Conversation: Identifying Moral Facts

A twitter conversation recently based around this poll.
View on Twitter.


DF = Dark Futures (Me)
VVG= Vaelin van Gogh

DF: Anyone picking “Reason and evidence” is either grossly naive or doesn’t know what morals are.

VVG: If you can agree that unnecessary suffering of conscious creatures is immoral, then reason and evidence can guide your morals from there.

DF: Reason and evidence doesn’t let you identify the axioms of morality. That’s what I’m answering. Reason does let you refine it though.

VVG: That’s why I stated my premise.

DF: But we’re talking about identifying moral facts/axioms here. Evidence has no bearing on them, because evidence only tells us what is.

VVG: Not denying Hume’s is/ought problem completely, but if you discard superstition and accept my basic premise then many moral axioms follow.

DF: But there’s no reason to accept your premise.

VVG: Really? Not easy to construct any moral framework without it. All arguments must begin with fundamental unproven premises.

DF: All arguments must begin with fundamentals, true. What you proposed is not a fundamental.

VVG: Well it’s not Descartes, but it’s quite basic to any moral framework.

DF: Depends where you look, it certainly wasn’t the case for much of history. Of course, tribes/groups tended to define only themselves as human. So no, saying it’s ‘quite basic’ to any moral framework is not true.

VVG: Exactly. Even tribes with superstition-based morality (mostly) were guided by that premise relative to their understanding of reality.

DF: Are you intentionally misunderstanding me? They defined themselves as human, but it was obvious that others were human too, just not worthy.

VVG: No, just pointing out that even religious morality is based on avoiding unnecessary suffering of conscious creatures, as they understand it.

DF: I think you’re generalising those terms into meaninglessness.

VVG: No, how to best avoid unnecessary suffering depends on your understanding of the way reality works.

DF: Yes. It all depends on what unnecessary means. And even then. No. Also, like I said before: “We can’t even get secular academics to agree whether people are moral agents or not.”