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  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    What it refers to as follows. A monkey likes strawberry, that is a positive sentiment of the monkey. A monkey also likes water, that is the positive sentiment of the monkey also. A masochist likes pain. Hence, what this refers to is the psychological state of the animal.

    I am not sure if I understand what you mean by 'anything in particular'.
    This is not a definition. You are just giving examples. I think there's a bit of circular logic going on here. You're saying what positive sentiment by listing actions taken to acheive it, and then you say that the unconcious goal of all actions is positive sentiment. The "psychological state" of an animal is too complicated to be accurately describe simply by these concepts of happiness and positive sentiment. What I mean by saying that your definitions don't mean anything in particular is that they really aren't definitions at all- the way you use the words happiness and sentiment are essentially meaningless.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The statement that is clearly true is all that all animals and humans are capable of perceiving of what appears to them as the positive emotional state. In this regard such a general statement is appropriate, yet again, what makes one animal happy, is often very different from what makes another animal happy.
    You say that this is "clearly true" yet give no evidence beyond our appeal to intuition. This is rather similar to what Wittgenstein called "the hardness of the logical must." You're philosophizing in your own thought patterns and deciding that the world MUST work that way since it would be illogical for it not to. This is an overly dogmatic way of doing philosophy. You've never experienced the conscious state of being a non-human animal. How can you even know if an earthworm experiences anything remotely similar to what we would call emotions? You might want to read http://www.clarku.edu/students/philo...docs/nagel.pdf if you haven't yet- Nagel's argument is quite relevant here.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The well defined notion of happiness is as simple as a monkey receiving pleasure as a result of having consumed strawberry. If the monkey always has felt this way, the monkey would be considered happy. The notion of happiness has been established to mean exactly the same thing as the notion of positivity of sentiment which we have established is present in all animals.
    Happiness and positivity of sentiment are, as I've argued repeatedly, fundamentally meaningless concepts. Sure, when we use these words in everyday life they have meaning because of cultural context, but when you take natural language and try to stretch it into a philosophical theory, words tend to lose their meaning. To define happiness, you're now using the word "pleasure"- one psychological concept exchanged for another. What I'd suggest is that taken out of context, none of this psychological language means anything and that you cannot adequately describe emotions using your Spinozan style of axiomatics.





    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    There certainly is not any clear-cut conscious goal to human action. As you mention the 'execution control', yet there is a very strong unconscious drive to feel content. This seems to be the significant misunderstanding we have incurred. I never maintained that humans have a conscious goal
    How can you even know what our unconscious goals are? I'm arguing not that our goals are not conscious, but that there is no universal goal to human or animal activity whatsoever.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    That is correct. The question that I am interested in, is exactly WHY things that maximize survival are made to feel good.
    This happens because the animals whose emotions do not lead them to act in a way to preserve their species die off! This is the fundamental tenant of natural selection. A particular animal's psychology will not change because of evolutionary forces. However, over the course of many generations, only those animals whose emotional state is useful to their survival will be able to pass on their genes. If your emotions lead you not to try to survive, you won't survive. Thus, the animals which have survived are the ones whose emotions do lead them to try to survive and reproduce.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Suppose a monkey is attacked by another monkey. The attacking monkey attempts to suffocate the victim monkey. The monkey will obviously feel a very strong urge to avoid being suffocated, or a very strong urge to survive? Why is that? Because a monkey associates a very unpleasant feeling with being choked or with anything that it unconsciously associates with death.
    Right! My point is that only monkeys that have this unpleasant associated with death are the ones that are left alive today. If the monkey did not have this unpleasant feeling, the monkey would go ahead and die. Thus, because all the monkeys alive today are monkeys who have not died yet, they must be monkeys who resist being strangled like this.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Therefore, the animal will have no choice but to force itself to like some kind of food as without this it will not survive.
    This illustrates what I think you don't understand about evolution. This specific animal will simply die off. However, over generations of selection and reproduction, the conciousness of animals will slowly be shaped in a way that leads to those animals that try to survive being the only ones that remain.


