Leftist Philosophers’ Inverted Moral Qualia

Daily Nous’ Justin Whineberg should check his privilege and stop writing this garbage, unless he wants Trump elected for a second Term in four years. Whineberg arrogantly assumes that philosophers are, and should be, shocked and frightened by the election results. So in his little moment of soul-searching introspection that would make an emo Barnes & Noble barista blush, he asks, What should we (philosophers) do as a philosophical community, now that Trump has been elected?

How about: consider that you seem to have no clue about the average American; that you probably have no living, breathing, full-blooded conservative friends; that you don’t understand religion; that you have inverted moral qualia compared to the common man; that people don’t care about discursive reason as much as you do, and never will; that some “cognitive biases” actually track the truth, and that truth is precisely contrary to what you take to be true; that people don’t like to be told that they’re stupid and deplorable and that they must listen to the enlightened technocrats, etc.

You say you want to make people better, more virtuous, more moral, and you think the primary way to do that is to get them to think about useless thought experiments and logic chop away at them. But you couldn’t be more mistaken. You must be moral. Students need real moral exemplars, not sanctimonious propagandists or clueless logicians. But that’s your problem. You  aren’t moral exemplars. And you can’t expect to be successful with your students as the uninspiring, vindictive, manipulative, pusillanimous, condescending blowhard bullies you are, especially when you and your colleagues have made your careers out of disguising those vices as virtues.

As to your stupid question: As a philosophical community, we should continue to do philosophy, teach in a fair and balanced manner, and give students the skills to reach their own conclusions rationally. But, if we’d like the philosophical community to become a community of political hacks with no concern for the truth, thereby undermining the actual pursuit of real philosophy, then I suggest starting a blog, and naming it Daily Nous.

Fideist

A jaded but jolly bearded giant with former aspirations in professional philosophy, Fideist spurned the profession after it spurned him. He’s now chasing more lucrative endeavors in the private sector, although he still thinks about all that ills the world, and often wonders when Almighty God will make good on His promise to make all things new.

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17 Comments

  1. Awesome Post. You write: “You say you want to make people better, more virtuous, more moral, and you think the primary way to do that is to get them to think about useless thought experiments and logic chop away at them.”

    In addition to having inverted moral qualia, most of these people also have a conception of rationality which is more or less that of a precocious, high-IQ child with severe autism.

  2. Yep. This is totally correct. They wouldn’t be having fits if Hillary won and saying “what will we do” blah blah blah, which they should be, if she in fact would have won. But you can bet they’d be all happy with that result, which is certainly a knock on them.

  3. Is it beyond the pale for you that “leftist philosophers” may have considered-and rejected with good reason-at least some of the possibilities you mention? You seem to bank on the reliability of pure moral gut. But even if moral virtue is not augmented by “discursive reason”, as you claim, might some cases of irrationality and intellectual vice still not give good reason to doubt one’s moral beliefs? For instance, can you see absolutely no reason for why I should mistrust the moral sense of the author of the post immediately preceding yours? And if you can see one, tell me what is wrong with rejecting conservatives’ moral claims on a similar basis, provided that in each case one can point to a considerable intellectual vice?

  4. http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2009/11/clever-sillies-why-high-iq-lack-common.html

    The liberal practices of using discursive reasoning in moral contexts is in essence a kind of acquired cognitive defect. You are doing what amounts to a “manual override” on your evolved moral instincts and relying instead upon a form of abstract reasoning which we have no reason to believe is going to be reliable in moral contexts.

    Reality is under no obligation to reward you with true moral beliefs simply because you think you are doing your epistemic best according to the epistemic standards regnant inside your insular bubble of fellow moral reasoners. The awful truth- probably too terrible to bear- is that all of those ignorant rubes out there are correct about the basic contours of morality and the typical analytically trained philosopher isn’t. The liberal analytic moralist has done little more than master a highly idiosyncratic verbal game. Mastering this game often involves talking yourself out of your spontaneous reactions to moral situations in favor of contrived responses which are then discursively retrofitted to make them logically consistent either with one another or with some “basic” moral “principle.” The euphemistic term for this practice is “achieving reflective equilibrium.”

