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Morality and moral axioms (what are ethical foundations based on?)

Fallowfox

Are we moomin, or are we dancer?
I think stipulating moral axioms is a little misguided. Sometimes those axioms are deceptive; they seem reasonable, but create paradoxes and problems in complicated situations.

Rather than being axioms, they are emergent phenomena.

I recognise some libertarian terminology in the OP, or at least terms they employ routinely. That group in particular is guilty of claiming 'natural moral laws' and then running away with them to arrive at whatever conclusion they fancy. :\

Moral 'strategies' are actually dependent on the strategies people around you follow, a bit like competing computer programs. You can even see moral strategies get stuck in glitches and loops like a program would- for example a family feud being a loop in the 'tit for tat' strategy. [coincidentally this is a situation in which the OP's strategy is not useful].
 

Rassah

Well-Known Member
Not necessarily what I'm talking about. I'm referring to situations in which an inferior law or ethic must be broken for a superior purpose, like stealing a car to drive an dying person to the hospital in an act to save his life.

In that case, the theft of the car will be the initiation of aggression upon another's property, and the owner would be justified to ask for compensation, and retaliate if they don't get it. Though since we live in a society, their retaliation would have to be "fair" in the eyes of those around them (if it seems unfair, others may not want to deal with or do business with them). So, asking for the car and the used gas back = fair, going after the thief and shooting them, no questions asked = unfair. That does add an element of subjectivity to the mix though. In some societies, taking other's stuff, no matter what the reason, may be ok to kill for, though I hope that a just and even compensation would be best.


So you may personally feel as if you own the products of your mind, but to the rest of humanity, that is meaningless at best, or stolen at worst (though nobody will care if it is, except maybe you).

Not sure how a piece of your music, performed by someone else, would be theft of your work. Or someone making a tool you created from scratch for their own purposes. If they have the idea in their head now, and are able to execute the idea using their own skills, how is that idea in their head theft?

Thus the great wise men of the ages have created certain universal laws in an attempt to set forth a path of law for humans to abide. These include the Christian ten commandments, the laws of Karma, heck even Murphy's laws!
Yet so many still transgress. Logic and reason are not the answer until man can evolve beyond the animal he currently is!

I think the point here is to discuss exactly such laws (I did not come up with them), to see if we can have something like the Ten Commandmants, but based on actual ethical axioms, instead of divine intervention. Yes, people will transgress, but the idea is to figure out which transgressions are actually unethical (raped your wife) and which are not (looked at porn), and possibly see if the laws created by men actually match up with what would be considered ethical (there are places in US where you are not allowed to buy alcohol on Sunday)
 

Inignem

Pro-death amateur drawer
There is a large swath of the population that bases their moral beliefs on religious texts or proclamations from authority (priest, government, hall monitor). This is not about that.

I am wondering how possible is it to build a strong moral foundation using only logic and basic agreed-upon axioms. The way I start is with the axiom

I own my own body.

I'm not sure how to argue against that one, but if you can, I'd love to hear it. From this I can continue and claim that, if there is some resource that is unclaimed, or is freely given to me, if I use my own body to change that resource in any way, then I own whatever it is that I made out of it. So, the second step becomes

I own the products of my body and mind.

Again, feel free to pipe in if you believe there is a problem with any of this. Mind you, I'm not talking about society at this point, just the very very basics. Now, the next step is that, if I own my own body and the things that I make, someone else trying to take posession of or cause damage to my body and my stuff is not very good for me (stealing, stabbing, breaking, etc). Naturally, I would protest to that being done. So, if these actions are being done in spite of my protest, I could call that aggression against me. Thus, the next step, or axiom, could be

No one has the right to aggress against me.

Here, "aggression" is defined as the "initiation" of physical force against persons or property. This isn't a legal right, but simply a claim I can make about my own existence. If I own myself and my stuff, then it goes that no one else should have the right to screw with it. I suspect this axiom is something everyone else would agree to as well, and in fact is often called "The Golden Rule," otherwise worded as "Do unto others as you would unto yourself." However, I have heard some people claim that this one has issues, and that some people do have the right to initiate aggression. Again, let me know if there are problems in these steps. So, now that I and all the rest of my little community agree that we shouldn't screw with each other and each other's stuff, what happens when someone actually does? I think it would be fair to defend yourself and your stuff against an aggressor, and others in our tiny community would agree as well. And thus

...but if someone does initiate aggression, I have the right to defend myself.

And thus we have what is called the NAP, or the Non-Aggression Principle, where the axiomatic claim is that no one should have the right to initiate force, and those who do are allowed to be defended against. Before we expand this to other, more complex systems, does anyone have any issue with the claims so far, believes they shouldn't apply (and why), or have some other axiom or basis to start an ethical system on top of?

Morality and axiom together are an oxymoron.

Morality depends of the existence of human beings justifying their actions on convenient prejudices. An axiom is a logical universal proposition that can be accepted without a demonstration. But one can not demonstrate that a human being will always attempt to justify his actions in the already depicted manner.
 

Rassah

Well-Known Member
Morality and axiom together are an oxymoron.
Morality depends of the existence of human beings justifying their actions on convenient prejudices. An axiom is a logical universal proposition that can be accepted without a demonstration. But one can not demonstrate that a human being will always attempt to justify his actions in the already depicted manner.


You do not own all the products of your body and mind if some of them are copies of those of other people.
Chalking up all morals to black and white axioms sounds like something a preacher would do in Sunday school. It's far too silly. There isn't a logical structure to this stuff beyond Brownian motion, predator-prey, and biology. There is also a neglect of the understanding of groups, which are huuuge in humans, seeing as our species, and our ancestral species, were gregarious. If one individual is doing things that are a detriment to others in the group, even indirectly, the group would react. That's empirical, you see this in biology all the time. Sure, no one has the right to murder or steal from you, but if you are being a slacker, the group can exclude you from activities or see you as lower, hurting your quality of life in the group. Retaliation for this ostracism would not be justified.