    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Thus, my thesis is, the search for a positive sentiment is the reason why animals wish to survive. It preceeds the drive for survival for the reasons described above.
    I agree with you that an animal's search for positive is part of why they survive. I disagree that it preceeds the drive for survival. The drive for survival takes place on an impersonal level across many generations of animals, and by natural selection, this drive can in fact over many generations determine what sensations will feel good to an animal.
    If the Berkley guide to evolution did not make this clear to you, try this book:
    Amazon.com: Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life: Daniel C. Dennett: Books
    I'm still pretty convinced that you don't understand how evolution works, so try reading some of this stuff. To me, evolution is a big reason why ethics cannot be approached from a foundational perspective like you try to. Understanding this critique in depth (which Dennett makes much better than I ever could) will either give you more convincing reasons for your understanding of ethics or will show you your error- either way you can only benefit.







    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I have already stated. Happiness is merely a psychological state of an animal. What exactly is the impersonal process of evolution? Moreover, emotion by definition is a psychological state of an individual, how is it possible for such an entity to exist outside of an individual? Most importantly of all, how is any of this relevant to our discussion?
    The reason evolution is important is that over generations, the emotions of animals can evolve just like any other trait. Our emotions are shaped by this process. Because in some sense evolutionary processes are (if you accept that evolution is the driving force in how life develops) in some sense the foundational reason for why our consciousness is the way it is. Note that this sort of foundational reason is grounded in an empirically observable process, so the critique I made about foundationalism being meaningless does not apply- our own sensory perception could show us that evolutionary processes did not occur if in fact they did not, so there is actually a statement about how the world works here.



    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    You have explained why the animals had a need to adjust to their environment.
    No- my point is that the species adjusts, not a specific animal. If this does not make sense to you, I can state with certainty that you do not understand evolution. (caveat: I figure in an INTP/INTP dicussion, it goes without saying that this is not meant as a personal insult. I still respect your intelligence etc etc)





    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The argument needs to be expounded upon.
    Read Dennett's book.
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    For the sake of the argument, lets assume that your thesis is true; namely that the drive to survive is completely independent of the drive to feel good. On that note, how shall it be explained WHY animals have the ambition to survive in the first place?
    My point is not that the two are independent but that the drive to feel good is simply a part of the drive for a species to survive. Our emotions evolve over many generations just like any other characteristic.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Homeboy, do me a favor, spare yourself some dignity. Stay out of this thread, it is way over your head.

    P.S

    Physics has nothing at all to do with this discussion.
    Just because Nocapszy doesn't feel like spending his time having a long drawn out discussion doesn't mean he/she is unintelligent. I happen to agree with both Nocapszy and Reason- I'm just stating my counterargument in a lot more detail because I enjoy doing so.

  3. #33
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    This is not a definition. You are just giving examples. .
    I will provide a definition.

    Happiness: A sentiment that an animal regards as affirmative of its ways.

    Clarification: Whatever an animal is excited by, it welcomes. On that note we may describe that we derive positive energy (as many use the term) from activities that bring us pleasure. For example, in our case it is intellectual discussions. In the case of an athlete it is running. In the case of a monkey it is eating strawberry.

    An interesting observation to be made is that the reason why the animals seem to have such a strong drive towards survival is because only by surviving can they be affirmed. Obviously, if they fail to survive, they cannot engage in any other activity. That means they cannot be affirmed.

    Arthur Schopenhauer had an interesting take on this matter and his philosophy of biology was the only one that was written before Darwin's time that was supported by the theory of evolution.

    Arthur Schopenhauer (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    He argued that the essence of all things, living and non-living is the Will. Which could be interpreted as simply the energy.

    He maintained that the greatest ambition of the will is self-promotion, or what we may call survival. He called this the 'Will to live'. But he often used such phraseology as interchangeable with affirmation.

