An Introduction to Philosophy Part 5 Ethics 6 - Transcript

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Introduction and invitation to watch videocast on ethics

[0:00] Hey everybody, it's Stef. Hope you're doing well. I don't want you to panic, but we're going to use a little bit more stunningly original and vivid graphics to go over the last question around ethics.
And I'm going to be a hand model here because I wanted to go over some of the basics that we've talked about.
I'm throwing this one out as a podcast, an audio one, but it's really not going to work very well as an audio podcast.
So you very much might want to come and check out the videocast at,, at forward slash free domain radio, F-R-E-E-D-O-M-A-I-N-R-A-D-I-O.

[0:42] All right so we're going to have before we dive into the uh amazing world of politics we we are going to have a quick chat about some of the things which we've talked about so far to see if we can sort of make sense of them right so we started off with the nature of reality right so there's a person here and we will give him form although of course we're really most concerned with what's going on in the old gray matter.
Let's color it in because, of course, it is full of blood, if I remember my house correctly.

[1:14] And so we've got this person who is surrounded by what?
Like what exists out in the real world? And we went through the basics of epistemology, that there are a couple of choices, that either there's some invisible demon who's got him on a puppet string, and who was keeping all of the crazy little people dancing in a vat of their own ignorance and we kind of erased that as a possibility.
We also saw that there could be some higher realm of forms up here that the human being could have inhabited. We kind of got rid of that as well.
And of course we know, or at least we have made a strong case for the reality that between each human being is sensual empirical reality, right?

The existence of tangible, objective reality and sensory perception

[2:05] So there's me, here at least it's accurate.
So there's me, and so there's you, and there's me, and you and I can communicate using our senses.
You can see this dotted line between us, and what exists in the realm between us is tangible, material, objective reality. You know, birds, trees, and so on.

[2:31] Now, we also posited that because I'm going to make a little tree here, because something like a tree exists in the real world, has atomic structures and matter and energy, and I'm sure the color, so we'll make a kind of alien tree, give it a nice blue trunk here.
So, we can look at a tree, and the tree sort of, what happens is the light comes from the sun and bounces off the tree leaves and then points them into our eyes.
This is all pretty standard, I'm sure you can understand this.
And so if we then have, as we do, an image of a tree, oh boy, this is, you might need to zoom this in a little bit.
You have an image of a tree inside your own mind.
Mind so you have the reproduction within your own mind of a tree that exists in the real world because within your own mind the capacity for error exists that we can look at uh the world and think it's flat when in fact it's round because the possibility for error exists what comes through the senses is always true now this is of course true with the five senses right Right?

[3:53] Five senses plus logical consistency equals true.
Now, what goes on in our own minds, right in around here, and of course for you here, this stuff is false.
If there's a contradiction between what goes on in our own minds and what we receive as sensual evidence from the outside side world.
And you can, of course, print this out, this glorious picture, and hang it on your fridge.

[4:23] So, how do we know that the image within our own mind is false?
Either because of the five senses or reason.
Right, so contradictions between the five senses and reason means that what is within our own mind always gives way to what is coming in through the evidence of the senses and validates by reason.

Erroneous Properties of Consciousness vs. Concept Formation Overview

[4:50] Okay, so now what we do is let's move on from our wonderful description of the erroneous properties of consciousness and let's have a look at a brief overview, a sprint, if you will, through concept formation.
So let's just say that we have these wonderful green trees in the world.

[5:14] Let's make three of them here for those who are listening along.
There are three trees now with blue trunks, nice space alien trees.
So here we look at the world and we see that there are similarities between these three objects in the world and we know that there are similarities between them because you know each one of these is composed of particular particular atoms, is an organic formation of cells, and has particular properties, right?
So even within trees, we have deciduous and we have evergreen, right?
The deciduous ones drop their leaves in the fall and grow them again in the spring.
The evergreens, like the pine cones or the pine trees and so on, they keep their leaves year-round.
But if we're looking at sort of similar kinds of trees subdivided into maple and birch and all this kind of stuff, oak, then we can look at the trees and notice that there are lots of similarities.

Similarities in Trees and Conceptual Aggregation

[6:13] There are similarities, of course, because atoms, matter, and energy are constant.
The trees are composed of similar atoms.
The similarity of the atoms translates within our minds to conceptual similarity.
So what we can do is... Let me introduce a radically new color here. Why not?

