BaalChatzaf

How "ought" things be?

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I have some trouble with the terms "ought" and "should".

Here is where I can use the terms meaningfully: If means M is the best way to achieve end E, as determined by a factual and objective analysis of the available means and the nature of the given end, then I have no trouble in saying one ought or should use means M to achieve end E. If an objective analysis shows that means M' will not achieve and E then I have no trouble saying one ought not or one should not use M' to achieve E.

In this situation the terms "ought" and "should" inherit an objective meaning from an analysis of available means and the nature of the ends.

My question is what do "ought" and "should" in other contexts?

What states "should" or "ought" the world to be in and how are these states determined.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I have some trouble with the terms "ought" and "should".

Here is where I can use the terms meaningfully: If means M is the best way to achieve end E, as determined by a factual and objective analysis of the available means and the nature of the given end, then I have no trouble in saying one ought or should use means M to achieve end E. If an objective analysis shows that means M' will not achieve and E then I have no trouble saying one ought not or one should not use M' to achieve E.

In this situation the terms "ought" and "should" inherit an objective meaning from an analysis of available means and the nature of the ends.

My question is what do "ought" and "should" in other contexts?

What states "should" or "ought" the world to be in and how are these states determined.

Ba'al Chatzaf

If "M is the best way to achieve end E ... then...": But what if several million Jews are inbetween "M" and "E""?

--Brant

sorry, I'm drunk.

Edited by Brant Gaede

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If "M is the best way to achieve end E ... then...": But what if several million Jews are inbetween "M" and "E""?

--Brant

sorry, I'm drunk.

Shame on you.

I am talking about relating means to ends and you are talking about evil acts. Obvious there are other constraints at work besides the objective relation between means and ends. If the end is to have money and a means is to steal it why not do it? Because the owner of the money also has an end: namely to keep it from being stolen and will use force to defend his property or to punish anyone who takes it.

I am not going to get into a Prudent Predator discussion. Predating on humans harms them and that is why one "shouldn't" or "ought not" do it. And that is all I am going to say about that.

Let me amend my position. If the end E does not require that anyone be wronged and the means M does not produce a wrongful harm to someone else, the he ought to use M to achieve E. Our actions are constrained by consequences when we live in a society. On a desert island the only constraints on the means-end relation are (1) physical possibility and (2) one's ability to use the means. Both are objectively determinable.

Are we happy now?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I am talking about relating means to ends and you are talking about evil acts. Obvious there are other constraints at work besides the objective relation between means and ends. If the end is to have money and a means is to steal it why not do it? Because the owner of the money also has an end: namely to keep it from being stolen and will use force to defend his property or to punish anyone who takes it.

Ba'al Chatzaf

That's not why I don't steal, but it may be why he doesn't steal from me. I'm just saying things are more complicated than you state, but I too am not particularly interested in further discussion about this at least for now.

--Brant

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"Should" in the context of ethical fundamentals.

My question is what do "ought" and "should" [mean] in other contexts?

Human beings have the capacity for volitional selection of action. The reference below attempts proof that "acceptance and use of the principle of holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action" serves as the foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action.

With that proof in hand, "we can derive actions that 'should' be taken, actions that are required to implement the foundational principle."

The quotations in this reply are from:

Hartford, Robert. 2007. Objectivity and the proof of egoism. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8, no. 2 (Spring): 291-303

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Human beings have the capacity for volitional selection of action. The reference below attempts proof that "acceptance and use of the principle of holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action" serves as the foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action.

With that proof in hand, "we can derive actions that 'should' be taken, actions that are required to implement the foundational principle."

It's beyond me how one can use the word 'proof' in this context. The only context 'proof', has any meaning is in mathematics, IMO. One can accept and use a principle to guide one's actions but one can't "prove" that it is the "foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action". This sounds quite religious to me.

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Human beings have the capacity for volitional selection of action. The reference below attempts proof that "acceptance and use of the principle of holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action" serves as the foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action.

