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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Moral Realism is Just Labeling Behavior

 On Metacrock's Blog Tomorrow I will present a tribute President Kennedy and mark the 50th adversary of his assassination. I have known many people over the years who were there. One of them had evidence of a gunman on the grassy knoll.

I had a big argument with arch nemisis "Royce" (aka "Trolls Royce") on CARM. He had challenged me to prove an assertion I made that God is necessary for us to love. That's not exactly what I said. I said God is necessary for the full nature of love as an ideal (agape) to have meaning. I was not talking about just the mental experience of feelings we associate with the word "love." He clearly thinks that grounding all love in those feelings proves that there's nothing beyond the physical. On Monday on Metacrock's blog I will deal with the issue "Is God Necessary for Us to Have love?" In this post I will illustrate how easily he changes his tune and shifts position and what that does to his moral realism.

He posts:
Finally, please stop shifting the burden of proof you an using an argument from ignorance, where you simply assert God did X, and then complain that everyone is begging the question if they argue against your claim. Anyway, I'm just going to post evidence that mental states are instantiated in matter, or caused to exist by matter. Since there's an abundance of evidence on this and I can't hope to present it all, I'll stick to "qualia" or "subjective properties of conscious experience."

I understand that doesn't necessarily mean they are synonymous with or reducible to matter. It's obvious frm the context that he is reducing love to the physiology of the feeling.  I never argued that mental states are not manifested in matter or that they are not dependent upon material conditions to be accessed.

So here's some of the evidence:

"Consciousness, Epilepsy, and Emotional Qualia." Epilepsy & Behavior 7.2 (2005): 150-60.

The last decade has seen a renaissance of consciousness studies, witnessed by the growing number of scientific investigations on this topic. The concept of consciousness is central in epileptology, despite the methodological difficulties concerning its application to the multifaced ictal phenomenology. The authors provide an up-to-date review of the neurological literature on the relationship between epilepsy and consciousness and propose a bidimensional model (level vs contents of consciousness) for the description of seizure-induced alterations of conscious states, according to the findings of recent neuroimaging studies. The neurophysiological correlates of ictal loss and impairment of consciousness are also reviewed. Special attention is paid to the subjective experiential states associated with medial temporal lobe epilepsy. Such ictal phenomenal experiences are suggested as a paradigm for a neuroscientific approach to the apparently elusive philosophical concept of qualia. Epilepsy is confirmed to represent a privileged window over basic neurobiological mechanisms of consciousness.

"Consciousness and Neuroscience." Cerebral Cortex 8 (1998): 97-107.

The main purposes of this review are to set out for neuroscientists one possible approach to the problem of consciousness and to describe the relevant ongoing experimental work. We have not attempted an exhaustive review of other approaches

"Three Laws of Qualia: What Neurology Tells Us about the Biological Functions of Consciousness." Journal of Consciousness Studies 4.5-6 (1997): 429-57.


 He goes on to list a great deal of stuff about qualia.

 you didn't read it did you? I had I think five levels that argue love can't exist without god.

(1) the detrimental nature of Christian love to gene frequency; makes it anti-evolutionary

(2) The unnecessary nature of being conscoius if we were just products of nature alone.

(3) The necessity of God as creator due to cosmological arguemnt

(4) ditto on fine tuning

(5) the link between being and love.

 To this he says repeatedly that I'm using flowery lanague. Everytime I talk about love is the "will to teh good of the other" he just says i'm writing powertry and doing flowery lanague.

 he says he doesn't' reduce love to brain chemistry. he says: "Evolutionary psychology adequately explains how altruism and love evolved." in a post in that first branch of posts at the top.

Evolutionary psychology, scocio biology pretty much attributes everything we think to brain chemistry. Its' philosophical reduction at its worst.

a source that answers what evolutionary pshcology says abut it:

Those with a fairly deep understanding of evolutionary theory know that the
answer to why humans as a species love their children is the same as the
answer as to why chimps or orangutans or canines invest in their offspring.
There is no other legitimate answer in the scientific/explanatory sense.

Of course, to many such an answer is devastating. It challenges many of their
most fundamental assumptions about how the world works. It removes deeply
cherished, romantic notions about the nature of humanity and leaves behind a
cold, mechanistic, algorithmic answer.
he has to have some answer along those lines or all that stuff at the top is just window dressing.
Then I post a new thread quoting a science article he put up that was supposed to prove that science understands what love is. With the link he says "stop denying science." Stop Denying Science! So scinece has it all tucked away.

