back to the beginning: morality

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sat May 29, 2021 8:37 pm

Sculptor wrote:
iambiguous wrote:I believe what many would construe to be two seemingly conflicting [even contradictory] things:

1] that aborting a human fetus is the killing of an innocent human being
2] that women should be afforded full legal rights to choose abortion

1 is false.


And this of course is not just a political prejudice rooted subjectively in dasein. This is the objective truth going all the way back to your own definitive explanation for existence itself.


Sculptor wrote:2 is obvious, within guidlines respecting timely terminations that minimised stress to the woman and pain to the unborn.


Same here. This settles it. Period. Don't agree? Then you are necessarily wrong.

Sculptor wrote:As a result, the first thing many point out is that, regarding this issue, I am insisting women should be permitted legally to kill innocent human beings. And that doing so is in this particular context not immoral.
.


Wow, our very own Philosopher King!!

Or is this all meant to be tongue in cheek?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:03 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

Subject to Criticism

Having explained the major themes in de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity, I’ll now return to the question of whether it is a form of ethical subjectivism (sometimes also called ‘ethical relativism’).


Technically, as it were.

Ethical subjectivism is the idea that there are no universal moral standards or criteria, and that moral judgments such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are based merely on an individual’s opinion.


Still, given a particular situation, there are going to be facts that can be more or less ascertained. Even in thought experiments like the Trolley Car conundrum, an actual number of people will die if you choose one option rather than another. And, in fact, you may or may not have a personal relationship with some and not others. And, in fact, others will react to your choice based on all of the actual facts involved in the circumstances of their own lives.

In other words, it's not exactly like just flipping a coin.

Arp examines the question of subjectivism by first looking at the charge as it applies to existentialism in general, and then investigating whether or not those charges apply to de Beauvoir ’s ethics of ambiguity.


Of course here [for some] everything then hinges on pinning down the precise [technical] definition of "subjectivism". A didactic exchange in which it is determined that, given the consensus regarding what the word does mean, only then can we rationally assess whether the existentialists in general and/or de Beauvoir's "ethic of ambiguity" in particular is or is not in fact an example of it.

Meanwhile, I come in only after the meaning of it is established...in order to ask how, given a set of circumstances, a particular subject has come to conclude what either is or is not ethical "for all practical purposes".

In the interim, back up into the clouds...

The first subjectivist charge against existentialist ethics is that “since existentialism bases ethics on freedom, it offers no criterion with which to distinguish right and wrong actions.” But de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity are not undermined by this objection, because de Beauvoir does offer criteria for distinguishing between actions that are moral and those that are not. These criteria are firstly that (as with Sartre), one must not engage in ‘bad faith’ or self-deception; and secondly, that one must “act to defend and develop the moral freedom of oneself and others.” So although de Beauvoir’s ethics holds that humans are ontologically free, this doesn’t mean that anything goes.


"Bad faith" philosophically...and "bad faith" encompassed in the charges of those who insist that good and bad themselves have already been established by them. And, thus, that moral freedom must revolve around this default in any discussion.

And, if others insist I am not grasping this technical distinction correctly, what other option is there but for us to focus the exchange on situations involving conflicting goods...situations most will be familiar with...and flesh out the components of our own moral and political philosophy.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Fri Jun 18, 2021 6:18 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

The second charge reads, “given that existentialism’s credo is that values are the creation of human freedom, any criterion that can be used to distinguish wrong actions from right actions is subjective”. In responding to this objection, Arp reminds us of de Beauvoir’s statement that “freedom is the source from which all significations and all values spring. It is the original condition of all justification of existence.” Arp points out that although this statement is consistent with Sartre’s implication that moral judgments are subjective, de Beauvoir applies this concept to her notion of moral freedom, which is to will oneself free and accept the responsibilities this choice entails. So, with your freedom you create values; but underlying this subjectivity is an objective morality of freedom.


Well, in my view, it's objective only to the extent that, in taking a leap of faith to No God, you assume that there is no getting around the fact that over and over and over again, in interacting with others socially, politically and economically, we are often confronted with the need to choose behaviors that come into conflict with others. So, the choice must be made. You must choose one value over another. But that is a very different approach to objective morality than the one I focus in on: the belief that, in being confronted with the choice, one can in fact choose good over evil in a world where there is no transcending font able, on the other side, to reduce our choices down to one or another Judgment Day.

And the values we are obligated to create given the manner in which freedom is construed to be an objective component of the human condition are [for me] no less rooted existentially in dasein.

And even here assuming in turn free will.

However, Arp then raises the additional question of how one can know if any given action does lead one in the direction of moral freedom. At various points in The Ethics of Ambiguity, de Beauvoir rejects the utilitarian suggestion that one can choose from specific results through a form of ethical calculus. In other words, de Beauvoir emphasizes that we do not always know what the results of our choices will be, as the future into which we project ourselves has not yet happened. Therefore, we can never really know if we are making the right decision. Based on this admission, Kristana Arp feels that one can safely place de Beauvoir in ‘the subjectivist camp’.


