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On the Topic of Logic in Morality
#1
In reply to
Quote:Yeah, I re-wrote that post like three times and was never happy with my phrasing.  Eventually, I gave up and trusted you guys to know me well enough to not think I was a complete idiot

We know you well. You are no idiot, never thought you were. Though, I will say: I wasn't expecting you to bring writing style into a fight on logic xD.

First off, I just want to make clear that I tend to agree with every cautious post you put forward in threads. You even break into explanatory posts, just ahead of me, in which I feel no need to get involved. As a result, I'll go as far as to bring in the next best view/advice I can think of, to compliment your post.

However, this reply is likely going to come across nit-picky, and that is solely because I wrote my graduating thesis on morality, Kant's morality, it's weaknesses and it's strengths in relation to other people's work. So, I tend to play these conversations close to the chest, so to speak. Please forgive me hahaha.

tldr: While we may not enjoy or fully be able to understand the writing style of our philosophers, we cannot let that detract from their arguments. We must do our best to put their arguments in the most favourable light and then work out the logic from there, as philosophy is about the logic.

The first thing I feel compelled to comment on in the writing style issue you have. I understand the issue that people can have with any philosophy, let alone the more dense literature. Kant is not exactly eloquent in his speech, but eloquence does shine elsewhere in his work. It's important to note that the more dense the text, the less likely that non-academics/academics, not philosophy based, are going to enjoy/penetrate the walls created through the text.

Inversely, the likes of Kierkegaard, Foucault, and (yes) even Nietzsche are looked ill-favored upon as philosophers, for having too flowery a writing-style. The complaint is that they spent too much time on their way of writing than they did on their logic, and logic is the main and most important part of philosophy.
Regardless, the critics of both sides still did their best to apply the Principle of Charity, and do their best to understand their opponent's position.

Foucault and Deleuze had a feud (of sorts) that spanned a couple of texts each, where Foucault accused Deleuze of having no creativity. Whereas, Deleuze essentially told Foucault to stick to writing fiction, if he can't lay his argumentation straight out.
This little anecdote was brought to you by the International Association of Dramatic Affairs.

I'm going to break the rest up, so that you can digest them in a bit of a better way than just a wall of text.
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#2
This brings us to your distinctions between logics, and I'm sorry, I have to disagree again.

"The problem I have with determining morality through logic is that there are, at least, three different kinds of logic. There is regular old logic, there is faulty logic and there is deceptive logic."

There are only two types of logic: Objective and Subjective.
Within those categories, logic is divided into two processes (or, types of reasoning): Deductive and Inductive.

Logic is the study of reason. Faulty logic doesn't exist, and is just a product of the process of reasoning. Faulty logic is vetted, when people review the work of others. This can be accomplished by trying to replicate their logical paths, and see if there are any obstacles that cannot be overcome. Logical fallacies are considered the worst of these obstacles because they are blatantly in opposition of one or more parts of the argument, in a way that the Principle of Charity cannot work-around.
What Kant describes as "people who have not been diligent in honing their logic skills" isn't faulty logic, because their connections and argumentation could be spot-on for the knowledge they have and the extent to which their capable of reason. What Kant describes is considered an immoral act (instead of faulty logic), in that your lack of ability to reason lead to the moral conundrum. It's not that you choose to apply any faulty logic.

Deceptive logic isn't logic either. As you have so rightly exemplified, deceptive logic better describes the intent of the person trying to reason with another. If the person listening is well-versed in logical conversation, then deceptive logic is largely useless. Deceptive logic only affects those who haven't developed (/can't develop) their own faculty of reason. If you believe that an immoral act was moral, then you aren't being immoral in that act. However, you are being immoral in the sense that you haven't been able to work out the immorality of the act you've committed, even if you've been shown.

This leaves us with "regular old logic". I.E.: Logic.
Unfortunately, that's easier said than put into practice. Especially with Kant's take on morality, and how we ought to approach interactions with other people.

