Mo_'s River


There are a few things that we presently agree on, Mo_ (and others), and if you do not agree, there is really no point in participating in this thread. We agree that a tree objectively exists. We agree that we, individually, objectively exist. We agree that objects interact with one another in objective things that we term as, “Events.” Very simply, I, as an objective agent, can run into a tree, as an objective thing, and an objective event has occurred.

We agree that one agent can have a physical interaction with another agent that causes the latter agent to undergo suffering. We disagree as to whether or not the suffering that has been caused by the actions of the first agent is objectively, “Wrong.” You defend the simple position that, “Suffering is bad,” which can then be extended upon to state that causing suffering is an act that is, objectively, bad. “Objectively bad,” can also be stated as, “Morally wrong,” insofar as the agent causing the suffering is a moral agent.

My argument is that we can look at the statements that you are making in a mathematical way and one thing does not lead to another, necessarily, because there are any number of gaps in-between the positions that you are taking that you have not filled with anything. Essentially, you have went from, “A human agent exists objectively,” (agreed) to, “For a human agent to cause suffering is necessarily bad and morally wrong, except in such cases that the agent has caused suffering to lessen future suffering, in which case the agent has committed an action that is objectively and morally good.”

In general, that seems like a sensible enough statement, and certainly, I would suggest that such is the moral goal of a great many people. However, where you run into subjectivity is when the moral agent takes it upon himself (or themselves, in the case of a society) to decide how much suffering must be caused in order to alleviate future suffering. Again, for you to say this is objective is to say that there is an exact amount of time, just as an example, that it is morally appropriate to imprison someone for rape in order to deter the possibility of future rape. It can obviously be argued that by either killing the person, or by subjecting the person to solitary confinement for the rest of his/her natural life will render it impossible for the person to rape again. There is no question that either of these punishments will render it impossible.

The problem is that someone comes in and says, “That is an unnecessary degree of suffering to cause on the rapist and his family. We can deter this person from raping again, to a significant enough degree, with a lesser punishment.” Unfortunately, we can never be guaranteed to be right about this, Mo_. We can certainly establish that by executing the person, that person will not be able to commit rape again. However, what if we imprison them for twenty-five years and they go out and rape someone again? Well, the goal was to deter them from ever raping someone again, not only have we failed to do that, but now we have also caused the person to suffer twenty-five years of imprisonment, basically for no reason, because it did not deter them from doing anything.

Contrastly, what if we were to imprison the person for five years, but it would have only taken five days imprisonment to deter them from committing rape to such an extent that they do not commit rape again? In that scenario, we have caused that person 1,820 days of unnecessary suffering because that is how much longer we imprisoned the person than absolutely necessary to deter the person from raping someone. The fact is, Mo_, outside of execution for rape, there are agents who will rape again and there are agents who will not rape again. To that extent, we cannot pick a specific number of days that will be objectively correct to imprison the person in order to deter that person from raping again.

For these reasons, we Legislate in a manner in which we ideally use our best collective judgment to determine how long we should imprison a person for rape. This judgment is subjective. You cannot experience the concept of the judgment with any of your senses. The person objectively experiences (which is just to say interacts) with what the judgment means, in other words, he is objectively in prison for twenty-five years, but that physical interaction, while objective, is separate from the judgment itself. The judgment decides how much objective time he will spend in prison, but how that decision is arrived is inherently subjective. It is for that reason that there are sentencing guidelines by and through which a Judge may look at an individual’s personal history and sentence either on the lower or higher end of those guidelines. Again, subjective decision.

The problem, Mo_, is that you are doing the equivalent of solving an algebraic equation (which is fuzzy, at best, to begin with) without showing your work. I can not challenge how you have arrived at your answer unless you show your work. I can certainly challenge your answer, and what little detail you have provided between the fuzzy equation and the answer, but there is still much I cannot challenge. There is also much I can not understand, such as where the Hell you’re coming from, unless you show your work. This is what I think I have from you so far:

A tree is objective.

