Showdown: ILP vs. ILO Finale

Be a part of history!

The Challenge;
The Debate;

The Discussion:

Uh, I fail to see how team ILO’s conception of morality is, er, morality.

Morals = Right Conduct

Do what’s right for yourself!

a quote from carleas-

you see the thing you guys are not seeing is that a universal morality is a neccessity- if there were no universal morality then existence would not be. one can be immoral to others but can never be completely immoral to themselves or they would not be able to exist- therefore team ilp is horribly wrong and team ilo is completely right…Good Job ilo!..God bless- no offense to carleas- but it is the truth- just had to put it out there- do with it what you will- if you understand you will have to agree- see ya

ILO didn’t even put up a fight this time… [-(

Or, perhaps our argument is so ridiculously simple that you are missing it.

it is ridiculously simple - i think you guys needed to make a better case that it’s actually a MORAL argument - i wasn’t convinced that it was …

Coming soon to a theater near you.

I missed the second debate, but between the first and the finale there has emerged a clear strategy on the part of ILO and a complete failure of ILP to adjust it. The strategy, ofcourse, was easily predictable, almost necessarily so, to anyone that is familiar with how both sides think. ILO takes a straightfoward question with a long established manor of discourse and argues for a position that ought to completely change the strategies and reasonings of both sides. ILP being less creative and adaptive, but more logical and capable struggles to argue with traditional lines of inquiry in what ILO has changed into an unconventional debate. Completely missing that what ILO has offered is trash.

This disconnect was far more appearant in the last debate in which ILO’s position on universal morality can hardly be considered a position on universal morality at all. This allowed them, as “creative” arguments often do, to control the terms on which the discussion was held. Failing to adjust, ILP was forced to argue traditional lines against nontraditional arguments. Th, ae debate was won before it began, and it was won by a position that cannot really be considered a position on the topic to begin with. Or rather, it requires so much clarification and nuance that if it is possible to argue it all, it ought to take the entirety of a book to do so.

The genius of it is that their formulation of their position is so mundane and platitudinous that one instantly thinks one knows what it means. And instead of realizing how flawed and massively underdeveloped it was, ILP assumed it made sense and tried to levy rational arguments against an unclear and probably unreasonable position. ILP ought to have attacked it on the grounds that it doesn’t make sense, and is a meaningless statement instead of assuming that they knew what it meant and arguing against it on traditional terms. Everything that ILO said was pure nonsense, but everything that ILP said was a strawman. It was a train wreck and painful read.

Do to time constraints I will only point out how worthless ILO’s position is. To do this I will use their most concise formulations of it, which are incidentally single sentences that make nonsense look like platitudes.

In their first post we get this from Pav. :[size=85]

“the Universal Morality is that we do whatever we can (within our confines) to satisfy our individual wants or needs. We are moral; we do what is right for us.”[/size]

This is the folk psychological view of how human volition works, but it is a descriptive statement and this is a normative debate. For it to be a formulation of a universal morality it has to be an imperative and take the form of “one ought to…do what satisfies ones individual wants and needs”. ILO got away with multiple equivocations throughout the debate and seemed to flaunt the equivocation as a main part of their argument.

Gobbo starts off the second ILO post by capitalizing and advocating the equivocation when he says [size=85]Alright, describing morality in the confines of prescribed (non)action is not the only way to look at universal morality.[/size]

No Gobbo perscribed action is what morality is, and the only reason you are not laughed out of the debate when you say that is that your formulation of a universal moralityis highly equivocal. It is both a folk psychological veiw of describing human volition and your chosen formulation of morality. Your equivocation does not lead us to some grand idea about what morality is, it is just a fucking equivocation, and a particularly blatant and silly equivocation at that. You just tried to change the definition of morality based on a defect of reasonsing. So painful… The debate was won right here by ILP, they just failed to realize it

Gobbo gives us another formulation of their theory at the end of his post:
we’re saying, essentially, yes, doing what you want in the face of absurdity and complexity

It is hard to even understand what this is supposed to mean, it doesn’t even say “most want”, it just says want. Well, I think I want about 1,000 different things at once, some things I want more than others, and other things I hardly want at all. Some things I value but don’t want and other things I want but don’t value. You’re asserting that I act immorally if I behave consistent with my values but not my wants when they come into conflict with each other.

I value an education but really don’t want to go to class today, if I side with my values, according to you I am being immoral. This is a serious problem with your theory, infact it is so hopelessly confused that this alone overturns and trumps all arguments any of you made.

Other problems include knowing what you want, understanding implanted wants versus authentic wants, second order wants, when wants come into conflict…and the list goes on for quite some time.

The point is that ILO based their entire position on an equivocation and advocated that equivocation, and even ignoring this their position is so general and assumes such a binary and simple human that it is hardly understandable to begin with. Yet, they got away with it because ILP was incapable of seeing through the platitudinous formulations.

I think we hit that nail, and pretty hard.

