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Evil and the Man: Ethics Versus Empirical History


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50 replies to this topic

#36
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

Marx didn't follow the scientific method when formulating his theory, therefore, his theory should be ignored.  That's all Stefan in trying to say.


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#37
Prairie

Prairie
  • 138 posts
I don't think he was suggesting to apply the scientific method to everything, just that something claiming to be science must follow the method and the person who generated it must understand the scientific method and be able to apply it. Lacking these, whatever the person produces that's supposedly science can be ignored. Science only applies to things whose conditions can be reliably reproduced at will repeatedly. Marx was putting forth a moral argument, and invalid as Stefan explained because Marx didn't apply it to himself and tried to hide evidence of it.
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#38
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

Marx was putting forth a moral argument, and invalid as Stefan explained because Marx didn't apply it to himself and tried to hide evidence of it.

 

Yes, that's it.  Thanks for fiixng that for me. :)

 

What is the name of the method use to prove a moral argument?  If it's not the "scientific" method, then is there another word we could use?  Just "logic" maybe, I don't know :huh:


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#39
TimS

TimS
  • 32 posts

Stefan's argument generates contradictions. To see this, first put it in slightly different form (although the "science" form also works). Then recall that theism and agnosticism are logically/scientifically false beliefs. 3. Logic is the use of valid reasoning (and is employed by logicians). 4. Any argument proposed by a logician can be rejected if the logician does not understand or follow the requirements of logic. 5. A logician who consistently acts in contradiction to logic shows that he does not understand or follow the requirements logic. 6. Since this logician does not follow or understand the requirements of logic, 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 logician, since he has shown by his actions that does not understand or follow the requirements of logic.   Scientists and mathematicians are logicians. Apply the argument to Kurt Godel: 1. Did Godel consistently act in contradiction to logic? 2. Yes, he believed in God. 3. Therefore none of Godel's arguments or conclusions can be valid and he was not a mathematician. 4. Nevertheless, some of Godel's arguments and conclusions have been independently verified to be both valid and true. 5. The argument is proven false. Apply the argument to James Tour: 1. Does Tour consistently act in contradiction to logic? 2. Yes, he believes in God. 3. Therefore none of Tour's arguments or conclusions (research) can be valid and he is not a scientist. 4. Nevertheless, some of Tour's arguments and conclusions have been independently verified to be both valid and true. 5. The argument is proven false.  

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.

Special pleading? Throw away the books, look to the man. We may only evaluate Einstein's theories after having confirmed his logical and scientific compentency. Einstein consistently professed agnosticism, a view that is logically and scientifically false. Therefore none of his conclusions can be valid and we should discard his work without investigation.  

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.

Scribbles? Let's try a closer comparison: a moralist who consistently practices moral inconsistency can be dismissed without examination - in the same way, a scientist who consistently affirms fallacies and makes un-empirical claims can be dismissed without examination, since he has proven his contempt for logic, which is a necessary - but not sufficient - requirement for any valid scientific theory.

 

Thus proving logical or scientific inconsistencies in the life of a scientist is sufficient cause to reject his argument his arguments as a whole. I eagerly await objections.


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#40
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

 

 

Stefan's argument generates contradictions. To see this, first put it in slightly different form (although the "science" form also works). Then recall that theism and agnosticism are logically/scientifically false beliefs.  

 

How is agnosticism a false belief?  I didn't even know it was a belief. 

Stefan's argument generates contradictions.

5. A logician who consistently acts in contradiction to logic shows that he does not understand or follow the requirements logic. Apply the argument to Kurt Godel: 1. Did Godel consistently act in contradiction to logic? 2. Yes, he believed in God. 3. Therefore none of Godel's arguments or conclusions can be valid and he was not a mathematician. 4. Nevertheless, some of Godel's arguments and conclusions have been independently verified to be both valid and true. 5. The argument is proven false.

 

Hmmm, nice try. 

 

I do recall Stefan stating that behavior is what is relevant.  Because it is the only thing that can be scientifically measured. 

 

A belief is not an action

 

I could believe that I'm going to die on Christmas day in the year 2060, but, unless it effects how I behave, then it is irrelevant. 

 

 

I'm not writing off your argument yet, but you would have to use only behavior in your argument, not belief.  Try it again.

