Quote of the Day: Morality is determined by sentiment

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Fri, 2007-11-23 14:12

The hypothesis which we embrace is plain. It maintains that morality is determined by sentiment. It defines virtue to be whatever mental action or quality gives to a spectator the pleasing sentiment of approbation; and vice the contrary. We then proceed to examine a plain matter of fact, to wit, what actions have this influence. We consider all the circumstances in which these actions agree, and thence endeavour to extract some general observations with regard to these sentiments. If you call this metaphysics, and find anything abstruse here, you need only conclude that your turn of mind is not suited to the moral sciences.

David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals


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The Right Tool...

James S. Valliant's picture

Is that like the need to supplement a Ouija Board with some astrological charts?

Stephen

Richard Goode's picture

Thanks (belatedly) for your suggestion that I check out Michael Huemer's The Subjectivist's Dilemma. Now that I have, it seems that I must supplement my metaethics with an Intuitionist epistemology.

So be it. Cool

Name Change Warranted

gregster's picture

Surely I believe Richard you're more suited to "Richard No Goode" ?

Ah, yes, faith

Ross Elliot's picture

"My belief that freedom is good is an article of faith."

And, Richard, when you lose your faith, when you become an apostate, and you turn to the alternative, which is oppression, that will be as valid to you as was your former belief. You have no reference. You're adrift in a sea of psycho-emotional flotsam. You are ruled by the Id. At best, you cling to pragmatism. At worst, you go insane.

James, stellar stuff from you, here and elsewhere.

The best part ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your options are faith, delusion or nihilism. Take your pick.

The best part is that Richard winds up embracing all three!

Though I'm quite taken by faith in objective value on its own.

What's "Faith"?

James S. Valliant's picture

Simple question -- and an important one for you (and those students of yours), since all of your beliefs seem to amount to "articles of faith."

And, why wouldn't Hitler's "faith" in Nazism, or Mother Teresa's "faith" in the God of Suffering, be equally valid and objective?

[btw: merely repeating your bottom-line opinions does not constitute an argument.]

Faith in objective value

Richard Goode's picture

No, wait, some sort of faith. But in what?

Faith in objective value.

Richard

James S. Valliant's picture

"Faith, delusion or nihilism?"

Which among these lovely alternatives did you pick, Richard, to get those "moral facts"?

This reminds me of the classic monty python routine, "The Argument Clinic," where a man pays to have an argument, but feels cheated when the paid arguer will only just contradict whatever is said, often with a mere "no it isn't," without ever making a case for anything himself. Of course, in the meantime, a case about argument itself is being made by the guy who came in for an argument.

Christmas Beetle

HWH's picture

"Listen up. If you want to be good boys and girls, just do what makes you feel good, and if you dont get it, forgetaboutit."

Now that sounds like someone who doesn't have a clue, but for someone like you who has on Humes advice regressed to the pre-perceptual, disjointed, sensation-only level of a Christmas beetle, you spout this kind of crap with quite a patronizing air, almost as if you were smuggling perception into your arbitrary deductions.

Perhaps a swift kick up the arse would be the only suitable sensation to provide you with a new revelation that your rehashed brand of bullshit would find a larger market elsewhere, (Salient being one of the first to come to mind)

Now what was I saying again...Ah, someone switched on the light.

Fuck...even Jim Morrison was better than Hume.

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

I'm sure you're flattering him. He's like the Slipknot drummer...

Now you're flattering me. But it won't get you anywhere.

Mark

Lindsay Perigo's picture

It's that special brand of feeling of depression, oppression, nihilism and sweaty futility that only the humanities faculty of a university can produce in the early hours of the morning. It's all there in that one post of yours.

I'm sure you're flattering him. He's like the Slipknot drummer who boasted that if indeed their music made people suicidal, they must be doing something right.

I had the Richard Goodes running my music classes, flapping their wrists as they effetely proclaimed the sound of glass breaking to be intrinsically beautiful. At the time, I wasn't equipped to realise they were just evil slime-fucks.