    The average person, on the other hand, is relying upon hardwired moral instincts which have been shaped by tens of millennia of evolution and which are integral to applied social intelligence. When the results of the former conflict with the latter, my money is on the truth of the latter every single time.

    So go ahead, keep talking about fat men stuck in caves full of tourists and hypothetical babies strapped to out of control tanks which are about to crush innocent people who just happen to have a bazooka on hand. Keep consulting those parochial intuitions about fairness and equality accepted by everybody else in the bubble. I have zero confidence that any of this tracks moral truth.

    Put more succinctly- your rejection of conservative moral claims strikes me as akin to someone who rejects the belief that objects move because of these awesome knock-down arguments he ran across while reading Zeno. I’m sure you’ll win your arguments over motion every single time when you confront that stupid ignorant Joe Sixpack about his “irrational” belief in moving bodies. But if you think you are getting closer than him to the truth about reality, you are just deceiving yourself. And this will be true no matter how many verbal disputes you win.

  5. Stone Cold, are you keeping with OP’s flow or responding to my post? If the latter, the reponse really misses the point. But apologies if the former. I agree with nearly all of what you say, except that there is going to be a lot of incoherence and messiness in one’s moral gut, with both conservatives and liberals bound to repress/throw out some category of snap moral judgements. My bet is that cons are in the wrong.

  6. “…there is going to be a lot of incoherence and messiness in one’s moral gut, with both conservatives and liberals bound to repress/throw out some category of snap moral judgements. My bet is that cons are in the wrong.”

    And what’s informing this assertion? Is your “bet” nothing more than rumination of your unreliable “moral gut”? If so, given your skepticism, why should you, let one we, trust it?

    Progs deal in an onslaught of polarized moral categories as created in reckless abandon by their abuse of terms like “racism,” “homophobia,” “misogyny,” “transphobia,” “xenophobia,” “Islamophobia” etc. Just turn on the news about these post-election protests if you don’t believe me. There isn’t nuance or an attempt with these bludgeons, conjoined with rampant emoting, that aims at the truth: Other people have legitimate grievances too — perhaps more so than them *gasp!*. These pet predicates of theirs are calumnies and snap moral judgments.

    Aren’t those who serially slander pretty morally deficient people? Aren’t those who have a penchant for defamation a reliable reflection of their rotten moral character? And your “bet is that cons are in the wrong,” i.e. the millions of Americans, who came out, as is their right and duty, and in so voting Trump into office, rebuked these moral narcissists and their noxious, petty identity politics that have proliferated the last eight years?

    Why don’t you ruminate on that before you cast judgment on who is in the wrong here.

  7. More to the point, however, is that I don’t think Fideist was writing about metaethics, intuition as opposed to reason as factoring in moral decision-making. Rather, he was polemicizing against the arrogance of Justin Whineberg and company, who are so convinced of their own moral and intellectual superiority — unjustifiably so, I think — they rather pervert and politicize philosophy to quell any possible dissent to their preferred views instead of nurturing rationality and the critical thinking skills in their pupils to be autonomous and decide for themselves.

  8. The point about moral gut was that two can play this game. Assuming the impotence of reason to provide some justification and systematicity to moral beliefs, we’d never know who’s right. I reject that assumption-it was just used hypothetically to engage posters on a different issue.

    Which, along with your second post gets me back to that issue: do you think there is absolutely no way for one to gauge on the basis of someone’s rationality and intellectual virtues the chance that their moral view is right? I think there is, that it is relatively straightforward, and that in those cases you wouldn’t have slander.

    Putting those two points together- even in the absence of a moral argument against a moral view, there would still be other legitimate ways of debunking it.

    • “…do you think there is absolutely no way for one to gauge on the basis of someone’s rationality and intellectual virtues the chance that their moral view is right? I think there is, that it is relatively straightforward, and that in those cases you wouldn’t have slander.”

