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  •  Yes, its the naturalistic fallacy... (none)
    But it doesn't contradict really contradict those that say "what ought can only be derived from what is" (well, except that they usually through up some kind of smokescreen trying to handwave away the fallacy, but it doesn't contradict their substantive contentions).

    You cannot by pure logic get from "what is" to "what ought" without some assumption of what kind of "is" implies what kind of "ought", which can not itself be deduced from what is. (It can be derived by other means -- say, generalization from subjective aesthetic preference -- from what is, but that is no more "reason" than interpretation of personal religious experience is.

    The first principles of an ethical system are usually justified by appeal to factual evidence about common sentiments and beliefs.  For instance, many philosophers appeal to common sense moral judgments (i.e. the fact of what most people in their society would conclude) in order to justify their conclusions about what is moral. In this view, moral principles can be justified ultimately only by facts.

    No, in this view, moral principles are justified by:

    1. The moral principle that what is commonly believed to be morally right is, ipso facto, morally right, and
    2. The (often questionable) fact that the propositions at issue are generally held to be morally right.

    Of course, the first principle is usually unstated, but logically necessary to the conclusion. The fallacy is not so much in the actual reasoning that is involved, as in the presentation. And, of course, if, in fact, most people do not believe that what is generally held to be morally right is therefore morally right, such a philosophy runs into a serious contradiction.

    I think which facts an ethical system looks at to derive its precepts is fundamentally important.

    I think that recognizing the self-delusion involved in believing that looking at facts, alone, can produce moral precepts is fundamentally far more important.

    •  More nonsense from the self-deluded (none)
      I don't think there is any "self-delusion" involved in exploring at facts and frankly I am a little annoyed that what I thought was a friendly discussion about philosophy has degenerated into a discussion about whether I am "deluded."

      That said, I am puzzled by your statement that "You cannot by pure logic get from "what is" to "what ought" without some assumption of what kind of "is" implies what kind of "ought", which can not itself be deduced from what is. (It can be derived by other means -- say, generalization from subjective aesthetic preference -- from what is, but that is no more "reason" than interpretation of personal religious experience is."

      The typical natural ethics argument is that what is desirable for humans is whatever promotes human flourishing because it satisfies human desires and thus contributes to our happiness. Darwin's theory of natural selection provides biological explanation for what philosophers identify as the moral sense. He concludes that the word "ought" signifies awareness that since some passions are more persistent than others, a person cannot be fully happy if he does not satisfy these stronger passions. Since natural desires conflict with each other, their satisfaction over a whole life requires choices among them and the exercise of judgment. Such moral feelings imply obligation only because we feel that they do. The fact of obligation is nothing more or less than the feeling of obligation. {Before I am accused of moral relativism, let me say that the "feeling of obligation" (i.e. moral instincts) are powerfully constrained by the evolutionary history of our species. Humans don't just feel the obligations they wish to feel or spontaneously generate their moral instincts.)

      It may be that where we are not seeing eye to eye is that you are thinking of moral systems that define moral obligations separately from what humans feel obligated to do. You may disagree with some of the statements made in the paragraph above, but I am not overly troubled by the possibility that some of them may not be "pure logic." They largely involve inferences from facts which do not require me to use subjective preferences. I don't prefer that humans act altruistically towards their kin. I just know that they have evolved moral instincts which have caused them to do so, and I think it is plausible that it could be empirically shown that people are happiest when they follow those instincts.

      I'm rebelling against the argument that "personal religious experience" is an equally valid basis for a moral system, because I don't think what an individual believes about God adds anything to his moral knowledge. We can't infer from our moral experience that God will reward the good and punish the bad in the afterlife, because these effects go beyond what we can observe. We can infer from our personal experience that virtue and moderation is required for human happiness, so inferring that God created this order of nature adds nothing necessary for moral knowledge and conduct.

      •  No one here... (none)
        ...is discussing whether you are deluded.

        The typical natural ethics argument is that what is desirable for humans is whatever promotes human flourishing because it satisfies human desires and thus contributes to our happiness.

        This is tautologically true on the individual level ("what is desirable for a human is what satisfies that human's desires"), generalizing beyond that it requires either adopting a priori a utilatarian value precept or engaging in the fallacy of composition.

        Darwin's theory of natural selection provides biological explanation for what philosophers identify as the moral sense.

        Darwin's theory of natural selection provides an amoral material reason why a that sense may have developed, sure. Extending it to greater significance is not a matter of empirical science, but of conjecture inspired by empirical science, which isn't the same thing. There is nothing wrong with that, but its important to recognize it for what it is.

        He concludes that the word "ought" signifies awareness that since some passions are more persistent than others, a person cannot be fully happy if he does not satisfy these stronger passions. Since natural desires conflict with each other, their satisfaction over a whole life requires choices among them and the exercise of judgment. Such moral feelings imply obligation only because we feel that they do. The fact of obligation is nothing more or less than the feeling of obligation. {Before I am accused of moral relativism, let me say that the "feeling of obligation" (i.e. moral instincts) are powerfully constrained by the evolutionary history of our species. Humans don't just feel the obligations they wish to feel or spontaneously generate their moral instincts.)

        How does this escape relativism? Its just relativism coupled plus the additional belief -- which I think is largely contrary to the evidence -- that people will all have largely the same moral "feeling of obligation".

        It may be that where we are not seeing eye to eye is that you are thinking of moral systems that define moral obligations separately from what humans feel obligated to do.

        I think that by definition a "moral system" is one which makes claims about what a human is obligated to do. Yes, one can empiricially explore the idea of what humans feel obligated to do, or what humans describe as moral. That's not the same thing as determinign what is moral, unless one further assumes that what is moral for a person defined by (for example) either what they feel to be moral, or alternatively by the social consensus of the society they are in. Either of these are variations of moral relativism, and either of them requires an additional assumption beyond the empirical facts.

        You may disagree with some of the statements made in the paragraph above, but I am not overly troubled by the possibility that some of them may not be "pure logic."

        I never suggested that you should be "troubled" by that, or that you have even described a system of belief which, whatever its basis, naturally leads to any moral conclusions or supports any moral claims without additional assumptions.

        In fact, in claiming that a combination of pure logic and facts cannot alone support moral conclusions, I would think it would be clear that I am suggesting that the mere fact that something besides pure logic and facts underpins a moral conclusion is not something that is "troubling" but rather is a logical necessity.

        I'm rebelling against the argument that "personal religious experience" is an equally valid basis for a moral system, because I don't think what an individual believes about God adds anything to his moral knowledge.

        You haven't established that what a human knows about other's preferences or evolution adds anything to his moral knowledge either, you've shown that it may add to his knowledge of what other people believe to be moral and why they believe that.

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