Here, of course, it all comes down to how far you take this "ethical calculus". Every context is embedded in facts that can be shared. Mary can have her own perfectly rational assessment of her unwanted pregnancy. She can provide any number of sound reasons why, given her situation and frame of mind, it is reasonable to choose abortion. And those on the other side can do the same in regard to the fate of the unborn. In other words, since it is an individual subject who thinks and feels as they do given their own assessment of their life, there's no getting around subjectivism in that sense.

As for this though:

"Ethical subjectivism or moral non-objectivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that: Ethical sentences express propositions. ... The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people." wiki

You tell me. Given a particular situation for example.

However, I would like to argue two points for de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity not being a form of ethical subjectivism:

1) De Beauvoir does offer some criteria for determining, at least generally, whether or not an action is moral; and

2) De Beauvoir’s type of subjectivity is intersubjective, rather than that of an isolated or individualised subject.


However, we would still need a context in which to explore these distinctions as I do. Though definitely intersubjective. After all, if you were alone, completely isolated and apart from all other subjects, what would be the point of ethics? Other than in relationship to any particular God you believed in.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby Magnus Anderson » Sat Jun 19, 2021 7:24 am

Sculptor wrote:
iambiguous wrote:I believe what many would construe to be two seemingly conflicting [even contradictory] things:

1] that aborting a human fetus is the killing of an innocent human being
2] that women should be afforded full legal rights to choose abortion

1 is false.


How so? Which part do you disagree with? "Killing", "innocent" or "human being"?
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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Mon Jun 28, 2021 4:05 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

I would like to argue two points for de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity not being a form of ethical subjectivism:

1) De Beauvoir does offer some criteria for determining, at least generally, whether or not an action is moral; and

2) De Beauvoir’s type of subjectivity is intersubjective, rather than that of an isolated or individualised subject.


First, the technical take on ethical subjectivism at wiki:

Ethical subjectivism or moral non-objectivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:

1] Ethical sentences express propositions.
2] Some such propositions are true.
3] The truth or falsity of such propositions is ineliminably dependent on the (actual or hypothetical) attitudes of people.

This makes ethical subjectivism a form of cognitivism (because ethical statements are the types of things that can be true or false). Ethical subjectivism stands in opposition to moral realism, which claims that moral propositions refer to objective facts, independent of human opinion; to error theory, which denies that any moral propositions are true in any sense; and to non-cognitivism, which denies that moral sentences express propositions at all.


Got that? Or, perhaps, might examining the meaning of this given a situation in which two or more individuals come into conflict over particular moral judgments given a particular context be helpful in making it all more perspicuous?

Of course my own moral philosophy is more, what, radical than hers? In a No God world [as I construe it] the "general criteria" that anyone proposes is going to be derived more from my assumptions regarding "I" as the embodiment of dasein in the is/ought world. Rather than through a philosophical assessment like the one above.

First the intellectual assessment:

My first claim deals directly with Arp’s response to the charge that we can never really know whether or not we are making the right decision. I agree with Arp that we may not know the outcome of a given choice or action, and that it is safe to say that de Beauvoir rejects the utilitarian approach to making ethical decisions (ie, in terms of consequences). However, I feel that she does offer some criteria that could be construed as objective means of assessment. Even though we don’t know what the specific outcome of a choice will be, we can estimate whether we are making the choice to will our or another’s freedom, this being the criterion for acting in moral freedom. We can tell, for instance, whether or not we are treating others – whether it be one specific other, or some nebulous, abstract group of others – as an in-itself or a for-itself.


And then the part where this is actually taken out into the world in regard to a context in which "goods" and "value judgments" do often come into conflict:

For example, suppose I take action on a civil rights issue and this backfires: gays are finally permitted to openly join the military, partly due to my campaigning; but while serving, they experience a worse denial of freedom than anyone imagined. Nevertheless, I helped to preserve the right of those men and women to be and serve in a way they choose, despite the limitations imposed upon them. Although the outcome was undesirable, their freedom to choose was advanced, partly through my choices. Thus, whether or not an action advances moral freedom is not contingent on whether or not the outcome is desirable.


Here though I go back to the part where homosexuality itself is construed by some as either immoral or unnatural. Or both. And unless that can be resolved beyond merely acknowledging conflicting political prejudices, anything that we do to champion it or to impede it is going to be problematic.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Wed Jun 30, 2021 5:41 pm

Re the "Morality Is Objective" thread: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 2&t=197144

This is a classic "serious philosophy" exchange in which for page afrer page after page the discussion goes on and on and on with almost no mention of any actual moral conflicts pertaining to the world that we live and interact in. Descriptions of objective morality there. Or concrete reasons why there isn't any.

Now, when this was once going to be a debate between ecmandu and pedro, I suggested abortion. And for all of the reason that I would.

That was rejected. But since then what has been put in its place?