In the first paragraph of my response to Pav,

Tab said “a ‘universal morality of one’ is a meaningless concept”, and Smears said “people simply acting according to their desires doesn’t seem to have much to do with morality at all.”

I don’t see how your response is very different from these statements.

Then wtf were the judges doing, seriously, what the hell.

If I may venture an explanation…

I think your post was flawless, but Tab’s post failed to point out the equivocation and he assumed that he instantly knew what was meant by their childishly underdeveloped formulation of “do what you want”. Infact he took something that was complete nonsense “do what you want”, and interpreted it as Thelema. They share similar flaws, but they are not the same thing. So when he attacked Thelema as meaningless, even though it also applies to “do what you want”, the attack was a straw-man. He also pointed out the “do what you want” statement was nonsense, but not on the grounds that it doesn’t make sense as a stand-alone, but on the grounds that it doesn’t make sense as a universal morality. The tacit assumption was that “do what you want” made sense, and given it’s platitudinous formulation it allowed ILO to maintain the illusion that it is a simple and immediately understandable statement.

It seems that the equivocation allowed ILO the opportunity to prove their point only if they could prove that “people do what they want”, since it was piggybacked onto “people ought to do what they want”. So while Tab argued against the “ought” formulation, as we saw he allowed the descriptive formulation to maintain, and since they were tied together with an equivocation there was nothing he could say that would disprove the ought formulation.

I didn’t see this the first time I read your post, but Tab’s post redirected it.

“Make nonsense look like platitudes.”


Seriously, that was hilarious.

It does no such thing.

The problem here is that it is impossible to satisfy both wants. You want to act in a manner that adheres to your values, but you also want to skip class on this particular day, but you can’t do both. That is going to be the case anytime there are two different things that you may want to do, but that involve the same period of time in such a manner that you cannot do both.

In such a situation, you must choose one or the other. If you choose the one that you want to do more at the time (and you always will) according to Team ILO’s definition, you have acted morally.

Yadda yadda yadda.

Out of curiosity, Pav, how much merit do you think ILO’s definition of universal morality actually has? On the one hand, I find it ridiculous, because morality is generally taken as a motivator, and that definition cannot motivate. On the other hand, I don’t think people push morality for any reason other than to get what they want. It seems like the conventional understanding of morality presents an impossible standard, and that ILO just tried to transcend and defy the conventional understanding, since a discussion within that understanding would have been hopeless.

I think that is an oversimplified understanding of want, but I guess I’m supposed to redefine “want” along with ILO and use it as a catch all for every human motivator. I would have to be convinced to do so, rather than just forced to by some underdeveloped sentence that compelled it on all of us unconsciously. But, It lacks explanatory power because it lacks complexity, I would be unable to even explain the inner motivations of myself let alone try to universalize them out to the entire species. A binary account of want doesn’t accurately describe the human condition.

The problem ofcourse is that It doesn’t make sense for the reason I pointed out in my previous post. Different motivators come into conflict all the time, and the human is not a binary creature that has just one sort of motivation in only one sort of intensity. The two motivators I used were values and attitudes, and I gave a very plausible account of how my attitude is felt more intensely than this sort of “in the back of my mind” values, but I am ultimately moved by my values to action. I don’t think any of us can deny that the desire to stay in bed when we’ve stayed up too late is NOT more intense than the nagging feeling we have that we ought to go to class even though we don’t have to. Yet, occasions occur when we are moved by that nagging feeling. The answer is that we have either previously decided to be motivated by our values over our more intense baser wants and desires, we are moved to action out of habit, or we find motivation from values qualitatively superior to motivation by quantitatively superior attitudes. Your platitude is incompatible with all three of these answers, it cannot account for human behavior.

I should have anticipated your response, but the surprise gave me a good laugh, so thank you for that. Your response was in keeping with the ILO position, but it didn’t address the difficulties I laid out. Instead it was a descriptive statement that is folk psychological. Focusing on the problem of satisfying multiple “wants” is a problem dear to folk psychology, and saying the most intense wins out is an answer dear to folk psychology, so as per usual your answer is immediately understood and seen as the right answer. But it addressed neither the point that was made, nor made sense beyond a immediate guttural agreement.

That’s exactly what we did, attempted to transcend the conventional standard. That’s what we had to do. Let’s assume for a second that ILO (As a team) could come up with one thing so vile and wrong that no human being would be capable of doing it, even if we were to do that it wouldn’t be a Universal Morality, per se, but simply a Universal Moral, and one Moral does not a Morality make.

Just for the sake of argument, even if Team ILP were to accept a single Moral as an entire Morality, the fact that no human could do the thing described still would not prove anything. The very fact that someone could think of an example of something that no person could ever do indicates that someone could actually conceivably do it, because for a thing to be inconceivable one must not even be able to think about it.

So, the next strategy is to take it the other way because morality usually entails not doing something that could be construed or generally regarded as bad, but then what if we could come up with something Universally regarded as good that virtually everyone does as a matter of course? It still wouldn’t matter because there are certain groups of people (i.e. mentally handicapped) that it could still probably not be applied to.

