Turn on thread page Beta
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by grumballcake)
    What linguistic difficulties? The only problem is with the KJV translation to 'kill', which is ambiguous in English. The Hebrew word used is 'ratsakh' which means killing without cause. Modern translations all use 'murder' as the English equivalent, since that's the closest translation. Hebrew has other words for accidental killing, or killing in war.

    You can invent difficulties, of course, but only if you want to mistranslate.

    Oh well there you go then, no difficulty whatsoever... what counts as a reasonable cause?
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by TCovenant)
    preferences are comparable, further the relative preferentiality of things is transitive, so long as that representation accurately represents the relative preferentiality
    How can you add the last phrase? Either it is transitive, or it isn't (to use one of your favoured binary choices). That's what transitivity means. It doesn't mean "sometimes, unless I don't like the outcome".

    You admit that a pig has preferences, so your thesis now means that the preference of bacteria not to die has to have an impact on our treatment of disease. Where does it stop?

    If more people getting their preferences is preferable to fewer, then if enough people favour the murder of someone, irrespective of the reason for that preference, it becomes morally right to murder. Whatever finite value you place upon the victim's preference not to die, there is another finite number which represents the number of people sufficient to morally justify his death.
    That a hierarchy can be observed does not imply that it “must be axiomatic… it cannot be derived from pure utility.”
    That's just playing word games. It's either axiomatic, or it can be derived from the other axioms. The amount of utilty is derived from axioms of utility, as described by Bentham. Whether it's a precise quantity, or a bit fuzzy, is largely immaterial. You can't use the hierarchy to calculate the utility value and then simultaneously claim that it's derived from utility, that's pure sophistry.

    The rest of your essay is an attempt to define utility as whatever you want at the time. At one moment it's preferences of indivisuals, at another it's God's preference (how can that be treated equally with an individual man's?) or the preference for some moral concept. You're padding it out by continually referring back to my complaint that you can't actually establish preferences. Even if I allowed an amount of supposition, your system doesn't work. In short, it's incoherent.

    To adress this, we don't need 10,000 words of self-justification; we need a simple statement of what utility is, how we establish it in each sub-case of a scenario and how we compare pre-established utility values.

    Bentham did exactly that. His calculus may be derived from an over-arching principle of maximising utility) but he does so to show why and how such a principle can be used in practice.
    Whether you also believe that there exist Godly commands for higher goods, which supersede human suffering, is another question entirely for you to defend.
    defend how? I might as well defend why gravity makes people fall off high buildings. It's a description of the real state of affairs. Since morality begins and ends with God's preferences, it only remains for me to try to apply them.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    what counts as a reasonable cause?
    Whatever God says is reasonable. :p: (The Jewish Law as set elsewhere in the OT makes a reeasonable stab at it)
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    Still the point remains though. You can't give rules (God presumably could wite them, but we'd struggle to use them) which say how you should act in each circumstance. Ultimately I guess most religions would claim that as virtue. It allows space for personal interpretation which gives God something to judge you on and award style points. But it would seem to demonstrate linguistic difficulties exist in far as how you translate God's word into your actions. It's not a purely mechanical procedure any more than Utilitarianism isn't (despite what it claims/wants).
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    What Calvin said, basically. Clear-cut definitions of words don't really exist outside of contexts in which they are formally specified - language is fuzzy and contextual, a la Wittgenstein. Connotations are important - Hebrew is a dead language, and translations are unlikely to capture the way in which the original word was used. The Vulgate etc. are going to make better comparisons, but you have no real way of reconstructing what the words really 'meant' to the people who wrote the OT. We have endless arguments over the interpretation of laws written today, let alone ones that were written millenia ago.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    Well then it would seem we complement each other nicely. I know nothingof Religious language, have a fair knowledge of the Tractatus, and know a little of his radical conventionalism and rule following from his later stuff. But that's it. I have a course on him next year though so I'm hoping to fill in the blanks.
    Sorry, I meant that I know a bit about Wittgenstein in terms of religious language, but that's all I know about him- the philosophy I'm doing at the moment is philosophy regarding religion in RS because my school sadly does not do philosophy on its own as a subject. However, I am planning to study philosophy for year later on this year when I go to uni.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    Well then it would seem we complement each other nicely. I know nothingof Religious language, have a fair knowledge of the Tractatus, and know a little of his radical conventionalism and rule following from his later stuff. But that's it. I have a course on him next year though so I'm hoping to fill in the blanks.
    Sorry, I meant I know a bit about Wittgenstein from religious language but that's all I know about Wittgenstein- the only philosophy I am doing at the moment is philosophy of religion in RS because sadly there isn't an option to do philosophy as a seperate subject in my school. However, later this year when I go to uni if I get into my first choice I am hoping to study philosophy for a year.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    I don't think Wittgenstein wrot that much about philosophy of religion Calvin, at A level we just get told 'ooh, language games, religion can be one of those'.
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by grumballcake)
    “How can you add the last phrase? Either it is transitive, or it isn't (to use one of your favoured binary choices). That's what transitivity means. It doesn't mean "sometimes, unless I don't like the outcome".”
    As that quote and my previous reply specifies, “relative preferentiality of things is transitive”, as in the Socrates example. However, your formulaic representation only holds “so long as that representation accurately represents the relative preferentiality,” a reasonable qualify to denote that you cannot apply the relation outside of that “single scenario.” (i.e. ‘a specific theft may be better than a specific killing’ and ‘a killing better than 100 such killings,’ but one can only extrapolate from this that a theft is better than 100 killings providing the situation is closed, as in a separate situation where one chooses between the theft and the 100 killings, it may be that this theft may bring about much worse consequences than the 100 killings.)

