UPB and Science - Transcript


0:00:00 Introduction
0:00:57 Understanding Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB)
0:03:31 Applying UPB to Moral Theories
0:05:05 Acceptance of Standards in Communication
0:05:25 Consistency in Moral Statements
0:06:48 Standards of Truth in Debates
0:07:38 Universality of Moral Standards
0:08:38 Categorizing Ethical Questions
0:10:54 Aesthetically Preferable Behavior
0:12:26 Differentiating Personal and Universal Preferences
0:15:14 Consistency and Logic in Moral Propositions
0:16:52 Objective Differences in Moral Judgments
0:19:23 Identifying Arbitrary Rules
0:23:13 Enforcing Arbitrary Distinctions
0:24:08 Consequences of Enforcing Arbitrary Rules
0:25:44 Addressing Theft and Property Rights
0:27:42 The Goal of Universally Preferable Behavior
0:29:33 Purpose of Moral Propositions
0:30:54 Nutrition and Dietary Requirements
0:37:53 The Scientific Method and Seeking Truth
0:43:07 Evaluating Moral Theories with UPB
0:47:08 The Paradise of Applying UPB
0:52:29 Establishing Truth vs. Speculating Effects
0:58:32 The Value of Truth in Moral Prescriptions

Long Summary

In our in-depth podcast conversation, we explore the concept of universally preferable behavior (UPB) as a framework for understanding moral propositions. UPB is likened to the scientific method but applied to morality, emphasizing the importance of logical consistency and universality in moral judgments. We delve into how adhering to objective standards of truth is essential in debates, as debate inherently implies a commitment to universal truths.

The dialogue delves into categorizing behaviors as morally good, evil, or neutral within the UPB framework, distinguishing between personal preferences and behaviors that align with UPB principles. We analyze examples like punctuality and kindness to illustrate universally preferable behavior. Consistency and logic are highlighted as crucial for defining UPB and upholding moral propositions.

We further examine moral propositions that conform to UPB but may not be considered moral in practice, testing the theory's validity thoroughly. The importance of evaluating moral propositions for logical consistency within the UPB framework is emphasized, with examples like arbitrary rules scrutinized for their alignment with objective distinctions. Practical applications of UPB in analyzing ethical dilemmas underscore the need for empirical evidence and logical coherence in moral reasoning.

As the conversation progresses, we discuss the enforcement of moral rules involving the threat of violence and self-defense as core to moral rules. The non-aggression principle, property rights, and self-ownership are explored as key components supported by UPB. Our exploration emphasizes the need for moral propositions to uphold universal standards of truth and consistency.

The dialogue evolves into examining how moral propositions impact societal norms and behaviors, highlighting concepts like property rights as foundational to moral reasoning. The necessity of respecting property rights and the logical inconsistencies in arguing against them are underscored as essential components of moral validity. Ultimately, the conversation provides a deep dive into the philosophical underpinnings of morality and universal principles, shedding light on the intricacies of moral reasoning and truth-seeking.


podcast, conversation, universally preferable behavior (UPB), moral propositions, logical consistency, universality, categorizing behaviors, enforcement of moral rules, non-aggression principle, property rights, self-ownership, logical coherence, empirical evidence, moral reasoning, universal principles, philosophical underpinnings, morality



[0:00] Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? I sure can. How are you doing? Excellent.
Could you speak up a little bit? The volume on this is pretty poor. Is that any better?
Yeah, thank you. Sure, no problem.
No problem. I'm glad that I was able to catch you. So, yeah, me too.
I don't have much experience with, I don't know, I'm doing this, so shall we talk about premises or something?
Yeah, I mean, the general framework, just because you're relatively new to this UPB stuff, and it is horrible.
I mean, conceptually, it's horrible stuff. Once you get it, at least I think, it becomes a lot easier.
But conceptually, it's horrible to begin with. So I'm not going to view this, unless you'd prefer it, particularly as a debate, but rather, you can ask me questions, and hopefully I can answer them with some degree of clarity.

Understanding Universally Preferable Behavior (UPB)

[0:58] Okay um fantastic so um i've listened to your whole intro to philosophy series and i'm pretty sure um that we're in agreement on all those all those basic things concerning reality scientific method um what people what's not uh all of that sort of thing so i guess the last few questions I was asking on the board were what is the goal of the universally preferable behavior that you're proposing, the non-aggression principle or self-ownership, and the reason behind that that I explained was that all actions are of equal utility until some sort sort of goals to find, right, mysticism, scientific method equal until you define truth as the goal.

[1:59] Yes. Oh, perfectly, perfectly makes sense. And I'm just working on this book, so I can completely understand how this is not clear.
That's why this was the next book on the list. So, universally preferable behavior is a framework, like the scientific method is a framework.
Framework and uh the goal of course if you want to make a moral statement that is true that is valid then i i argue that you have to use upb as a framework like if you want to say something true about the scientific world sorry if you want to say something true about the physical world you have to use the scientific method right of course yeah right so if you want to uh say say something that is valid, i.e.
Does not contradict itself and is universally true, about what forms of behavior human beings should engage in, then you have to use UPB, my argument is, which is basically the idea that any moral proposition that you put forward has to be universal, logical.

[3:03] Consistent, and ideally there should be some physical evidence for it.
And the basic evidence that we have that's available to everyone without research is the universal prohibition against things like murder and rape and theft and assault and so on that we have.
And there's more complicated things that you can get into in terms of moral proof, but those kinds of things are sort of important.

Applying UPB to Moral Theories

[3:32] So the analogy that I use is if you want to create a theory of physics about how objects are going to move through the air, then you have to take into account the fact that a human being can catch a ball, even if he knows nothing about physics.