I posted this as a new thread. my words are in the blue:

The page he linked to is by Doublas Allchin.

Allchin says:"Morality is a form of behavior.
The first challenge for biologists is characterizing morality in terms amenable to science. Abstract concepts of 'right' and 'wrong', or virtuous motives and good intentions, must be expressed in terms of what can be observed or measured. First, then, biologists address morality concretely as a form of behavior. As such, it fits in a context of other behaviors: foraging, mating and nesting, securing territory, play, grooming and other social interactions."

That's just saying that they can't make judgements about ethics or morality so they just describe behaviors that seem to coincide with those philosophers term moral. He is not that scinece has discovered some empirical proof of morality. He says that below.

"Non-human species may exhibit various stages in the evolution of morality.
Conceptualizing morality as a form of behavior opens the possibililty of observing it in other species. Indeed, if complex features evolve gradually, one might well expect to find stages of protomorality, incipient morality or various precursors in organisms besides humans. An important resource in understanding the evolution of humans and their culture, then, is comparative behavior. Even if the behavior is not strictly genetic, one may still find informative phylogenetic patterns or similarities based on common ancestry. Studies of primate behavior are potentially valuable. Transitions and intermediate stages may be more concretely envisioned or documented."

He has basically just admitted that they don't have any great scientific discovered that proves morality. they are labeling behaviors that coincide with what people have called moral. Having done that they assume that morality comes form nature and has to evolve since they have assumed it's grounded in behavior. They have not proved this. they are assuming so.

"Biologists borrow from other disciplines in characterizing behavior as moral.
But which behaviors are "moral"? Here, biologists must proceed cautiously. One cannot even identify the relevant behaviors without a working concept of 'right' and 'wrong' or of 'morality'. Invoking a value judgment threatens to prejudice the whole endeavor. The biologist's proper approach is thereby indifferent and fluid, contingent on definitions of ethics identified by others. Biologists may encounter multiple conceptions of what is to be explained. Different benchmark definitions may yield separate, complementary explanations. Of course, biologists are accustomed to addressing the "same" phenomenon on multiple levels of organization: molecular and cellular, physiological, populational, ecological, evolutionary. Biologists have thus developed a suite of explanations which apply to different aspects of moral behavior."

he's just admitting that they have to allow philosophers to tell them what is moral. Why would they barrow at all if they could have special scientific proof of the moral. obviously all they are doing is labeling a behavior as moral because people say that it is.

"Evolution itself does not express or yield values.
Nature may seem to exhibit its own values. For example, natural selection may seem to "favor" adaptive traits. Survival and reproduction may seem inherent values because they lead to continuity of the lineage. However, historical facts are distinct from values. Effects do not indicate intentions. Patterns of causation do not reflect processes of evaluation. A falling body does not reflect a value of gravity. Two charged particles do not reflect a value of electrical attraction. In the same way, reproduction and survival do not reflect a value of evolution. As exemplified in extinction, species do not "need" to be perpetuated. As exemplified in sterile insect castes and non-fertile individuals, single organisms do not "need" to reproduce themselves. The language of natural "selection" may easily mislead one to personify nature inappropriately. Recognizing such tendencies may be important in avoiding mistaken impressions."

That's really just a frank admission of what I've said. they don't have a special empirical discovery of morality they are assuming morality has developed. Another improtant aspect this opens up and proves is that since morality is intention that means that nature cannot be proved to contain morality. He just said they can't prove intention and they can't assume it. Without intention there can be no moral thinknig! why? because moral thinking is making choices in light of certain intentions. To be ethical one must be seeking to do the good. Intention is important.

see i'm a ideologist. morality is duty and obligation. so intention to do duty and keep obligations matters. That's NT morality as well.
When the Bible says God Looks on the Heart it's saying Intention matters.

