.   Such a person can no longer be called a “scientist,” since he does not understand or follow the requirements of science.

 

 

 

 


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#2
Lians

Lians

  • 528 posts

Brilliant! This essay certainly takes arguments you've been making for years a step further. What I found particularly interesting about the Karl Marx video was the fact that nowhere in it did you say or imply, "Karl Marx was a monster and a hypocrite and therefore communist theory is invalid," yet people endlessly attacked the straw-man their guilty conscience had created. I say guilty conscience because it doesn't take an intelligent person to understand the simple distinction between an indication as opposed to proof of falsehood. You judging the character of a man against the background of his theories was too painful for those with one too many skeletons in their closet, and in their petty immaturity they lashed out at you. Good! Expose yourselves so we can clearly identify you! I'm eager to see how many more false moralists expose themselves through their reactions to this essay.


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#3
dnil

dnil
  • 2 posts

My moral theory: Posting on message boards is evil. The main thing that I would like to add is that ownership of ideas transfers.  So a good idea from a bad person can be claimed by a good person.  If Stefan has never once shared his feelings with his wife, you can skip everything he says about RTR.  But if other people are open in their relationships, and they are happy with it, you can then assess the validity of RTR.  

 

This is important for preserving good ideas.  You don't discount anarchy because a bunch of troublemakers got together and looted stores.  You just don't listen to what they have to say about anarchy.


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#4
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts

A very compelling read! However, I thought I would point out what I see as some potentially problematic arguments in your essay. I may be misunderstanding it, and if so please correct me. 

 

However, while it is a fallacy to reject a moral theory due to the moral hypocrisies of the theorist, there are two components to rejecting a theory. The first is to prove that the theory is necessarily and universally false, and the second is to reject the competence of the theorist.

 

 

I think it is adequate enough to prove that the theory is necessarily and universally false. Nothing has to be said about the competence of the theorist in order to reject something. There is a reason why it is a logical fallacy to reject a person's arguments without examining them for merit: it is not only intellectually lazy, but it allows a negative opinion of that person to dissuade you from attempting to understand/appreciate what could be sound arguments for that very behaviour that you find so objectionable. If you want to consider yourself open-minded, you cannot dismiss arguments from people who are doing things you don't think are right—you must instead evaluate the correctness of their arguments, or else you would remain religious forever, if that's how you started off, and you would never let go of false beliefs, because you would never examine challenges to them.

 

A doctor who smokes, and says that smoking is bad for everyone except himself, makes the same error [of rejecting the universality of his own statement].

 

 

Of course. But what about a doctor who admits that it is bad for everyone to smoke, including himself, but continues to smoke anyway, because he addicted, or because he values the comfort it gives him more than he values the length of his life? According to his own assessment, the doctor is admitting he is doing an unhealthy thing. He would therefore not be contradicting himself by smoking, and his statements about health would  still be valid. 

 

[…] in other words, the moment that we find emotionally significant conclusions, without reasoning from first principles, we can reject the entire philosophy. Philosophy, like science and mathematics, requires consistency; the moment that a significant inconsistency is revealed – and is rejected, suppressed or ignored by the thinker – we can reject the philosophy as a whole.

 

 

Let us say that I advocate the NAP (non-aggression principle). Now let us say that I do not follow it, and go around hitting people. And when you call me out for being inconsistent with my voiced theory, you are now saying that you can logically reject the philosophy I was advocating. So you are saying that the NAP is therefore wrong and should be rejected, by this reasoning. 

 

I think it is clear, through the above example, that a person's consistency with what they advocate, and what they actually are advocating, are two separate things, which need to be measured by separate standards. That is why it is a logical fallacy to treat them otherwise. 

 

So you must evaluate two things: 

 

1) Are they consistent with their ideas? (No. Okay, then they're hypocritical.)

 

and

 

2) Is there any merit to their ideas? (Maybe. Let's examine that further, using logic.)

 

Now I'll address your argument summary:

 

1.   Arguments can be true if they follow a consistent methodology; there is no such thing as “accidental validity.”

 

 

Agreed. They can be true.

 

2.   Any argument proposed by a man can be rejected as invalid if he does not follow or understand a consistent methodology.

 

 

We can reject his methodology, but not his argument. To reject his argument would be a logical fallacy, since the merit of his arguments is separate from his understanding and his adherence to a consistent methodology. For example, if I am a very wise philosopher, and make many correct and brilliant arguments, but then the next day I suffer a stroke and no longer understand my methodologies, nor follow them, that does not prove that my arguments are false and should be rejected.

 

3.   Ethical arguments require universality.

 

 

For the purposes of this analysis I won't object to this, since it is not relevant to my case. So, yes, agreed.

 

4.   Any ethical argument proposed by an ethicist can be rejected if the ethicist does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.

 

 

As demonstrated above, no—that would not be sound. If I advocate something you agree with, like the NAP, but I do not understand or follow it, that does not prove that the argument should be rejected. All it demonstrates is that I am not a trustworthy source of reason or consistency. But that has nothing (necessarily) to do with the merit of my arguments.

 

5.   An ethicist who consistently acts in contradiction to his stated moral theories shows that he does not understand or follow the requirement of universality.

 

 

This is false because he may both understand and follow the requirement of universality, as long as he is not advocating that he is virtuous. So, for example, let us say that he says that "the use of physical force, not used in self-defence, is wrong," and then he goes around hitting people. As long as he admits "I am a bad person," then he demonstrating both that he understands his stated moral theory, and secondly, that he is actually following it (in the sense that he is following his moral theory's conclusions on how to be bad).

