Lukas_Gloor comments on 1. What Is Moral Realism? - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 31 May 2018 12:36:19AM *  0 points [-]

For One Compelling Axiology, assuming that "ideal" is defined in a manner that does not beg the question, the theory implies that moral facts allow us to make empirical predictions about the world - for instance, a given philosopher, or group of philosophers, or ASI, or myself, will adopt such-and-such moral attitude with probability p. Moreover, moral facts seem to be defined purely in terms of their empirical ramifications.

This I find to be deeply troubling because it provides no grounds to say that there are any moral facts at all, just empirical ones. Suppose that there is a moral proposition X which states the one compelling axiology, okay. Now on what grounds do you say that X is a moral fact? Merely because it's always compelling? But such a move is a non sequitur.

Of course, you can say that you would be compelled to follow X were you to be an ideal reasoner, and therefore it's reasonable of you to follow it. But again, all we're saying here is that we would follow X were we to have whatever cognitive properties we associate with the word "ideal", and that is an empirical prediction. So it doesn't establish the presence of moral facts, there are just empirical facts about what people aspire to do under various counterfactuals and predicates.

Comment author: Lukas_Gloor 31 May 2018 08:53:53AM *  1 point [-]

Do you think your argument also works against Railton's moral naturalism, or does my One Compelling Axiology (OTA) proposal introduce something that breaks the idea? The way I meant it, OTA is just a more extreme version of Railton's view.

I think I can see what you're pointing to though. I wrote:

Note that this proposal makes no claims about the linguistic level: I’m not saying that ordinary moral discourse let’s us define morality as convergence in people’s moral views after philosophical reflection under ideal conditions. (This would be a circular definition.) Instead, I am focusing on the aspect that such convergence would be practically relevant: [...]

So yes, this would be a bad proposal for what moral discourse is about. But it's meant like this: Railton claims that morality is about doing things that are "good for others from an impartial perspective." I like this and wanted to work with that, so I adopt this assumption, and further add that I only want to call a view moral realism if "doing what is good for others from an impartial perspective" is well-specified. Then I give some account of what it would mean for it to be well-specified.

In my proposal, moral facts are not defined as that which people arrive at after reflection. Moral facts are still defined as the same thing Railton means. I'm just adding that maybe there are no moral facts in the way Railton means if we introduce the additional requirement that (strong) underdetermination is not allowed.

Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 13 June 2018 03:14:07AM *  0 points [-]

Yes I think it applies to pretty much any other kind of naturalism as well. At least, any that I have seen.