On Aug 19, 9:25 am, Brent Meeker <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Marc, refers to "a commonality averaged across many events and agents" so
> apparently he has in mind a residue of consensus or near consensus.
>Color preferences might average out to nil except in narrow circumstances,
>e.g. "Green people are bad." or "Ferraris should be red." So "objective"
>really means "intersubjective agreement" among humans.
If color preferences averaged to nil then there are no objective color
preferences. My very definition of objective values implies that some
preferences can't average to nil (or by definition, these preferences
could not be objective).
"intersubjective agreement" per se isn't exactly the same as
*objective*. The intersubjective agreement is *implied by* the
proposed objectiveness. That is, the intersubjective agreement was my
proposed way to empirically test the objective preference
>I wonder how big a sample is needed though to qualify as "objective"?
>Everybody? including children? In a lot of the world women would be excluded
>from the count. What about animals?
> >> Finally, the proof that objective values exist is quite simple.
> >> Without them, there simply could be no explanation of agent
> >> motivations.
> So you would say that the actions of say a serial killer can only be
> explained by pointing to some aspect of his values that we share, e.g. sexual
Not exactly. The *physical* actions of a serial killer have physical
explainations. But If the serial killer clearly had teleological
motives, then these motives require explanation (by the very nature of
the scientific world view). And this implies the objective existence
of platonically existing value preferences.
> You might, with great advances in neuroscience, infer what values an agent
> holds from the physical description. That would be explanation in one sense.
> In general there is no such thing as "the explanation" of something. An
> explanation must start with something you understand or accept and show how
> something you didn't understand follows. So there can be different
> explanations depending on where you start and the level of the thing to be
I agree that there's different kinds of explanations. That was
exactly my point. I agree that 'you might, with great advances in
neuroscience, infer what values an agent holds from the physical
descriptions'. But this inference would NOT be a *telelogical
explanation*, it would only be a *physical explanation*. Think levels
of explanations. Physical properties invovle energy. Teleologial
properties involve preferences and goals. There's a 'property
dualism' here again. No amount of explanations involving energy
transfer are going to give you explanations in terms of preferences
and goals. You could show how the two sets of properties are
correlated. But descriptions of correlations are not explanations. A
*teleological explanation* requires you to explain why some social
happening caused an agent to move from teleological state A to
teleological state B. And no merely physical explaantion can possibly
> >The teleological properties of agents (their goals and
> >> motivations) simply are not physical. For sure, they are dependent on
> >> and reside in physical processes, but they are not identical to these
> >> physical processes. This is because physical causal processes are
> >> concrete, where as teleological properties cannot be measured
> >> *directly* with physical devices (they are abstract) .
> >> The whole basis of the scientific world view is that things have
> >> objective explanations.
> Here too "objective" means something like "intersubjective agreement". The
> conservation laws of physics can be derived from invariance under change of
> point of view of the observer.
Well, yeah, I sort of agree, but see the caveat I gave earlier.
'Objective' *implies* intersubjective agreement. Although the two
terms are not the same, I agree that *in practice* (in terms of
emperical realiy), "intersubjective agreement" is what "objective"
> >Physical properties have objective
> >> explanations (the laws of physics). Teleological properties (such as
> >> agent motivations) are not identical to physical properties.
> But there's not as much intersubjective agreement as in physics either. Some
> actions are motivated by religous piety, some by biological hunger.
There is certainly far less intersubjective agreement than in
physics. That's why I emphaszied an 'averaging' across agents.
Something like statistical rules across many events and agents.
> >> Something needs to explain these teleological properties. QED
> >> objective 'laws of teleology' (objective values) have to exist.
> In one sense of explanation, motivations are explicable by evolution. If
> your ancestors didn't love their children you wouldn't be here.
Only, as you point out, in *one* sense of explanation. ;)
> >> What forms would objective values take? As explained, these would NOT
> >> be 'optimization targets' (goals or rules of the form 'you should do
> >> X').
> If they are not 'targets' in some sense, how are they motivators?
> >> They couldn't be, because ethical rules differ according to
> >> culture and are made by humans.
> But if they differ how do they fit into "a commonality averaged across many
> events and agents"?
> Brent Meeker
I don't think objective values are ethical rules or direct
motivators. See what I said:
"What they have to be are inert EXPLANATORY PRINCIPLES, taking the
form: 'Beauty has abstract properties A B C D E F G'. 'Liberty has
abstract properties A B C D E F G' etc etc. None the less, as
explained, these abstract specifications would still be amenable to
indirect empirical testing to the extent that they could be used to
predict agent emotional reactions to social events."
Actual ethical rules or procedures for working these rules out
('optimization targets') would be DERIVED from the objective
principles. But the objective principles themselves are on a higher
level of abstraction. There are three different levels of abstraction
LEVEL ONE: Actual ethical rules. Example: 'Thou shalt not kill'
LEVEL TWO: Procedures (algorithms) for working these rules out.
Example: If the situation is X, then apply ethical rule Y
LEVEL THREE: Abstract specifications of what abstract properties
objective values actually have.
Example: Beauty has asbtract property X. Beauty has abstract
Only Level three is what I meant by 'objective values'. Level two and
level one principles can vary depending on the circumstances in which
level three principles apply. Level three principles (being abstract)
could not be empirically tested *directly*, but they could be
indrectly tested, since level two and level one principles are derived
from them and there should be some degree of statistical
Here's an analogy which might clarify what I mean. Think of the laws
of thermodynamics. The laws themselves don't actually specify what
you will measure when you perform a physical experiment. This
specification is *derived* from the laws based on the initial
conditions to which the laws are being applied. Similarly, objective
values would not specify ethical rules or optimization targets
directly, but these things would be *indirectly* implied by the
objective values based on the specific circumstances to the objective
values were being applied.
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