    “You admit that a pig has preferences, so your thesis now means that the preference of bacteria not to die has to have an impact on our treatment of disease. Where does it stop?”
    I chose a pig solely to fit in with the famous Mill quote. Bacteria in the view of myself and most of the scientific community, do not hold preferences, they do not conceive of themselves as beings existing through time, and thus are not persons- they cannot suffer, benefit, hold preferences. Pigs conversely, it is argued, do suffer and thus hold preferences; obviously which animals hold preferences and to what extent is a question for scientists, not one for an ethical theory.

    ”If more people getting their preferences is preferable to fewer, then if enough people favour the murder of someone, irrespective of the reason for that preference, it becomes morally right to murder. Whatever finite value you place upon the victim's preference not to die, there is another finite number which represents the number of people sufficient to morally justify his death.”
    More persons getting their preferences isn’t preferable to fewer per se; it is the net preference, now how many persons hold preferences that counts. As observed before, it is possible for more persons to prefer the death of another smaller group, but that in our reality, it is invariably the case that the preference to remain alive outweighs the preference to kill another person, if it were other than this case then the persons holding the murderous preference would actually be willing to kill themselves to avoid the suffering caused by not being able to kill.

    If it could actually be judged that group A were going to suffer more from not killing B than B would suffer from being killed, even taking into account the future preferences that would be served by allowing B to live, and the harm done to A by perpetuating within their society these murderous lusts, and that there existed no other option whatsoever, then it would be preferable for Group A’s more intense suffering to be diminished than B’s.

    Obviously the fact that within this scenario this course was preferable makes no comment upon the course of action that is most morally preferable a priori- the most moral course would be that neither A nor B would be killed. That a scenario will inevitably result in either a very bad consequence or a slightly more bad consequence, doesn't offer a criticism of the ethical theory itself. (For it to be better that A kill B relies on more suffering being avoided by this action, and there being no alternative without causing more suffering overall, something that is functionally impossible in any realistic situation as it relies upon group A being the sole group other than person B, them all holding a monomaniacal disorder that subjects them to intense suffering whenever not killing B, that this peculiar disorder is untreatable, and that B’s suffering from being killed is not so intense as to outweigh the suffering that afflicts this tortured murder-hungry group.)

    “That's just playing word games. It's either axiomatic, or it can be derived from the other axioms. The amount of utilty is derived from axioms of utility, as described by Bentham. Whether it's a precise quantity, or a bit fuzzy, is largely immaterial. You can't use the hierarchy to calculate the utility value and then simultaneously claim that it's derived from utility, that's pure sophistry.”
    How is it playing word games to say “that a hierarchy can be observed does not imply that it (your words->) “must be axiomatic… it cannot be derived from pure utility.”