 

6.   Since this ethicist does not follow or understand the requirement of universality, none of his arguments or conclusions can be valid, since the concept of “validity” only applies to the methodology, not the conclusion.

 

 

As previously stated above, if this reasoning was accepted, then the NAP could be deemed invalid.

 

7.   Such a person can no longer be called an ethicist, since he has shown by his actions that does not understand or follow the requirements of ethical arguments.

 

 

As previously stated above, he may both understand and be following his ethical arguments—he just may be following them with a different goal in mind. Following them as a guide to being bad, as opposed to good, for example. That does not invalidate his actual arguments about what is good and bad.

 

I can understand your desire to get around the ad hominem and tu quoque fallacies to save time, but you admit that "it is a fallacy to reject a moral theory due to the moral hypocrisies of the theorist," yet that is what you advocate in this essay. If you reject someone's arguments based on their hypocrisy, understanding, or any other personal trait, instead of the merit of their argument, then you are committing the ad hominem or tu quoque fallacies (since that is what they are). A lot of us here at FDR were introduced to Libertarianism based on Ayn Rand's philosophy. Even though she was hypocritical, she still made some worthwhile arguments which would be illogical to reject based on that fact. 


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#5
Lians

Lians

  • 528 posts

A very compelling read! However, I thought I would point out what I see as some potentially problematic arguments in your essay. I may be misunderstanding it, and if so please correct me. 

 

What is a moral nihilist doing in a thread about exposing false moralists? Also, why do you ask for correction on matters of morality when you don't accept morality?


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#6
RealP

RealP
  • 115 posts

What is a moral nihilist doing in a thread about exposing false moralists? Also, why do you ask for correction on matters of morality when you don't accept morality?

Already using the new tools, I love it  :D


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#7
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts


What is a moral nihilist doing in a thread about exposing false moralists? Also, why do you ask for correction on matters of morality when you don't accept morality?

 

According to the forum guidelines, under "Politeness" it states: 


    [*]Please try to focus criticism on the theory, and not the individual.
    [/list]

    Will this rule be changed? If that is how this board will be conducted from now on, I think the rules should reflect it. 

     

    Is it your position, Lians, that I am not allowed to have open and honest discussion about ideas on this forum, just because of my beliefs? As long as I am respectful, open to criticism, and try my best to have an intellectually honest conversation, I do not think that my beliefs should exclude me from the conversation. After all, that would mean I would never have any hope of changing my ideas, if I were shut out of all conversations with people who disagree with me. 

     

    And if you do not want to hear any ideas from people who believe differently than you, then I do not understand what sort of debates or discussions would be possible. You would simply be sitting around, agreeing with people who agree with you. If that's what you want to do, I respect that. But this is supposed to be "the largest philosophy conversation in the world", which is an impossible thing to claim if you were to exclude everyone but the minority of people who agree with everything you believe. 

     

    As far as your claim that I am asking "for correction on matters of morality when [I] don't accept morality" I would like to say that I accept logic, and am only asking for correction on matters of logic, if there are any that need to be addressed. 


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#8
Lians

Lians

  • 528 posts

According to the forum guidelines, under "Politeness" it states: 


    [*]Please try to focus criticism on the theory, and not the individual.
    [/list]

    Will this rule be changed? If that is how this board will be conducted from now on, I think the rules should reflect it. 

     

    Is it your position, Lians, that I am not allowed to have open and honest discussion about ideas on this forum, just because of my beliefs? As long as I am respectful, open to criticism, and try my best to have an intellectually honest conversation, I do not think that my beliefs should exclude me from the conversation. After all, that would mean I would never have any hope of changing my ideas, if I were shut out of all conversations with people who disagree with me. 

     

    And if you do not want to hear any ideas from people who believe differently than you, then I do not understand what sort of debates or discussions would be possible. You would simply be sitting around, agreeing with people who agree with you. If that's what you want to do, I respect that. But this is supposed to be "the largest philosophy conversation in the world", which is an impossible thing to claim if you were to exclude everyone but the minority of people who agree with everything you believe. 

     

    As far as your claim that I am asking "for correction on matters of morality when [I] don't accept morality" I would like to say that I accept logic, and am only asking for correction on matters of logic, if there are any that need to be addressed. 

 

You seem to be having a conversation with myself without requiring any of my input, and I certainly don't plan to disturb your monologue. I can't fence with ghosts anyway.

 

The following clarifications are for those who wish to learn from the rich example you've provided, and I'll be addressing you directly only because it's more convenient for me. I don't need to say much about the giant straw man that you intertwined with thin-veiled insults. It speaks for itself. All my remarks about you are supported by empirical evidence. You are a moral nihilist posting in a thread about exposing false moralists. You were asking for corrections on matters of morality--of which logic is a subset--while rejecting morality. All I did is ask why. Now compare my reply to everything that you implied about me. It's certainly not me who's disregarding the board guidelines.

 

No respectable scientist would argue scientific theories with people who reject the scientific method. Similarly, no moralist who values his sanity would argue moral theories with a moral nihilist. Since you reject the premises of morality, any syllogistic argument that relies on those premises is, automatically, in your eyes, false--regardless of its validity. In other words, you're not at all interested in logical arguments despite what you're saying. I must have struck a nerve when I implicitly asked you about your true intentions.

 

After all, that would mean I would never have any hope of changing my ideas, if I were shut out of all conversations with people who disagree with me.