True, I haven't read every single post. So, if there was a discussion of a particular set of conflicting goods, I might have missed it. But, if not, if they ever do get around to, say, something that pops up in the news in which different sides have their own "one of us" objectivist moral narratives and political agendas, I'd appreciate someone bringing it to my attention.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Thu Jul 08, 2021 4:24 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

Concerning my second claim, I mentioned that for Simone de Beauvoir the world is disclosed to humans through humans, and so meaning arises out of intersubjectivity, not in isolation.


Really, think about that. It is clearly true. And, in being true, it becomes abundantly obvious to all those who are not objectivists that this intersubjective meaning is communicated in countlessly evolving contexts over time historically and around the globe culturally. There are, in turn, countless individual experiences that any particular child might come to embody such that his or her own indoctrination can come to encompass any number of hopelessly conflicting spiritual, moral and political narratives. Yet any number of objectivists -- and we've got our fair share of them here -- still manage to be absolutely adamant that it is their very own prejudices that reflect the one true deontological assessment of the human condition.

Tell me that's not a psychological condition.

To support claim 2), I would like to draw your attention to Barbara Andrew’s paper ‘Care, Freedom, and Reciprocity in the Ethics of Simone de Beauvoir’ from Philosophy Today 42, 1998. In this paper, Andrews examines whether or not de Beauvoir’s ethics of ambiguity could be understood as being an ‘ethics of care’. Andrews argues convincingly that “recognition of others’ freedom is a response to the ethical needs of others as well as one’s own ethical needs, and thus is a form of care.”


Sure, if you embrace an ethics that leaves little or no room for ambiguity, how much care and consideration are you going to give for those who don't swallow whole your own dogmas? How much ambiguity was there in the political ideologies that rent the human species throughout the 20th Century? You care only for your own when you are an objectivist. On the other hand, as we delve deeper into the 21st Century, philosophical examinations of ambiguity give way to more simple calculations: "show me the money" and "what's in it for me". Few great totalitarian juggernauts are still around, but the global economy sustained by and large by the great state capitalists juggernauts can be just as ominous for millions.

And then if the ambiguity you feel leads to a fractured and fragmented understanding of the world around you [and the people in it] all bets are off for where you land.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: back to the beginning: morality

Postby iambiguous » Sun Jul 18, 2021 5:22 pm

The Ethics of Ambiguity
Charlotte Moore freely subjects de Beauvoir’s ethics to a discerning scrutiny.

As Andrews points out, Simone de Beauvoir stresses the ambiguity of the human condition, suggesting that the relationship between self and other, like the relationship between the material and the transcendent aspects of our being, is one of reciprocity: “to will oneself free is also to will others free.” This gives rise to the possibility of moral obligation and also moral freedom.


Yes, up in the far less ambiguous clouds of a philosophical exchange, this makes sense. And, perhaps, in any particular community that is small enough a consensus might be reached such that in regard to certain interactions, moral obligations and moral freedoms can be intertwined so as to sustain a minimal of dysfunction from day to day.

But, from my perspective, that's not the same as establishing a moral agenda that is argued to be objective. And you can be almost certain that sooner or later contingency, chance and change will act to bring this consensus to the breaking point.

Then the part where reciprocity comes to revolve less around a moral consensus and more around the role that power plays in any human relationships. Someone always has more of it than others.

In the conclusion to The Ethics of Ambiguity, de Beauvoir writes, “since the individual is defined only by his relationship to the world and to other individuals; he exists only by transcending himself, and his freedom can be achieved only through the freedom of others”. Meaning and the world are both disclosed through humans, and so full freedom even in our own activity can only be preserved in our free actions when we work to advance and preserve the freedom of others: otherwise we cannot disclose freedom to ourselves. My question is simply, How could choices and actions made to advance moral freedom be classified as ‘merely subjective’ if the self is intersubjective and relational in its freedom? And if, as Andrews suggests, de Beauvoir’s conception of the self is ‘self as relation’, and the ethics of ambiguity are partly based on care, that is, concern for others’ freedom, once again this provides objective criteria for determining whether or not a choice or action is moral.


Is there anyone here who thinks they understand the points that are being made above? Because I am certainly at a loss to translate them into the life that I have lived when my own experiences with others resulted in moral and political conflicts.

Transcend myself? My freedom dependent on the freedom of others? Merely subjective?

Sure, I recognize that [given free will] in choosing my own behaviors there can be no real freedom if others are obligated to choose the same behaviors. But that still does not grapple with ambiguity as I understand it from the perspective of the "fractured and fragmented" persona "out in the world" with others.

Instead, it seems more in keeping with an objectivist frame of mind. You allow others to exercise their own freedom but the ambiguity is still contained in a moral narrative and a political agenda in which one is still convinced that their own choices are more "authentic" than others. The compromise instead revolves more around accepting "moderation, negotiation and compromise" re democracy and the rule of law. Rather than in a belief that the world isn't still divided between "one of us" and "one of them".
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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