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Jon_B
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

[ Edited ]

I'm not sure I agree with you on this one Joseph.

 

Values, maybe, in the sense that all people make decisions and that those decisions could be said to be based on some extent on "values" although I think in reality those values can be more ethereal and ephemeral than the term generally means.

 

Morals, however, generally refer more to external (or more supposedly objective) rules or systems of thought in which different actions and things are referred to as "good" or "evil" or somewhere on the gradient between them.  I don't think it's true that all people necessarily believe in the existence of good and evil or of an objective "rightness" or "wrongness" of things or actions.  When someone claims something is morally good or bad they generally are saying that this is not a mere personal opinion but something that is based on what they consider to be a more universal set of rules.  Obviously there are different sets of morals that conflict with one another - but in addition to that I think there are people who simply don't believe in the idea of any kind of morality in the sense that the term is normaly used.

 

 

Message Edited by Jon_B on 05-19-2009 11:51 AM
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Adelle
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

[ Edited ]

I throw this out as an aside.   In the For What It's Worth category.

 

 

This may be too far off the subject, in which case, please disregard.   But Simon Blackburn had a very good chapter --- well, I thought it was --- on Relativism....   To what degree are/or should ethics/values be absolute?   To what degree is toleration a good thing?    Is what is "true for" some people, true for others?  

 

 

 

 

"Many people, and many ethical theorists, believe that without some "robust" or "objective" conception of moral truth, our RIGHT to hold judgments with a sufficient degree of convinction evaporates" (38). 

 

 

I'm reading Blackburn from actual paper, but it seems that the entire chapter is there online --- although perhaps not as easily read there.  

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/qy6hy5

 

If it's too hard to read, don't bother.

Message Edited by PaulH on 05-20-2009 02:56 PM
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Everyman
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

You think incorrectly if you think that I equate morals and values with what you consider to be "good" morals and values. I think, for example, that Hitler had both morals and values, though I despise both. 

 

As for that the thought rocesses of a person with no morals or values is, I don't know internally how they think.  

 

Perhaps where we differ, and I do not mean this sarcastically but in terms of trying to find common grounds for terms, is in the meaning we ascribe to morals and values. For example, I don't think that  a newborn child has either morals or values, though they do have desires. 

 

Do you think they are exhibiting values when they seek out mother's milk and recoil when they are offered vinegar to drink?  In some sense that could be considered a value judgment -- one is good and one is bad -- but it's not what I mean by values.  If it's what you mean, then our disagreement is one of terminology, not of substance. 

 

Once we have an understanding here, I can proceed further.  But no point in going further if our disagreement is on this level.

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

[ Edited ]
 No, the baby's reaction is instinct based on smell and taste. Babies are too undeveloped to have a world view, or values and morals. But I think that once someone has a developed enough brain to have a world view, they also then have morals and values. Even a nihilist who believes there is no such thing as right or wrong is making a moral judgment in my opinion.

Everyman wrote:

Do you think they are exhibiting values when they seek out mother's milk and recoil when they are offered vinegar to drinkIn some sense that could be considered a value judgment -- one is good and one is bad -- but it's not what I mean by valuesIf it's what you mean, then our disagreement is one of terminology, not of substance.

 


 

Message Edited by Joseph_F on 05-19-2009 06:06 PM
Message Edited by Joseph_F on 05-19-2009 06:07 PM
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Everyman
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

I agree that the nihilist is making a value judgment. 

 

However, I am thinking of two classes of people who may have no moral or value systems at all.

 

One are sociopaths, or as they call it now Antisocial Personality Disorder.  True sociopaths, not just people with partial sociopathic tendencies.   As I understand the condition, the lack of any value system or moral system is one of the defining factors of the condition.

 

Two are people with institutional autism.  My grandmother spent some vacations volunteering with an organization which placed volunteers in orphanages in Romania.  Many of the children in these orphanages are given only the absolute basics of physical care -- fed, diapers changed twice a day, but otherwise almost no human contact. The infants lie in cribs all day.  They develop what is called institutional autism, in which they simply don't seem to have any sense that other people are people with feelings.  The volunteers simply interacted with them, holding them, talking to them, reading to them, giving them  at least some sense of human interaction, but she wasn't sure it was enough to matter.  However, she was trying

 

According to this article,  based on a quite small sample, at least some of the children who are adopted to families young enough will recover at least to some degree.  But there were many,  many more children in the orphanages than could be adopted, and what will become of them as they move into adulthood I don't know, but from what little I understand, they may never become morally functioning adults.

 

There may be other people with other conditions I'm not so familiar with who also are unable, for reasons of nature, of nurture, or of both, to develop moral or values systems.  I agree that it is abnormal not to have a moral or value sense, but I think there are such people who, having no moral or value systems as infants,  simply never develop them as they grow up.