    If his claim is true, than there is certainly an intimate connection between the drive for affirmation and the drive for survival. Schopenhauer does not exactly explain why we have the Will to live, he merely propounds it as an axiom of his system.

    It is certainly plausible that the will to live and the will to be affirmed are not distinct, but are actually the same thing. Let me provide an example to illustrate the point more clearly. Schopenhauer regards the Will as a cosmical force that dwells nearly in all things. When a Will is undermined, or a step is made towards the non-existence of the Will, the Will protests. One may say that the Will protests because it strives for affirmation the most which is actually the same as a positive sentiment, but since the Will is all that exists, to give affirmation to the Will and to make a step towards survival mean the same thing.

    On that note, there is no distinction between the drive for positive sentiment and the drive for survival as these are merely different phrases that depict the same idea.





    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    I think there's a bit of circular logic going on here. You're saying what positive sentiment by listing actions taken to acheive it, and then you say that the unconcious goal of all actions is positive sentiment. .
    I do not see the circularity in my reasoning. Point it out to me as clearly and as thoroughly as possible.

    I am not clear with regard to what you meant in your second sentence either. However, if we assume that the drive to survive is the most fundamental of all drives within the mind of an animal, in effect we maintain that the drive for affirmation is the most fundamental. As aforementioned, the two phrases merely mean the same thing.



    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    The "psychological state" of an animal is too complicated to be accurately describe simply by these concepts of happiness and positive sentiment. What I mean by saying that your definitions don't mean anything in particular is that they really aren't definitions at all- the way you use the words happiness and sentiment are essentially meaningless..
    I am familiar with Nagel's essay 'What it is like to be a bat', but I just do not buy it! Daniel Dennet, with whose work we are both very familiar with provided a plausible refutation of positions reminiscent of that of Nagel. He did so in Consciousness Explained. He has specifically discussed such a refutation in this interview.

    Daniel Dennett


    His position is as follows. If a group of psychologists were to observe me for many days with great care, based on my reactions to various external stimuli, they would be able to understand why I behave the way that I do. It is certainly true that our phenomenological perceptions differ, however, they are similar enough for us to believe that we inhabit a similar reality.

    For example, if I see you getting uncomfortable as a result of hot weather, I can imagine what you must feel like because my experiences with regard to hot weather are similar to yours for the reasons mentioned above.

    Are the experiences of monkeys different from ours? Certainly, but because we are able to interact with them, we know that there are some distinct similarities. For instance, we are able to respond to the monkey's signals which seem to be requesting water, food, or other kinds of assistance.




    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    You say that this is "clearly true" yet give no evidence beyond our appeal to intuition. This is rather similar to what Wittgenstein called "the hardness of the logical must." You're philosophizing in your own thought patterns and deciding that the world MUST work that way since it would be illogical for it not to. This is an overly dogmatic way of doing philosophy. You've never experienced the conscious state of being a non-human animal. How can you even know if an earthworm experiences anything remotely similar to what we would call emotions? You might want to read http://www.clarku.edu/students/philo...docs/nagel.pdf if you haven't yet- Nagel's argument is quite relevant here...
    See above. Moreover, if you wish to maintain that we cannot know anything about how the mind of an animal must work, you cannot maintain that the drive for survival is the strongest drive in the mind of an animal. If the passage I have quoted above is true, theory of evolution is irrelevant to zoology.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Happiness and positivity of sentiment are, as I've argued repeatedly, fundamentally meaningless concepts....

    If that was true, the ill patient in the hospital would not receive the treatment that he usually receives. If happiness or positivity of sentiment truly had no meaning at all to us, physicians would have no concept at all with regard to enhacing the health of the patient.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Sure, when we use these words in everyday life they have meaning because of cultural context, but when you take natural language and try to stretch it into a philosophical theory, words tend to lose their meaning. ....
    What kind of meaning are we loosing here?