With that proof in hand, "we can derive actions that 'should' be taken, actions that are required to implement the foundational principle."

It's beyond me how one can use the word 'proof' in this context. The only context 'proof', has any meaning is in mathematics, IMO. One can accept and use a principle to guide one's actions but one can't "prove" that it is the "foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action". This sounds quite religious to me.

Some things can be proved logically off accepted premises, that's all. If, then. If X is true then we ought (maybe and carefully). The power of deductive reasoning is very seductive and encourages one to fall out of individuality into cults. The absolutism of reality does not justify absolutism in one's mind regarding everything from a to z which actually need intensive and extensive investigations. A problem for the conceptually oriented is the overwhelming dominance of the anti-conceptual human world. Individualism vrs collectivism debate does not interest the collectivists, many of whom are hiding out in environmentalism, institutions of higher education and traditional media. So we individualists are fighting each other, essentially, for some of us aren't individualists.

--Brant

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Egoism – Objective or Subjective?

Ayn Rand’s vision was of “a morality which can be proved by means of logic, which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary” (Rand [1959] 1998)

Her brief analysis did not provide proof to my satisfaction. The following quotations are from (Hartford 2007), cited below, which contains my attempt at proof.

“Since the time when Hume said it seems inconceivable that an ‘ought’ proposition can be deduced from any set of ‘is’ propositions, many have thought the task of proof to be impossible.”

“They appear to overlook the fact that the results of action are descriptive facts. The characteristics and causes of action are also descriptive facts. Integration of those facts is a requirement of truth and will be essential to proof.”

“If it can be shown that building such descriptions into a noncontradictory body of mental contents requires specific normative action, then a proven link from the descriptive to the prescriptive will be forged.”

The paper uses “a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ approach to proof by examining action based on the negation of ‘the choice to live’ principle and showing that it provides evidence of contradictory mental contents.”

Rand, Ayn. [1959] 1998. Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand. No Free Lunch Distributors.

Video tape.

Hartford, Robert. 2007. Objectivity and the proof of egoism. The Journal of Ayn Rand

Studies 8, no. 2 (Spring): 291-303.

Click here for a Subscription and Back Issue Order Form for The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

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"Should" in the context of ethical fundamentals.

Human beings have the capacity for volitional selection of action. The reference below attempts proof that "acceptance and use of the principle of holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action" serves as the foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action.

With that proof in hand, "we can derive actions that 'should' be taken, actions that are required to implement the foundational principle."

"holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action"

Never encountered a convincing argument for this.

Bob

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. . . "acceptance and use of the principle of holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action" serves as the foundational principle of a valid ethical system for selecting action.
"holding one's own life as the motive and goal of one's action"

Never encountered a convincing argument for this.

Below is a sampling of my argument based on quotations from the paper cited below:

"To protect against equivocation, this paper will carefully use the term 'value' to denote a single concept valid for all living organisms. I will . . . strictly limit the concept of value to denote a beneficial condition for its own life that an organism produces through its own action." (p. 296)

"In a human context, some authors use the term value to denote any goal sought or anything that a person chooses to value. That is more properly labeled a value principle. This paper will not use the term value to denote a value principle." (p. 296)

"What is at issue here is proving an ethical system that includes guidance for assessing the objective validity of a person’s value principles." (p. 297)

"The concept of a valuing mechanism also applies to all living organisms. An organism’s valuing mechanisms are its specific biological features that enable it to pursue and achieve values." (p. 297)

"All volitional action originates from a person’s mind, conscious or subconscious. If the mind chooses volitional action that one knows (at some level, conscious or subconscious) to be harmful to one’s life, some aspect of the mind is implicitly acting on the premise that the human mind is not a valuing mechanism. The law of noncontradiction tells us that the mind cannot both be and not be a valuing mechanism at the same time and in the same context. Either the identification of the mind as a human valuing mechanism is an error or the use of the mind to select harmful action is an error." (p. 300)

"Resolution of the contradiction requires either rejecting the mind as a human valuing mechanism or rejecting the selection of harmful action. The first choice contradicts the modern understanding of living organisms and the evolution of the human species. The second choice requires analyzing the reasons for selection of harmful action and correcting the errors that led to the action." (p.300)

Please obtain the paper for the full argument and interesting consequences.