Joseph_F wrote:
 No, the baby's reaction is instinct based on smell and taste. Babies are too undeveloped to have a world view, or values and morals. But I think that once someone has a developed enough brain to have a world view, they also then have morals and values. Even a nihilist who believes there is no such thing as right or wrong is making a moral judgment in my opinion.

Everyman wrote:

Do you think they are exhibiting values when they seek out mother's milk and recoil when they are offered vinegar to drinkIn some sense that could be considered a value judgment -- one is good and one is bad -- but it's not what I mean by valuesIf it's what you mean, then our disagreement is one of terminology, not of substance.

 


 

Message Edited by Joseph_F on 05-19-2009 06:06 PM
Message Edited by Joseph_F on 05-19-2009 06:07 PM

 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

[ Edited ]

Defining morals is a very complex, philosophical subject and a great deal of discussion has taken place around the ethics of how moral values are determined.  Classically, the Latin definition of moralitas means 'manner, character, proper behaviour'. Descriptively speaking however, the term means a code of conduct, one that is defined by society, philosophy, religion or individual conscience. These codes change over time and are different in different societies - the code of a cannibal, for instance, allows the eating of human flesh.  The code of Saudi Arabia allows the stoning of someone for adultery.

 

The second sense of morality is one which refers to universal ideal code of conduct, supposedly adhered to by all rational people - and rather Utopian.  This code is fixed and the eating of human flesh anywhere would not be 'moral' unless the world was populated by cannibals:smileyhappy:

 

The 'morality' behind the Ten Commandments, which tend to drive our particular views on morality, is pretty universal because societies have had similar rules for thousands of years and looked at objectively they seem to be pretty good rules for ordering a civilised existence.  So if we say it is 'morally wrong' to murder we are referencing an ancient universal code of morality.  If Saudi Arabia decides to make stoning for adultery illegal, they would be referencing a descriptive code of conduct which has changed over time.  The Commandment against adultery is an interesting one in this regard because attitudes towards and punishments for this have changed considerably over time and in different parts of the world so it has become a less universal Commandment/moral.     

 

I think much of what has been discussed here is whether people are born with a conscience, not with morality, since morality is a man-made concept.  Whether or not man is born with a conscience has been the subject of debate for centuries.  Religious people see it as linked to an inherent morality connected with God and his universe.  Philosophers tend to link it to the views of ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and of modern philosophers like Kant.  Secularists link it to psychology, neuroscience etc. seeing it as a function of the brain.  Bio-physicists think that it may be genetically determined and therefore imprinted, like language, as part of a culture.  Case studies on brain damage (which could include institutional autism) have shown that damage results in the reduction or elimination of inhibition with corresponding behavioural changes. Adults may still be able to perform moral reasoning after brain damage but children may never develop the ability.  

 

Sociopaths are people who cannot function properly within their particular society, they have lost (or never had) the ability to see themselves from the p.o.v. of another.  Placed in another society they may function OK.  A sociopath with a tendency to murder, for instance, may function well in a time of war.  It is not that they have no morality, or conscience but that they function differently to the norm.  Paedophiles are often regarded as sociopaths in our society but they might have functioned quite well as pederasts in Ancient Greece or in eras/places where having sex with minors was/is common.         

 

  

Message Edited by Choisya on 05-20-2009 06:42 AM
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Joseph_F
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

 Ok, please take your definitions here of people with no morals or values and use it illuminate your earlier statement that only "some" of the human beings working in science have morals. "Some" is a word which I believe implies that there is a large minority, or even possibly a majority, who do not. I don't imagine there are many people with institutional autisim working in the field of science, so do you believe that it is a field that attracts a large minority of sociopaths?

 


Everyman wrote:

  

However, I am thinking of two classes of people who may have no moral or value systems at all.

 

One are sociopaths, or as they call it now Antisocial Personality Disorder.  True sociopaths, not just people with partial sociopathic tendencies.   As I understand the condition, the lack of any value system or moral system is one of the defining factors of the condition.

 

Two are people with institutional autism.  My grandmother spent some vacations volunteering with an organization which placed volunteers in orphanages in Romania.  Many of the children in these orphanages are given only the absolute basics of physical care -- fed, diapers changed twice a day, but otherwise almost no human contact. The infants lie in cribs all day.  They develop what is called institutional autism, in which they simply don't seem to have any sense that other people are people with feelings.  The volunteers simply interacted with them, holding them, talking to them, reading to them, giving them  at least some sense of human interaction, but she wasn't sure it was enough to matter.  However, she was trying


 

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Everyman
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both


Joseph_F wrote:

 Ok, please take your definitions here of people with no morals or values and use it illuminate your earlier statement that only "some" of the human beings working in science have morals.