[3:48] So in the same way, almost all cultures prohibit murder, even though they don't really know much about moral theories at the philosophical level.
So you have to at least have a theory that is going to explain those kinds of things.
And so if you want – given that you can't debate and you can't interact with any other human being without using universally preferable standards like comprehensibility, logic, evidence, and so on, then if you – since the very act of debating is applying a standard of preferable behavior that we should not shoot each other, that we should use a language that we both understand, that we should say what we mean, that we should use evidence and not screaming and things like that.
If you want to say something that is true about how human beings should behave, then you should submit your theory to a universal standard of truth, which I call UPB.

[4:47] Okay, I think the piece that may be missing here is what you had just said about how the act of speaking assumes that your goal is true.
No, I'm sorry, I didn't say that. Sorry to interrupt, I didn't quite say that.

Acceptance of Standards in Communication

[5:05] What I said was that the act of speaking to another human being involves an acceptance or has as its core an acceptance of standards of preference that are not just personal.
Okay. Could you elaborate a little bit on that, please?

Consistency in Moral Statements

[5:25] Well, sure. I mean, if I started speaking to you using some made-up language, we couldn't have a debate, right?
Right. Now, if I also said to you that I think that you're incorrect, and I'm going to prove to you that you're incorrect, and then we spend this whole long time, and it turns out that what I've done is I've just said, oh, I used the word incorrect to mean correct.
So, you know, I just reverse meanings within my own mind. We also could not have a productive debate, right?
Okay, yeah. If I said to you, you should believe what I'm saying, I'm sorry, I'm just speaking loudly because I know you're in a cafe, so let me know if I'm yelling.

[6:10] I don't think I've ever logically argued with someone or argued with someone in any significant way, and they say, Steph, you should believe me because I'm always right.
The reason that people say that I should believe them is they say, Steph, you've made a logical error, or there's evidence which contradicts your assertion. Or you've contradicted yourself.
Okay. And so if we're going to debate...
By the very nature of debating, we are saying that there is a standard called truth, which is preferable to a standard called error, and that standard is not subjective.

Standards of Truth in Debates

[6:49] It's not just defined by me. I can't just define the truth as whatever I say.
I have to define the truth as something that is independent of me and independent of you, but that we both have some sort of access to.
There's simply no way to debate without accepting that there are standards of truth external to our consciousness.

[7:12] Right, right, right, right. I mean, if you can think of an example where that wouldn't be the case, I'd certainly be happy to.
I mean, I've racked my brain. I can't think of a single one.
Even if I come into you and say that there's no such thing as universal morality, morality then I'm saying that there's a standard called truth which is universal and objective which we should adhere to.

Universality of Moral Standards

[7:39] In other words it is preferable for us to adhere to this universal standard called truth and since I define morality in the framework of universally preferable behavior when someone says to me there's no such thing as universal behavior, there's no such thing as universally preferable behavior, there's no such thing as ethics, what they're saying is it is universally preferable that you believe that there's no such thing as universal preferences, which is a contradiction.
Maybe there's some way around it that I've never thought of, but I can't imagine how you could have a debate that wasn't just a mere assertion, like do it because I'm telling you to, which is not a rational debate.
I don't know how you could have a debate without accepting some empirical or universal standard of truth.
Yes, of course, yes.
Okay, so, so far working on something you mentioned before about.

[8:31] Well, I, for example, the principle of UPEB, I think it's fantastic.

Categorizing Ethical Questions

[8:38] Things like you say, things such as taxation or murder or things like that clearly are not moral because they are not internally consistent.
However, I don't think you can make the joke to calling them immoral.
Yet, at this point, they're just out of the moral sphere, and the way that I made on the board was the meat example, where just because my preference is not universally preferable, it's not necessarily immoral. immoral.
Sure, sure. No, I completely agree. I generally break ethical questions into three categories or five categories if you prefer each category to have a reversal.
The first is that we say something is good, morally good, universally morally good or whatever.
And the second thing is we would say that something is neutral, morally neutral, doesn't have any moral content like like, I like ice cream or whatever.

[9:44] And then the third is sort of evil, right? And in a sense, there's really only two categories, because if I say that the non-aggression principle, is a valid moral proposition, and it does sort of play out in the UPV framework that the non-aggression principle is logically consistent, whereas if you say it's virtuous for people to initiate the use of violence, it completely self-detonates within about three seconds once Once you start examining it logically, it's an impossibility.

[10:14] So if I say that the non-initiation of the use of force is a value or a virtue, then I can say that that is a universal moral proposition, universally preferable behavior.

[10:28] And then the violation of that is evil, right?
The sort of shadow of that statue is evil.
There is stuff that's neutral, that's a purely personal preference, right, which is neutral, which is like, I like jazz or I like ice cream or something like that. And, of course, that's not a universal moral standard.
However, there are things which can be conceived of as universally preferential.

Aesthetically Preferable Behavior

[10:55] But which are not fundamentally moral, but are more sort of aesthetics, or these are things like politeness.
You know, like, if I say I'm going to meet you at six o'clock, then I should meet you at six o'clock.
I would certainly not stay friends with somebody who was an hour late every time we wanted to meet.
And I think people would say, well, I can understand why you wouldn't want to be friends with someone like that.
But if I said I'm not friends with anyone who doesn't like like jazz music, then people would say, well, that seems a little prejudicial, so to speak.

[11:30] And of course, if I said I'm not friends with anybody who's a rapist, then of course people would understand that immediately.
And there are sort of good reasons for that, which I won't bore you with right now, because I'm still working on them in the book.
But there is what I call sort of aesthetically preferable behavior, which can be universal, like don't be late.
But I can shoot someone who's trying to kill me but I can't shoot someone who's late in meeting me.
And obviously I can't shoot someone who doesn't like jazz although personally I would like to shoot people who do like jazz from time to time.
But there are categories within preferable behavior and I'm just sort of working empirically from what sort of instinctually makes sense the way that we can instinctually catch a baseball ball, even if we don't know anything about mathematics or physical theories.
And so there's sort of reasons as to why that works out in the UPB framework.