 

No need to insult people's sensibility. Seven years of exposure to philosophy weren't enough to change your ideas. Frankly, I doubt there's much left to change.

 

Thank you for providing such a valuable example to support the arguments put forward in Stef's essay!


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#9
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

Noesis, did Lians do something wrong?


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#10
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts

You seem to be having a conversation with myself without requiring any of my input, and I certainly don't plan to disturb your monologue.

 

How so? I asked you a question and responded to yours. What more would you have liked me to have done in my response to you? If you let me know, I'll do my best.  

 

The following clarifications are for those who wish to learn from the rich example you've provided, and I'll be addressing you directly only because it's more convenient for me.

 

 

In other words... you don't wish to have a conversation with me? Or...?

 

 I don't need to say much about the giant straw man that you intertwined with thin-veiled insults. It speaks for itself. 

 

 

What giant straw man? And I assure you, I'm not insulting anyone here. I have no negative opinion toward you. I would prefer we could be friendly and talk about philosophy together, since this is supposed to be the place to do it. 

 

All my remarks about you are supported by empirical evidence.

 

 

Forgive me for correcting you, but "empirical evidence" is something that is not deduced through logic/reason alone, but instead is gathered through real-world experience and observation. (Feel free to look that up if you doubt me.) As far as I am aware, you have no empirical evidence about me.  ;) The fact that I am a moral nihilist is not empirical. In fact, you are taking my word on that. It is abstract/rational knowledge. I just thought I would point that out, since that is a very basic term you are misusing there, which you might like to know. 

 

You are a moral nihilist posting in a thread about exposing false moralists. You were asking for corrections on matters of morality--of which logic is a subset--while rejecting morality. All I did is ask why. Now compare my reply to everything that you implied about me. It's certainly not me who's disregarding the board guidelines.

 

 

I'm not trying to be a moralist, so it is impossible for me to be a "false moralist". I would like to expose false moralists as much as you, I expect. I think the teachings of religious leaders, teachers, parents, and so on can be very unfortunate and harmful. 

 

As for why I am here: I am a student of philosophy. I am always open to the possibility that I am wrong, and welcome rational discourse about it. I would never force anyone to debate with me, but gladly welcome voluntary participants. I enjoy philosophical discussions. They improve me, and I often learn something new. 

 

I write philosophy essays for school, and I would welcome criticism of my logic. I am no expert in logic, but I have taken a few logic courses (and done well). I simply am trying to be useful, as a reader and fellow philosophy-lover. My beliefs about morality do not handicap me from assessing what is logical and what is not. I am merely pointing out what I see as weak argumentation, as I would appreciate anyone else to do the same for my own arguments. Otherwise, why put them out there?

 

I hope you believe me when I say that I was not implying anything about you, but was simply taken aback by your response. How was I disregarding the board guidelines? 

 

 

No respectable scientist would argue scientific theories with people who reject the scientific method. Similarly, no moralist who values his sanity would argue moral theories with a moral nihilist. Since you reject the premises of morality, any syllogistic argument that relies on those premises is, automatically, in your eyes, false--regardless of its validity. In other words, you're not at all interested in logical arguments despite what you're saying. I must have struck a nerve when I implicitly asked you about your true intentions.

 

 

 

I'm confused because I didn't propose a debate about moral theories. All I did was critique the logic of Stefan's arguments (which were about logical fallacies—not moral theory.) 

 

I do not know what I have done to make you think that I would reject an argument "regardless of its validity". It is true that reject some premises of morality; but only because they are invalid, as far as I can see. If I were proven otherwise, I would not hesitate to thank the person who showed me my error, and gladly change my viewpoint.  

 

 

No need to insult people's sensibility. Seven years of exposure to philosophy weren't enough to change your ideas. Frankly, I doubt there's much left to change.

 

 

 

I truly intended no insult, and am sorry you took it that way. I am surprised how negative your opinion is of me, and hope that there is something I could do to change it. I would appreciate it if you could let me know what that is? 

 

I have been studying philosophy longer than seven years. I discovered Objectivism when I was sixteen, then changed my views to Libertarian, then found FDR and became an anarchist, and then changed my views again. My views on a variety of topics have changed over the past decade, and I expect they will continue to change. I think it is wise to welcome criticism of my ideas, which should aid in that process. 

Noesis, did Lians do something wrong?

 

No, of course not. 


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#11
Lians

Lians

  • 528 posts

So you insult me and then apologize for me taking it the wrong way? Have you no shred of integrity?


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#12
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

What does it mean when a "moral nihilist" gets upset with someone.  Is it possible? 


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#13
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts

So you insult me and then apologize for me taking it the wrong way? Have you no shred of integrity?

 

Once again, may I ask where I insulted you?

 

I have only positive reasons for being here. Anything else would be a waste of everyone's time, including mine. I mean no insult by my words. I was simply defending my choice to participate. 

 

Is there anything I can say that you would find acceptable? I am not trying to upset you. I am trying to peacefully express my ideas, and do not wish engage you if you find that unpleasant. 

What does it mean when a "moral nihilist" gets upset with someone.  Is it possible? 

 

I'm not upset. I don't get upset easily because I keep things in perspective, and I understand that everyone comes from a different viewpoint. I try to have as much empathy as possible with people who believe differently than I do, since I once believed differently than I do now, as we all have. Besides, everyone has reasons for their beliefs, and we cannot always see what those are just from distant impressions.

