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Old 04-15-2007, 03:49 AM   #7
tk102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrion
Er, what was the point of adding in mathematical notation? It didn't do much besides adding a layer of confusion, even though your words were enough to say the same.
The point was to abstract the concepts with symbology in order to avoid misinterpretation that comes from words. If morality can truly be considered objective, it must be able to conform to logical statements with unambiguous terms. Symbology provides a simple way to keep terminology constant.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrion
Anyway, you do fall prey to oversimplification in your descriptions, tk102. For instance, what is distress? Is it simply the avoidance of pain? Or is it the avoidance of anything that causes pain? For instance, it would be the difference of avoiding being stung by a bee on a window still and squashing it; the former would cause one to be cautious and perhaps retreat to another room, while the latter might compel one to destroy the bee in his vicinity. In other words, despite both options resulting in the same amount of pain to the victim, people would still go to either option depending on altogether seperate reasons. This means that distress is not the sole factor in morality.
Well, if the bee was not considered so be part of set P, then there would be no difference in the morality of the two actions. However, becuase the bee is an organism that can be distressed, it is a part of P and so the action of leaving the room causes less universal distress than the act of killing the bee (Dleave < Dkill ) and so leaving the room has greater morality.

As for the defintion of distress, it's true I didn't make any attempt to define it. I have a dictionary that I could quote if it makes any difference. I think each creature knows distress when it feels it. I did suggest that each distress is a local phenomenon that must be converted to some sort of universal scale so that it could be weighed against other organisms' distresses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrion
Also, the main problem I have with moral objectivity is that humans can never be truly objective; we always have some bias because we always have an opinion and a limited view of existence. Without knowing all of the ramifications that actions can have, and without knowing all the possible sides to a given argument or idea, morality is based less on ultimate distress caused and instead cut off by some arbitrary level depending on the person.
I wouldn't say that makes morality subjective. It's just that the precision of the variables discerned by different actors may be different. In 1650 BC, an Egyptian scribe named Ahmes declared the number π was 256/81 -- off by approximately 1%. In 1997, π was calculated out to 51.5 billion digits. It's still not exactly right, but it's much closer. You wouldn't say that the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is subjective though, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrion
Therefore, it's pointless to bring up a particular formula for morality as all variables would be to the whim of the person with the pen. That's just my opinion, though. I could be wrong.
Believe me, I've been wrestling with that too. That's why I started this thread. I appreciate your response. The counter-argument to my analogy with pi would be that unlike morality, the values of pi have been shown to converge with increasing precision. That's why we can believe there is a true number π. There's no way to show this with a given action because we can't freeze all the conditions and perform an analysis to ever greater precisions. If there's no convergence, then it's impossible to show there is a true (objective) morality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
One man's pain is another man's pleasure. The severity of the pain would be on some kind of bell curve, with no pain being zero, and for instance severity of pain increases negatively and pleasure increases positively. The bell curve would be skewed well into the negative, but there'd be a few on the positive who got some kind of pleasure out of the pain. You'd have to add in a probability equation (just to make things more fun).
Distresses are local to the individual and are inherent to their own dispositions, tolerances, and adaptabilities to external stimuli. The summation notation adds up the distresses felt by each individual, so I think that's covered. I guess you're suggesting to use a probability equation to estimate the unknown distresses of the unknown population P? Okay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
Also, maximize morality is not always inversely proportional to distress. Some medical procedures cause distress, but are not immoral. You'd have to account for those things that cause distress but have little or no bearing on morality, unless you limit your sets to only those things where distress has an impact on morality, and even that will vary to some degree.
Well I assume a doctor performs a procedure to improve or save a life, and wouldn't undertake a procedure that didn't have some long-run benefit (an overall decrease in distress, with the assumption that death is the ultimate distress.)

Last edited by tk102; 04-15-2007 at 04:00 AM.
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