Oh, also, how do you know that Godel believed in a god?  He might of said he did, but, that doesn't mean he really meant it.  In older times, if you admitted that you didn't believe in god, then you could be ostricized, cut off from employment, or killed.  So,  I wouldn't take their word for it.

 

Think about it, why would someone with the mind of Godel believe in Santa Clause?


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#41
TimS

TimS
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How is agnosticism a false belief?  I didn't even know it was a belief. 

 

Source: Stefan's Against the gods?

 

[color=rgb(90,90,90);font-family:Verdana, tahoma, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;background-color:rgb(251,253,254)]I'm not writing off your argument yet, but you would have to use only behavior in your argument, not belief.  Try it again.[/color]

 

Oh, also, how do you know that Godel believed in a god?  He might of said he did, but, that doesn't mean he really meant it. 

 

Godel acted on his "belief in God". He argued for the existence of an afterlife, read the bible regularly and wrote a proof for god's existence. I was not considering beliefs held in secret that do not influence a person's acts.

 

In older times, if you admitted that you didn't believe in god, then you could be ostricized, cut off from employment, or killed.  So,  I wouldn't take their word for it.

 

Claiming that you can consistently act on illogical beliefs and still be a mathemetician directly contradicts Stefan's argument. Either his argument is universally true, or it's false; you can't make exceptions. Regardless, without evidence that Godel faced any of these social pressures (after all, he lived in the 20th century, in the West) this is hardly a serious objection.

 

Think about it, why would someone with the mind of Godel believe in Santa Clause?

 

Is it okay to apply this principle universally? "Think about it, why would someone with the mind of Karl Marx believe in systematic slavery?"

 

 


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#42
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Godel acted on his "belief in God". He argued for the existence of an afterlife, read the bible regularly and wrote a proof for god's existence. I was not considering beliefs held in secret that do not influence a person's acts.

 

 

I suppose you have a point :mellow:

but....

As long as Godel used the scientific method, nothing more and nothing less, in contriving his mathematical theorems, then he didn't do anything inconsistent.

scientific method, mathematical logic, whatever

The reason why Marx's private actions invalidated his methodology is because he was dealing with ethics, not math. :D

And in ethics, he must account for all human behavior, including his own.  He didn't.  Therefore, his methodology is invalid.


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#43
TimS

TimS
  • 32 posts

As long as Godel used the scientific method, nothing more and nothing less, in contriving his mathematical theorems, then he didn't do anything inconsistent.

Stop giving Godel preferential treatment. You can't make up one special standard for theist scientists/mathematicians, another standard for atheist scientists/mathematicians, another standard for statists, another standard for murders, and another standard for people who hate Justin Bieber. You must use the same standard for everyone.


If Godel (logician) gets an exception for illogical behavior in his personal life, then Marx (moralist) gets an exception for immoral/illogical behavior in his personal life. (Remember that philosophy, math, science, and ethics are all branches of logic.)



If Tour (scientist) gets an exception for unscientific/illogical behavior in his personal life, then Marx (moralist) gets an exception for immoral/illogical behavior in his personal life.



If Marx doesn't get a pass, then nobody gets a pass.
 

Be consistent.
 

The reason why Marx's private actions invalidated his methodology is because he was dealing with ethics, not math. :D

And in ethics, he must account for all human behavior, including his own. He didn't. Therefore, his methodology is invalid.

In addition to the above, I respond with a quote from Stefan (and a small modification by me):
 

Once a scientist has created and maintained a personal exception for his general rule of physics (“I can fly!” “I can believe in God!”), 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.


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#44
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

Stop giving Godel preferential treatment. You can't make up one special standard for theist scientists/mathematicians, another standard for atheist scientists/mathematicians, another standard for statists, another standard for murders, and another standard for people who hate Justin Bieber. You must use the same standard for everyone.
 If Godel (logician) gets an exception for illogical behavior in his personal life, then Marx (moralist) gets an exception for immoral/illogical behavior in his personal life. (Remember that philosophy, math, science, and ethics are all branches of logic.)
 
If Tour (scientist) gets an exception for unscientific/illogical behavior in his personal life, then Marx (moralist) gets an exception for immoral/illogical behavior in his personal life.
 
If Marx doesn't get a pass, then nobody gets a pass.
  Be consistent.  

In addition to the above, I respond with a quote from Stefan (and a small modification by me):  

 

TimS, if you are in highschool, and you turn in a geometry test displaying correct deductive reasoning and correct answers, then according to your reasoning, the teacher can give you an F if he finds out that you believe in god. 