 

As for moral nihilists being capable of being upset... of course it's possible, since emotion doesn't necessarily have anything to do with morality. You can be upset that it is raining, or that someone is acting contrary to your preferences. *shrug*


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#14
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

Yes preferences are your own personal morality correct?  We don't even have to use the word "morality."  What you "prefer" to do is how you judge whether it is good for you to do something or not.


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#15
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

  • 2226 posts

Yes preferences are your own personal morality correct?

 

Morality isn't subjective. I'm only blunt on this point because the progress of the world is severely limited by the perpetuation of this falsehood. It's basically allowing religion and statism (another religion) to poison the well.


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Providing value doesn't justify providing anti-value. I won't pay to be censored.


#16
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

Yes, Morality implies universality.  Being able to be applied universally is part of the concept of morality.  Otherwise it's just preference.  Universal preference is equal to morality.  I'm trying to demonstrate that what an individual prefers, is what everyone prefers.  Therefore, what a moral nihilist prefers, is what everyone prefers. 

 

 

  • Individuals prefer life and happiness.
  • Every individual prefers the same thing.
  • If every individual prefers the same thing, then it is universal.
  • If it is universal, it is morality

Noesis is basically claiming that not everyone prefers what she prefers.  Which is untrue.


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#17
Noesis

Noesis

    Moral Nihilist

  • 403 posts
  • Individuals prefer life and happiness.
  • Every individual prefers the same thing.
  • If every individual prefers the same thing, then it is universal.
  • If it is universal, it is morality

Noesis is basically claiming that not everyone prefers what she prefers.  Which is untrue.

 

Umm... that is not Molyneux's line of reasoning as put forth in Universally Preferable Behaviour, but if you want to argue that, then maybe start a thread on it? Or perhaps write your own book on it.

 

I'm not sure if this is the correct thread to discuss that, either, but of course I could be wrong. Regardless, I do not intend to discuss it here, since I personally think the topic should stick to Molyneux's essay, in order to stay relevant.  


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#18
Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux
  • 19755 posts

That is not my reasoning at all - "everyone prefers the same thing"? Why on earth would we need philosophy then?


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#19
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

Umm... that is not Molyneux's line of reasoning as put forth in Universally Preferable Behaviour, but if you want to argue that, then maybe start a thread on it? Or perhaps write your own book on it.

 

I'm not sure if this is the correct thread to discuss that, either, but of course I could be wrong. Regardless, I do not intend to discuss it here, since I personally think the topic should stick to Molyneux's essay, in order to stay relevant.  

 

I'm not trying to re-state Stefan's reasoning.  I'm engaging with you in a conversation.  If my line of reasoning is invalid or missing something, then point it out, and I will correct it and thank you for it.

 

This is absolutely relevant to the topic.  Your claiming in your dialogue with Lians how something ought to be.  I don't see how you can do that and not believe in any universal principles. 

 

Also, Marx, as any ethical theorist,  claims how something ought to be.  Stefan calls him out on it by demonstrating that he is not applying it universally.  I am doing the same thing to you. 

 

I could have worded the "everyone prefers the same thing" better.  But as far as how one is to be regarded and dealt with by fellow man, everyone does prefer basically the same thing.  And the things that are different, I consider irrelevant in a discussion about morals

 

That is not my reasoning at all - "everyone prefers the same thing"? Why on earth would we need philosophy then?

 

Ok, I know I'm posting in a thread that concerns your extensive reasoning process on the personal character of those who put forth ethical rules.  However, I was not necessarily trying to summarize your method with that little snipet I wrote above.  I was more or less thinking while typing.

 

In spite of that, I think it's valid to assert that we both want to feel a similar way when listening to music.  For you Queen accomplishes that, for me, it could be something else (although Queen does fill certain aesthetic needs that I enjoy).

 

Also, we both want to enjoy a good meal when we sit down to eat.  The list goes on.  I think you would find that we have thousands of preferences in common.

 

We need philosophy because most people don't realize that. 


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#20
Noesis

Noesis

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I'm not trying to re-state Stefan's reasoning.  I'm engaging with you in a conversation. 

 

I would like to respectfully decline to engage with you about your own personal reasoning here in this thread. However, if you would like to discuss your own reasoning with me privately, I would be happy to continue that discussion there.  


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#21
jpahmad

jpahmad
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Understood.  I will e-mail you privately if I feel like continuing this particular discussion.  Let me keep it relevant and point out where your logic is flawed in your critique of Stefan's reasoning.  You wrote this below:

 

 

 

Of course. But what about a doctor who admits that it is bad for everyone to smoke, including himself, but continues to smoke anyway, because he addicted, or because he values the comfort it gives him more than he values the length of his life? According to his own assessment, the doctor is admitting he is doing an unhealthy thing. He would therefore not be contradicting himself by smoking, and his statements about health would  still be valid. 

 

 

 

 

Behavior is king.  It's not what you say, but how you behave. 

 

If the doctor smokes, it is because he values it.  If he values it, then it is good for him.  If it is good for him, but not everyone else, than it is not universal.  If it is not universal, it is invalid as a ethical theory. 

 

Actually, now that I think of it, it depends on how we define health. 


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#22
Noesis

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Behavior is king.  It's not what you say, but how you behave. 

 

If the doctor smokes, it is because he values it.  If he values it, then it is good for him.  If it is good for him, but not everyone else, than it is not universal.  If it is not universal, it is invalid as a ethical theory. 

 

Actually, now that I think of it, it depends on how we define health. 

 

There is a flaw in your reasoning that "if he values it, then it is good for him". People value all sorts of things which they will admit they know are bad for them in various ways: emotionally, nutritionally, physically, etc.