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    To define happiness, you're now using the word "pleasure"- one psychological concept exchanged for another.....
    I have assigned the same meaning to both terms, for rhetorical purposes I have used two words, I could have attained the same result if I had used only the word pleasure or only the word happiness in all cases.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    What I'd suggest is that taken out of context, none of this psychological language means anything and that you cannot adequately describe emotions using your Spinozan style of axiomatics. .....
    Our experiences with medicine shows for this to be false. Physicians have very detailed and rigorously outlined procedures with regard to what actions must be carried out in order to ensure that the health of the patient improves. You certainly cannot describe emotions with the same precision we dscribe mathematical concepts, or epistemic concepts, but our descriptions of our emotional states are precise enough to be useful.






    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    How can you even know what our unconscious goals are? I'm arguing not that our goals are not conscious, but that there is no universal goal to human or animal activity whatsoever. .....
    I should not say that this is the goal of all human activity, but certainly the strongest of them all. The strongest unconscious aim. The question for you is, is the next statement false? Inevitably, all species strive more for survival or self-affirmation than for any other activity. It certainly is plausible to infer that observation of the behavior of animals shows that they seem content only when their life is not endangered or only when they are affirmed, or are able to do things that make them feel content. Animals are unhappy when the opposite of this happens.

    The claim that there is not one strongest unconscious aim in the minds of animals seems to me idiosyncratic to say the least as our observations clearly suggest that this is not so.


    So, my point is, if ethics could not be approached the way that I approach them. How else could they be approached. We still need to answer questions like, what do I want to do with my life? What laws must we pass in society?

    If you are correct that we do not have enough precision in our descriptions of our emotive states, how could the above questions be answered. Ethics in that case would indeed be completely useless. In this case we should stop thinking about how we could make good laws or how we could live fulfilling lives. Are we prepared for this? Unlikely, we still wish to make decisions that will benefit us with regard to such questions, and seems to me the only way we could make good decisions in that regard is if we are able to properly assess what makes us happy, and do what makes us happy.

    Accordingly, if I were to ask an ethical question with regard to how I could live my life in a fulfilling my fashion, I certainly need to know what makes me happy, as fulfilling and happy are very close in meaning. If I were to ask a question with regard to how we can pass good laws, we certainly need to be concerned with what makes people as a group happy. Obviously a good law is one that benefits society the most. Such laws could not be established without an assessment of what makes people happy. My argument above seems to have shown that ethical nihilism is false, consider the argument in which I have used medicine as an example to better illustrate my point. More specifically how doctors are able to concoct reliable ways to assess and ensure of the well being of the patient.

    Ethical nihilism is the thesis that in all cases ethical propositions are meaningless or have no epistemic value. If at least one ethical proposition has epistemic vlaue, than ethical nihilism is false. The physician can claim that he is able to understand the ethical value judgments of the patient, such as 'I feel good' or 'I will feel good if you give me this kind of a treatment'. He can prove that he understands such ethical value judgments by conducting procedures that directly and purposefully influence the well being of the patient. In this regard the physicians knowledge of the ethical value judgments of the patient or what he must do in order to make the patient feel a certain way, are analogous to the mechanic's knowledge of the functionality of the car, or what he must do to the car to make it function a certain way.

    Moreover, if ethical value judgments are meaningless, it would also be the case that we do not have reliable ways of influencing how other people tend to emote. The experiences of comedians and con artists clearly show for this to be false as they have very elaborate ways of evoking certain emotions from their audience.

    In order for my ethical system to be true, it has to be shown that it is possible to assess one's current emotional state with regard to happiness and how it ought to be maximized. If we can perform such tasks for emotions I have described above, there is no reason why such tasks could not be performed with regard to the emotion of happiness, as such an emotion is not different in its intrinsic make up from the emotions described above. A summary of my argument for the essence of ethics is that it is both possible and desirable to maximize our happiness and the most reliable way to accomplish this is by virtue of critical analysis of our inner being and our external circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    Just because Nocapszy doesn't feel like spending his time having a long drawn out discussion doesn't mean he/she is unintelligent. I happen to agree with both Nocapszy and Reason- I'm just stating my counterargument in a lot more detail because I enjoy doing so.