[6:32] Alright, so what we're going to do, this is the stuff, the red is the mind, red is the mind.
So what we do is we say, okay, well, there are similarities between each of these trees in reality, and so we cast a big conceptual net, just drawing red dashes around our little forest of alien trees here, our little Dr. Seuss trees.
So we cast this conceptual net, so we have here a tree, 1, tree 2, tree 3, and we cast a conceptual net around it called, forest run!
Anyway, so we have within our minds a conceptual aggregation of like objects called trees, which we aggregate into something called a forest, which you can see beautifully depicted here in an Ansel Adams type way.

Defining Forests as Conceptual Aggregates within our Minds

[7:27] Now of course I have drawn this this dashed red line around the trees themselves to indicate a conceptual aggregate called forest but uh it's not uh it's not it's not like a big net or a perimeter around the actual trees it is within our own minds and of course I can't draw it that small or even if I could you couldn't see it but this whole net exists within our own mind, Now, if we define a forest as an aggregation of three or more blue trees with green leaves, then that is our description of forest.
And what I can't do then is I can't put a red dot here.
I can't put a red dot in and say, this is now part of the forest, because I've defined a forest as a conceptual aggregation within my own mind and thus subject to error in any comparison between the ideas and reality, I can't just sort of throw a red dot in and say, that forest now includes...

[8:30] These trees, the blue trees, and a red dot. I can say that the blue trees and a red dot are all things that I can draw on my whiteboard with a marker.
I mean, whatever, but it's not going to be conceptually the same, or it's not going to be atomically the same as what is going on with these trees.

[8:48] So in any contradiction between concepts that we form based on our observations of material reality and material reality, the concepts always have to give way.
So we don't know that this is a forest because we've seen some perfect forest up in the sky before we were born we know that this is a forest because the atoms strike our senses the same way we validated the roughness of the bark we've been around them long enough to know whether the leaves fall in winter and so on so we have this forest within our own mind and if we suddenly say that we're going to include a red dot this guy in our idea of forest then we are stone incorrect correct the concept always has to give way to the instance as we have talked about so then we started going on to knowledge we talked about the stability of matter within the world and that this gives rise to the concepts of you know fundamentally Aristotelian logic within our own minds but you know basically just what you call a common sense and from there we began to move into the delineation of true and false and we went through all of that kind of stuff that true is the concepts within the mind that are validated according to the evidence of the senses and the rigors of reason.

From Knowledge to Ethics: The Delineation of True and False

[10:02] And then we began to move into ethics.
And there is no ought from an is. We were all very comfortable with that, or at least I was. There is no ought from an is. The ethics do not exist in reality.

[10:14] And yet, if we do decide to put forward an ethical proposition, if we do start to talk about ideal, ideal universal human behavior, universally preferred human behavior, then we can't just sort of make things up, right?
So if we've got some guy in our ethical theory, right, and he's got.

[10:36] A bomb, right? So he's got a bomb, and he is, in our ethical theory, he's allowed to throw this into a house, right?
There's an old house there. So if we have, see how the house looks kind of startled?
That's the kind of artistic genius that you'll get to expect from free-domain radio.
So if we say that morally, it is the ideal human behavior is to throw a bomb into a house, house then uh of course every human being must right because we have human every human being must throw a bomb into a house there can be no exceptions to this rule because we can't just sort of make up rules and shoulds and then say that that applies to this human being but not this human being right you can't say that human beings as a whole have a preferred behavior behavior of throwing bombs at houses and then say that only one human being or this human being or on Saturdays they should do it, but on Sundays they shouldn't, and this sort of stuff.
If you're going to create any kind of ethical theories, you do need to create those ethical theories in a logical, consistent, and universal manner.
Otherwise, they're just opinions and, frankly, pretty useless.

[11:50] So, from there, we began to talk about what some definitions of of universal universally preferred human behavior might be and of course we're staying within the strictures that you can't just make things up you can't say you know you can't have a physics theory that says you know rock a falls down where i'll rock b in exactly the same circumstances oh didn't leave myself enough room falls up right i mean you can't have a physics theory that says my physics physics theory is this because then what you have to do if you're going to say within your theory of physics that rock a falls down but rock b falls up you have to say well what is the difference, between rock a and rock b and you can't just sort of make these things up and say well i i like rock a so it falls down i don't like rock b so it's going to fall up so you can't just sort of make up these arbitrary distinctions because you really are fundamentally describing things around reality you can't say on one day the rock falls down and i mean you can say all all these things, but there's no truth value in any of the things that you're coming up with from that standpoint.