 

The doctor can value smoking for the comfort it brings him, for example, even while he knows that it is unhealthy. 


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#23
jpahmad

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There is a flaw in your reasoning that "if he values it, then it is good for him". People value all sorts of things which they will admit they know are bad for them in various ways: emotionally, nutritionally, physically, etc.

 

The doctor can value smoking for the comfort it brings him, for example, even while he knows that it is unhealthy. 

 

When you say "not good for him"  what do you mean?  And also, please define "healthy."  Otherwise we're just going to go in circles

 


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#24
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

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If the doctor smokes, it is because he values it.  If he values it, then it is good for him.  If it is good for him, but not everyone else, than it is not universal.  If it is not universal, it is invalid as a ethical theory. 

 

Smoking is not an ethical theory because it has nothing to do with human interaction.

 

When I challenged your claim that morality is subjective, it had nothing to do with universality. As I understand it, self-ownership combined with people not being fundamentally different in a way that this wouldn't apply to everybody means everybody owns themselves. If everybody owns themselves, then theft, assault, rape, and murder are immoral. This is no more an opinion than 2+2=4 could be described as personal math.


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Providing value doesn't justify providing anti-value. I won't pay to be censored.


#25
jpahmad

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Smoking is not an ethical theory because it has nothing to do with human interaction.

 

Correct.  I should have said that "therefore it cannot be universal that smoking is bad for one's health."

 

 

 

.

 

Smoking is not an ethical theory because it has nothing to do with human interaction.

 

When I challenged your claim that morality is subjective, it had nothing to do with universality. As I understand it, self-ownership combined with people not being fundamentally different in a way that this wouldn't apply to everybody means everybody owns themselves. If everybody owns themselves, then theft, assault, rape, and murder are immoral. This is no more an opinion than 2+2=4 could be described as personal math.

 

I'm not claiming that morality is subjective.  If I accidentally implied that, I didn't mean to.  I agree with you on morality being objective. 


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#26
Prairie

Prairie
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I see the essay's main purpose to be to give people a tool to reliably reject arguments that are likely to be invalid but be misleading and deceptive. Rejecting the argument doesn't mean rejecting the conclusion, just viewing the conclusion as no more likely true than that typed by monkeys at typewriters. Claims of ad hominem or tu quoque aim at claiming that a conclusion is false due to the to character of the person making, but that's not what's being described here, only determining that there's nothing worth pursuing.

The main thing that I would like to add is that ownership of ideas transfers. So a good idea from a bad person can be claimed by a good person. If Stefan has never once shared his feelings with his wife, you can skip everything he says about RTR. But if other people are open in their relationships, and they are happy with it, you can then assess the validity of RTR. This is important for preserving good ideas. You don't discount anarchy because a bunch of troublemakers got together and looted stores. You just don't listen to what they have to say about anarchy.

In this hypothetical example, Stefan not following RTR means that any argument he makes for it is invalid, and thus we don't get anything useful about RTR from Stefan. The other people following RTR can make valid arguments for it, and thus their arguments are of use.

But what about a doctor who admits that it is bad for everyone to smoke, including himself, but continues to smoke anyway, because he addicted, or because he values the comfort it gives him more than he values the length of his life? According to his own assessment, the doctor is admitting he is doing an unhealthy thing. He would therefore not be contradicting himself by smoking, and his statements about health would still be valid.

His argument would be invalid if he were saying that nobody should smoke, that there's no reason for anyone to smoke, but he still smoked anyway. But if he argued that it wasn't physically healthy to smoke, and he smoked, the argument wouldn't necessarily be invalid because he might be choosing to sacrifice some of his physical health for the emotional benefits smoking gave him.

Let us say that I advocate the NAP (non-aggression principle). Now let us say that I do not follow it, and go around hitting people. And when you call me out for being inconsistent with my voiced theory, you are now saying that you can logically reject the philosophy I was advocating. So you are saying that the NAP is therefore wrong and should be rejected, by this reasoning.

You'd reject that person's argument for the NAP as invalid. As for the NAP, you'd have nothing useful about it so it would be like something a monkey typed out by chance.
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#27
jpahmad

jpahmad
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Thanks Prairie, you summarized it quite clearly.  I understand it completely now.


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#28
Noesis

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You'd reject that person's argument for the NAP as invalid. As for the NAP, you'd have nothing useful about it so it would be like something a monkey typed out by chance.

 

This conception of it doesn't seem to characterize the matter accurately, because it's not necessarily as random as "something a monkey typed out by chance". 

 

To return to the example of the doctor: he spent years in medical school learning, and we can suppose that he also has years of experience with patients, having seen the damage done to lungs from the patients who have smoked. This makes him an expert in the field of health. [I will define "health" as "the state of being free from illness or injury", by the way.] He's not just some random person off the street who has no clue how the body works or what it needs.

 

The fact that he still smokes himself (and acknowledges that it is unhealthy for him), does not demonstrate whatsoever that his conclusions and opinions about the subject of health are "random" or "chance". To think so would be a fallacy.

 

Similarly, for my example of someone who understands and promotes the NAP, but does not follow it (because perhaps they have an impulse control problem, or they believe they are evil), their perfect conception of the NAP, how it works, what the theory is, and what it is based upon—these are things that are impossibly known through "random chance". 

 

You say that my not following the NAP means that I "have nothing useful about it"—I am assuming you meant "nothing useful to say about it", but please correct me if I am wrong—but that is clearly not true. If I understand the NAP clearly, and promote it, but I just do not personally follow it... those are two very separate things. Obviously I would be an excellent source of information about it, regardless of what I personally do. 