Richard, I love the threads

Mark Hubbard's picture

Richard, I love the threads you've got going because between you, James and Linz, I'm learning so much. But to detour, and this is not in any way a part of the ongoing debate, I just want to state that your post below is singularly the most depressing 'sentiment' I have read, as in empty and black (to wax poetic), since my mind met the brick wall of Derrida and Foucault in 1986 in the first year of a Master of Arts Degree. I had no knowledge of Objectivism back then, but understood the nihilism that those two men represented, and, not having a philosophical framework to deal with it in, (being fixated with writing 'the great NZ novel'), upon one month of their sly, meaningless, infiltration of my life, I had bombed out of my Masters (after an A+ average BA), and, indeed, staggered wantonly onto a course of heavy cannabis use, for two entire years, in the arms of a gloriously evil woman (well, some small amount of time), and only the odd month off for going straight and working - yes, not on welfare - until I was able to put myself back on the straight and narrow, well, until the two accountancy degrees.

It's that special brand of feeling of depression, oppression, nihilism and sweaty futility that only the humanities faculty of a university can produce in the early hours of the morning. It's all there in that one post of yours.

From this a serious question: with a belief system expressed thusly, what drives you to even get out of bed of a morning? What is 'the' point for you?

No, wait, some sort of faith. But in what?

Jesus H. Hume!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse.

Richard, you're not an Objectivist plant are you, a double agent on our side whom I was not informed about? This is such a priceless caricature!

Anyway, the new thread is up.

Faith, delusion and nihilism

Richard Goode's picture

How, exactly, did you arrive at these objective moral facts?

What I think you're asking, Ross, is how do I justify (e.g.) my belief that freedom is good. The short answer is that I don't. I can't justify such beliefs. More to the point, neither can you.

As I've already said, there is no place for objective moral values in a scientific world view. No-one has ever observed objective moral values. Objective moral values are not posits of any currently accepted scientific theory. Contra Rand, there is no such thing as a "rational, scientific, objective code of ethics".

In order to countenance objective morality in one's world view, one must go beyond science - beyond the evidence - and take a step of faith. Either that, or take a giant leap of illogic (you could fool yourself that you've derived an "ought" from an "is", for example). Otherwise, one must forsake objective moral values.

My belief that freedom is good is an article of faith.

Your options are faith, delusion or nihilism. Take your pick.

And, Richard...

Ross Elliot's picture

..."What makes it true that freedom is good - and false that freedom is bad - are the objective moral facts."

How, exactly, did you arrive at these objective moral facts?

Barf 2

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Consider two physical judgements: the judgement made by me that the Earth is round and the judgement made by a flat-earther that the Earth is flat. We have here not just a difference of opinion, since I am right and the flat-earther is wrong. What makes me right - and the flat-earther wrong - is the shape of the Earth. What makes it true that the Earth is round - and false that the Earth is flat - are the objective physical facts.
Now consider two moral judgements: the judgement made by me that freedom is good and the judgement made by an evil dictator that freedom is bad. We have here not just a difference of opinion, since I am right and the evil dictator is wrong. What makes me right - and the evil dictator wrong - is the goodness of freedom. What makes it true that freedom is good - and false that freedom is bad - are the objective moral facts.
The two cases are exactly analogous. You have your answer.

Hahahahahahaha!! We do indeed. More than you know, Richard.

You really ought to read up on the fallacy of intrinsicism, Richard. And the difference between the metaphysical and the ethical.

So, again, freedom is good because .... because .... because ... just because??!!

Incidentally, Hayek commenced his awful "Fatal Conceit" quoting Hume to the effect that you can't get morality from reason. In Richard's posts we see the cashing-in, and why freedom-fighters must not let their cause be hijacked by anti-human Humeans. As Rand said of Hayek, "God damn the total complete vicious bastard."

