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Help with the is/ought problem.

DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
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4/12/2012 11:20:45 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
It seemed to make sense to me when I first heard of it, there being a distinction between what is good and what we ought to do, but now I just don't get it.

What is the problem exactly? If X (feeding the homeless, for example) is morally right, then shouldn't we ought to do X? And if X (stabbing strangers, for example) is morally wrong, then shouldn't we ought not do X?
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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4/12/2012 11:25:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:20:45 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
It seemed to make sense to me when I first heard of it, there being a distinction between what is good and what we ought to do, but now I just don't get it.

What is the problem exactly? If X (feeding the homeless, for example) is morally right, then shouldn't we ought to do X? And if X (stabbing strangers, for example) is morally wrong, then shouldn't we ought not do X?

The "is" part of the "is/ought" problem is not "is morally right/wrong" but simply "is."

Another term would be the naturalistic fallacy. For example, murder happens (is) ergo murder is ok (ought)

It's the difference between describing the way the world is and describing the world the way it ought to be.
DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
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4/12/2012 11:32:31 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:25:44 AM, drafterman wrote:
The "is" part of the "is/ought" problem is not "is morally right/wrong" but simply "is."

Another term would be the naturalistic fallacy. For example, murder happens (is) ergo murder is ok (ought)

It's the difference between describing the way the world is and describing the world the way it ought to be.

So it's the difference between our shitty world and a perfect world? Well that makes a bit more sense, but then what's the supposed problem? That some people think murder is okay just because it happens?
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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4/12/2012 11:35:06 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:32:31 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
At 4/12/2012 11:25:44 AM, drafterman wrote:
The "is" part of the "is/ought" problem is not "is morally right/wrong" but simply "is."

Another term would be the naturalistic fallacy. For example, murder happens (is) ergo murder is ok (ought)

It's the difference between describing the way the world is and describing the world the way it ought to be.

So it's the difference between our shitty world and a perfect world? Well that makes a bit more sense, but then what's the supposed problem? That some people think murder is okay just because it happens?

Not that specific example necessarily. But there are plenty of people who assert that something should be continued simply because that's the way it's always been done.
DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
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4/12/2012 11:40:40 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:35:06 AM, drafterman wrote:
Not that specific example necessarily. But there are plenty of people who assert that something should be continued simply because that's the way it's always been done.

I guess what I meant to ask is: why is the is/ought problem brought up in debates about atheistic morality, like in Sam Harris vs WLC? Why is the is/ought problem supposedly more of a problem for atheists than theists?
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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4/12/2012 11:43:13 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:20:45 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
It seemed to make sense to me when I first heard of it, there being a distinction between what is good and what we ought to do, but now I just don't get it.

What is the problem exactly? If X (feeding the homeless, for example) is morally right, then shouldn't we ought to do X? And if X (stabbing strangers, for example) is morally wrong, then shouldn't we ought not do X?

That's begging the question, or a form of circular reasoning. You presuppose that X is morally right and use that to prove that we ought to do X (aka X is morally right). It's like saying that X is right because X is right.

Your problem might have just been this use of is and ought.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
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4/12/2012 11:49:22 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:40:40 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
At 4/12/2012 11:35:06 AM, drafterman wrote:
Not that specific example necessarily. But there are plenty of people who assert that something should be continued simply because that's the way it's always been done.

I guess what I meant to ask is: why is the is/ought problem brought up in debates about atheistic morality, like in Sam Harris vs WLC? Why is the is/ought problem supposedly more of a problem for atheists than theists?

You'll have to point out a specific example.
DakotaKrafick
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4/12/2012 12:49:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:43:13 AM, 000ike wrote:
That's begging the question, or a form of circular reasoning. You presuppose that X is morally right and use that to prove that we ought to do X (aka X is morally right). It's like saying that X is right because X is right.

Your problem might have just been this use of is and ought.

If you're not going to derive an "ought" from an "is" such as in my example, then what are you going to derive it from? You normally say "We ought to do X, if we value well-being". Well, that if "if we value well-being" is the same as "if X is morally right" (because it promotes well-being), so far as I can tell.
DakotaKrafick
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4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I see... After further reading, the is/ought problem (often confused with the naturalistic fallacy) seems to say that we can't derive an "ought" (we ought not hit others) from an "is" (others don't like to be hit) without including a conditional value statement (if we value the desires of others).