      No, I don’t think there is absolutely no way, but — and this is a big but — I don’t think this forms, most charitably, some sound principle for regular inference to the sort you describe. Consider: A Catholic suffers down syndrome or some other mental defect that caps his rational faculties and thereby limits his intellectual virtues. As a devout Catholic, he subscribes to the moral view that homosexuality is wrong. The actual content of the natural law view is inspired by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas as a couple of its influences. The truth and falsity of it, including its injunction against homosexual behavior, is independent of the person and his rational capabilities. Neither can be debunked by merely appealing to the deficiencies of the person who holds it. That’s a textbook ad hominem fallacy, and I believe what you’re proposing here lends itself toward it. No wonder there is so much acrimony and slander in our political discourse if this is commonly believed among the left.

      In contrast, the average social justice warrior willfully tries to subvert rational discussion on contentious issues. They’re anti-intellectual. I don’t denounce them to debunk their moral views; again, on the contrary, I find their moral views bunk, and it’s their purposeful lack of substantiation in favor of sophistry by which I denounce them both as morally and intellectually inferior.

      • In the absence of any good argument for a view and evidence in many cases that those who share it are rationally deficient, lazy, and that their reasoning is infected by their values, I’d say there is a damn good inductive basis to debunk the view wholesale, even if you don’t have evidence in every case.

        That said, the case with homosexuality and natural law is not of this sort. Aristotle was wrong about nature in general, so we have all the reason to expect him to be largely wrong about the character of human nature.

        Also, your Down case is pretty benign. How about actual cases like the guy on this blog who thought he had a moral duty to vote for Trump because Hilary “clearly” is/worships the devil?!

      • “In the absence of any good argument for a view and evidence in many cases that those who share it are rationally deficient, lazy, and that their reasoning is infected by their values, I’d say there is a damn good inductive basis to debunk the view wholesale, even if you don’t have evidence in every case.”

        Induction, ok, fine. But you also augmented your principle. You’re no longer denying the moral view on solely ad hominem grounds but adding that there is gaping lack of a rational positive case for it.

        Let’s also personalize this: Whose moral views on the right are you insisting can be flippantly dismissed by what you described above? All the blue collar workers, who “cling to their guns and religion,” and just voted Trump into office? If so, you do realize many of these Midwestern rubes in flyover country have taken their views from the Christian tradition they inhabit? That tradition was shaped by a host of prolific thinkers and philosophers inspired these moral views of these rubes. So again the moral views can’t be shown to be false solely on the grounds that many of the people who hold them are not college educated and don’t know what, for example, is a syllogism. Many of these views were defended by the geniuses of their times. Charitably, you have to the debunk the strongest arguments for these views and the philosophies of its thinkers, not point out the intellectual deficiencies of the everyday, non-erudite person who was bequeathed them via hundreds of years of tradition.

        “That said, the case with homosexuality and natural law is not of this sort. Aristotle was wrong about nature in general, so we have all the reason to expect him to be largely wrong about the character of human nature.”

        Are you talking about his physics and inferring his metaphysics as false from it? Nature has a particular meaning in his metaphysics. It’s not in the sense the physical zoological realm it commonly is used for today. What’s so largely wrong about humans being a zoon politkon, a rational animal?

        “Also, your Down case is pretty benign. How about actual cases like the guy on this blog who thought he had a moral duty to vote for Trump because Hilary “clearly” is/worships the devil?!”

        How is it benign? It met your criteria, which you then changed, clarified and weakened your conclusion. There is lot of vagueness in “basis of someone’s rationality and intellectual virtues,” just like there is whole lot of sloppy, unrefined reasoning in “Aristotle was wrong about nature in general, so we have all the reason to expect him to be largely wrong about the character of human nature.” I suspect we’re not on the same page on what each of us means by the word “nature.”

        As to my colleague’s post, as he noted on this thread, you oversimplified it. Moreover, it was not an argument meant to persuade a token leftist, such as yourself, but someone who shares my colleagues’ basic assumptions and views. Now, you might find those views fatuous and incredulous, but the post was never meant for someone who diverges so wildly on those assumptions. So, again to infer that his moral views must be off the rocker because you rejected an argument that was never intended to persuade you is being grossly uncharitable.