A person is objective.

If a person runs into a tree, an objective event has occurred.

Suffering is bad.

Suffering is objective.

It is morally reprehensible to cause suffering unless you are doing so to reduce future suffering for the, “Greater good.”

Morality is objective.

You will also note, Mo_, that the next to last statement is inherently a subjective value judgment, but we’ll ignore that for now.

If you want to demonstrate your case, Philosophically, Mo_, what you will need to do is metaphorically complete the equation and show your work. Fill in the blanks, so to speak. The problem with that is since it is your goal to demonstrate that morality is objective, you are going to have to take us all the way from the objective existence of trees, people and interactions to morality, a concept, being objective. You are going to need to demonstrate this using entirely objective principles, while establishing the objective existence of everything that you are using in the equation along the way. There can be nothing in your work that is subjective, Mo_, otherwise the conclusion does not follow from the premises.

I think that is going to be very difficult, but I would certainly encourage you to try. Fortunately, I am ready to posit that trees, people and events all have an objective existence. However, where there exists a cognizant agent, Mo_, any of these events will have meaning to the agent, and the meaning that the events have for each individual agent will be subjective unto that agent. That does not mean that multiple agents cannot be in substantive agreement, as you have demonstrated they often are with respect to morality, it just means that each agent assigns meaning to these events and that meaning will vary, subjectively, with the agent. This is necessarily so because the meaning that each individual agent ascribes to the event in question will be based upon that agent’s biases, prejudices and previous experiences (other events that have occurred involving that person).

The challenge for you, Mo_, assuming I am not missing anything along the way, which I probably am, is to:

Take us from the objective existence of events and demonstrate that the meaning each individual agent gathers from each of these objective events is, itself, objective. From there, you will have to demonstrate that suffering is objective, and that the, “Badness,” of suffering is also objective. You will continue by showing all of us that, committing a physical action by which suffering is caused is objectively morally bad, regardless of the meaning that the agent causing the suffering (and all agents who are aware of the event, whether real or hypothetical, but not necessarily involved) applies to the action and the reasons for which the agent is committing the action. Having successfully demonstrated that the agent causing the suffering is acting in an objectively, “Bad,” way, you will then go on to show that the nature of morality is an objective one, and that morality, in and of itself, can be experineced by any or all of the five senses (a condition of objective existence.)

Remember, Mo_, it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate that the moral decision itself (a concept) is objective, not that the physical events that come as a result of the moral decision are objective. For bonus points, you can also demonstrate that there is an objective (exact) punishment that should take place as a result of someone committing rape, and that said punishment is objectively right.

The standard by which I am going to ask you to prove these things, Mo_, is that they cannot be argued against by me rationally and in good faith. This is theoretically not an impossible task. If you were to point to a tree and say, “That is an object,” I do not believe that I could argue against your position both reasonably and in good faith.

I’ve tried this thought experiment ahead of time, and the furthest I got was, “Physical events objectively exist,” so good luck.

HINT: Do not go talking about the stars as that will get you nowhere. The thing about the theoretical ability of us to count stars is that stars are objects, morality is not an object. Unless you want to demonstrate to me how I would ever begin to physically count morality…

Je suis une rivière.

This is the first line of your thread. Is this a joke? You put my name in the title of the thread, and then state that if I do not agree with you, I need not participate? Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have your tray table in the upright and locked position? Because I am going to provide you some serious turbulence if you do as you normally do… ahem, which is color outside the lines, so to speak.

As well we might—when you don’t say anything more than that! (Is that a duck I hear?)

You probably ought not to cause someone to suffer. But I can think of any number of reasons that would out-weigh that.
If this is the simple basic misunderstanding of your whole wasted post, then I’m going to stop reading. You have one more paragraph, and that’s it…

What the fuck is the big deal? Better safe than sorry, right? What is your fucking thesis here? Btw, I doubt 5 days is much of a deterent.