So, we pretty much had to change the terms of the entire Debate which required an overhaul on what is construed as Morality. With the path we chose, it actually 180’ed the argument and made it near-impossible for ILP to argue against us because the nature of our argument was self-contained, how can anyone possibly help but do whatever it is they are going to do when they must always be doing something?

So, that makes the very doing of anything moral, or even the doing of nothing because inaction is still a form of action.

Anyway, we basically had to go with that, and the fact that immorality (under our definition) doesn’t actually exist (or cannot exist) isn’t really important because it has nothing to do with there being a morality. That would be like saying that God cannot be Universal without there simultaneously being no God, that makes no sense.

Anyway, some Debates without clearly defined bounds work much like a legal trial works. It is largely about controlling definitions and terms of the argument. Even though laws are written to avoid ambiguity many of them are ambiguous, especially when it comes to proper sentencing, so there is a lot of argument that has to go on there. In this case, though, the bounds were pretty clearly defined, so it was the bounds themselves that had to be changed, a paradigm that needed to be shifted.

So, to answer the question do I really believed what ILO described to be the Universal Morality. Probably not, but it is just as good as there not being a Universal Morality, either way, the end result is the same people do whatever they think is best for them to do at the time.

Does 2 + 2 = 4 lack explanatory power because it lacks complexity?

Values and attitudes, but then everything is also situational. Let’s posit the values for a second, because I think that is what you were intending to do in the first place. The question then becomes, why is the person with these values motivated to skip class?

Is it because the person was up all night studying for an exam in that very class? It could be, but then skipping class defeats completely the very reason that they put themselves into a position to want to skip class in the first place. As a result, the person is almost definitely going to go to class because the person does not want to waste all that effort studying and then fail a test by not showing up.

On the other hand, maybe the person is very studious, but decided to have a wild night for a change of pace and is seriously hungover with a bad headache. This person is motivated not to go to class because he will not only worsen his headache, but even though he attends the first class he may not get that much out of it. However, if there is a later class for him to attend, he might be able to get himself into good physical condition for that one by fully sleeping off his drunk.

Anyway, none of your answers work because they are all one or the other, or constitute pre-planning.

1.) “previously decided to be motivated by our values over our more intense baser wants and desires.”

That’s a good rule of thumb and I am sure it applies to many people, but the way you define it prevents it from being situational. It’s something that we can do as a rule, but occasionally we will still act in opposition to our values.

2.) “we are moved to action out of habit”

Nope, doesn’t account for one-time decisions for which no habit has been formed.

3.) “find motivation from values qualitatively superior to motivation by quantitatively superior attitudes.”


Duck test, observation, personal experience?

The fact is (whether the fact constitutes a Universal Morality notwithstanding) that everything that we do (or don’t) by our own volition we do because we wanted to do it. We’re confronted with choices every day. I generally like Life more that I like Kix, I think Life is the superior breakfast cereal, but maybe I wake up one day and I want Kix. Maybe I want eggs.

I don’t know. It seems to me that people do what they most want to do at any given time when what they most want to do is feasible, it strikes me as obvious. There are reasons and there are reasons for those reasons and it’s all pretty much cause and effect.

Some things will make a person shelf their values for a time, some things won’t.

I’m not sure what to do with your post. You seem to think that I’m offering some behavioral theory of everything, but all I am doing is pointing out examples that show why “do what you want most” doesn’t properly describe all human behavior. What this means is that I don’t have to account for all human behavior, nor do I in anyway intend to, claim to, or want to, all I have to do is show examples where “do what you want most” doesn’t apply.

I’ve taken it a little further in order to debunk the less strict original formulation of “do what you want” by claiming that it is too simple to describe human behavior because it is using “want” as a catch all, but humans have multiple distinct motivators.

That is not to say that cases don’t exist where “do what you want” applies, as in when the only motivators at work are immediate desires. There are plenty of cases, like when I know I want to drink soda but have the choice of mountain dew or coke. The only thing that weighs on this decision is my immediate want. In such a case we can describe my behavior with “do what you want”, but only because the relevant motivators have the same origin.

Anyway, you’ve contradicted yourself and admitted that “do what you most want” doesn’t work as a universal because examples exist in which it doesn’t describe our behavior.

I would argue further that you’ve also conceded that “do what you want” doesn’t make sense when “want” is a catch all for all human motivators because you employed distinctions among motivators in your last post, but that might still be up in the air.

I think the example you chose at the end of your post to describe “want” pretty much sums up the story of your post. It is a folk psychological example that is overly simplistic and misses the complexities of human motivators in more complex cases. Yet, for some reason, it is seen as the archetypal case that can be universalized out to all examples. It’s a very curious thing, to watch it in action.

Show me a situation where doing what someone most wants to do out of all available options does not come into play.

How does a motivator, as you put it, not result in a want? If it doesn’t result in a want, how is it a motivator?