"Science is limited to description.
Biological analysis may enrich our understanding of morality, but it is also limited. Science is not able to discover ethical principles in nature.[/quote]

Stop The Machine! Let's repeat that:

"Science is not able to discover ethical principles in nature.".

not only so but he admits they can't justify them either:

Nor to justify them. Nor to evaluate them, say, based on evolutionary history. Nor even to develop them based on some presumed universal or "objective" principle of "human nature." Many have tried. All have failed (Farber 1994, Bradie 1994). Rather, the achievable aim is to explain how organisms such as humans evolved moral capacities, to form moral concepts and to act on them in particular environments. That may also involve describing how, as organisms, they are able to do so (neurologically, cognitively, emotionally, socially). To describe morality as a practice is not to prescribe any particular moral rule. To explain the behavior is not to justify it. Facts and values (is and ought) are conceptually distinct. Charles Darwin, in his own presentation, notably limited the scope of his analysis to the "natural history" of ethics (1871, p.71). Still, knowing how and why (historically) we value things may fruitfully guide reflections on the process. Having introduced these caveats, then, let us consider what biologists have discovered about morality as an evolved form of behavior."

this is an even clearer statement that science has not discovered n empirical proof of what is moral. He says they can't evaluate what is moral, they can't justify what is moral [B][I]Nor even to develop them based on some presumed universal or "objective" principle of "human nature."

this is That atheists own guy confirming everything I've argued against him in all that knock down drag out over moral realism.

 then he switches his definition, after telling me that will to the good of the other is flowerly langue and poetry he switches to think kind of definition of love, arguing that he used it all along!

 "But a fairly decent approximation would be something like 'concern for the well-being of something else, where that concern is not simply derivative of some other desire one has.'"

 But that's the flowery langue he disproved of before. Then he dies ever saying that love is just reducible to brain chemistry. But he wants to create the impression that using the word "instantiated" means he's not reducing it. All that science at the first of the post shows clearly that he is equating the brain chemistry and the experience of it with love and any sort of higher ideas which he has constantly ridiculed as "flowery language and poetry." Remember he says: --Anyway, I'm just going to post evidence that mental states are instantiated in matter.

The upshot here is that his moral realism reduces to labeling behavior with values rather than any real sense of proof about objective moral truth without God. He shifts his whole position when his reductionism (which he denies is reductionism) is upended.

Don't miss Metacrock's Blog on Monday when I'll deal with the love issue.


runamonk said...

It appears to me atheist moral realism is actually descriptive. But an ought is prescriptive.

The standard of love is that you ought to will the good. The Christian says this ought is rooted in God.

It looks like the atheist moral realist has some sort of natural intuition of there being 'intention' in the nature to get their "ought". And according some articles I have read, doing this requires some level of a theory of mind....God's mind, hahaha.....

If I were an atheist I think I would be a moral nihilist. But I believe love in grounded in God.

Metacrock said...

Hey runamonk, good to hear from you again. I think your analysis is cogent. they can't seem to understand when I analyze the implications of their view that their ideas have logical implications they may not have thought of.

runamonk said...

Hey Metacrock, thanks, Maybe you should give them this link to explain what ethical thinking is.

It starts off at the 2:52 mark and they could watch it to the 6:38 mark. Or maybe you could use the piano metaphor this guy uses. He says, "ethical systems are meant to give us a tune to play on the keys.....".

You quoted him, "Evolutionary psychology adequately explains how altruism and love evolved."

And then also quoted him, " "But a fairly decent approximation would be something like 'concern for the well-being of something else, where that concern is not simply derivative of some other desire one has.'"

The video author says that, "ethics cannot be derived from instinct. Every attempt to do so conceals a judgement which is passed upon our instinct and is not derivable from them."

(I think "mental states", or that evolutionary psychology explaining how altruism/love evolved, is little more than saying instinct).

I guess they are saying the source of their judgments are rooted in their own subjective ,"mental states", ergo moral realism, haha. (It is a fact, that I believe you ought to be good! hahaha).

Maybe I will check out the link to the debate later on. I think atheist moral realists are interesting. It's like God without God. If that makes any sense.

yonose said...

Meta, runamok,

I have been absent for a while.

The logical conclusion to this, is the typical old tendency of associating scientism with logical positivism as the adequate universal worldview.

Also, it is very difficult to reconcile the basic tenets of moral realism into metaphysical naturalism itself.

This type of self-acclaimed moral realism is as interesting as pan-psychist atheists who adhere themselves to Nietzche's Will To Power. For some reason I notice some similarities...

Maybe just they, themselves, and only themselves, are their own gods.

Kind Regards.

Metacrock said...

yes I agree with you about that. The personality of that particular guy that I deal on the board (CARM) is a real irritant. One of these hard chargers who always has to be right and has more tricks than ideas.

yonose said...


I just wonder if there is positive correlation between Hardcore New Atheism and NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

Kind Regards.

Metacrock said...

Blogger yonose said...


I just wonder if there is positive correlation between Hardcore New Atheism and NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)?

Kind Regards.

I've never looked for that.