      • TL accuses conservatives of, among other things, intellectual laziness and then proceeds to repeat the tiresome and intellectual lazy assumption that Aristotelian objections to homosexuality somehow rest upon the particulars of his outdated empirical theories. But I digress…

        More to the point, TL’s contention that I missed his point in my first comment now seems odd in light of what he has gone on to say. He claims that conservative moral instincts can be debunked, but declines to give us any proposals about how this might go about. I am familiar with one kind of debunking, much beloved by liberals, and that is to try and show that our pre-theoretical moral reactions are misleading because they conflict with the deliverances of some “rationally superior” moral theory. I anticipated this line and argued that this is wrongheaded, because in most cases the theories alleged to be rationally superior by liberals are little more than dialectical refinements of certain parochial moral views embraced by the kinds of white liberals Jonathan Haidt calls WEIRDs. Where morality is concerned our “gut” is hands down a better guide to morality than anything forged in the confines of the WEIRD echo-chamber.

        Whys is this? Well, for starters, from a world historical perspective WEIRDs are extreme moral outliers who live in highly a-typical circumstances of extreme affluence. Liberals for this reason systematically exclude morally relevant features of the social landscape from their theorizing, and they do so because they live in fortuitous but highly atypical social conditions in which they can get away with doing so, at least for a little while. (Muslim immigration is going to make the dismissal of in-group/out-group considerations from moral deliberation seem unbelievably foolish in about two generations, but I digress).

        So we are right back where I started: we have no good reasons to think liberal moral intuitions are any better than the those of the folk. That was my point, and nothing you have gone on to say gives me any reason to think it doesn’t apply, especially when you assure us that you have some kind of reason for rejecting the morality of conservatives on the basis of some alleged moral defect that we all have.

    • TL,

      I never said vote for Trump, because Hillary is a satanist.

      I said vote for NEITHER of them, because they BOTH run with the Epstein crowd.

      • JS-IV and SC,

        Throughout I was assuming SC’s initial view that there are no suasive rational arguments on either side (I am not sure this is SC’s real view, as he seems to have sympathy with natural law theory). I made it clear that this is not my view. But supposing it were true, I proposed an example that is very different from SC’s debunking example, and also relevantly different from JS-IV down syndrome case (in which the subject’s flawed rational capacities do not reveal morally relevant intellectual vices). The overall proposal has to be filled in from multiple examples and this will not happen here. Here is a very first take: reasoning and attitudes that are controlled by traits such as gullibility, hatefulnesss, and paranoia provide reasons for mistrusting one’s moral views and principles. This ties nicely with TSI’s clarification. It is irrelevant by my lights: I would not trust any position on Hilary and Trump coming from TSI.

        Now for Aristotle and natural law. I take it that the onus is on you to provide me anything more than concluding homosexuality is wrong from our nature’s being rational animals. My point was that there will be tons of reasons to be suspicious of an argument of this sort. Again, this is not the place to discuss those at length, and especially in the absence of the details of the argument you favor.

        And yes, I think that there is a lot of mission creep from Aristotle’s physics into his metaphysics, making the metaphysics meatier and more teleological than it ought to be. And it is also my suspicion that, absent the meatiness, there is no hope for arguments from human nature.

  9. Trump’s win is, among other things, certainly representative of popular backlash against the increasingly autocratic overreach of the liberal leftist elites.

    The left’s intolerance of tolerance is on full display for all who have eyes to see, and ears to hear.

    Consider.

  10. we should continue to do philosophy, teach in a fair and balanced manner, and give students the skills to reach their own conclusions rationally

    To the committed liberal, reaching your own conclusions rationally means reaching liberal conclusions. The fact that someone voted for Trump is “proof” they are not thinking for themselves.

  11. Man, I so wished I had majored in philosophy now, lol.

    I think what we are witnessing now is the slow progress towards another “dark age”: led by the post-modern, post-truth left.

    We’ve long since stopped burning witches and have moved on to “burning” alleged racists, xenophobes; sexist, bigoted bitter clingers and the like. Without any public debate, discussion, and with the people smart enough to know better playing along.

    And those playing along with this charade are manufacturing stupidity in those they influence.

    It cannot last. We are due for a second “enlightenment”. And this time, we are also owed some acknowledgement that Aristotle and Aquinas had a lot of things dead on.

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