#page break lol#
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#3
It interests me that many believe Kant has a specific standard of logic, in regards to morality. I mean, yes. He does have a certain standard to what he considered useful logic. That's clear enough in his transcendental idealism. Logic is used to understand the essence of an object, it's inherent properties and usefulness. That is much unlike science, which aims to understand an object's instrumental value and characteristics.

Morally speaking, Kant only has one standard of logic that he considered non-negotiable. I explained in another post that Gnostic started, that every moral system must have a fundamental moral principle, or "FMP". It is the basis of the entirety of how we are supposed to look at our moral interactions.

For Bentham, it was "One ought to maximize pleasure and minimize pain."
For Kierkegaard, morality was founded on the basis of aesthetics, and operated as a direct line to religion. What I mean by that is, God created the world and set the values for good and evil. Ethics is the organization and normalization (Kant's morality is normative too, fyi) of the aesthetic (which is creative and imaginary/subjective). In order to ascend beyond ethics into religion, Kierkegaard believes that God could call for a "suspension of the ethical" (much like in the Abraham and Isaac story), and that is ok. Meaning that Kierkegaard believes that morality comes from God, and has a normative nature that applies to everybody universally.
That's his FMP: One ought to behave as God has laid out in his works. The logic comes from trying to discern the interpretation of those works, so long as God doesn't require a "suspension of the ethical", to prove your faith.
On the other hand, Nietzsche just spend his whole life tearing apart morality and moral-systems. He ran logical experiments to test the practicality of moral systems. Finally, he rested on the idea that moral values were created by humans, as we are "value creators" (He never explains this). Then, he goes on to suggest that philosophers are those who ought to be responsible for generating those values for society (but doesn't go on to explain how to create these values).
Philosophers could have been chosen because of their adherence to logic and the creation of values that would be objectively fair to all.
However, that brings us back into the territory of morality being objective (which I agree with). The only issue with this is, Nietzsche hasn't really laid out an FMP, so we're back to square 1 with it all, as to who has the best normative yard-stick.

I believe Kant's FMP -- "You ought not treat people as merely as instruments, but also as individuals in and of themselves" -- is best, because it has the least corruptive aspects, as a basic standard. It's not that hard to go through life and not only use people. Hell, you can just stand still and do nothing, and you are respecting everybody else's right to have and achieve goals for themselves. So, I don't understand where your issue with Kant's standard stems. I mean, even Bentham's FMP has so many problems that you can see: As society changes, so do values and pleasures. Thus, it could tip that pain and torture becomes the pleasure of the majority, then what? We live in a society of murderous purge-people?

#Page-Break#
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#4
As I said, I don't understand where your issue with Kant's standard of logic is. The idea behind a moral system is that it applies to the greatest number, fairly. Obviously, universal means everyone, and objective means outside of the self, thus it's fair. Mental deficiencies, where individuals cannot properly reason are legitimate excuses of moral responsibility. If you cannot understand and can never be brought around to, then you are not morally responsible for your actions. On the other hand, psychopaths and sociopaths do, greatly do, have the capacity for reason.

While they do not engage it for reasons of self-gratifying their desires, that still makes them morally responsible for their actions. There's a reason why there is a mens rea in law-breaking.

I might recommend you read "I, Pierre Rivierre" by Foucault. It's in a writing style you'd greatly enjoy, but also goes on to touch on how a psychopath can get away with murder, because authorities believe that he's insane.
Pierre used reason to justify his actions there, but Foucault goes into an eloquent explanation of how reason, while used to justify bad actions, still doesn't support his murdering anybody (and that he should have been hanged).

Moving on quickly, you say that "Even for people who are capable of proper logic, the temptation for using faulty logic is too great to determine absolute morality". However, "faulty logic" isn't a thing you consciously use to determine absolute morality. You don't just say "well, I'm going to use faulty logic to reason my way into committing this act", and Kant knows that. For Kant, the immoral act must be committed, knowing the act was immoral, for the purpose of it being immoral. Faulty logic, if it exists, would not be enough to constitute immorality, unless you know that the use of faulty logic was immoral, not the act you were trying to justify.

I'll just add, thank you for rejecting, out of hand, the sign from God/universe. However, that just throws Kierkegaard right out the window for you, doesn't it? xD That little example at the end still isn't faulty logic.