Differentiating Personal and Universal Preferences

[12:26] So the preference for meat, you like meat, that would be a personal preference, which you can't violently enforce on anyone else for a number of reasons.
And there are other things, you know, you should be kind to to animals or you shouldn't yell at old people or, you know, which lots of people would say, yeah, that's good behavior. That's better behavior.
But you still kind of shoot people who don't do it, if that makes sense.

[12:57] Okay. Well, okay. Um, now with the shooting example, um, I would definitely agree that you can't do it with a moral sanction because it's obviously not moral.
However, for it to be immoral, like I was saying, there needs to be some positive moral framework in place that says that it's immoral.
And so what you're saying in terms of the non-aggression principle is certainly internally consistent, certainly satisfies UPB.
However, my question is, why is it universally preferable?
What does it accomplish? In essence, what is the goal of this?
Preferable behavior? And how do we know that? Because the, I mean, spring theory is internally consistent, but it doesn't have that empirical confirmation.
Right, right. Well, there is an enormous wealth of empirical confirmation for the libertarian principles that we generally work with, like the non-aggression principle and respect for property rights and so on.
And I sort of go into that a little bit in the book, but there's lots of historical evidence for that, but the purpose of UPB is simply to validate or invalidate, whether or not a moral proposition is true or false.

[14:16] That's the soul purpose of it, right? Because, I mean, you don't sort of whip out UPB when a guy is trying to mug you, right?
Because, you know, any more than you would whip out the scientific method to people who were about to kill you because they were afraid that the eclipse wasn't going to end or something, right?
I mean, it won't transform the very nature of individual behavior at a fundamental level immediately and so on.
But the purpose of UPB is simply the extension of the scientific method, or you could say just principles of rationality, into the realm of morality, which is to say that universally preferable behavior is a perfectly valid concept, and you can't debate that it's not because you have to accept it in order to debate it. That's sort of the first principle.
And then the second is to say, any statement that you make defining universally preferable behavior, which is any moral proposition that you put forward, just has to be consistent.

Consistency and Logic in Moral Propositions

[15:15] All it has to be is consistent and logical, universal, and so on, right?
So, I mean, a simple example is people say it's honorable to be a soldier, right?
Well, UPB takes that one apart in about three seconds, right?
Because you can only change the moral nature of an entity if there's an objective or clear difference between them, right?
So you say, you're a physicist, you say a rock falls, but a helium balloon rises.
But they have different properties, right? But you can't say that two rocks in the same circumstances, that one falls down and one falls up.
That would not be a consistent theory.
That would just be making a whole bunch of crap up on the fly, right?

[15:55] So when you create a statement of morality, human beings should do this or should not do that and so on, all that UPB says has got to be consistent.
Now clearly, a man's moral nature does not change when he puts on a green costume or signs a piece of paper or listens to somebody yelling at him or whatever.
So to say that a man who takes money to kill at will or at the will of other people is honorable must be to say that everybody who does that is honorable and then you have the problem of hit men and so on, right?
So it's just saying if you're going to put forward a universal statement regarding preferable behavior, it has to be logical and it has to be consistent.
And where there are exceptions, like in the case of children who are not – a two-year-old is not fully morally responsible, in fact, and a one-year-old is not at all.
But there are objective physical differences between a sort of normal adult and a one-year-old baby.

Objective Differences in Moral Judgments

[16:53] So you can have differences where there are objective differences, the way that you can have differences between a rock and a helium balloon, but where there are no objective differences or no empirical differences or no biological differences, you can't just make up different rules for different circumstances.
I mean, you can, it's just not valid.

[17:13] Right, and I agree with everything you've been saying. I think we're in agreement in terms of the UPB.
Um but but what i'm trying to get at or trying to understand is that um i could i imagine come up with a number of uh moral propositions that conform to upb yet wouldn't necessarily end up being moral.

[17:42] Go for it. I mean, oh boy. I'm all ears. And look, I'm not trying to put you on the spot or anything.
It's just that I would certainly be happy to hear them, right?
Because I dearly want to have tests to the theory.
I don't want to put out some theory about ethics that's wrong because then lots of people tend to get killed, right? So I want to be very careful.
This is like a nuclear weapon. This is like a time bomb.
And I want to make sure that it's a valid concept concept before putting it out there.
So if you can come up with statements that conform to UPB, but which would not be considered moral, I would be very keen to hear those.
And you don't have to do them now. You can write them down or whatever.
Okay. I may have to think of some that end up having arbitrary distinction.
Sorry, let me just be clear. I'm sorry to interrupt. Let me just be clear about this.
There are some gray areas because UPB applies to biological creatures, right?
So UPB does not have the same absolute rigor as physics, right?
Because of indeterminacy, because of will, because...

[19:06] That's, you know, that doesn't invalidate the whole thing, right?
Right, right. I'm just trying to think.
I remember in another thread with Kev B, I believe his name is, he proposed once something about not eating fish in a certain occasion and it ended up being arbitrary.

Identifying Arbitrary Rules

[19:23] Yeah, his argument was that we could say that it's universally preferable behavior not to eat fish on a Friday.
And you may, if you wanted to, you could put that down under aesthetics or something like that.
But of course, there's no objective difference between Thursday and Friday, right, that makes fish eating good one day and bad the next day.
So that's what we'd call an arbitrary rule, which is not conformable to UPB.
How about the moral proposition, you may not eat fish at all?
Like it's evil to eat fish?
Right. Is that not internally consistent?