I urge all young SOLOIsts NOT to read Hayek until they've mastered the Objectivist ethics. Which means—the metaphysics and epistemology as well. Smiling

Barf!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I already told you. Life's too short to discuss philosophy with murderous tyrants.

And I already responded (to: shoot first, answer questions later) by asking why you'd shoot him? To which you didn't respond. Possibly because any answer might have indicated that life was the implicit standard of value driving your actions. Which "life's too short ..." also suggests.

Note folks, that officially, Richard has *no* answer to the murderous tyrant as to why Richard is good and the tyrant is bad. Why are we not surprised?!

'This is, as Mark says, monstrous.' This meaning my position, or Hume's (to which I believe Mark was referring)?

Both. But at least Hume had the humanity to acknowledge that no one could live as though his vile strictures were true. You go watch the videos linked to by Mark of the Islamo-fascists stoning and amputating and tell me you can't get ought from is. Try this one for starters:

http://www.apostatesofislam.co...

All that umpty-tumpthing can't be good for your blood pressure.

You hope. And I'd rather have high blood pressure brought on by loathing of the loathsome than be a smarmy appeasing supercilious pomowanking fuck.

"Objective Moral Facts"?!

James S. Valliant's picture

My first awareness of "murder" did come packaged with a moral evaluation, but I still cannot have had even an inkling of the latter prior to my awareness of the former.

My parents taught me many true and wise things about ethics. About freedom, on the other hand, their education was spotty, if sincere. LIke most contemporary political thought, it was inconsistent.

However, I no longer agree with all of the moral education of my upbringing, and I certainly have come to reject vast sections of the moral (and metaphysical) instruction I received at the Presbyterian Church to which I was taken as a child.

My sentiments have changed accordingly.

My parents were very good about explaining the WHY behind some principle of behavior they recommended or enforced. Also, I have come to see why much of that parental education was correct on my own -- and have deeply amplified feelings on those topics as a consequence.

But -- FAR MORE interesting -- are these "objective moral facts" to which you refer.

Are these empirically observed "facts," or what?

How do we stumble upon the "fact" of freedom's "goodness" by "sentiment" exactly?

Are these judgments still "distinctly unscientific," then, even if somehow based on "fact"?

What if someone else's "sentiments" prefer dictatorship?

Coming from someone who just said that moral judgments are a matter of sentiment, this will require some explanation, Richard, and the "question" has hardly been "answered."

Why

Elijah Lineberry's picture

do you engage in a kind of 'presumption'?

Why take the view that 'life is too short to discuss philosophy with murderous tyrants'? ...surely the moment you are in the company of one would be the ideal occasion?

Why presume you are correct without engaging him in debate?

Why presume a flat Earth chap is wrong without debating him?
Once again, the moment you are in the company of such a chap is the perfect opportunity to enlighten the fellow.

"I create nothing. I own"

Question answered

Richard Goode's picture

So, why am I right and they were wrong? Or is it just a difference of opinion? If not, *why* isn't it?

Consider two physical judgements: the judgement made by me that the Earth is round and the judgement made by a flat-earther that the Earth is flat. We have here not just a difference of opinion, since I am right and the flat-earther is wrong. What makes me right - and the flat-earther wrong - is the shape of the Earth. What makes it true that the Earth is round - and false that the Earth is flat - are the objective physical facts.

Now consider two moral judgements: the judgement made by me that freedom is good and the judgement made by an evil dictator that freedom is bad. We have here not just a difference of opinion, since I am right and the evil dictator is wrong. What makes me right - and the evil dictator wrong - is the goodness of freedom. What makes it true that freedom is good - and false that freedom is bad - are the objective moral facts.

The two cases are exactly analogous. You have your answer.

Your moral education

Richard Goode's picture

No, Richard, I, for one, had NO position on freedom whatever BEFORE I had cognitively considered the facts about it -- including its impact on human life.

What about murder? Did you have a position on that?

At what age did you first consider the facts about freedom?

Did your parents teach you right from wrong?