Finally, you state "So, yes, I do believe that morality is objective. I just don’t believe it can be determined through logic in anything but the abstract or the rarest of real-life situations."
Objective morality, by its inherent nature, necessitates a way to discern what is and is not moral. If morality is objective, there is only one way to discern what is and is not moral: Logic. Why is it logic? It is logic because morality's existence is outside of you. If you didn't exist, morality would still be there. That means, anything within you (like a moral compass at birth, for instance) will never (and I mean never ever) be able to tell you, warn you, or otherwise explain to you what is moral and immoral. You are essentially boiling down objective morality to your own subjective experience. That is just creating your own subjective morality, and basing it on the idea that you'll get a feeling of something being wrong or right (which you have already,out of hand, dismissed as a possibility at all--and rightly so).

We might be at an impasse here, but I'm hoping that your read over this might be able to help you understand the idea behind objective morality and it's interaction with us as agents.


Incidentally, I did read Fear and Trembling, as well as Either/Or, Works of Love, and The Concept of Anxiety, for a course on Kierkegaard. It was the longest course of my life, mostly because I cannot stand the long-winded flowery language of minds like Kierkegaard, Foucault, etc. I think I see where we get our differences in opinion, though. You might have tended toward the ethics of someone like Kierkegaard, whereas I tended towards Kant. I like how literally every sentence Kant writes is saying something that I have to pick apart and unpack, but I can get how that can be daunting for people as well.

~Fin
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#5
You mistake me, good ser.  I never said that Kant wasn’t eloquent… I said he wasn’t poetic.  There’s a difference, as I’m sure you’ll agree.  John F Kennedy was eloquent.  Maya Angelou was poetic.  Both were serious peeps, with important things to say, and should be taken seriously.  To differentiate between the two styles is not the same as hating on one and deifying the other.  And to hold each to the same standard, without consideration of what they were trying to accomplish or who their audience was… well, that’s just, if you’ll excuse the laymen’s phrasing, that’s just silly.  

But while we’re on the subject of writing styles...

‘… the likes of Kierkegaard, Foucault, and (yes) even Nietzsche are looked ill-favored upon as philosophers, for having too flowery a writing-style. The complaint is that they spent too much time on their way of writing than they did on their logic, and logic is the main and most important part of philosophy.’

I have no illusions that, in some circles, many of my favorite philosophers are ill-looked upon…and I’ll give you three guesses on how much value I place on the opinion of those who look down on others based on aesthetic differences or the failure to conform to an artificial standard of form in writing or thinking.
 
For that matter, I’ll give you two guesses on how impressed I am by any opinion, simply because it is held by a majority.

As you said, ‘While we may not enjoy or fully be able to understand the writing style of our philosophers, we cannot let that detract from their arguments.’

Yeah, contradiction is a pain.  Just because someone like Nietzsche has an abstract, disparate writing style that some might not be able to easily understand, that doesn't mean it cools to discount his ideas.
 
Some people become philosophers for practical reasons.  Maybe they enjoy solving problems, maybe they want to understand the world, maybe even they hope to make the world a better place.  But for some people it’s simply a matter of contemplation being built into their nature and writing, a way of life.

Take me, for instance.  I generally write to explore ideas, not explain them.  Granted, this forum is not generally forgiving of that sort of writing… if some little girl is possibly in danger of being sucked into a TV dinner by a poultrygeist, I can’t just go posting suppositions… so I tend to stick to a more informational and logical style.  But in my own personal writings… I always start from a place of uncertainty and usually end up not much closer to a solution.  And when I read the writings of others, it’s not because I am looking for answers, it’s because I’m looking for alternate opinions to weigh in my own considerations.

I’ve always felt a kinship with Kierkegaard, in this.  From the few books I’ve read, he gives me the impression of someone writing primarily for himself.  His faith and his reason are in conflict and he’s telling the story of his struggle.  Keirkegaard’s not trying to solve an objective problem, like morality, but a personal one… and in his writing he is sharing it for others who might be facing something similar. 