WLC says this: "The theory that I have defended is a form of Divine Command Theory. According to this view our moral duties are constituted by the commands of an essentially just and loving God. It seems to me that this theory does derive an "ought" from an "is," and justifiably so—though not in the way you imagine. The theory does, as you say, ground moral values in God's unchanging nature. God is the paradigm of goodness. But that is not to say that "because God is a certain way we ought to behave in certain ways." No, our moral obligations and prohibitions arise as a result of God's commands to us." [1]

How is that still not deriving an "ought" (we ought to do X) from an "is" (God commands X) without adding a value statement (if we value God's judgement)?

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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4/12/2012 5:09:39 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
I see... After further reading, the is/ought problem (often confused with the naturalistic fallacy) seems to say that we can't derive an "ought" (we ought not hit others) from an "is" (others don't like to be hit) without including a conditional value statement (if we value the desires of others).

WLC says this: "The theory that I have defended is a form of Divine Command Theory. According to this view our moral duties are constituted by the commands of an essentially just and loving God. It seems to me that this theory does derive an "ought" from an "is," and justifiably so—though not in the way you imagine. The theory does, as you say, ground moral values in God's unchanging nature. God is the paradigm of goodness. But that is not to say that "because God is a certain way we ought to behave in certain ways." No, our moral obligations and prohibitions arise as a result of God's commands to us." [1]

How is that still not deriving an "ought" (we ought to do X) from an "is" (God commands X) without adding a value statement (if we value God's judgement)?

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

Oopsy, you discovered religious deontologist's nasty lil secret.
Ren
Posts: 7,102
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4/12/2012 5:59:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
I see... After further reading, the is/ought problem (often confused with the naturalistic fallacy) seems to say that we can't derive an "ought" (we ought not hit others) from an "is" (others don't like to be hit) without including a conditional value statement (if we value the desires of others).

Detracting from the religious aspect of your post for a moment, I just wanted to indicate that, based on your interpretation of this is/ought problem, my argument would be that you do not derive the ought from the conditional value statement, but instead from what is, which is not necessarily that people do not desire to be hit (and, indeed, some people do), but it is both necessary to cooperate and necessary to avoid hitting in order to cooperate and coexist with others. It is only logical, those are statements of fact, and from there, you can derive an objective should.

Such is the basis of my morality. ^_^
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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4/12/2012 6:48:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 5:59:34 PM, Ren wrote:
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
I see... After further reading, the is/ought problem (often confused with the naturalistic fallacy) seems to say that we can't derive an "ought" (we ought not hit others) from an "is" (others don't like to be hit) without including a conditional value statement (if we value the desires of others).

Detracting from the religious aspect of your post for a moment, I just wanted to indicate that, based on your interpretation of this is/ought problem, my argument would be that you do not derive the ought from the conditional value statement, but instead from what is, which is not necessarily that people do not desire to be hit (and, indeed, some people do), but it is both necessary to cooperate and necessary to avoid hitting in order to cooperate and coexist with others. It is only logical, those are statements of fact, and from there, you can derive an objective should.

Such is the basis of my morality. ^_^

The conditional is that you want to cooperate and coexist with others.

We've been over how there is nothing past insistence that because all worthwhile humans want to live in a certain manner, all humans, worthwhile or not, ought to live in that manner.

In this case, the definition of worthwhile is the line drawn for anyone who doesn't take as axiomatic that they ought to act in a manner that best serves their survival. A hedonist who would knowingly sacrifice health for short-term pleasure, for instance, would disagree that morality stems from that axiom.

Turning that proposition into a conditional ELIMINATES all of these kinds of problems. There is no grouping issue since the proposition isn't meant to apply across populations.

If someone disagrees with the conditional "you ought to live in a manner which best serves your survival" then they can go along their merry way, but on a normative level they cannot justify any actions with that as a basis.

It becomes about accepting or rejecting conditionals, not the derived moral systems.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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4/12/2012 8:14:23 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 11:20:45 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
What is the problem exactly?

That you can't get an Ought from an Is.

If X (feeding the homeless, for example) is morally right, then shouldn't we ought to do X?