[12:59] So, basically, we talked about countries, we talked about the non-existence of conceptual entities, and now we're absolutely able to start talking about the transition between individual ethics, and we've sort of put some forward here, and I haven't gone into every single one of them, but we've put some forward that probably will stand some pretty strong rigor, right?
So the ones that we've put forward are no violence.
No violence.
So this is also known as the non-aggression principle, the NAP.
And the NAP is you don't start fights, you end them or something like that.
So no violence, no initiation of violence. We had, as a subset of no violence, we had no murder, no murder, no rape, no assault, and so on, right?
So we're not coming up with stuff that's massively, weirdly strange yet.
But we have all of these things subsumed under our general non-aggression principle.
Now, we also had property rights.

Self-Ownership and Responsibility for Actions

[14:18] Property rights. Now, rights is a complicated word, and I'm not going to expect that you're going to accept the whole definition of it just on my say-so, but basically, human beings possess self-ownership because only I can make my voice work, and you can't.
And yes, you can hold a gun to my head and make me do this and that and the other, but you still can't directly control my body in the way that I can. in.
And so because I have self-ownership, I have ownership for the products of my actions, both in a positive and negative way.
You can't have ethics if human beings are not responsible for the products of their actions, right?
So if I walk up to you in the street and I strangle you, and then I say, well, I'm not responsible for that, that wouldn't make much sense, right? If nobody was responsible for anything.

[14:59] But if I'm responsible for the effects of my actions in terms of ethics, in terms of strangling or raping or killing someone, then surely I'm also responsible and have ownership of, if I have ownership of my actions in a moral sense, I surely have ownership of my actions in a product or property sense, right?
So if I go and, you know, as Locke, as I think Adam Smith says, or Locke says, you strip a piece of wood from an unowned tree and you make a bow, then of course you have created something and it's an effect of your action, so you have the right to dispose of it.
And of course fundamentally, right, because property rights are that which are associated with human beings, and we'll not so much talk about the property rights of sea urchins just now, but because property rights are associated with human beings, right?

[15:49] Right, so we got a bunch of people slightly descending size.
We have a bunch of people, right, so either each of these people.

Property Rights and Commonalities among Human Beings

[16:00] Are subsumed under the concept of property rights, that they each have self-ownership, and that they get to own the products of their actions, and so on, right?
Each of these people are subsumed in exactly the same way that a tree, the individual blue trees, were subsumed in the concept forest, and you could not have something which had the opposite characteristics of a forest, right?
You couldn't have a forest composed of the blue trees, and then just throw a red dot in and still call it part of the forest. The forest is derived from what is similar between these objects, not complete opposites.

[16:34] And so anything that you say about human beings must be common to all human beings, just as everything you say about a forest must be what is common between all of the trees within it.
And so if property rights, the non-aggression principle, any ethical theory that you come up with, it can't include positive uh assonation of value action sorry that's a terrible way of putting it it can't include that you know person a should do x and person b should not do x and person c can decide for him or herself whether or not to do x right so if you say property rights exists exists for human beings you have to say it for all human beings you can't just say it for one and then say but oh but they don't exist for the other person you have to say if property rights exist for person a then they automatically exist for person b automatically exist for person c.

[17:38] You can't sort of have complete opposites if person a is not allowed to shoot people on a whim then automatically because we're talking about what is common to human beings things person B is not allowed to shoot people on a whim person C is not allowed to shoot people on a whim so this is the kind of consistency within ethical theories that good philosophy strives to attain in my opinion that that you don't just sort of make up things and say if you wouldn't be a biologist right and say well person A you know has one head and and two arms and two legs and And person B has six arms and, you know, 99 legs and two heads and a tail with a little fork on the end and, you know, 69 eyes.
And yet there's still a human being.
Right? That would be something else. That would be something quite different from a human being, this guy in the middle.
And so you can't just sort of say in a biological sense that all of these would be human beings. because in the middle you have something, the characteristics of which don't conform to what you define a human being as.
And so, when you come up with something like property rights or the non-aggression principle, right?

