Friday, 16 April 2010

Rational and Irrational Justifications

8 comments

This is the third and final reply to Kip’s response to my original post to him Why Consider all Desires that exist? (My first reply was Why Consider others when you don’t need to? and my second reply was All desires versus affected desires)

Kip complains that

Apart from your list of reasons why a group might not consider the desires of another group, you just assert [them].
As I said
The many answers bulleted above all fail as rational and empirical justifications for Group A’s practises.

Now I was implying that items on this bulleted list were based on fallacious reasoning. It is true I just asserted that in my original post, so here I will answer Kip’s challenge now.

The bullets I wrote are re-listed here, with an immediate off the cuff example of the type of fallacies I had in mind when I wrote this list:

  • we do not need to consider their desires
Double Standards/selective reasoning
  • their desires cannot influence us, so we do not need to concern ourselves of those desires
Appeal to Strength
  • that is the way we always do (did) it
Appeal to Tradition
  • we are stronger and can get a way with it
Appeal to Strength
  • we are more and can get away with it
Appeal to Popularity
  • we have the law on our side
Appeal to Law
  • we have God on our side
Appeal to Authority
  • their desires are not worthy of moral consideration

Begging the Question

Now the above is just a set of illustrative responses to Kip’s reasonable question. It is not mean to be exhaustive or accurate, just indicative of why I stated the bulleted list in the first place.

Further I am not denying that there can be some legitimate justifications, and already provided one in the original post, over the asbestos example. That was over a lack of present day knowledge that no reasonable person who took due care and precautions could, at that time, have known about. (Indeed, to criticise past decisions and moralities on this basis is another fallacy - hindsight bias). If and when there are such “moral” arguments, we can check to see if they are legitimate or not. Most, in my experience, are not.

Kip continues

Group A may have very many prudential reasons for ignoring the desires of Group B -- or perhaps they just don't have any prudential reasons to consider the desires of Group B. In other words, none of their desires will be fulfilled by considering the desires of Group B. Or, perhaps even, more of their desires will be thwarted by considering the desires of Group B.

When it comes to prudence, all the above listed bullets, with the examples of the type of fallacies they exhibit, come into play. Prudentially there is no reason not to use such rhetoric and sophistry to defend ones positions, especially to one’s peers who are looking for justification, any justification, in keeping the status quo.

This happens all the time and not just in issues of morality. Regardless, however prudentially rational it is to make those justifications, they are still theoretically irrational justifications.

Further whether the prudential defenders of such fallacies, (in cases only where it is clear they are fallacies, if you wish) accept these rational criticisms or not, that would be insufficient to make them change their desires. You cannot use reason to change desires only beliefs, and, only then, provided their desire to believe does not overwhelm  desires for truth and reason, which these all too often do. 

That, of course, is why we have the social forces of commendation and condemnation, honours and disgrace, rewards and penalties and so on, we have these to operate on modifying malleable desires (not just desires with moral implications but any and all). And Desirism serves as a check to ensure that what is promoted and inhibited is theoretically rationally grounded.

By having such rationally and empirically justified social forces coherently and consistently applied, these serve to change the desires people have, so there is no prudential sacrifice required, indeed the idea of sacrifice and making a decision between prudential and  moral concerns would be meaningless.  That is, in such an environment there would be no substantive difference between their prudential and moral values. This is an ideal and may never be fully achievable but it is a feasible target to aim at and is far better than what we have now.

8 comments:

Kip said...

Desires are not morally justified by appeals to rationality. Hume 101. They are morally justified by appeals to other desires.

Most of the fallacies you list may very well be true / facts, so without appeal to desires, there is no way to say they are wrong/immoral/not-justified.

If you are using "justified" in some other way, then you need to explain what you mean by that.

faithlessgod said...

IMV, you are confusing motivation and justification. Hume's argument is certainly for motivational noncognitivism.

Desires are rationally analysed all the time and it is rational justification I am addressing.

That is what a prudential analysis and it is identical in form just different in scope to a moral analysis. In either analysis the desire is treated as means to see its effect on other desires.

The mistake of means-end rationality was they thought that final desires could not be rationally evaluated but this was by correctly thinking these ends are not means. That is true if they are ends but irrelevant since prudential reasoning already solves this by treating desires as means.

Nothing is definitively an end or a means, it depends on the context and scope.

Kip said...

> Desires are rationally analysed all the time and it is rational justification I am addressing.

If they are rationally analysed without appeal to other desires, then the analysis is irrational.

faithlessgod said...

Your last response makes no sense in the context of this discussion. We are both saying the desires can be rationally analysed in terms of their effect on other desires. This does not answer your original riposte.

You say that "Desires are not morally justified by appeals to rationality. "

Huh? If someone is basing their justification on a false belief or false prescription we can call them on it.

"If you are using "justified" in some other way, then you need to explain what you mean by that."
Once again, they are not rationally justified, theoretical rationality of course.

I do not see what your issue is here, it obvious this goes on all the time around the world and has and is a continual problem.

"Most of the fallacies you list may very well be true / facts, so without appeal to desires, there is no way to say they are wrong/immoral/not-justified.
"

Using such fallacies to support a conclusion is apologetics or ad hoc/post hoc rationalisation, there is no theoretically rational justification for doing this, even as we can successfully predict that, based on prudence, many do.


I fail to see why you are complaining that prudential rationalisations can be and often are irrational. For example, the raison d'etre of the sceptical movement was to highlight such irrationality in alt med and parapsychology.

DM said...

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...


THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

http://www.disclose.tv/forum/does-ath-ism-have-a-future-no-t19859.html




Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE


you're ANNIHILATED!


Atheists,

Repent and turn to God.

atheismwar said...

with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...

they PAY THE PRICE FOR ATTACKING THE SUPERNATURAL -

with their LIVES...

CRYSTAL NIGHT TONIGHT!

Atheists,

but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...

THE DEATH TRAP

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/
********

THE REAL QUESTION:

DOES ATHEISM HAVE A FUTURE?

AND THE ANSWER - NO!

visit:

http://www.clubconspiracy.com/forum/f30/does-ath-ism-have-future-no-11202.html#post66570

Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE

you're ANNIHILATED!

Atheists,

Repent and turn to God.

Jesus Zamora Bonilla said...

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Atheism

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