    I agree that what you have observed does not warrant the claim that Nocapszy is unintelligent. Yet, I have every confidence that you will appreciate my point after having read more of his posts. Reason's concern seemed to be that my system does not solve any ethical problem in particular. My answer was that I provide a method which could be used to solve any particular ethical problem, or all of them.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

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    I'm going to need to read/watch what you've linked pretty carefully to state my point clearly, so I might not respond here for a day or two.

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    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    "I propose that the ultimate goal of all human activity is acquisition of happiness. On a deeply unconscious level we are attracted to thoughts and actions that we feel will be beneficial to us."

    Happiness once acquired will likely result in a desire for continued happiness. Ethics are the machinery of "happiness maintanence" in a socially complicated world. I do not believe that ethics need to be based in a "moral" framework to be valid. They need not have recourse to an abstract sentiment. They are simply good sense and practical husbandry in a world who's reality must be aknowledged.

    Ethics I imagine would be relative to a political or economic reality where the standard of happiness would be relative. And in this sense certainly should be carfeully reasoned and considered within that dynamic structure.

    True unfettered happiness where every whim is pleasantly fulfilled and personal security could only be imperiled by accident would leave us in a reality where using our minds reflectively may not be truly needed or encouraged. Is that beneficial? for our corporeal selves perhaps. Are we consciously drawn to what makes us happy or what keeps us happy? Which is what we need and which is what we want? which is beneficial? Benefit is controlled by circumstance and circumstance of course changes....so some sort of structure or code may aid us in mainatining a degree of happiness should circumstances evolve beyond our concerns.

    To pursue one's happiness without regard for consequence to other being's or the sustainability of our demands on our environs within a socially complex structure would almost certainly lead to conflict which may result in dire consequences. Happiness would likely end abruptly. Is that wrong? I cannot say. Is it unethical? If the purpose of an ethical framework is to sustain a given level of happiness and moreover the prospect that more happiness may be gained at a later date then such apparently ill considered self indulgence is indeed unethical.
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker
    Physics has nothing at all to do with this discussion.
    Quantum Ethics? - Suffering in the Multiverse


    Superhappiness
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I will provide a definition.

    Happiness: A sentiment that an animal regards as affirmative of its ways.
    This definition doesn't really say anything. What is a sentiment? What does it mean for an animal to regard something as affirmative of its ways? The problem is that we are applying vocabulary that is useful in discussing human consciousness and generalizing it to somewhere where we have no reason to assume it applies. My fundamental point is that you can't really define words in a fundamental way (definitions use other words), so out of context words do not have meaning. This is my basic problem with your universal method of dealing with all ethical issues- when we speak in abstract terms "happiness" really doesn't mean anything specific. We need a culture or "language-game" in which the word can be used if we are to say anything worthwhile.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    An interesting observation to be made is that the reason why the animals seem to have such a strong drive towards survival is because only by surviving can they be affirmed. Obviously, if they fail to survive, they cannot engage in any other activity. That means they cannot be affirmed.
    Again, you have the causality in evolution wrong. Animals that are not "affirmed" by surviving did not survive, so only animals that are affirmed by survival are the ones that are left over. When we are speaking in generality about all animals, this drive to be affirmed is so general and so vague as to be entirely unfalsifiable (my point about a "language-game" being necessary is again relevant).

    Arthur Schopenhauer (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    He argued that the essence of all things, living and non-living is the Will. Which could be interpreted as simply the energy.
    Again, the Will is general, universal, and entirely meaningless. Ever since Wittgenstein, this sort of thinking has been essentially debunked.