 

Yes, that's right, this would be absurd.  Just as blowing off Godels mathematical deductions would be absurd because he read the bible and argued for the existence of a diety


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#45
TimS

TimS
  • 32 posts

The reasoning is Stefan's, not mine.

 

All I did is apply Stefan's reasoning to a case he failed to consider, and showed (as you agree) that the reasoning generates a contradictory (false) conclusion.

 

TimS, if you are in highschool, and you turn in a geometry test displaying correct deductive reasoning and correct answers, then according to your reasoning, the teacher can give you an F if he finds out that you believe in god. 

 

Yes, that's right, this would be absurd.  Just as blowing off Godels mathematical deductions would be absurd because he read the bible and argued for the existence of a diety

 

And it is absurd to blow off Marx's ethical arguments on the basis of his personal immorality, because the argument in favor of doing so cannot be applied universally.

 

If it is logically necessary to discredit Marx's work on his personal moral failures, Godel's must be discredited on his personal logical failures. If you make exceptions it is not logically necessary; it is merely a rule of thumb which can be applied or ignored ad hoc. (As you are doing.)


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#46
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

 

The reasoning is Stefan's, not mine.

 

All I did is apply Stefan's reasoning to a case he failed to consider, and showed (as you agree) that the reasoning generates a contradictory (false) conclusion.

 

 

And it is absurd to blow off Marx's ethical arguments on the basis of his personal immorality, because the argument in favor of doing so cannot be applied universally.

 

If it is logically necessary to discredit Marx's work on his personal moral failures, Godel's must be discredited on his personal logical failures. If you make exceptions it is not logically necessary; it is merely a rule of thumb which can be applied or ignored ad hoc. (As you are doing.)

 

 

No, no, no...

 

TimS, you are comparing apples and oranges.  Stef's argument is that in the case of ethics, which concerns what one ought to do, one must encompass all human behavior in his/her analysis, including the behavior of the human doing the study.  This is of course necessary to make it universal.

 

With mathematical deductions, you just have to be logical from the beginning of the deduction process to the end in order for your conclusion to be valid.  For example:  2+2=4, 10 - 6=4, therefore, 2+2 = 10 - 6.  That is a logically valid deduction that anyone can follow regardless of whether the person who wrote in on the blackboard is an theist or not. 

 

 

Now, If I were in science class, and I turned in a paper that stated that grass never grows over 2 inches tall, then I would have to somehow justify to the teacher why the grass outside my classroom window is 6 inches tall.  I would have to either change my theory or declare that what is outside the window isn't grass.  This would be necessary in order to get anyone to take me seriously. 

 

 

Now I'm in ethics class.  I turn in a paper that states that it is never good for anyone to spank their kids.  My teacher asks me to explain how I gathered my evidence.  I say that I studied samples of people from all over the world and they all confirmed my theory.  My teacher then asks me how I know whether or not there are exceptions out there.  I say, well, I can't say for sure, but nothing has occurred empirically that would make me change my theory yet.  He then says, well, it sounds like a good theory.  I say "great" do I get an A?"  My teacher says "sure, but let me ask you one last question."

He asks: "Do you spank your own kids"?  I reply "yes, all the time"  He then makes a face like this: :confused: and says that as long as I claim I am a human being, and that my children are in fact my kids, then he must give me an F.  He also advises me to take the whole class over again and really focus on the part about methodology. 

 

I then get angry and claim that just because I brake my own moral imperative and spank my kids doesn't mean that it's good for everybody else to do the same!  He then does this: :wallbash:


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#47
TimS

TimS
  • 32 posts

If science and ethics are apples and oranges, then Stefan explicitly conflates apples and oranges in his final two summaries (not to mention throughout the rest of the article): he has one summary for ethics, and an analogous one for science. Also, notice points 1 and 2 of the summaries:

 

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.

 

He uses the general term "methodology" to reflect that the argument applies to all fields, not just ethics and science.

 

I appreciate your thoughts, but strongly suggest you go back and carefully re-read the original post. Would you be comfortable telling Stefan that science and ethics are "apples and oranges", based on what he wrote?

 

I'll say it again: if you can be unscientific and conduct valid science and illogical and conduct valid math, you can be immoral and conduct valid ethics. They all stand or fall by the same rule. Also, universality is just as essential to mathematics as is logic; to even say that is bizarre, since logic is by its very nature universal.