Hartford, Robert. 2007. Objectivity and the Proof of Egoism. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 8, no. 2 (Spring): 291–303.

Click for Subscription and Back Issues Order Form

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(BaalChatzaf post #24 in the 'Sense of Life' thread) "ethics is not -determined- by the laws of nature"

But, a valid theory of ethics, like a valid theory of spacetime, is derived from the laws of nature.

Just as one must study the facts regarding space and time to understand the validity of the non-Euclidian nature of spacetime and the truth of the theory of general relativity, one must study the biological facts to understand the validity of egoistic choice and the truth of the theory of ethical egoism.

(See previous post and the cited reference for details.)

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(BaalChatzaf post #24 in the 'Sense of Life' thread) "ethics is not -determined- by the laws of nature"

But, a valid theory of ethics, like a valid theory of spacetime, is derived from the laws of nature.

It could be a matter of choice. All our doings are -constrained- by the laws of nature, but they are not -determined- by the laws of nature. The alternative is to assume everything that has happened was determined or pre-ordianed at the instant of the Big Bang. Do you believe that? I don't.

Our laws our man made. Our moral standards and restrictions are man-made. The design of the things we make are man-made, although they must be consistent with natural laws. Tell me, was the post you wrote to which I am replying determined by the laws of nature. Is the alphabet in which you wrote it, the language in which you wrote it determined by the laws of nature. I do not think so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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It could be a matter of choice. All our doings are -constrained- by the laws of nature, but they are not -determined- by the laws of nature. The alternative is to assume everything that has happened was determined or pre-ordianed at the instant of the Big Bang. Do you believe that? I don't.

Our laws our man made. Our moral standards and restrictions are man-made. The design of the things we make are man-made, although they must be consistent with natural laws. Tell me, was the post you wrote to which I am replying determined by the laws of nature. Is the alphabet in which you wrote it, the language in which you wrote it determined by the laws of nature. I do not think so.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Ahem...the "laws of nature" are man made also, and periodically revised. If we define man as a rational animal, then if he behave irrationally he is not being 'human', etc. I don't see what ethics has to do with it.

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Ahem...the "laws of nature" are man made also, and periodically revised. If we define man as a rational animal, then if he behave irrationally he is not being 'human', etc. I don't see what ethics has to do with it.

Reality has a nature of which the man-made laws of nature are a description and an approximation. Reality has a real underlying reality. Ultimately all that we do is -constrained- by the underlying real reality of reality.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Will you people learn to deal with ideas in terms of principles?

"Can I get away with this violation of that rule or this?"

Accept moral certitude and move on to a deeper subject.

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Will you people learn to deal with ideas in terms of principles?

"Can I get away with this violation of that rule or this?"

Accept moral certitude and move on to a deeper subject.

What for?

--Brant

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I have some trouble with the terms "ought" and "should".

Here is where I can use the terms meaningfully: If means M is the best way to achieve end E, as determined by a factual and objective analysis of the available means and the nature of the given end, then I have no trouble in saying one ought or should use means M to achieve end E. If an objective analysis shows that means M' will not achieve and E then I have no trouble saying one ought not or one should not use M' to achieve E.

In this situation the terms "ought" and "should" inherit an objective meaning from an analysis of available means and the nature of the ends.

My question is what do "ought" and "should" in other contexts?

What states "should" or "ought" the world to be in and how are these states determined.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Forget M and E for a moment...just for a moment. Back away and understand you've already committed yourself to 'M' and 'E'. (no wonder I have so many problems with your postings....sheeeze).

You need to consider principal 'A'. which is derived from empiric 'B', 'C', 'D'. or whatever.