I already told you

Richard Goode's picture

So for the umpty-tumpth time, what do you say to the murderous tyrant who says he's consulted his viscera and it's told him dictatorship is good?

I already told you. Life's too short to discuss philosophy with murderous tyrants.

This is, as Mark says, monstrous.

This meaning my position, or Hume's (to which I believe Mark was referring)?

All that umpty-tumpthing can't be good for your blood pressure.

Careful with that anaphora, Eugene

Richard Goode's picture

I've not read Hume, Richard, but if this is the position of same, then it's monstrous.

You should, before declaring his position, that morality is determined by sentiment, monstrous.

Or did you actually mean my position, that our moral judgements are determined by sentiment?

Richard...

Ross Elliot's picture

...why *don't* you answer the question?

Why isn't the dictator's belief in oppression as valid as mine in freedom? The Nazi hatred of Jews, Gypsies and Slavs was as certain to them as my non-hatred of those groups is to me. So, why am I right and they were wrong? Or is it just a difference of opinion? If not, *why* isn't it?

Answer the question.

Exactly Backwards

James S. Valliant's picture

No, Richard, I, for one, had NO position on freedom whatever BEFORE I had cognitively considered the facts about it -- including its impact on human life.

Indeed, you've got it precisely backwards: it is my value-judgments which determine my emotions on that subject, not vice versa.

Viscera vs Viscera

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So for the umpty-tumpth time, what do you say to the murderous tyrant who says he's consulted his viscera and it's told him dictatorship is good?

This is, as Mark says, monstrous. I can't get many in Libz to realise just how monstrous. I'm glad folk here can see it.

Linz

PS—The alternative to this wanton subjectivism is not intrinsicism, the flip side of the coin. Avoid like the plague a term like "inherently good" or anything that suggests that "good" and "human" and "objective" are mutually exclusive. See the discussion on other threads.

I'm going to pull this into one super-thread soon, so the argument—which is really THE argument—can be focused onto it.

I've not read Hume, Richard,

Mark Hubbard's picture

I've not read Hume, Richard, but if this is the position of same, then it's monstrous. It would sanction any whim, including that most vile and evil, and would be a subjectivist hell. Like being governed by the Left.

In fact, 'Consult your viscera. That's where you'll find the answer.' Well why not just use tea leaves or chicken blood? Pure Voodoo.

 


Belly fire

Richard Goode's picture

Hume maintained that morality is determined by sentiment.

I maintain that our moral judgements are determined by sentiment.

Is freedom good? Look within. Consult your viscera. That's where you'll find the answer. If you already have the answer, that's where you found it.

Morality

Callum McPetrie's picture

Morality isn't whatever we make it. A moral action-an action which is inherently good ought not to differ from person to person. Otherwise, all of the great man-made disasters throughout history, aka the holocaust, Soviet gulags, slavery etc, were all justified. Morality is determined, not by sentiment, but by man's interests on Earth-for instance, what will advance a man's life, as long as it doesn't harm another man's life.

"Socialism may be dead, but its corpse is still rotting up the place"-Ayn Rand

Food for Thought

James S. Valliant's picture

Poor Hume -- he'd never heard the case made here and here in the comments.

Poor Hume -- he merely pushes the question back a notch, in any event: where, then, does one's "sentiment" come from? Are we then innately opposed to racism, Nazism and murder? Really? Are one's emotional preferences changeless? Then, how do they change? Aren't they affected by one's thinking? Or the truth? What is their source? Or, are emotions just a given we have to work around?

So, your sentiments, your ethics, are no more objective than some pedophile's sentiments? The racist's sentiments, then, are of the same "objectivity" as your own anger about racism? It's a mere difference of emotional preferences?

Nope. It's what I ~ know ~ about racism, for example, that makes me loathe it -- because of what, in fact, it means to human life.

The Subjectivist's Dilemma

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Check it out:

The Subjectivist's Dilemma

(beginning on page 77) 

 

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