And that’s important.  Not everyone views philosophy as a way to find the objective, be-all end-all solution to universal problems.  Some people just want to figure out their own internal struggle.  And concerning those who look down on philosophers who write for themselves, or for the rare individual, rather than for society as a whole?  Or who look down on those who never reach a final answer?

I’ll give you just one guess on my opinion of those peeps…

I’m not going to get into a debate with you on Kant’s vision of morality.  I would have to act a total maggot to take a bonfire philosophy argument to a thesis level debate.  I’m also not gonna be petty about yr self-admitted ‘nit-picking’… like the idea that you might seriously think I don’t know the difference between objective vs subjective logic and my casual 3 examples of the (mis)application of logic.

Not writing a term paper here.  Just saying.  If I’m gonna be graded, I expect to know in advance.

I do want to say that I’ve read every word of yr posts, twice times over at least.  And nothing you could ever say would make me like you less, or offend me, unless you were to stop being you.  Or maybe if you admitted to being a Golden State fan.  I might take issue with that…  

Through all of this, you never actually addressed our ‘impasse.’  And I’m not certain you, let alone the casual reader, understands what it is.  So, I want to be clear.

You believe that morality can be determined through the logical process.  I believe that morality is instilled in us at birth.  I view logic as a potentially corrupting influence, you view it as a necessary one.  For both of us, morality is objective, not subjective.

Once we both accept those premises as viable, we can debate.  Otherwise… Kant seems like a cools guy, he seems to mean well.  And, in my humble opinion, he over complicates things.  I’d totally discuss the matter with him over a bottle of Johnny Walker Double Black, assuming he had an open mind...   Bandana
[img][Image: SignatureToday2_zpsb40bf612.jpg][/img]
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#6
I may have mistaken the way you brought up writing styles, then. No big deal, as it wasn't the crux of the post you wrote, or even the crux of the conversation we were having. I just felt it was something worth commenting on! Sorry Sad

That being said, I'm glad to hear you hold the same position as I do on that one. I enjoy good writing, definitely. Once I wasn't reading for courses, I largely enjoyed the works of the more poetic writers. I, Pierre Riviere was one of those books I enjoyed from start to finish. While I was n school, I preferred the philosophers that were straight to business. It really helped keep things organized for me.


I'll add that I am replying as I read to cut down on time hahaha.

Kierkegaard has some interesting things, but all philosphers are trying to solve a problem facing the genre of philosophy they exist within. Don't get me wrong, I understand the feeling behind identifying with a philosopher for reasons. Your reason for identifying with Kierkegaard is perfectly legitimate. I'm sure he was primarily trying to resolve his own struggles and conflicts of faith, but entertain this idea for a minute:

Myself, I love all things to do with the paranormal and supernatural: the concepts behind it, the wide variety of superstitious beliefs, the entities that exist within, etc.
I would love nothing more than to legitimize its existence, but existence is more than believing. As a philosophy major, my goal is to resolve my own crisis of faith (for the supernatural) by logically determining whether or not the supernatural truly exists. The reason why I emphasize logical is because I am trying to take its existence beyond myself.

Anybody can believe what they choose to believe. You can believe in God, no questions asked. The people asking you questions are ignorant and stupid. The moment you take that belief and choose to press it upon another, well then...you need to start the explanation of a logical existence outside of yourself, that necessitates their falling in line with your beliefs. That's the way it's always worked.
Kierkegaard might have been working to resolve his own issues, but his writing and argumentation shows us that he was also trying to legitimize the idea of a normative morality, through God, not through us. That means that his logic might have initially been for him, but his writing is for us, and that is a different world of judgement altogether.

Now, I don't want you to think that I write thinking you don't know the difference between objective and subjective. Even if you didn't, definitions are really easy to come by, so I believe you perfectly capable of understanding what I laid out. However, there are many other people on here that, I am sure, never took a minute to think about it. Whenever I explain things on a forum, I do so from the stance that I am needed to explain the whole thing for at least 1 person that doesn't know what's going on. It might make you feel like I believe you don't get it, but I am just trying to avoid the short replies that tell people nothing.

This isn't being graded, but we are always working toward discovering truth. The discovery of truth won't be achieved, if I let things pass that shouldn't.