Well... what you're doing there is repeating the same thing in different words..

If you ought to do x, you ought to do x.

That's not garnering an ought from an is.. that's repeating an ought.

or... What do you mean by "morally right" if not What ought be done
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
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4/12/2012 8:17:55 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 8:14:23 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 4/12/2012 11:20:45 AM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
What is the problem exactly?

That you can't get an Ought from an Is.

If X (feeding the homeless, for example) is morally right, then shouldn't we ought to do X?

Well... what you're doing there is repeating the same thing in different words..

If you ought to do x, you ought to do x.

That's not garnering an ought from an is.. that's repeating an ought.

or... What do you mean by "morally right" if not What ought be done

Your "is" is really an ought in the first place... ;)
one which isn't gotten from some other is... so no ought there is shown to be the case.. it's assumed and re-asserted.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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4/12/2012 8:38:50 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
How is that still not deriving an "ought" (we ought to do X) from an "is" (God commands X) without adding a value statement (if we value God's judgement)?

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

B/c WLC and his ilk are Self-rejecting Nihilists... so they reject what they care about from the very beginning.

Their "oughts" are completely uncompelling.. and have no real claim to being claimed as an Ought/being claimed as compelling in the first place.

By Moral they mean what God wants... and though they'd say that such a thing also "ought" be done.. They have no compelling argument, as they reject Your individual cares as the basis of valuation.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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4/12/2012 8:45:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Really.. as you've suggested, Through citing your values and facts about the world, you can explain how you get oughts from is'..

Just limited oughts..

Like how, given my desire for ice-cream and some disposable income... I should maybe go get some ice-cream :)
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
wiploc
Posts: 1,485
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4/16/2012 12:41:35 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
How is that still not deriving an "ought" (we ought to do X) from an "is" (God commands X) without adding a value statement (if we value God's judgement)?

You have a winning argument here. All they can do in response is try to confuse you.
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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4/21/2012 8:47:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 4/12/2012 1:07:02 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
I see... After further reading, the is/ought problem (often confused with the naturalistic fallacy) seems to say that we can't derive an "ought" (we ought not hit others) from an "is" (others don't like to be hit) without including a conditional value statement (if we value the desires of others).

WLC says this: "The theory that I have defended is a form of Divine Command Theory. According to this view our moral duties are constituted by the commands of an essentially just and loving God. It seems to me that this theory does derive an "ought" from an "is," and justifiably so—though not in the way you imagine. The theory does, as you say, ground moral values in God's unchanging nature. God is the paradigm of goodness. But that is not to say that "because God is a certain way we ought to behave in certain ways." No, our moral obligations and prohibitions arise as a result of God's commands to us." [1]

How is that still not deriving an "ought" (we ought to do X) from an "is" (God commands X) without adding a value statement (if we value God's judgement)?

[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...

Right, like many arguments for God, it doesn't solve the problem, it just pushes it a step back further. The existence of God, and the existence of commands from such a God are still "is" statements, and as the argument goes you can't get an "ought" from an "is"
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Cody_Franklin
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4/21/2012 9:03:49 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Maybe I can help, dawg. Basically, it's like, you can't get objective moral statements from nothing but facts about the way the world is, cuz there's a hidden value judgment that comes between the two:

1. Fat people are unhealthy. (the is)
2. Therefore, people ought not be fat. (the ought)

This syllogism is totes missing the other premise, which is the hidden value judgment. We can extract it, though, and just modus ponens the sh!t out of the whole argument:

1. If fat people are unhealthy, then they ought not be fat. (Missing premise)
2. Fat people are unhealthy. (is)
3. Therefore, people ought not be fat. (ought)

I mean, it's kind of dumb because you can compress the is and ought propositions into a conditional then use the product as a premise to validate the normative argument, but you can still recursively be like "No, the argument is unsound since premise 1 is just a fallacy hiding in the syllogism." The value judgment, besides just being a sneaky way of connecting is and ought in a single proposition, is just completely unjustifiable--you could just play normative contingency against it forever until you demonstrate eventually that the fundamental value frameworks are arbitrary.

But yeah, Ethics 101, bro: can't get legitimate normative statements by pointing to stuff that's true about the world, because you have to presuppose a particular value premise in order to interpret the facts in a way that actually has normative meaning.