    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I do not see the circularity in my reasoning. Point it out to me as clearly and as thoroughly as possible.
    You define happiness as "A sentiment that an animal regards as affirmative of its ways." Then you say that all animals strive for happiness. Thus, you're defining happiness by the way that an animal behaves, and then you say that an animal's behavior is determined by its striving for happiness. Thus, an animal behaves how an animal behaves.





    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    I am familiar with Nagel's essay 'What it is like to be a bat', but I just do not buy it! Daniel Dennet, with whose work we are both very familiar with provided a plausible refutation of positions reminiscent of that of Nagel. He did so in Consciousness Explained. He has specifically discussed such a refutation in this interview.
    I agree with Dennet's refutation of Nagel's argument about the experience of being a bat being proof that consciousness is not fundamentally physical. However (and I was somewhat unclear about this), the point I was trying to make was that even though it can be explained physically and that qualia don't really exist, the subjective experience of being SolitaryWalker need not be anything like the subjective experience of being a bat. The ideas you have about yourself, such as the idea that you can have something called "happiness", might very well not be useful concepts in discussing the consciousness of a bat. The fundamental purpose of all of this reasoning on my part is to provide evidence that you can't define happiness out of context- you have to experience your conciousness and use language the way you do for the word to mean what you think it does. Thus, the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental drive in human and animal nature is a meaningless assertion- you've pushed everyday language into a universal place where it should not go.



    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    See above. Moreover, if you wish to maintain that we cannot know anything about how the mind of an animal must work, you cannot maintain that the drive for survival is the strongest drive in the mind of an animal. If the passage I have quoted above is true, theory of evolution is irrelevant to zoology.
    My point is not that we cannot know anything, but that the language we use to describe our intuitive sense of our own consciousness should not necessarily be generalized to the consciousness of other beings. My point is linguistic, not neurological- the problem I have is with you using a single word "happiness" as the fundamental goal of animal behavior. To say that every animal wants happiness is not wrong so much as it is meaningless- you've twisted the word so far out of context that it means nothing. Thus, since your ethical system is based on maximizing happiness, because happiness is a meaningless concept when considered in abstract generality, your ethical system is therefore also fundamentally meaningless. Furthermore, I would propose that ALL systems that claim to be a basis for all of ethics are necessarily meaningless for precisely the same reason- when we push language into too general of a context, where we do not have a well defined cultural context or "language-game", words lose their meaning.
    What more is there to the meaning of a word than its use?

    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    If that was true, the ill patient in the hospital would not receive the treatment that he usually receives. If happiness or positivity of sentiment truly had no meaning at all to us, physicians would have no concept at all with regard to enhacing the health of the patient.
    But a doctor and a patient have a very simple language game that they play! If the patient says "it hurts in my leg", the doctor responds by examining the leg. The doctor might ask "is it a sharp or dull pain?" but the doctor will never follow that up with "what does it mean for a pain to be sharp?". If you start questioning the words too much, the rules of the game don't apply anymore and the words start to become irrelevant. These rules are never written down- indeed if you accept that you need a language game for words to have meaning then you could never totally write down all the rules, since the language the rules would be written in would have to be part of another language game. However, there doesn't have to be a precise, abstract definition of pleasure and pain for a doctor and patient to interact satisfactorily- it is the use of the words in that interaction that supplies its meaning, and outside of such an interaction there is no meaning.
    The doctor and patient do just fine without any overarching ethical system like the one you propose.

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    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    The doctor and patient do just fine without any overarching ethical system like the one you propose.
    I am still not clear with regard to what an overarching ethical system is, or something that is 'fundamental'. Fundamental to what exactly?

    Moreover, you can certainly claim that a system of ethics cannot exist without culturally inscribed language games. However, everything requires culture inscribed language games as without language no meaningful discourse could be possible.

    What you said about ethics is true about all subjects that we study. On that note, 'language games' with regard to ethics could be applied to all living creatures, and in that regard ethics are universal. What I mean here is exactly that we are able to define what happiness is with our language, and the same definition could apply to all creatures. On that note, a physician could be in tune with the feelings of animals or all creatures and behave in a way that conduces to their happiness with the way we have defined the word.