Now, to not have me constantly justifying myself, I will touch on your last point. My claim is that morality is determined through logical processes. Yes. You're claim is that morality is instilled in us at birth. I was aware of that.

If, for both of us, morality is objective and not subjective, what are your supporting premises to your claim/conclusion. I'm willing to debate, of course. However, I will make sure you understand that I knew your stance and I will do my best to find a better way to explain my position on it. Just remember, morality isn't as cut and dry as you seem to think. You'll probably find that arguing from your stance might be quite difficult, when I start asking you a few questions Tongue
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#7
Thank you both for continuing with this thread. I'm pulling up a chair and just enjoying the wordplay.

Mika, you made me laugh out loud with: "...some little girl is possibly in danger of being sucked into a TV dinner by a poultrygeist". I may never look at my ready-made chicken kiev dinner in quite the same way again. Big Grin

Having established we are at an impasse with regards to subjective and objective morality, I'd like to ask again about the differences between ethics and morality. Are the definitions interchangeable? Or can an individual have a strict code of ethics and yet be considered by society's moral logic to be absolutely  corrupt?
There's life...and then there's the afterlife.
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#8
Hey Jadeite, welcome back to MTv (Morality Television)!

We spoke a lot about morality, and we are about to get started on that again, I'm sure. However to answer your question, the two terms are not interchangeable. Morals exist as the basis of an ethic.

Think of it this way: You are facing the problem of whether or not to lie to a friend. They think they are great at singing, you don't (and they aren't). You don't want to hurt their feelings, but you've also deduced that not lying would be more morally valuable to both you and them, than a white lie to protect thier feelings. That is a moral. You ought not lie. The ethic would be you then living your life by the moral that lying does less to benefit a moral situation than not lying. Thus, you choose not to lie, even if the lie could have been morally utilized.
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#9
MTv beats regular TV any day!

My question on ethics and morality came about when I was watching something on TV about the twisted mental processes of serial killers. Let's use the series "Dexter" as an example. The moral is that it's wrong to kill. The ethic is that it's wrong to take the law into our own hands and play judge, jury, executioner. But the character Dexter has applied his own maxim in a dark shade of grey: the ends justifies the means and by getting rid of a worse serial killer, other innocent lives have been saved.

Btw, I've not been able to watch a single episode of Dexter in its entirety. The whole concept of the series and the moral ambiguities are disturbing. Even more disturbing is the character's portrayal as an 'anti-hero' or 'dark knight'.

Hmm, maybe this strays more into the realm of psychology or psychiatry, rather than philosophy.
There's life...and then there's the afterlife.
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#10
Philosophy is tied to every discipline, to be honest. Anything that has a large logical basis ends up having a philosophical course requirement, in order to graduate. Science is philosophy, up until the point where they stop practicing deductive logic, and start relying on inference. That about the same with psychiatry, psychology, and just about any discipline that aims to use empirical data as a crutch.

Just for the record, you laid out a clear moral, yes. "We ought not to kill." Note, the phrasing. It isn't that it's wrong to kill, it's that we ought not do it. Words like "ought" or "shouldn't" is moral language that governs behaviour. Whether something is wrong or not is a separate issue, because things can be right or wrong for different reasons. You could be right or wrong morally, logically, empirically, in opinion, etc. The terminology in moral philosophy is super important to be clear what you mean.
It can be seen in what you list as an ethic. Your same sentence is "We ought not take the law into our own hands and play judge, jury, executioner." That's another maxim for morality, more than it is an ethic. Dexter's ethic would be more akin to acting upon the moral of "We ought not to kill, but we also ought not let other people deny the moral rights of others." Then, taking that moral and internalizing it becomes a justification to go after other serial killers that are using individuals merely as vehicles of their own pleasure, rather than treating those people as agents of volition themselves.

Dexter is...interesting. To properly moralize his scenario, he would have to consider the people he killed "less-than" human. Because a human would count as a moral being that has the right to live life with its own goals and aspirations.

Good talk! Glad to see that serial murderer's course I took get some use hahahaha.
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