 

With mathematical deductions, you just have to be logical from the beginning of the deduction process to the end in order for your conclusion to be valid.  For example:  2+2=4, 10 - 6=4, therefore, 2+2 = 10 - 6.  That is a logically valid deduction that anyone can follow regardless of whether the person who wrote in on the blackboard is an theist or not. 

 

That's true of ethical deductions, too. The deduction is valid regardless of whether the person is immoral or not.


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#48
jpahmad

jpahmad
  • 613 posts

 

 

I'll say it again: if you can be unscientific and conduct valid science and illogical and conduct valid math, you can be immoral and conduct valid ethics. They all stand or fall by the same rule. Also, universality is just as essential to mathematics as is logic; to even say that is bizarre, since logic is by its very nature universal.

 

 

You can't be unscientific in your methodology and conduct valid science.  You can't.  This is impossible.  You can't be illogical in your methodology and conduct valid math.  The same goes for ethics.

 

 

"Methodology" is where there is confusion for you.  With my math example from above, my methodology, as used at that moment, on the chalkboard, was logical, therefore I deduced a valid answer. 

 

Being an theist (which is not logical) has nothing to do with the methodology I used, at that moment, on the chalkboard. 

 

The difference between me at the chalkboard and Marx in his room writing down his ethical theories, is content.  I must deal with the numbers on the board in a logical way.  Only the numbers on the board, nothing else. Marx must deal with all human behavior in a logical way.  Because he is theorizing about ethics.

 

If I don't deal with all the numbers in my formula (on the chalkboard), then my methodology is faulty and my conclusion must be discarded.  If Marx does not account for all human behavior, including his own, then his methodology is faulty and must be discarded.

 

Marx did not account for his own behavior....


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#49
TimS

TimS
  • 32 posts

You've exhausted my bona fides and interest.

 

Anyone else willing to explain how Stefan's final summary can allow for a consistent theist to be a logician?


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#50
Lians

Lians

  • 525 posts

Scientists and mathematicians are logicians. Apply the argument to Kurt Godel: 1. Did Godel consistently act in contradiction to logic? 2. Yes, he believed in God. 3. Therefore none of Godel's arguments or conclusions can be valid and he was not a mathematician. 4. Nevertheless, some of Godel's arguments and conclusions have been independently verified to be both valid and true. 5. The argument is proven false. Apply the argument to James Tour: 1. Does Tour consistently act in contradiction to logic? 2. Yes, he believes in God. 3. Therefore none of Tour's arguments or conclusions (research) can be valid and he is not a scientist. 4. Nevertheless, some of Tour's arguments and conclusions have been independently verified to be both valid and true. 5. The argument is proven false.

 

Just a minor quibble before I address your syllogisms... Scientists and mathematicians aren't logicians any more than I'm an electrician for being able to wire a two-way switch. A mathematician can certainly be a logician but one does not imply the other. In fact, the vast majority of mathematicians aren't logicians. Same reasoning applies for scientists.

 

The second step in both your syllogisms is flawed. You cannot prove that a belief in God has been arrived at logically, hence why you cannot dispute the logician's understanding of the methodology of logic based on his or her religiosity.

 

Furthermore, belief in God is a conclusion, not a methodology. A scientists who arrives at a wrong conclusion hasn't implicitly demonstrated a lack of understanding of the scientific method.

 

Finally, logic concerns itself with the validity of arguments, not their truth value. Validity is necessary but not sufficient for the establishment of truth. Even if the argument for religion was logically sound, it would still be false empirically. In other words, you may be excellent at logic but still hold false beliefs. There's a reason why the scientific method didn't arise out of the scholastic tradition of medieval Europe.

 

On a side note, in your Gödel example you're not even comparing apples to apples. Gödel's work is related to mathematical logic, not philosophical logic, and should thus be judged relative to the formalized study of axiomatic systems and set theory, which are in no way applicable to religion.


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#51
logic32

logic32
  • 32 posts

Hey guys, big fan of Stefan's but I wanted to chime in here. "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." Can anyone defend Stefan's statement here? Noesis was surely correct that it isn't necessary to undermine the theorist's competence, only the falsity of the theory. I don't understand why Stefan thinks differently, and I would like to. Also, I don't think one is required to show that a theory is necessarily false, i.e. false in all possible worlds, only false in the actual world.  Thanks! Glad to be here.


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