[18:59] I'm not even going to try and spell that out. I don't have room.
So if you come up with the non-aggression principle and property rights, which really are sort of the two founding principles of a rational theory, and both of these are sort of interrelated. They're two sides of the same coin.

Property Rights and Non-Aggression Principle: Two Sides of the Same Coin

[19:12] You can't really have the non-aggression principle if human beings don't own their own bodies.
So, for instance, if you stab me, then you are invading my property, which is my body, with your knife.
If I don't own my own body, there's no such thing as the non-aggression principle.
So property rights really are the foundation of all rights and all ethics within society.
So they really are sort of two sides. If you have property rights, then you own the effects of your actions. And so it's bad if you go stab someone.
And if you go and make a bowl, it's yours.

[19:47] So property rights and non-aggression principle, these are like two sides of the same coin. We're just differentiating them for the sake of conceptual understanding. understanding.
If a woman doesn't own her own body, then rape is not a crime, right? It doesn't mean anything.
So basically, property rights, you know, this is the one you really want to focus on, because we all think property rights means like, you know, hey, that's my bike, you know, and it's fine, but that's really a long-term effect from the basic initial property right, which is to say that I own my kidneys, so if you need a kidney of mine, you can't just club me over the head and gouge them out and leave me in a bathroom stall somewhere so that's a very important thing to understand that whenever you come up with preferred behavior it has to be for all human beings and of course we already went through quite a lengthy discussion about how universally preferred behavior must exist right because you you simply can't argue against it without bringing universally preferred behavior to bear on the question.

The Importance of Universally Preferred Behavior and Politics

[20:48] Now, the last thing that we'll talk about here in this massively whipped through overview is we're going to start talking about the question of politics.
And we're just sort of going to touch on it just to whet your appetite.
And the question around politics is actually quite simple. The question around sort of aggregates of groups and and so on.
So let's go back to our handy-dandy blue man group.
We've got, you know, guy A over here, right?
So he has certain properties, he has certain rights, he has certain ethically, preferred behavior, which must be common to everyone, right?
If I prefer to go to art school rather than engineering school, that's preferred for me, but it's not universally preferred behavior that everyone has to go to art school and not engineering school because then who would build the arts building?

Distinguishing between personally preferred and universally preferred behavior

[21:44] So there's personally preferred behavior, also known as perhaps aesthetics or ambition or personal taste or whatever.
And then there's universally preferred behavior, which is common to all human beings.

[21:54] I mean, you can make up things where there are biological differentiators.
So to take a silly example, you could say that it is universally preferred that all human beings who don't have hands should not try to become professional javelin throwers. throwing.
I'm no javelin thrower, but I would assume that hands would be somewhat central to the sport.
So if you can find a difference between person A and person B that's objective and biological and so on, in other words, person A has hands, person B doesn't, you can create sort of preferred behavior.
But of course, if somebody wants to create artificial Luke Skywalker hands, stitch them on and go javelin throwing, that's of course up to him.
That would be sort of, to optimize your life, that might not be the best thing to do to become a javelin player or javelin thrower if you don't have hands.
But when we're talking about universally preferred behavior, we're talking about this kind of stuff.
Now, the question of politics only really comes in when we have, right, two guys or more, right?
Now, here we have a person who has a definition, right?
This is old person A and person B.

[23:03] Now, whether they're standing on opposite sides of of the planet, whether they're standing a hundred yards from each other, whether they're standing nose to nose, does not change their fundamental physical characteristics, right?

Proximity does not change a human being's nature

[23:22] Yes, there are some slightly tiny gravitational forces that they apply on each other, or not so tiny if you're a Pavarotti, say, but...

[23:31] The nature of a human being does not change based on proximity, right?
Proximity is not a causal factor for whether a human being's nature, for what creates change in a human being's nature.
You can say that getting beheaded is a causal factor that will change a human being's nature from alive to not so much alive, but proximity is not one of the things that changes a human being's nature.
So no matter how many human beings you get together in a group it does not change a human being's nature so let's put some of that stuff that we've derived from all of our earlier theories right now here's where the challenging stuff is going to come up i promise you whether or not you're religious the challenging stuff is really going to come up in the next couple of video So I just sort of want to emphasize, not to sound sort of mean or bullying, but if you've come this far and haven't found substantial logical problems with the formulations that we've been working with, your intellectual integrity is really going to be put to the test as we start moving forward.
Because there's probably going to be a bunch of things coming up here that are going to make you pretty uncomfortable, not only from a political standpoint, but from a social and possibly even familial standpoint.

