Ambigamy

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Moral Principles: 10 Myths You’ll Be Relieved to Debunk

An argument for reassessing our proud faith in popular moral principles, and for thinking harder about moral questions than we tend to, both for our sake and for the sake of others. Read More

"Moral principles are unnecessary" is not a myth.

In fact, more than unnecessary, they can become biases when they conflict with the judgments of conscience.

The creation of a moral principle requires arrogance. The author imagines that he has the foresight to guide the judgment on all future such acts without knowing the facts of those cases. In Business Management terms, this might be called an attempt at extreme micromanagement since the facts of the case include the act itself, the context of the act, and the intent of the actor. Moral situations involving fairness, justice and morality happen in an infinite variety.

All knowledge begins with an observation. Our conscious, reasoning minds, which create moral principles, would know nothing of morality if not for observing the feelings we call guilt, remorse, and moral outrage which arise from our subconscious minds. We refer to those feelings as Conscience. So, having learned from Conscience, we then create moral principles because we imagine that our wonderful reasoning minds can improve on the judgments of Conscience.

Clarification

Joe1776 wrote:
...The creation of a moral principle requires arrogance. The author imagines that he has the foresight to guide the judgment on all future such acts without knowing the facts of those cases...

I was referring to the author of the moral principle and not the author of this article in the above. I just wanted to make that clear.

I enjoyed the article. You

I enjoyed the article. You might want to go through it and make sure you really chose the best examples for your points. For example, I agree with number 8 but Einstein's insanity definition doesn't contradict the quote about perseverance. One can probably succeed quicker if he attempts many different routes to a solution rather than the same one that doesn't get him anywhere over and over. Also, adages aren't all meant literally so things like 'it doesn't matter how fast you go as long as you don't stop' can still be used by a professional sprinter in terms of how they look at their life and accomplishments.

I did like that you've taken objectivity out of the conversation. Actually, I like that you took the stoic-ness out of it? if that makes sense. Moral principles aren't unchanging absolute truths but rather things that we constantly think about and tweak and adjust.

Thank you Juila

Good points all and your point about moral principles teases out a lovely paradox, tunable moral principles, since principles imply constants and yet they do need tweaking and therefore aren't constants. Changeable permanent things. It's an oxymoron.

About Einstein, you're right in part because he's quoted elsewhere as denying he ever said it. As for whether you should change your approach when try try trying again, no two actions we take are every really the same, one later than the other.

I've long been interested in whether when thwarted one should change one's approach, expectations or goals, a point that can't be addressed in something as short as Einstein's aphorism. Sometimes try try trying the very same thing succeeds, and anyway doing so is not a sign of insanity.

I think of aphorisms and moral principles as swarming from all sides to some tough judgment call we face over and over, like antibodies working to close an uncloseable open wound. For example, when you're expectations of changing something aren't being met are you better trying a different approach (the Einstein mis-quote as you interpret it argues yes) changing your expectations (an aphorism like "You can't change anything all you can do is change your attitude about it says yes) or changing your goals (never flog a dead horse says yes).

But overall my point was different, simply that a moral principle isn't more true because someone notable said it. Social psychologists do great work on expert judgment pointing out for example that expertise on one thing doesn't make one an expert on all things. To toga and labcoat cred I added a third today Gucci-cred. Because she got rich she must be wise about all things.

Nice talking with you here and thank you for reading me.

Jeremy

Not insane but it could be dumb.

adaptive wrote:
..

I've long been interested in whether when thwarted one should change one's approach, expectations or goals, a point that can't be addressed in something as short as Einstein's aphorism. Sometimes try try trying the very same thing succeeds, and anyway doing so is not a sign of insanity...

Repetition of the same approach in the face of failure isn't insane, but it could be dumb depending on the activity and the sample size.

In Baseball, if Charlie goes 0 for 6 when hitting against Bob, the pitcher, the sample size is too small to judge because hitting a baseball is hard to do, even good hitters are unsuccessful most of the time. But, if Charlie goes 0 for 22 against Bob, he'd be smart to change his hitting approach.

I agree whole-halfedly could be dumb or could be smart

And we spend our lives trying to figure out when it's which.

Thanks for writing Joel.

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Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.

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