 

You accept information from people all the time in real life, without asking them if they follow their own advice. For example, if you had a financial advisor, they might advise you to cut down on things you don't need—which is good advice—but you do not then ask them if they do the same thing. Why? Because it is irrelevant to whether or not their ideas are good ideas in terms of the goal they are meant to help achieve.


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#29
jpahmad

jpahmad
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To return to the example of the doctor: he spent years in medical school learning, and we can suppose that he also has years of experience with patients, having seen the damage done to lungs from the patients who have smoked. This makes him an expert in the field of health. [I will define "health" as "the state of being free from illness or injury", by the way.] He's not just some random person off the street who has no clue how the body works or what it needs.

 

 

 

Your definition of health is circular.  "Free from illness" is essentially saying the same thing as "free from being not-healthy."

 

Also, someone could have an emotional illness.  If they cancer free, but have depression, are they healthy?

 

Being healthy implies achieving a certain longevity of life and a certain quality of life. 


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#30
Prairie

Prairie
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You'd reject that person's argument for the NAP as invalid. As for the NAP, you'd have nothing useful about it so it would be like something a monkey typed out by chance.

This conception of it doesn't seem to characterize the matter accurately, because it's not necessarily as random as "something a monkey typed out by chance".

I agree, and had decided not to elaborate on this in the previous posting. The way I see it, someone who preaches something like the NAP but willfully doesn't follow it, it's likely that what they're preaching seems like a consistent, valid argument, but has flaws that are difficult to detect and thus make it a dangerous to take seriously. People who practice evil are a good source of this. Again, this doesn't mean that the NAP is invalid, just that someone preaching but willfully not practicing it is someone to be treated like fire.

The fact that he still smokes himself (and acknowledges that it is unhealthy for him), does not demonstrate whatsoever that his conclusions and opinions about the subject of health are "random" or "chance". To think so would be a fallacy.

I agree, and I didn't dispute this in my previous post, where I gave the specific example of him choosing to smoke despite its negative effect on his physical health. The example where he is a hypocrite and thus calls into question his advice is when he claims that smoking is bad for one's happyness, that there is no reason for anyone to smoke, that it doesn't offer any good whatsoever (despite the fact that people choose to smoke because they get some enjoyment out of it), and then smokes. I saw Stefan's goal to give a tool so that the capable people in his audience could get distracted and mislead less by invalid arguments made by hypocrites and manipulators. There's a tendency to see any argument made anywhere as requiring complete analysis and examination before it can be passed over. The very thought of ignoring it is seen as a failing on one's part, as a claim that the argument is wrong. He gave an example of fencing with bumper stickers, which captures this distraction from important things well. I see the tool as ultimately in the practical realm, a way of gaining further confidence that something isn't worth one's time. I take it that he aimed to show that the argument isn't just likely invalid, but is provably invalid, but given that I have limited time, I have no need to establish certainty, so I haven't spent the time trying to grasp the nuances of that part of his argument.
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#31
Noesis

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Your definition of health is circular.  "Free from illness" is essentially saying the same thing as "free from being not-healthy."

 

Also, someone could have an emotional illness.  If they cancer free, but have depression, are they healthy?

 

Being healthy implies achieving a certain longevity of life and a certain quality of life. 

 

I got that definition from the Oxford English Dictionary. A definition is not an argument, and so cannot be "circular". All it has to do to be a successful definition is to outline what it is, and/or what it is not

 

Obviously "illness" can be taken to include emotional, physical, and mental illnesses. 

 

I disagree that being healthy implies achieving a certain longevity of life, since I can be perfectly healthy up until I get hit by a bus. As for "a certain quality of life", that is addressed in the definition I provided.

 

If you would like to provide an alternative definition, then please feel free. Then just insert it into my last post, and you should then have no further problem with it, I hope.

 

 

 

________________________

 

 

 

 

The way I see it, someone who preaches something like the NAP but willfully doesn't follow it, it's likely that what they're preaching seems like a consistent, valid argument, but has flaws that are difficult to detect and thus make it a dangerous to take seriously. [...] Again, this doesn't mean that the NAP is invalid, just that someone preaching but willfully not practicing it is someone to be treated like fire.

 

Multiple things can be considered "dangerous", for various reasons. I think it could be just as dangerous to advocate the use of logical fallacies to dismiss what could otherwise be perfectly sound arguments. That someone "is someone to be treated like fire" is something that is based on many factors, I would hope, and not merely just their hypocrisy. Because, like those logical fallacies outline, it is not sound thinking to make that conclusion on that basis alone

 

I am an advocate of sound thinking above all else. It is a danger to practice unsound thinking, in my opinion. 

 

I saw Stefan's goal to give a tool so that the capable people in his audience could get distracted and mislead less by invalid arguments made by hypocrites and manipulators. 

 

"Capable people"? Who are you implying are "incapable people" in his audience? I don't understand what you mean by that.

 

And you already agreed that the arguments made by hypocrites were not necessarily less valid, so it does not follow that taking this advice would result in being less "distracted" by that.

 

 

 

There's a tendency to see any argument made anywhere as requiring complete analysis and examination before it can be passed over. The very thought of ignoring it is seen as a failing on one's part, as a claim that the argument is wrong. He gave an example of fencing with bumper stickers, which captures this distraction from important things well. 