[20:07] Well, I guess it has a certain kind of internal consistency, but consistent to what? That's sort of my question.
Clearly, human beings can eat fish, right? So you're not saying it's impossible to eat fish.
And clearly, you would have to have some rule that would say that killing a fish is bad, but killing, I don't know, a chicken is not bad and something like that.
So you'd have to work through that kind of issue.
And you would also, of course, have to feel comfortable, if it was a moral rule, you would have to feel comfortable shooting people.

[20:41] Who were eating fish, right? And there's not many people who'd feel, I mean, when you talk about a moral rule, you're pulling a gun out.
I mean, that's inevitable, right? So when you talk about rape, you have to feel comfortable shooting people who are raping, right?
Because self-defense is core to moral rules, which I'll sort of get into in the book.
But because there's no real clear objective definition to eating fish versus not eating fish, it's sort of arbitrary, what you're really saying when you're saying no one should eat fish is you're saying people should be able to enforce arbitrary distinctions does that make sense okay okay um well i mean of course it is arbitrary but at the same time it's not entirely arbitrary because there are demonstrable, biological physical differences between fish and other other entities however i'm not so sure I'm on board with the idea of morality necessarily involving a gun.
I mean, it's obviously universally preferable. But does that mean we shoot people who don't use that universally preferable behavior?

[21:50] Well, no, no. I mean, it depends on the moral.
All it's saying is that if you have found something to be universally preferable, and you've run it through the whole thing, and it's not just aesthetics, And again, I go into more criteria in the book than self-defense is logically justifiable through UPB, right?
Property rights, self-defense, the non-aggression principle, all are fully supported by UPB and not really much else.
UPB validates the ban on murder and rape and assault and so on, and also has some significant things to say about fraud.
So because self-defense is fully validated by UPB, then a violation of UPB, almost by definition, it triggers the capacity for self-defense.
So anyway, I'm not going to sort of go through the whole proof because that's quite lengthy.
But because... I think that's in your article. Go ahead.

[22:55] Yeah, I have an article on that as well, but I'm sort of trying to pull it all together in this book.
But if you're going to say that it's evil to eat fish, then you're saying that I can make up a rule and enforce other people to comply with it, right?

Enforcing Arbitrary Distinctions

[23:13] Because there is no objective thing around whether fish is good or bad to eat, if that makes sense, right?

[23:21] Okay, I think I understand what you're saying. However, if it's a principle that we can enforce universally preferable behavior, then how does that apply to someone not using the fighting to big method or being irrational or, I mean, any of that kind of stuff?

[23:43] Well, we can take the example of the guy who's saying, you should not eat fish, right?
And if you do eat fish, it's evil and I'm going to shoot you, right?
I mean, that's sort of the way that it would work as far as morality went.
And what the real principle there is that I can inflict arbitrary rules on you and shoot you if you don't conform to them, also known as the government, right?

Consequences of Enforcing Arbitrary Rules

[24:08] But if it's universally preferable to say that anyone can inflict any kind of rules on anybody else, then we end up in a situation that's logically impossible, right?
Because if we're two guys in a room, and there's a piece of fish in front of me, and you say to me, it's totally evil to eat that fish, and it's totally immoral to eat that fish, then, of course, I'm going to say, well, is it moral or is it just your particular preference?
You don't like the smell or the way I sound when I chew or whatever.
And if the guy doesn't like it, then that's fine. I know he's not going to shoot me.
It's just a matter of personal preference. But if he says, no, it's universally evil for you, and I'm going to defend that dead fish to my dying breath, then the real principle that's being put in here is I can enforce arbitrary distinctions, or I can enforce my will through violence, right?
But of course, what happens then is that becomes, through UPB, a universal proposition.

[25:04] Anybody can enforce any arbitrary rule through force, in which case the whole thing falls apart because then both people have the equal right to shoot each other based on their whim, and then it's no longer a universal moral proposition.
Okay, can we enforce it?
I feel like you're bouncing around the question a little bit. I'm sorry. Sorry.
So can we enforce a non-arbitrary rule with force?
Can you give me an example?

[25:38] Okay. Someone steal something from me.

Addressing Theft and Property Rights

[25:45] Right.
I'm struggling with an example. It's more that you mentioned that the morality ends up involving a gun, which is often the case, but I don't see how that necessarily needs to...
Well, again, there would be some... Sorry, no problem. This is horrible stuff.
There are some areas where it's, you know, like if you steal a pencil from me, I can't shoot you.
I mean, you violated my property rights and this and that, or if you put one little toe on my property, I can't shoot you, right?
I mean, that would just be an overreaction, right?
Or if I think you're going to flick my earlobe, I can't shoot you, even though you're physically assaulting me in a tiny little way or whatever, right?
So, again, these are sort of things that are right at the edges of stuff, and they never really come up in life. I mean, very few people get shot for flicking somebody's earlobe, which is why it's not good to give guns to younger brothers.
But so we're talking about the general framework, though, of moral reasoning, though, rather than these sort of tiny little gray areas that never really seem to come up in life.
Right. Okay. So, okay, let me try to express myself again. So UPP, UPB is the framework.

[27:08] However, it seems that out of the framework, you are deriving these moral principles of the non-aggression principle, etc., etc., without the appeal to, well, yes, there's the appeal to empirical confirmation, etc.

[27:27] And I'm still not quite clear on this because I'm wondering.

[27:32] Okay, the non-aggression principle, all of these things, what are they trying to accomplish?
Is the goal happiness? Is it prosperity within society?

The Goal of Universally Preferable Behavior

[27:42] And then if it's prosperity within society then clearly the empirical evidence points to that I mean all the Industrial Revolution drafts and such so is that the case is that what the goal of that particular moral proposition is well I wouldn't say so I think that that is the effect but the goal you can think of uh upb as the scientific method and a moral proposition as a scientific theory uh to do with medicine say or something like that right and uh or you could think of upb like mathematical principles and then each moral proposition as a theorem within mathematics so to ask you the question what is the purpose of a theorem within mathematics to approach truth to approach closer understanding of reality I mean I don't know I don't know a whole lot about mathematics well sure but I mean the purpose is simply to to the purpose is accuracy first and foremost right because without accuracy nothing else is possible.

