Monday, April 28, 2014

Questions for Stef

Here are some questions I still have about UPB, and my guesses at answers. Quotes from Stef are in italics.
1) How do we differentiate ethical propositions from aesthetic propositions in UPB using avoidability?  How does Stef derive this category distinction from the norms of argument or pure logic? If that's not how he derived it, where does it come from?

Avoidable: Stef uses this word in the ordinary way, but it is hard to objectify.  When critics try to claim that moral nihilism passes the UPB tests, they are claiming that everything is avoidable, using Stef's terms. Clearly, some things are not avoidable. So they would try to attack that distinction, claiming that unavoidable things are aesthetic, that Stef's definition begs the question, it's arbitrary, has no basis.

Non-violent actions by their very nature are avoidable. Page 48. This capacity for escape and/or avoidance is an essential characteristic differentiating aesthetics from ethics. Page 50. For the moment, we can assume that any threat of the initiation of violence is immoral, but the question of avoidance – particularly the degree of avoidance required – is also important. Page 51.
This sounds like consent to me. Why not just use consent as the criterion derived from argument, and define violations of consent as violations of UPB and bad?

2) Morality and ethics:
Any theory that justifies or denies the use of violence is a moral theory, page 49. Morality is defined as an enforceable subset of UPB, page 76. The subset of UPB that examines enforceable behaviour is called “morality,” page 125. Ethics is the subset of UPB which deals with inflicted behaviour, or the use of violence. Page 48. 

    inflicted behaviour and use of violence 
    • mean the same thing?
    • are two distinct categories with some overlap?
    • Completely separate categories  (if so, explain inflicted)?
    3) Ethics must involve 
    • violent violations of universal rules
    • violent enforcement of universal rules
    • either? 

    4) Who does UPB apply to? 
    • those who freely choose moral agency and responsibility.
    • those who make moral arguments
    • those who make arguments
    • all Human beings  
    • some other category, or needs more explanation

    5) Is/ought defeated by "if I want X I must do Y" and performative contradiction. How do I defeat the is/ought when debating? My debate opponent explicitly chooses
    • moral agency 
    • to seek knowledge of good and evil
    • to live in society
    • to make a moral claim, an ought
    • to engage in debate, implicitly accepting the premises and norms of debate.
    • all of the above
    • some of above
    6) What does enforceable mean? Can be enforced by anyone? Must be enforced? Why is it a separate category? How is it derived from the performative contradiction?

    7) Binding: what does it mean? I read that as "the rule applies". I am confused because "binding" seems to have more of a connotation of "consequences are guaranteed to occur." But this cannot be the case. Stef seems to use it to deny choice. Personal preferences do not bind anyone, but logical necessities, math, etc. cannot be chosen arbitrarily, in that sense they are binding. Because UPB is all about deciding what behaviour is enforceable, I guess "binding" = "enforceable?"

    The fundamental difference between statements of preference and statements of fact is that statements of fact are objective, testable – and binding, page 22. Ethics as a discipline can be defined as any theory regarding preferable human behaviour that is universal, objective, consistent – and binding. Naturally, preferential behaviour can only be binding if the goal is desired. If I say that it is preferable for human beings to exercise and eat well, I am not saying that human beings must not sit on the couch and eat potato chips. What I am saying is that if you want to be healthy, you should exercise and eat well. [...] It is true that if a man does not eat, he will die – we cannot logically derive from that fact a binding principle that he ought to eat. page 30. We all know that there are subjective preferences, such as liking ice cream or jazz, which are not considered binding upon other people. On the other hand, there are other preferences, such as rape and murder, which clearly are inflicted on others. There are also preferences for logic, truth and evidence, which are also binding upon others (although they are not usually violently inflicted) insofar as we all accept that an illogical proposition must be false or invalid. Those preferences which can be considered binding upon others can be termed “universal preferences,” or “moral rules.” Page 40.

    8) Choice: Moral agents must also have free choice, in the sense that no one is explicitly coercing them. That is, if I hold a gun to your head and threaten to kill you if you disobey me, I have nullified your responsibility for your actions. You are not responsible, you are not a moral agent while I am controlling you that way.

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