    Why are the sentiments of an animal relevant in this case? My argument was that happiness, as I have defined it is attainable. The drive for such a state of mind as I have defined it, leads back to the instinct within our nature that all animals also share.

    With regard to causality in evolution, is it even possible for an animal not to be affirmed by existence? To say that an animal is not affirmed by existence is basically to say the animal has no will to exist, therefore it is not possible for such an animal to exist.

    In summary, I have two points to make, no meaningful discourse is possible without 'language games' not just ethical discourse. Secondly, any animal that exists, wills to exist, as otherwise it would not be possible for such an animal to exist in the first place. If that is not so, provide a counter-example to my thesis.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Additional notes: Daniel Dennet, in the long interview I have sent to you have pointed out that if a group of psychologists were to observe him for many days, they would know what it is like to be Daniel Dennet better than he did himself. This undermines Nagel's argument that there is something fundamentla to my consciousness, or about the consciousness of a bat that only I can have knowledge of. Actually, the other conversationist suggested the contrary to what Daniel Dennet has propounded, though after Dennet explained the views I have described in this paragraph, his interlocutor had no objection.

    You mentioned that you accept Dennet's refutation of Nagel's thesis that his thought experiment concerning the consciousness of bats shows that consciousness is not purely physical. Do you also accept Dennet's claim above? If not, why not? If you do accept it, you cannot make the assertion that the terms we use to describe our own emotions are meaningless when we talk of consciousness of other animals, such as bats. As Veterinarians shall attest, Dennet's thesis appears to be true, which is one's intrinsic emotive state could be extrapolated from how one interacts with the external world. Because it is true, the following proposition is warranted. I do not need to be a dog in order to know what it is like for a dog to feel pain. I merely need to observe a dog.


    Quote Originally Posted by musicheck View Post
    You define happiness as "A sentiment that an animal regards as affirmative of its ways." Then you say that all animals strive for happiness. Thus, you're defining happiness by the way that an animal behaves, and then you say that an animal's behavior is determined by its striving for happiness. Thus, an animal behaves how an animal behaves..
    Indeed, can you imagine any other way to define what an animal tends to strive for? Some propositions are not supported by argument, they are axioms of the system. The drive for contentment is an axiom of animal nature. You may argue that the reason why animals have a drive for contentment is because this is what they needed to do in order to survive, yet the point still stands, what drives such animals to behave in the way that they do is the will to feel good.

    However, unless you can show that it is possible to exist without having the will to exist, it is necessarily true that the reason why some animals have survived is because they have the will to feel good. The will to exist, is the same as the will to be affirmed, the will to be affirmed is the same as the will to feel good. On that note, it follows that the strongest drive in animal nature is the will to feel good (or the will for happiness), as this drive underlies all other drives in animal nature as without such a drive no other drives would be possible because without it, it would be impossible for the animal to exist.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Because the end to all human activity is acquisition of happiness, all actions should be judged in accordance to the consequences they produce. An action should be taken if and only if it conduces to our long term happiness.
    The sole purpose of a system of ethics is to resolve issues when one person's desires conflict with that of another. The criteria you proposed does not appear to do this. Example:

    Suppose I was able to skim 10% of your annual income undetected. Since it will increase my happiness, I would assert that it's the ethically correct action to take. On the other hand, if you were asked, you would judge the action to be unethical. If a third person was asked, she would say it's neutral.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Not_Me View Post
    The sole purpose of a system of ethics is to resolve issues when one person's desires conflict with that of another. The criteria you proposed does not appear to do this.
    Exactly.

    The 'value-centered thinking' which SolitaryWalker considers so irrational is often an attempt at solving the problems which arise when everyone acts hedonistically. When each pursues their own well-being (happiness, contendedness, goals, or whatever) interests come into conflict. Ethical theories propose rules of conduct which resolve these conflicts such as, for example, property rights.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

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