    The utilitarian principle is solely that one should act so as to best fulfil/bring about the greatest utility, defined in my formulation as net preferences. If we further delineate this then we state axioms which are either:
    tautologically identical to the original principle: more preferences better than less-> more intense preferences better than less.
    Or generalisations which add no extra force: ‘mental’ pleasures typically more preferable than purely physical pleasures.
    Further, any system which describes the implementation of the utilitarian principle will either be functionally identical to principle itself:
    Consider net mental preferences, consider net physical preferences, consider net short term preferences, consider net long term preferences, consider net social preferences… or else will simply be a generalisation, of some of the categories which typically cover most situations.
    The assertion that Mill or Bentham did, or indeed could, construct any system other than described above, is tangibly incorrect, not least because both specified that all their assertions regarding the ethical good were only worthwhile insofar as they reflected the original ethical assertion.

    “The rest of your essay is an attempt to define utility as whatever you want at the time. At one moment it's preferences of indivisuals, at another it's God's preference (how can that be treated equally with an individual man's?) or the preference for some moral concept.”
    That’s just a misleading assertion. Utility is defined throughout as best fulfilment of preferences. Whether this is preferences of individuals or of God, or of air molecules, depends solely on whether one is of the opinion that these agents hold preferences.

    “You're padding it out by continually referring back to my complaint that you can't actually establish preferences. Even if I allowed an amount of supposition, your system doesn't work. In short, it's incoherent.”
    It’s not “padded out” by highlighting that one cannot perfectly establish preferences, it’s stated specifically to reply to your constant demand that I specify a calculus or means whereby preferences could be concretely established.
    One can only state that the system ‘act in order to best fulfil preferences’ can’t work, if one if is of the opinion that doing so is impossible- which is clearly distinct from your previous statement that you do take account of the preferences of persons when formulating an ethical decision. If, contrarily, you believe that it is possible to take account of preferences but there is some significance to the limits on one’s ability to do so, then what is this significance? Stating that one takes account of other factors in addition to the impact of one’s action upon others is clearly irrelevant- it does not impact upon that consideration per se.

    ”To adress this, we don't need 10,000 words of self-justification; we need a simple statement of what utility is, how we establish it in each sub-case of a scenario and how we compare pre-established utility values.”
    It’s already been stated that “utility” in this case is simply fulfilment of preferences.

    How one establishes it in a “sub-case” of a scenario is identical to how it is established in the scenario per se, in both instances one has to speculate as to preferences and how they will be fulfilled. Subdivision of either the preferences or the scenario, can only be drawn from one’s suppositions regarding the scenario per se. In each scenario one could face, sub-division into potentially infinite categories, can add nothing to the process, they will only change the speculation if the categories are over-generalisations or incomplete.

    The comparison of preferences is done based on speculation drawn from observation, behaviourism and other relevant scientific theory, the ends to which persons seem drawn, that which they will suffer to avoid other consequences etc.
    “Bentham did exactly that. His calculus may be derived from an over-arching principle of maximising utility) but he does so to show why and how such a principle can be used in practice.”
    It doesn’t show “how” or “why,” since it is by nature identical to the original principle. It has use only in reminding individuals not to forget some preferences. Obviously any sub-categorisation or calculus could potentially be infinite; since any correct calculus cannot be distinct from the original principle, there cannot be any point to delineating it.
    “defend how? I might as well defend why gravity makes people fall off high buildings. It's a description of the real state of affairs. Since morality begins and ends with God's preferences, it only remains for me to try to apply them.”
    You needn’t defend “why” gravity makes people fall off high buildings, all that would be required is a demonstration that gravity makes people fall of high buildings. That other people hold preferences, can suffer from or prefer consequences, is taken as a supposition, based on the fact that we seem to experience this and other persons seem to be equal to us in this respect. If one considers the suffering or benefit of other people to be ethically significant, the consideration of other factors as ethically significant is clearly a separate matter, to be considered on its own merits.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by grumballcake)
    defend how? I might as well defend why gravity makes people fall off high buildings. It's a description of the real state of affairs. Since morality begins and ends with God's preferences, it only remains for me to try to apply them.
    Come on, thats about as arguable as it gets! And its certainly not comparable to gravity.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by wanderer)
    I don't think Wittgenstein wrot that much about philosophy of religion Calvin, at A level we just get told 'ooh, language games, religion can be one of those'.
    I know he got quite religious in his time off. But I can't off the top of my head thin of any dedicated texts as you say. He read a lot of James I think so probably gave him some ideas, but no on the whole I think you're right. He was more into the logic behind it, and applying that to religous/moral/psychological problems. But as I say, I've never really read that much of it. Not enough grounding in the basics yet.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    I know he got quite religious in his time off. But I can't off the top of my head thin of any dedicated texts as you say. He read a lot of James I think so probably gave him some ideas, but no on the whole I think you're right. He was more into the logic behind it, and applying that to religous/moral/psychological problems. But as I say, I've never really read that much of it. Not enough grounding in the basics yet.
    You need grounding? I was wondering about reading Philosophical Investigations over Summer. Seems more relevant/interesting than the Tractacus, and I know its meant to be inaccessible but I read the first few pages online and it seemed reasonable enough.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    There's the thing with Wittgenstein, it all starts off legible, but you are never sure where the hell he's going with it, or what the problem is he's trying to solve. So although its understandable, I find it hard to stay engaged.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    There's the thing with Wittgenstein, it all starts off legible, but you are never sure where the hell he's going with it, or what the problem is he's trying to solve. So although its understandable, I find it hard to stay engaged.
    Ah, I see what you mean. Although I never thought the Tractacus started off particularly legibly, it seemed to be all assertions and no argument. It did have that "you'll probably only understand this if you already know it" clause, although that seems a bit of a cop-out.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    Well just for instance the entire beginning of the Investigations appears to be Wittgenstein arguing for this particular idea, but then a bit further in he seems to be rejecting it, then he moves away completely... It's just because there is a never a "this is the question we wan't to answer, here is my method, here are two objections" sort of approach. That makes sense I guess, he's supposed to be dealing with tricky stuff, but for me at least I'd find it far more thought provoking if I understood what thoughts he was trying to provoke. At the moment I'm far better at reacting, than at investigating whereas to read the Investigations (duh!) you need much more of the latter
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Quote of the day from Socrates:

    By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher. :laugh:
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    Well just for instance the entire beginning of the Investigations appears to be Wittgenstein arguing for this particular idea, but then a bit further in he seems to be rejecting it, then he moves away completely... It's just because there is a never a "this is the question we wan't to answer, here is my method, here are two objections" sort of approach. That makes sense I guess, he's supposed to be dealing with tricky stuff, but for me at least I'd find it far more thought provoking if I understood what thoughts he was trying to provoke. At the moment I'm far better at reacting, than at investigating whereas to read the Investigations (duh!) you need much more of the latter
    Hmm. I wonder who I should read then. Its been a while since I read any proper philosophy, I've been reading a fair bit of maths, for obvious reasons. Maybe its time to make another attempt at 'Being and Nothingness'.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    Yuch. What have I liked... uh, Kant, Popper, Kuhn, Quine, Kripke - actually, Kripke has a book on Wittgensteins Rule following called 'Wittgenstein on Rules' which, I think is generally agreed to be a bit of a misinterpretation of the rule following argument, but I found it much clearer than reading the primary source. McDowell is quite clear, Iago seems to be enjoying some James, Ramsey I really enjoy though some of it is very technical.
    If you are interested in Wittgenstein have a go at the Phil Investigations, but I think I've benefitted a lot from reading secondary sources like the Kripke, etc.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Calvin)
    Yuch. What have I liked... uh, Kant, Popper, Kuhn, Quine, Kripke - actually, Kripke has a book on Wittgensteins Rule following called 'Wittgenstein on Rules' which, I think is generally agreed to be a bit of a misinterpretation of the rule following argument, but I found it much clearer than reading the primary source. McDowell is quite clear, Iago seems to be enjoying some James, Ramsey I really enjoy though some of it is very technical.
    If you are interested in Wittgenstein have a go at the Phil Investigations, but I think I've benefitted a lot from reading secondary sources like the Kripke, etc.
    Hmmm, Kant is tempting. Critique of Pure Reason? I read the first couple of pages of that once as well. I'm interested in most things, although probably leaning towards the British Empiricist-analytical tradition.
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    I've not read much, but the Kant I have read I've found really good, particularly his constructivism as a midpoint between realism and idealism. Not academically, but as a way of approaching life in general, I've found it very attractive.
 
 
 
Turn on thread page Beta
Updated: September 14, 2010

University open days

  1. University of Edinburgh
    All Departments Undergraduate
    Sat, 22 Sep '18
  2. University of Exeter
    Undergraduate Open Days - Penryn Campus Undergraduate
    Sat, 22 Sep '18
  3. Loughborough University
    General Open Day Undergraduate
    Sat, 22 Sep '18
Poll
Which accompaniment is best?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.