Ok, so if you reject these axioms as "axioms," how would you counter them? Do you believe that your body (or you yourself) can be owned by another person? Do you believe the physical things you create can be taken by someone else for no reason other than that they want them? Do you believe others should have special privilidges to initiate aggression against you, without you having the right to retaliate?
If these ideas are just convenient prejudices or silly, or neglect things, or can be rejected with a counter demonstration, can you come up with a counterpoint showing how the opposite of the four I mentioned would be justified, either for individuals, or for society?


If one lives in a group, the individual must at times make contributions for the group's operation. Some people call this taxes. If one member says "screw you guys, that's MINE", then the group has the right to punish the individual. These taxes are not aggression, the individual agreed to them by using products created by the group without paying for them.

If someone agreed to use products created by the group, that's not taxation, that's them using the products, and then paying for them. Taxes if when you are made to pay for everything, wiether you use it or not, without you having a say in the matter. So, what is the difference between you paying a mafia to provide protection, with the threat that if you don't they'll break your shop and your kneecaps, and you paying taxes for government to privide you protection, with the threat that if you don't they'll take your shop and stick you in prison? How is one more ethical than the other?
As for making contributions to the group's operation, I don't think the four axioms go contrary to that in any way. If you take someone's property, such as the things the group creates and provides, you should have to pay for it, since the group is the owner of that property (owner of the products of their yada yada). So you either have a contract with them, where you are using their stuff with the understanding that you will pay for it after, or you are agressing against their property without asking, with the understanding that you will compensate them for it later (which, if you don't, they have the right to retaliate, and prevent you from using their stuff in the future). Taxes don't give you that option. I can't not use schools or roads, and still refuse to pay for them.

I think stipulating moral axioms is a little misguided. Sometimes those axioms are deceptive; they seem reasonable, but create paradoxes and problems in complicated situations.

That's why I brought up the discussion. I want to know if an ethical foundation can be built on top of basic moral axioms, such as the ones I listed. If there are paradoxes or problems in complicated situations, I want to discuss them and figure out what they are, and if they can still work within these foundations.

Moral 'strategies' are actually dependent on the strategies people around you follow, a bit like competing computer programs.

Yep. And I hope that we (humanity, not FAF) can figure out a superior program. Currently the world is dominated by Christianity Version WeLostTrack, Islam 2.0, and Constitutional Democracy with a "Puritanical Beliefs" plugin.
 
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Inignem

Pro-death amateur drawer
Ok, so if you reject these axioms as "axioms," how would you counter them? Do you believe that your body (or you yourself) can be owned by another person? Do you believe the physical things you create can be taken by someone else for no reason other than that they want them? Do you believe others should have special privilidges to initiate aggression against you, without you having the right to retaliate?
If these ideas are just convenient prejudices or silly, or neglect things, or can be rejected with a counter demonstration, can you come up with a counterpoint showing how the opposite of the four I mentioned would be justified, either for individuals, or for society?




If someone agreed to use products created by the group, that's not taxation, that's them using the products, and then paying for them. Taxes if when you are made to pay for everything, wiether you use it or not, without you having a say in the matter. So, what is the difference between you paying a mafia to provide protection, with the threat that if you don't they'll break your shop and your kneecaps, and you paying taxes for government to privide you protection, with the threat that if you don't they'll take your shop and stick you in prison? How is one more ethical than the other?
As for making contributions to the group's operation, I don't think the four axioms go contrary to that in any way. If you take someone's property, such as the things the group creates and provides, you should have to pay for it, since the group is the owner of that property (owner of the products of their yada yada). So you either have a contract with them, where you are using their stuff with the understanding that you will pay for it after, or you are agressing against their property without asking, with the understanding that you will compensate them for it later (which, if you don't, they have the right to retaliate, and prevent you from using their stuff in the future). Taxes don't give you that option. I can't not use schools or roads, and still refuse to pay for them.



That's why I brought up the discussion. I want to know if an ethical foundation can be built on top of basic moral axioms, such as the ones I listed. If there are paradoxes or problems in complicated situations, I want to discuss them and figure out what they are, and if they can still work within these foundations.



Yep. And I hope that we (humanity, not FAF) can figure out a superior program. Currently the world is dominated by Christianity Version WeLostTrack, Islam 2.0, and Constitutional Democracy with a "Puritanical Beliefs" plugin.

Ethical foundation is another oxymoron. You can not have an objective, logical foundation to something that, in itself, is absolutely subjective.

You talk as if people required an hypothetical legitimate right to perform their acts, yet you seem to not understand that what drives the human actions are the same needs of virtually every animal (we need energy to stay alive, such is the chemistry of life). Saying that one act is wrong or good is adding an innecessary adjective.
 

Rassah

Well-Known Member
Ethical foundation is another oxymoron. You can not have an objective, logical foundation to something that, in itself, is absolutely subjective.

You talk as if people required an hypothetical legitimate right to perform their acts, yet you seem to not understand that what drives the human actions are the same needs of virtually every animal (we need energy to stay alive, such is the chemistry of life). Saying that one act is wrong or good is adding an innecessary adjective.

I didn't bring wrong or good into it yet. But sure, let's take it one step back: Having something or someone interfere with the things my body does, or the things I make or collect, is a detriment to my survival as a member of the human species. Can we start from that, or is that still a subjective "good v.s. bad?"
 
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