[29:02] Because otherwise, you're just not you. But otherwise, one is not dealing with the truth or with reality or whatever, right?
I mean, we know that the purpose of religion is not accuracy.

[29:12] But the purpose of science, the purpose of mathematics, the purpose of logic, the purpose of philosophy, first and foremost, is accuracy or truth.
And truth means fidelity to reality, which means universal and consistent and so on.
And so the purpose of UPB is to validate the truth value of moral propositions, of moral theories.

Purpose of Moral Propositions

[29:33] Oh yeah that i okay but what is the purpose of the particular moral proposition uh or i mean the purpose of the theorem so the purpose of the moral proposition of the non-aggression principle, well i don't think that you can speak of the purpose of a proposition you can say that the non-aggression principle is a valid moral theory right now of course then what people do is they They say, well, if that's the valid moral theory, then we have to get rid of the government.
We have to set up DROs. We have to do whatever it is that's going to happen in the aftermath of that.
But the first and foremost purpose of the non-aggression principle as a theory is to be true, right?
It's to be valid rather than false, if that makes sense.
And then once people know what is true, then they can do whatever they want, right? Think of it this way.
The first purpose of a map is not to get you somewhere, right?

[30:36] Okay. The first purpose of a map is to be accurate, so that you can go where you want to go, knowing that you're going to get there.

[30:47] Okay, okay. That makes sense.
Let me, sorry, let me just throw one more metaphor at you.

Nutrition and Dietary Requirements

[30:54] The purpose of nutrition, first and foremost, is to delineate what you can eat and what you can't eat, right?
It's not necessarily to make you lose weight or gain weight or, you know, because everybody has different dietary requirements depending on their health or they've got diabetes or something like that.
But whatever it is that you're doing in the realm of nutrition, the first thing that you have to do is speak the truth and be accurate in your assessment of reality.
Okay, so the purpose is to explain the effect of various courses of action?

[31:29] No, I would put that more in the realm that... That's the argument from effect.
But I'm not trying to be too difficult about this.
It's just that you can't judge the truth value of a proposition by arguing its effects.
So you can't say that the theory of relativity is incorrect because it's going to lead to nuclear weapons, if that makes sense.
It's either true or it's not, and then people can use it to build nuclear weapons, or they can use it to build nuclear power plants, or they can do nothing with it at all.
But the truth or falsehood of a proposition cannot be judged by its effects.
The purpose of a proposition, or the purpose of somebody who's putting forward a proposition, should be to determine whether it's true or it's false, first and foremost.
And then after that, whatever, whatever. If I was around when Marx was around, and I'd come up with UPB, UPB shreds communism into atoms in about 20 seconds.
So that might have been a good step forward for most people east of the Iron Curtain up until the 80s.
So the effect, if somebody says communism is a moral system, communism is a virtuous system, communism is a good system, of course their purpose is to implement communism and so on.
But the purpose of UPB is to say that is an invalid statement.
That is a false statement.
Communism is an immoral system. It is a system of evil.

[32:56] Does that mean that nobody's ever going to be communist? Sorry, go on.

[33:01] Okay, it's certainly not moral. However, like I was saying, it doesn't necessarily become immoral.
It becomes amoral until a positive moral proposition defines it as immoral.
So, once again, just because it doesn't conform to UPB doesn't make it immoral.
There has to be some moral prescription that's validated by UPB and then validated externally that says communism is evil.
Well, sure. I mean, if UPB validates the proposition that property rights exist and are absolute, if UPB validates that proposition that that is moral, to respect property rights is moral, then a system which proposes the universal violation of property rights is immoral, right?
It's the opposite of what is moral. Right, right. It's got to be immoral. Okay.
And so what I'm trying to understand here is that proposition, because really everything follows from the property rights moral proposition.
And so you mentioned that the primary purpose of that moral proposition is accuracy or truth. Is that correct? Yes. Yes.

[34:19] I'm having difficulty understanding that conceptually I don't see how you can take a statement like, you should, or really any you should statement or not statement, but you should respect property rights and say that that's true?
Well, because if property rights are a valid concept, right, then it is true that you should respect them in the same way that you should respect any statement which is true.
So if I say property rights exist or property rights are a valid concept, then if it's true that property rights are a valid concept, then you should respect and obey them.
If, by arguing against property rights, you violate the principle of property rights, then it is impossible to argue against property rights, right?
In the same way that if morality is universally preferable behavior, and to argue against it requires a standard of universally universally preferable behavior, then basically what I'm doing is coming up to you and saying, hey, I don't exist, which is a contradiction.
It's a self-contradictory statement, right?
It's like in geometry saying that the proof of this theorem relies on the existence of a square circle, which can't exist, right?
So if it's impossible, and I sort of make the argument in more detail in the book, and I won't get into it all here, and I'm not asking you to believe it, because I haven't proven it to you yet, but.

[35:48] If it is true that property rights are a valid concept, and if it is true that you cannot argue against property rights without assuming the existence of property rights, then the reason you must respect property rights is because property rights are a valid concept, right?
In the same way that you can choose not to respect gravity and pretend you can walk off a cliff, but it's just not valid, right?
You cut out a little bit there. Sorry, a mathematician can choose to reject that 2 plus 2 is 4. He's just wrong, right?