[24:52] The challenge that you have to accept, if you want to be logical, if you want to have intellectual integrity, is that if you don't disagree with the premises or the reasoning and you can't find fault in them, then you can't not agree with the conclusions. conclusions, right?
So if I say Socrates is a man, and all men have testicles, then you can't object to Socrates having testicles.
I mean, you can, but then you've just abandoned intellectual integrity, which is actually not a very good thing to do in terms of making sure that you stay a happy human being, right?
So let's say, boy, how am I going to do this?
So we got a big cloud of of people, right?
Just make this kind of line look like a bacteria.
So you've got a big crowd of people, right? This is 100 million people.
If you zoom in, you can see them all.
And then we have Uno Duturuni, right? This is person A.

Individual vs Group: Nature and Identity

[25:57] Now, the proximity of these 100 million people to each other, and the proximity of this person to the 100 million people does not change their basic nature, does not change their fundamental atomic structure, their neurological structure, their biological structure, their definitions of what it is to be human, is not changed in any way, shape, or form, by whether you're in a group or whether you're alone.
So, for instance, if everybody is back looking at our handy-dandy trees, so here we have our handy-dandy tree.
Hi, sorry about that. The computer or the camera just shut off again, right?
So let's say that we have this tree in between Guy A and 100 million people, people, and they're all looking at the tree, and does the one person looking at the tree, does that person change the nature of that tree, right?
So if I look at a tree and I say, that's a lollipop, have I changed the nature of the tree in any fundamental way?
Well, of course not. All I've done is rearrange the things within my own mind, which are supposed to be describing this tree.

[27:15] And so, when a lot of people look at reality and say this, that, or the other, it has absolutely no effect on external, tangible, material, objective reality itself, right?

Crowd Fallacy: Aggregate Nature vs Individual Properties

[27:27] This is why the scientific method always means testable, reproducible, and objective, and measurable, and this kind of stuff so this idea that somehow a crowd has an aggregate that has different rights right so this this aggregate which is a conceptual grouping which we call let's just say a crowd You could also call it a country or a party or a race or a community or a tribe or whatever it is.
This idea that a crowd can somehow have an aggregate nature or an aggregate identity or an aggregate set of properties that somehow contradict reality.
The properties of each individual person within that crowd is just as crazy, is just as irrational as saying that, you know, a whole bunch of trees, that a forest can be composed of a whole bunch of blue trees and also can include a green dot.

Unrealistic conceptual aggregations: Green Dot and Blue Forest

[28:42] And saying perhaps that, okay, let's get rid of the green dot, it's as crazy as well as saying that a conceptual aggregate of blue trees called a blue forest, can also include trees that float upside down in midair, right?
If you have trees that are floating upside down in midair, they're probably not going to be part of the blue forest and they're red to boot or whatever.
So you can't have an aggregation of anything, a conceptual grouping of anything that is material and within reality, which has different or opposing properties from any one of those.
And we talked about you can't have rocks that also, a conceptual aggregation of rocks, which are things that are heavy and rest on the ground and include within them helium balloons, which go up to the sky.
So when we have humanity we have a crowd looking at objects within reality does not affect those objects within reality and everything which is preferred behavior for person A is preferred behavior for everyone and it doesn't matter how many people you put together in a group you do not change their moral nature.

[30:02] Doesn't matter whether you have one, ten, a thousand, a billion people.
Putting them in a group, putting them in a geographical area, putting them at a fixed point in time does not change their fundamental biological, physical properties, does not change the required or the desired behavior that is moral, the universally preferred human behavior.

Politics: Applying our metaphysical groundwork for understanding society

[30:25] If it applies to one person, it applies to everyone, and you can't layer over a crowd and say, say, well, the crowd has different moral properties.
Now, I'm going to leave it at that because we need to start talking about politics so that we can really begin to make sense of all of this stuff and really have the work that we've done in metaphysics, epistemology, concept formation, true-false logic, all of the stuff that we've been working on for the past little while is going to bear fruit in some ways that are probably going to be a little startling to you, at least they certainly were to me when I first started working them out, but I hope that it will make good sense to you, and as always, I just have one thing to say, and I will talk to you soon. Thank you so much.

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