 

I was responding to your absolute statement that Human beings involved in science have ethics and morals, whether or not they are religious. 

 

In that usage,  you implied an "all."  My point was just that an absolute "all" is not necessarily accurate. 


 And indeed you later confirmed that you had indeed meant all scientists, when further in that exchange you said "Every human being has morals and ethics"

 

I would not object if you had said "almost every..."  What I objected to was the absoluteness of the "all" and "every" when it comes to human behaviors.

 

As I used it, the "some" wasn't intended to imply, as you suggest, "a large minority or evan a majority," but just that it is not all.  I think that is a fair usage of some: when one says that, for example, there are some people in the world who believe they have actually seen the Loch Ness monster many times, that's true even though the class of "some" in that case may be only two or three. 

 

Heck, I'm even willing to agree that there are some people who agree with Joseph more than with Everyman about their postings on this board, though in that case the some may be so minimal as to be virtually uncountable!   :smileyvery-happy:

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Joseph_F
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both


Everyman wrote:

As I used it, the "some" wasn't intended to imply, as you suggest, "a large minority or evan a majority," but just that it is not all.  I think that is a fair usage of some: when one says that, for example, there are some people in the world who believe they have actually seen the Loch Ness monster many times, that's true even though the class of "some" in that case may be only two or three. 

 


Exactly. You're agreeing with me that the word "some" implies that the other group is sizable. either a large minority or even a majority. So you saying, as you clearly said, that only "some" scientists have morals and values clearly implies that there is a large group who do not. But if you'd like to run away from your point rather than providing any justification for it, that's certainly your right.

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Everyman
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

Huh?? Are we speaking the same language?

 

I said that "some" people having seen the Loch Ness monster many times could be only two or three people out of a world population of, what, about 6 billion people.  I'm not even sure that my eight digit calculator can calculate how small a percentage that is.  

 

Can you please explain how that justifies claiming that I used the term "some" to mean either a large minority or a majority?  

 

After all, according to this dictionary definition, the first definition is of one (being an undetermined or unspecified one: Some person may object), which is an entirely valid usage of "some," and the definition you want to assume I meant, which I didn't, is only definition four (unspecified but considerable in number, amount, degree, etc.: We talked for some time. He was here some weeks.)

 

When I say, truthfully, that some voters voted for Gene Amondson, candidate of the Prohibition Party, for President in 2008, are you really going to claim that the 653 votes he received  represent "a large minority or a majority" of the votes cast for President? 

 

Please, Joseph, if we are to communicate honestly in this forum, we have to respect what others say and not persist in claiming that people say things that they not only don't say but explicitly say that they don't say.  That sort of "discussion" is going to get us nowhere.  

 

Disagreement is fine.  Intentional distortion of another's position, I submit, isn't.  

 

 

 

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

Here is your post in full:

 

"

JonB: Human beings involved in science have ethics and morals, whether or not they are religious.

 

Some do, certainly. "

 

In other words, your use of "some" is referring to the ones who do have ethics and morals indicating that you believe there is a substational group who do not. I'm asking you to justify this. 

 

I would also heavily recommend that you do not give me posting advice. 

 

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Everyman
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both

You are simply wrong about the way you read/.interpret my post.   Why you persist in this, I do not know.

 

I have said several times that I was responding to your implication that not a single scientist lacks ethics and morals.   A claim which,  I would note, you have never even tried to defend.

 

The reality is that we are both in agreement.  Most scientists, probably the vast majority, do have ethics and morals.  Some, which could be as few as one, may not. 


I don't understand why you persist in trying to create disagreement where there is none.  I frankly think we have more important issues to discuss here.
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Joseph_F
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Re: Stanley Fish on religion and science and why we need both


Everyman wrote:

The reality is that we are both in agreement.  Most scientists, probably the vast majority, do have ethics and morals.  Some, which could be as few as one, may not.


This is actually exactly the opposite to what your previous post said (quoted, once again in full)

 

"

JonB: Human beings involved in science have ethics and morals, whether or not they are religious.

 

Some do, certainly. "

 

but as you have reversed your position to the one that I was arguing then I suppose we are in agreement. 

 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Misinterpretation.

Everyman wrote:

You are simply wrong about the way you read/interpret my post.   Why you persist in this, I do not know.

 

Everyman, with respect, you have recently accused four people on these boards of misinterpreting your posts.  Could it be that you are not making yourself clear or that your arguments are faulty and/or fallacious?  I mean this kindly because I wonder whether the style of courtroom argument, to which you are accustomed (and are probably good at), is not always suited to the sort of discussions we have here?

 

Here is a comprehensive list of fallacious arguments in case they are helpful.