[36:24] Right. And in the same way, if property rights are a valid and logical concept, and if arguing against property rights is logically impossible, then somebody has to respect property rights in the same way that a mathematician has to respect that 2 plus 2 is 4, or accept it.
And, of course, somebody can say, well, 2 plus 2 is not 4, and that's fine, but A, they're wrong, and B, they're certainly not a mathematician anymore.
Okay. So, this is where the dual V, V-it-ought dichotomy comes into play.

[37:00] Certainly, the mathematician who claims that 2 plus 2 is not equal to 4 is wrong.
Well, that depends on the definitions, but...
In all, for all intents and purposes, right, he's wrong. However, that doesn't mean he should say that a 2 plus 2 is equal to 4, unless his goal is the truth, right?
Well, sure, but I mean, if I debated with you and said that my goal is falsehood, would you debate with me?
No, of course not. Right, of course not, right?
I mean, it'd be like saying, assuming you didn't want this to happen, if I'm a cabbie and I pick you up and say, say, my goal is to drive off a cliff into the ocean, right? Then you wouldn't, right?
So anybody who's debating with you must say or must be debating with you on the grounds that the truth is better than falsehood, right?
Right. Okay. And that makes sense to me.

The Scientific Method and Seeking Truth

[37:54] The, I suppose, the scientific methodology, the universe is horrible if you're seeking truth and you're probably not going to bother with the people who aren't but I'm I'm not quite making the leap into.

[38:15] Well I guess I am making the leap into moral prescription but once again the scientific method is preferable if you're seeking truth you may not bother with the other people who aren't now now why is property rights preferable what What does that lead to?
Well, it's not that property rights are preferable. Sorry, it's not that property rights is preferable.
It's that property rights are a valid concept.
And the reason for that basically is that, you know, we have cell phones.
Sorry, if I say to you, property rights are invalid, then I'm using my body as property to tell you that property rights are invalid.
So you can't argue against property rights which are based on self-ownership without invoking your capacity for self-ownership.
It's like me saying to you, it is impossible for me to speak.
Well, that's a self-contradictory statement and self-destroys immediately.
And so if I say to you, property rights are invalid, I'm saying that nobody has any self-ownership. But of course I'm using my control over my own body to say that nobody has any control over their own body. It's a self-contradiction.

[39:39] Yes, I agree. So the is part of that is that…, you must exercise property rights to be able to communicate.

[39:51] However, I don't know that then you can say you ought not to violate other people's property rights.
Do you see what I'm saying? Well, yeah, I certainly do understand that, but the first thing that we can say is, are property rights a valid concept?
That's the first thing that we have to say, right? If we accept that everybody has...
Yeah, I know, for sure. Sure. But if you say that everybody has the right of self-ownership, right, then sort of by natural extension, and I'm not going to go through the whole logical reasoning here, but by natural extension, we end up with the principle that if everybody has self-ownership, that doesn't mean that there aren't going to be people out there who are going to stab you in the chest, God forbid, right?
But given that everybody does have self-ownership, then any moral theory that rejects the principle of self-ownership, we just know that it's false because it's rejecting the basic facts of reality.

[40:56] Yeah, okay, but why should I not violate the property rights of the person sitting on the computer next to me?
Well, but see, UPB can't help you with that, right?
UPB can't tell you that you shouldn't do it, right?
Like, the scientific method can't tell you that you should always use the scientific method, right?
The scientific method says if you want to say something valid about the material world, something that is true, you have to use the scientific method, right? So UPB isn't going to tell somebody who wants to go out and rape someone, you shouldn't rape someone.
What UPB will say is that any moral justification that you have for raping someone is invalid.

[41:44] Right, right, clearly. Right, so, sorry, the scientific method doesn't say you can't pray, right?
It just says that whatever knowledge you think you've gained from praying is not knowledge. It's invalid.
Hello? Sorry, did I just get cut out?

[42:01] Did I just get cut out? No, that got cut out. Did you hear my last bit?
Sure, no problem. Yeah, so, I mean, UPB is a very big framework for evaluating moral theories.
And, of course, I believe, and I think there's tons of empirical evidence for this, I believe that false moral theories are the only real danger in the world, right? I don't care about some guy who might mug me.
What I care about is a moral system that justifies the government taking half my income at the point of a gun.
The individual criminals don't bother me in the slightest.
I can take steps to prevent that. I can get an alarm system.
I can stay home. I can whatever, right?
The individual criminals, they don't bother me.
What does bother me is war and taxation and national debt and forcing kids to go into public schools, and all of those are justified with false moral theories, right?
So UPB will shred those moral theories up, eat them up and spit them out for breakfast.

Evaluating Moral Theories with UPB

[43:08] And so UPB is not something that you can use against a particular individual who just wants to go and do something.
But it will say that any moral theory which justifies rape or murder or theft is invalid, is false, is wrong.

[43:25] Okay, it seems that, and this certainly makes sense, it seems that then it depends upon the fact that in the absence of some moral justification, most people are not going to want to go out and shoot their neighbor. Is that correct? it.
Well, yes. And as far as evidence goes, we just know that empirically, right?
And we know that because prior to World War II, there weren't tens of millions of people out shooting at each other, right?
But then when you get the moral justification of defending the realm or, I don't know, the Poles are bastards or something, you know, service to the fatherland or, you know, the collective owns you or it's your patriotic duty to enlist or whatever, right?
We know that That false moral theories, when they're invoked and inflicted upon a population, cause people to radically change their behaviors.
Basically, there's nothing but empirical evidence, at least from where I sit, to prove that it is morality that runs the world.
Morality is the physics of society, right?
So when you get it wrong, things go really, really wrong.

[44:33] Right, and I just want to say this so we don't start retracing ground that I feel that we're doing this.
I clearly see the epilogue and how UPD works in taking out false moralities, but once again, I'm trying to understand the true moralities.