No it’s not. You don’t just make it based on your whim and fancy. You look at studies. Recidivism rates. The family’s agony. If a society locks away someone for smoking weed for 150 years… they got it wrong. If a society slaps a person on the wrist for selling drugs outside a grade school, they got it wrong. This is fucking obvious. If you want to argue there’s a gray zone, nobody would fucking disagree. It doesn’t make a fucking thing subjective. I’m done reading this nonsensical post.

I’m clearly referring to the objective existence of the tree. We have already agreed upon that. I’m saying that if someone wants to argue that the tree does not objectively exist, then there is no point in participating in this discussion as they are wanting to engage in a different Philosophical question, namely, whether or not there is a such thing as objective existence. You and I both accept objective existence, do we not?

We have engaged in specific examples in the other thread, if you would like to re-hash those specific examples, be my guest. Those examples seem to be, “Asked and answered,” by both sides, from where I stand.

I’m glad there’s a misunderstanding, then. Would you be so kind as to give as general a definition as possible of when suffering is morally (and objectively) wrong so that we may tailor a different example to fit that definition?

Would you then agree, Mo_, that it would be in the best interest of preventing suffering to kill the rapist, or alternatively, to sentence the rapist to solitary confinement for the rest of his natural life? If your position is, “Better safe than sorry,” then there is no question that either of those punishments would ensure safety with respect to the person not committing rape again. This is especially true with killing the person, because someone can theoretically escape solitary confinement.

You’re right that a Judge will often tend to look at studies and recidivism rates, Mo_, but those studies and recidivism rates are all going to be based on punishments that have already been adjudicated from a subjective standpoint. In other words, the first person to be Judged guilty of rape, (and the punishment he faced for it) by definition, was not adjudicated based upon a study or recidivism rate, as there were none to be had.

It seems that we agree that there is a gray zone, where you have lost me, Mo_, is in how that makes how we adjudicate within that gray zone, or between two theoretically possible extremes, in general, an objective adjudication.

You have said that, “It doesn’t make a fucking thing subjective,” and you seem to be lacking in supporting argument after that, except disregarding the rest of the post (apparently, without having read it) as nonsensical.

If I disregard all of your posts as nonsensical, am I thus engaged in Philosophy? Is that how successful Philosophy is done, by disregarding all of those with whom you disagree as espousing nonsense? I could certainly be the best Philosopher on Earth, then, because it seems that it would be quite simple to apply those principles!

By the way, the goal of the rest of my post was to set aplatform, for you, by which you can prove your assertion that morality is objective. I was even kind enough to give you a general outline whereby you could go about doing that.

What kind of a river would I be if I did not provide a respite from thirst for my people? More importantly, what kind of river are you if you refuse to do the same?

[my emphasis]

And this presumably has to be made applicable to each new context. Why? Because if one or more variable changes you might be inclined to change your mind from “probably ought not to” to “probably should”. Or, for some, from “probably should” to “for fuck sake, do it now!!!”

Assuming of course that all the folks who might have a vested interest in having “reasons” here can all agree on what the relevant reasons probably ought or ought not to be.

Again, however, all one has to do is imagine these abstractions playing out when actual existential suffering is involved:

—Torture terrorists in order to find the bomb and stop it from exploding?
—Perform experiments on animals in order to enhance the well-being of human beings?
—Abort fetuses in order to assure that pregnant women do not lose jobs their families are depending on?

Barrett’s “conflicting goods” are everywhere here. Well, “out in the world we live in”, anyway.

Probably? Probably not? Given this reason? Given that reason? And this does not even take into consideration the common human tendency [or the rudimentary need?] to pursue vengence. If your daughter is raped are you going to be concerned only with “deterence” here? What about punishment? How is that “reasonably”, “scientifically”, “objectively” calibrated?

For example, how are “recidivism rates” and “the family’s agony” to be properly weighed and balanced?