 

I agree with the sentiment that time should not be wasted on poor arguments, but as long as you keep your thinking sharp (by not engaging in lazy thinking and logically fallacies), then you will improve your efficiency in being able to spot a poor argument, regardless of the source of the argument. That is the better way to train the mind, because it puts you on your guard against faulty arguments—not people—so that you can spot errors in the thinking of people you love and enjoy, as well as errors in the thinking of people you disagree with. 

 

A bumper sticker is easy to dismiss. A convoluted argument may not be as easy to dismiss, but you will learn something by working through it, if it really isn't so easy to spot where it goes wrong. Because obviously if it is hard to find what is wrong with it, then the argument has redeeming qualities even if it is wrong, as it has been put in such a way that other people will accept that argument. 

 

 

 

I see the tool as ultimately in the practical realm, a way of gaining further confidence [bold added] that something isn't worth one's time. I take it that he aimed to show that the argument isn't just likely invalid, but is provably invalid [...]

 

You need no such "further confidence" that something isn't worth your time, and it would be a mistake to take hypocrisy as a sign of "further confidence", as it doesn't necessarily indicate that it is not worth your time (which you have agreed with). 

 

"Probably invalid" is dangerous to accept, because it is intellectually lazy. It is not philosophically correct. Are we doing philosophy here, or are we avoiding extra thinking because it takes effort? If you want to do real philosophy, you have got to commit to doing the hard thinking! Otherwise you might as well pick a different passtime, like knitting.

 

Philosophy is all about separating what we actually know with certainty, from what we do not know with certainty. This is done so that we can avoid dangerous errors in thinking, which these two logical fallacies in question may lead to. Therefore, although I sympathize with the wish to save time/energy on philosophical thinking, I would never want to save time/energy at the expense of doing accurate philosophical reasoning. To me that is not worth it, and it should not be worth it to anyone else who wants to have confidence in the conclusions they accept. 

 

It is easy enough to dismiss bad arguments when you become familiar with the rules of logic. One of the rules of logic is to not commit logical fallacies. That seems pretty straightforward to me. 


Edited by Noesis, 09 April 2014 - 08:03 PM.

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#32
Prairie

Prairie
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Noesis, you like too many others on this board seem to want to just disagree and pick things apart, without engaging what is being said on context. It's like philosophy/logic is your only tool, so you just do the only thing you know how to do. The only two paragraphs where you actually seem to have responded in context:

I agree with the sentiment that time should not be wasted on poor arguments, but as long as you keep your thinking sharp (by not engaging in lazy thinking and logically fallacies), then you will improve your efficiency in being able to spot a poor argument, regardless of the source of the argument. That is the better way to train the mind, because it puts you on your guard against faulty arguments—not people—so that you can spot errors in the thinking of people you love and enjoy, as well as errors in the thinking of people you disagree with. A bumper sticker is easy to dismiss. A convoluted argument may not be as easy to dismiss, but you will learn something by working through it, if it really isn't so easy to spot where it goes wrong. Because obviously if it is hard to find what is wrong with it, then the argument has redeeming qualities even if it is wrong, as it has been put in such a way that other people will accept that argument.

Stefan's audience is largely people who (like pretty much everyone else on the planet), have been fucked up by abusive parents and other adults, and are wanting to see through the lies and misdirections handed to them. Many are capable thinkers but still get mislead by enticing-but-invalid arguments from hypocrites. Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff would be very valuable. I see Stefan as offering a tool that allows one to do so in a more reliable way than merely the feeling that someone's argument is invalid. And again, this isn't about dismissing the ideas being pushed by such people, as far as I can tell.
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#33
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 660 posts

Noesis, you said:

 

"I disagree that being healthy implies achieving a certain longevity of life, since I can be perfectly healthy up until I get hit by a bus. As for "a certain quality of life", that is addressed in the definition I provided."

 

A said certain longevity, meaning, it is to be determined.  I don't know what would be a good number.  10 years, 20 years, 80 years?  But it has to be a factor when assessing the health of someone.  You can't say a baby is healthy if it croaks one minute after it comes out of the womb.  Can you? 

 

As per your second contention, If we agree that being healthy includes the category of mental health, than someone could be favoring their "mental" health by smoking, over their "physical" health.  This is what smokers do every time they go have a smoke break, right?

 

So, does one trump the other?


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#34
Gotzendammerung

Gotzendammerung
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The irrebuttable demonstration of the flawed logic contain in the sentence : "If you're not putting into practice your own objective knowledge about X - automatically makes you irrelevant about X" - leads us inevitably to this reflexion :

 

You mustn't not confuse the psychological (individual, context/specific, etc.) stuff with the objective one.  

 

If, for example, you're lacking of dopamine in your brain - which makes you all-the-time needy for more and more pleasure and luxuries, the fact that this neurodegenerative disease doesn't necessarily flaws your capacity to absorb and identify knowledge. Like we've just seen, it can of course impact and/or influence your further use of the information, - but the data itself, if logically demonstrated and scientifically proved and tested, - is intrinsically correct in an objective sense.  

 

Furthermore, I will argue that the Stef's position is a little bit hysterical in that case ; in his latest addition on the subject, - isn't he upholding the argument that if you're not individually (meaning : in your personal daily-ordinary life) following your own advice build upon the data you possess about a particular topic - that's immediately invalidating this data itself ? 