[44:54] Well, you might be, sorry, just to be annoying, just to be annoying, you might want to use the phrase true or valid moral propositions or moral theories.
Okay. That might help in terms of thinking about scientific. Sorry?
What's the linguistic difference between the two? I don't really know.
Well, because when we use something like a theory or a proposition, we're reminding ourselves that it is a tentative statement that is put forward that is supposed to describe reality that needs to be evaluated according to some universal standard. it.
It's just that when we start saying correct morality and so on, then it becomes confusing to us.
I think when we say a valid moral theory or a true or consistent moral theory, then that makes sense, right?
You can evaluate a scientific theory. You can't evaluate science.
There's no such real thing as correct science, right? There's only a correct application of the scientific method or a valid scientific theory.
And it just helps a little bit to get out because we've got got so much bad wiring around morality because of our crazy upbringing.

[46:03] Okay. Yes, I'm agreeing with you.
Now, to use an analogy that I used and then you turned around and used concerning the scientific method, nothing can tell you inherently that truth is preferable.
Um, but, but if you accept that, um, then the scientific method, um, becomes the moral prescription, uh, universally preferable for that.
And so what I'm looking for you to do is to replace the word, uh, prosperity or happiness in my next sentence with something, what do you feel it's accomplishing?
Um, so you, um, you can't necessarily say that happiness or prosperity are preferable, but if they are, then the, um, moral proposition or moral prescription of, uh, not violating others' property rights accomplishes that.

The Paradise of Applying UPB

[47:08] Do you, do you see where my thought process is? Yeah, no, look, and you and I, I think, are in full agreement with this, that if UPB is used to evaluate moral theories, literally the world will double in wealth every 10 or 20 years.
And literally, you know, cancer and AIDS and arthritis will all be conquered within a generation.
And I mean, the world that I see that comes out of the application of UPB, you know, rightly or wrongly, and I think it's rightly, is a paradise, right?
And I live a pretty damn good life anyway, but it would be enormously improved if we did the whole UPB thing and got rid of all of the crap that's out there that people tell us about morality and truth and wisdom.
So I absolutely and totally agree that the application of UPB would create a paradise on Earth to the degree with which our biological beings are able to achieve it. Hello?
Hello? I am?

[48:08] I just cut out hello oh dear i'm back okay yeah so i fully agree that that the application of upb to a variety of moral principles will produce an anarcho-capitalist or libertarian paradise i mean i absolutely and completely agree with that but i would not hinge my discussion of those things on that fact what was the last that you said i'm sorry i would not hinge my discussion of morality on the effects of that morality on the effect on the effects on the results of moral theories okay yeah I think I've seen that distinction in your writing when you speak about the argument from effect versus argument for morality but I'm struggling to see how you could base morality on anything else I mean it really comes down to effect even supposing God existed.

[49:13] The effect of belief in God and conforming with his commandments would be going to heaven not conforming would be going to hell so even where a moral structure totally permeated the universe due to a God it's still an effect sort of thing, and of course these things are non-aggression pencil are consistent with UPV, but it seems to me that you're saying it's consistent with UPV, therefore it is a valid moral prescription.
Right, and that's the first thing that you need to get.
So in the, I guess, 200 or 250 years ago, there was a theory floating around.
Hello? Hello? Are you there?

[50:01] We might need to cancel this if I keep cutting out because it just bugs the hell out of me as I'm sure it does you. Can you hear me at all?
Hello? Can you hear me? Yes, I can hear you. Alright, if it cuts out again, I'm going to stop because it's just too annoying.
Not you, I mean it's just the technology. Okay. About 250 years ago... It does cut out. Yeah?

[50:27] Hello? I'm sorry, I was just going to say if it does cut out, I'd like to say in advance, thank you for having this conversation with me.
But I'm sorry, do continue.
No, no, my pleasure. And listen, I don't believe that I've done one of your questions the justice that it deserves, which is the fish on Friday thing.
So I'll work more on that and get back to you.
But 250 years ago in Europe, there was a theory floating around that said the blood circulates around the body, right?
Because before that, they thought that we were just like a bag of milk.
The blood sort of sat in the veins and did nothing.
And so there was no way to argue for the effect of believing whether the blood circulated or did not circulate around the body.
Okay, well, no problem. We'll cut it out then because we won't get much further.
If you don't mind, I'd like to try going to a different computer and perhaps seeing if it's an issue on my end.
You don't have any other programs that might be hog and bandwidth or anything, do you?
Like email or anything like that? No.

[51:32] No, I just have a couple board windows open from the free domain boards and Skype.
Okay, well, it seems to be okay now. Are you having any luck?

[51:45] Yes, I can hear you well now. Okay, well, I'll just finish up in like two minutes or less.
So, if I say to you, I think that the blood circulates around the body, right, then there's not much point as talking about the effects of that belief, because it doesn't matter what the effects are of that belief.
What matters is whether the belief is true or not, whether the blood does, in fact, circulate through the body or not, right?
So, saying, well, gee, if the blood circulates around the body, then we can do X, Y, and Z. said.
But that doesn't matter. Speculating about the effects of a belief are irrelevant.
The first thing that needs to be established is, is the belief true, or is the theory true, or is the proposition true or false?

Establishing Truth vs. Speculating Effects

[52:30] Does it conform to reality or not?
And so that's why I sort of focus against the argument from effect, because it doesn't matter.
If the belief is true, then surely we can figure out what we should do with the belief.
But if the belief is not true...

[52:46] Then we just have to abandon it.
If we think the world is flat, we're never going to be able to sail from Lisbon to New York.
So we have to first of all figure out whether the world is flat or round before we set sail.
There's not much point theorizing and saying, well, here's the path we'll take if it's flat, and here's the path we'll take if it's round, and so on.
We need to figure that out first and foremost.
So that's why, to me, the effects of the moral theories that are validated by UPB, it's not that important.
And of course, the reason that I try to avoid that stuff is because people get stuck in that quicksand forever because it's theoretical, it's potential, and you start arguing about statistics and was the 1930s free market or protectionism and the role of the Fed, and you just get lost in this murk.
But you don't even know whether property rights are true or false yet, and if you don't know that, there's not much point arguing about economics. Okay.