The point is you can't just magically float from this M to E strategy in ethics and be devoid of the prior composites that form such a contemplation that is necessary. You've got the cart before the horse.

Back up.

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Will you people learn to deal with ideas in terms of principles?

"Can I get away with this violation of that rule or this?"

Accept moral certitude and move on to a deeper subject.

What for?

--Brant

You know....that whole 'Get busy living or get busy dying thing......'.....that.

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Forget M and E for a moment...just for a moment. Back away and understand you've already committed yourself to 'M' and 'E'. (no wonder I have so many problems with your postings....sheeeze).

You need to consider principal 'A'. which is derived from empiric 'B', 'C', 'D'. or whatever.

The point is you can't just magically float from this M to E strategy in ethics and be devoid of the prior composites that form such a contemplation that is necessary. You've got the cart before the horse.

Back up.

Principles you want and principles you shall have.

Principle 1. Do not choose an end E for which no means are available to achieve it. In short one -should not- or -ought not- dream the impossible dream.

Principle 2. Given that the end E is possible select the optimal means M for achieving it, modulo economic, legal and ethical constraints that apply. The best means M to achieve E is the means that -should be- or -ought to be- used.

Do you find these principles sufficient? I do. I have lived over 70 years using these principles. I am alive, I am well and I never broke a bone.

My most frequent attitude toward Principles is this: Principles and $1.67 will get you a coffee at Dunkin'Donuts ™.

PS. I am not, nor have I ever been an Objectivist, just so you know where I am not coming from. Don't trip while flipping over the calender next Tuesday.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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I have some trouble with the terms "ought" and "should".

Here is where I can use the terms meaningfully: If means M is the best way to achieve end E, as determined by a factual and objective analysis of the available means and the nature of the given end, then I have no trouble in saying one ought or should use means M to achieve end E. If an objective analysis shows that means M' will not achieve and E then I have no trouble saying one ought not or one should not use M' to achieve E.

In this situation the terms "ought" and "should" inherit an objective meaning from an analysis of available means and the nature of the ends.

My question is what do "ought" and "should" in other contexts?

What states "should" or "ought" the world to be in and how are these states determined.

Ba'al Chatzaf

This is my take.

If one needs to experience a specific consequence then one ought to be acting in that why necessitated by it.

However if one wants to experience a specific consequence then one should act in the why necessitated by it.

Need address the requirements of life. Making ought non-conditional.

Want address the whims of emotion. Making should conditional.

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Forget M and E for a moment...just for a moment. Back away and understand you've already committed yourself to 'M' and 'E'. (no wonder I have so many problems with your postings....sheeeze).

You need to consider principal 'A'. which is derived from empiric 'B', 'C', 'D'. or whatever.

The point is you can't just magically float from this M to E strategy in ethics and be devoid of the prior composites that form such a contemplation that is necessary. You've got the cart before the horse.

Back up.

Principles you want and principles you shall have.

Principle 1. Do not choose an end E for which no means are available to achieve it. In short one -should not- or -ought not- dream the impossible dream.

Principle 2. Given that the end E is possible select the optimal means M for achieving it, modulo economic, legal and ethical constraints that apply. The best means M to achieve E is the means that -should be- or -ought to be- used.

Do you find these principles sufficient? I do. I have lived over 70 years using these principles. I am alive, I am well and I never broke a bone.

My most frequent attitude toward Principles is this: Principles and $1.67 will get you a coffee at Dunkin'Donuts ™.

PS. I am not, nor have I ever been an Objectivist, just so you know where I am not coming from. Don't trip while flipping over the calender next Tuesday.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Ayn rand defined principles this way: "A principle is "a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend." Thus a principle is an abstraction which subsumes a great number of concretes. It is only by means of principles that one can set one's long-range goals and evaluate the concrete alternatives of any given moment. It is only principles that enable a man to plan his future and to achieve it."

To be principled means to know the consequence of your actions in the long-term. My I suggest that you are a principled actor. Further; since you are a principled actor may I also suggest you are an Objectivist.

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