 

In the "APPENDIX A : UPB in a nutshell" Molyneux write, quote : "3. Those theories that conform to logic are called "valid". According to this statement, - we should then agree that "logic" must precede "action" (which is completely contradicting the original theory stating that logic is only the formalized language of what is concretely happening) - since the actual behaviour of our smoking Doctor seems to be only invalidated by the statement that it doesn't conform to the so-called "logic". As I understand it, the confusion lay in what is often call an "ex-post-facto" fallacy : we all agree (or I hope so) that everything we think can and must be referred to some experiences or ours or to existential-objective reality, - since there's no "primacy of consciousness" in any way possible. From there, - we can define logic as the best possible (according to our intrinsic capacities) organized form of the information we've been in contact with or that we dispose at that time. Keyword's here is : organization. When you smoke only for pleasure or as an old (bad, unconscious) habit you contract at school through peer-pressure - you must admit that your behaviour is not objectively motivated, and then, corollary : is operationally disorganized. I must go further, - since our doctor could logically argue that he's perfectly aware of the cost/benefits of his action. This last remark only prove my argument in the sense that the fact being highlighted here is : you can be normally and objectively conscious that you behave "dangerously" or improperly, - without giving a shit about this reality ! Like I will concede it later, - many individuals who behave in an erratic manner will tend to not be aware of their decadence, but still this is a context/specific observation which cannot serves as a logical rebuttal of my argument. Perhaps what is uselessly complicating the case is that we're using as an example a "non-neutral" type : a Doctor. Although it seems that the Doctor "must know" since he's a professional, - the ordinary lay-man inversely suffer the prejudice of being screwed by his natural ignorance. The important fact that we must keep in head is : logically speaking, - regardless of who's being tested, the methodology of knowing remain the same. If something can be perceived and mindfully interpreted (and I assume that it can be) - then it simple : it will be. It is only in our individual/psychological inconsistencies and delirium tremens that we're divergents, - only in what we do not purposefully processed. But for now, in order to cement our argument, we must remake the genealogy of all objective knowledge in accordance with the facts :

 

1. "Existence exists".

1.1 Then, - facts, data, knowledge, etc., are given (and accessible) to the human mind in a simple manner  ;

 

2. Since you're a conscious being, - you have the possibility to grasp this information.

2.1. First, - you perceive it its most obvious form.

2.2. Then, - you begin to analyze, question, organize, conceptualize the data ;

 

3. You're now disposing of an objective knowledge about the information you've been in contact with.

 

Now, the point is : it is logically possible to form an accurate (meaning : intelligible and objective) proposition about X without any regards to how you behave related to your knowing of this information. "How you behave related to" - is a fact of individual, context/specific choice, conditioned by an incommensurable conjecture of actual factors in your past and present life. The critics that Molyneux address to Ayn Rand"s "go-Galt" style of thought are even giving me reason : in "Galt's speech", - she's massively discrediting everybody who doesn't logically accept her premises, without any regards to, for example, the childhood of her pseudo-adversaries, or the actual individual (familial, professional, etc.) environment in which they're acting. Apparently, it is often the case that individuals stuck in a dysfunctional environment will probably tend to behave improperly (since the information to which you're related and consciously or unconsciously grasping is a fortiori framing your Weltanschauug) - but, it doesn't in any way invalidate the fact that if you're knowledge has been instructed in the correct process-form stated above, without any consideration to how you're actually behaving or to what you can momentarily profess with your mouth - there's is no contradiction assuming that you can perfectly be able to understand objectively Galt's propositions. The present reality that you're not following them doesn't at all imply or suppose that you're not understanding them properly. 

 

It only say one thing : that you don't value them as an individual in the specific context of your present-day life. But, there is an exception, in the case that you're may be not conscious of your actual behaviour since you're sick, depressed, etc. ; in this reality, - the problem is not that you don't value the premises for yourself, but that you're not more psychologically able to refer to it and eventually to put it into practice. The last case still is not a logical rebuttal of you're technical-theoretical understanding of the problem. If it would be, - then Molyneux would have totally lost his time and his intelligence for the last seven years, since the action of debunking "psycho-logically confused" individuals will only lead to more confusion, because as in the Ayn Rand's pessimistic paradigm - their person would stay intrinsically flawed.

 

But, of course - it is very clear that the true underlying premise that Molyneux is arguing here is that : its easier to dismiss the confused people and to go directly with the one who're actually succeeding, - which is a complete ironical rebuttal of his own philosophical standpoint and "morally impossible mission" to clean the individual of his phylogenetic's dirt !

 

Am I not myself, since I joined the community, - violently downvoted and discredited in my own communication-style ? Which is a funny corollary of the situation we're debating here : is it logically accurate to dismiss someone basing ourself solely on our psychological's reaction, moral discomfort and, ultimately, our "bad feeling" towards his (I must admit it) histrionic attitude ? Is it a sufficient "proof" to authoritatively invalidate all of my arguments, and then (like someone would say) : "Move on to the next caller"? To my own objective conscience, - I'm not doubting of my intellectual abilities an clearly-stated argument - since the fact that I'm writing down this response to an objective debate in an comprehensible manner prove that I at least understand that I'm evolving in a debate and that, if I want to be listen to, - I must express myself eloquently and intelligibly.

 

But - do you realize that through what I should called the "Molyneux's razor", my argument has no value since some FDR's "apparatchiks" have spontaneously convince themselves that I'm just an irrecoverably flawed "troll" ! Masters ! - be sure that I'm absolutely self-aware of what's going on, fiercely embodying the "Molyneux's appeal to be inconvenient", - and that I will be please to discuss what I said prior in my own cartoonish and colourful style, - since it doesn't flaw my arguments in any way !


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#35
marius

marius
  • 67 posts

how can i get the text version. i think the post is not complete, and there is no doc attached.


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