[53:43] So maybe this will sum up what I'm still not understanding.
People, no one will pursue an action because it is true.
I mean, the whole concept of actions conforming with reality is almost ridiculous because actions are a reality.
Whether or not I'm not killing someone that's reality right that is that is truth that is what is happening in an objective reality and so people don't pursue I'm not going to pursue an action a moral prescription because it's true I'm going to pursue a certain action because it has some sort of an effect I I believe that that's just the way that I guess cause and effect the way we We think the way we act.
I just feel that that's how that works. Does that make sense?
Well, psychologically, thought precedes action.
Okay, right. Agreed. Right. And what we think about in action will determine whether we do it or not.
And we just know this from the example of the military, right?
So people will join the military because they're told that it's good.
And these same people would almost never join the mafia because they believe that it's bad, right?

[54:59] No, we already agree on that, and I don't think that you need to cover that again.
I'm sorry, I'm missing your point there. But there's a difference between that and between saying that taking away the moral justification and putting in a moral prescription.
But they're the same thing. Sorry, they're the same thing.
Like, if I say it's wrong to initiate the use of violence, then the moral prescription and the moral ban are the same thing, right?
Like, there's no difference between the two. So if I say, you should not rape someone, then the moral prescription is don't rape.
And the moral preferable behavior is don't rape. So maybe I'm missing something.
I don't think I was clear there. What I meant by that was, for example, it's obviously not universally preferable that people eat meat.
So that is removing a moral justification to eat meat and the opposite isn't necessarily that you shouldn't eat meat or or any of that and and so if thought precedes action like you say that that makes sense to me however don't even know I'm going with this I think I'm going to end up restating my point before that, um.

[56:23] That whether I decide to punch the person next to me or slide a knife into his kidney, it's not – the concept of truth doesn't really come into it because that is truth.
That's what's happening in objective reality, and it may not be consistent – well, it is consistent. It's a description, yeah.
That would be a description of behavior, not a prescription for behavior, right?
So if I am measuring a bouncing ball, then I'm saying this bouncing ball did this.
That's very different from saying universally a bouncing ball should or will do X, right? If I'm just sort of measuring it, anyone can do that, right?
A video camera can measure what a ball did. it.
But to say, I have a theory about how all matter interacts is very different from just measuring what happens to any particular ball.
Oh, okay. I'm sorry. I thought you finished your sentence. I thought you cut out.
Right. But you're saying that these theories are moral and they are valid moral prescriptions because they are true.

[57:36] But I'm struggling with that idea because I still feel that the decision to take an action or not take an action completely depends upon effect.
And you can once you accept a certain effect as valuable or not valuable, you can say that there is a certain universally preferable set of behaviors to attain that end.
And truth... Well, sure, but the value is truth, right?
The value is truth. Right, and truth is the effect of following scientific methods.
And so...
And I don't think you can say that we should adhere to a certain moral prescription because the effect is truth.
That makes no sense to me.

The Value of Truth in Moral Prescriptions

[58:32] So you think it would be better to adhere to theories which are false?
I'm sorry, what? Do you think it would be better to adhere to theories that are false?
Clearly not. Clearly not.

[58:47] But once again, there's a difference between something being amoral or immoral.
Well, now I think we are talking in circles because I think we've covered this at least twice before. So let me do this because it's a lot of swallow at once.
Let me do this. I'm going to compile this and I'll email it to you or I'll PM you the location.
You can have a listen to it. And I will also work on your fish on Friday thing.
So let me work on that and then have a listen because I think now we're going to start going in circles which probably isn't going to be that productive but let me hang up now and I'll compile this and send you the link and it should be up in about 10 minutes.
You can have a listen and let me know what you think. One thing before you leave Devin, before the Fish and Friday thing I'm good with that. It's not going to make sense.
I think we already talked about that which So, Kevin, the one that I would be curious to hear what you have to say about is the no fish at all.
Oh, yes. I'm sorry. That's totally right. The no fish. That's what I meant to say. It's the no fish one. I guess I need to listen to as well.
Yeah, the no fish, don't eat fish.
That's a very interesting one. And I think I did some, made some headway on it, but I don't think I came to anything conclusive. So let me mull it over and see what I can come up with.

[1:00:06] I feel that if you're able to show that the conform to UPB are things like denominated principle rights and things like that, then I might be comfortable extrapolating that into a moral prescription.
Oh, I know. I can give you that answer now, actually. The answer, I think, is that saying you should not eat fish is not a universal statement because some people don't have access to fish.
And some people may in fact only have access to fish, right?

[1:00:44] And so if you don't have any access to fish, then saying you shouldn't do it means that the moral rules are altered in a sense because some people are automatically moral.
Because they have no access to fish, right? They live in the desert or something.
And some people are automatically immoral because they...
Sorry? I use your coma example with that, and say that the proposition, don't kill people in a coma, automatically immoral.
Same reason, because they... I mean, some people don't have access to fish, and therefore that proposition makes them immoral for no reason.
Some people are in a coma, can kill people, and so that proposition makes them immoral.

[1:01:29] But sure, somebody who can't conceivably commit a crime does not really gain much virtue.
Like, if I'm castrated, then if I say I haven't raped anyone, that's not necessarily a virtue, because it's impossible for me to do it, right?
Anyway, let me work on it a little bit more, and I'll stop this now, and I'll post it in a few minutes, and if you can hang around in the cafe, I'll send you a note on Skype when it's up.
Thank you so much I appreciate it great questions I'll talk to you soon.

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