Vaughn Papenhausen

132 karmaJoined Jan 2018



Former username Ikaxas


Pretty sure I would also benefit from reading the appendix

So I am a philosophy grad student with a shallow familiarity with this literature. The way I understand the people who object to the evo-debunking, they argue that the evolution stuff is a red herring---basically any causal story about the origins of our moral intuitions would do the same work in the argument, the empirical details don't matter. The real work is going on in the philosophical side of the argument, and that, they think, doesn't hold up. Might post again later with some paper recs.

So the terminology here gets used differently by different people, but the view that moral statements can be true or false is usually called "cognitivism", not "realism" (though there definitely are people who use "realism" for that view). My own personal preference is to define realism as cognitivism plus the metaphysical claim that moral properties are mind-independent (i.e. not grounded in facts about anyone's moral beliefs or attitudes).

I agree it may be difficult for a utilitarian to fully deceive themselves into giving up their utilitarianism. But here's an option that might be more feasible: be uncertain about your utilitarianism (you probably already are, or if you aren't you should be), and act according to a theory that both 1. Utilitarianism recommends you act according to, and 2. You find independently at least somewhat plausible. This could be a traditional moral theory, or it might even be the result of the moral uncertainty calculation itself.

Adding onto this, it's also generally accepted that you should only do serious translation work into a language that you speak natively. For instance, an English-German bilingual with German as their native language should not translate German content into English, only English content into German. So what you need are not just people who are fluent in English and some other language, but people who have some other language as their native language.

Idk, I've not read tons of Plato or anything, it's certainly possible that early translations would have used "pray tell". Probably just an artifact of the particular translations I've read that it sounded out of place to me.

Oh! I see, you were trying to imply that just because Socrates had done lots of philosophy didn't improve his moral views about women and slaves. I still kind of like the interpretation where, in this alternate timeline, Socrates gets his (for the time) progressive views about the education of women and slaves from a conversation with a time-traveller, even if it's not what you initially intended. (Although again, that means the dinner conversation Caplan went to can't be the conversation depicted in the Republic, not sure if you were intending it to be. The details that made me think you were implying that are: 1. The fact that Socrates says that at dinner he talked about his views on the tripartite soul, which come up in the Republic---I think they're introduced there, though it's possible they're first mentioned in an earlier dialogue I haven't read; and 2. The fact that Thrasymachus says everyone is familiar with his views on justice, which again come up in the Republic---though I suppose his views would probably be known before the conversation in the Republic.)

I loved this! A nitpick and a question. First, "pray" and "pray tell" sound a bit out of place to me, they sound more like Shakespeare or something than Plato.


Socrates: Huh, I had not previously considered women and slaves...

This isn't true, at least of the version of Socrates depicted by Plato. Are you trying to imply that this conversation is the origin of Socrates' egalitarian views on women and slaves in the Republic and the Meno? There are a couple of places where I thought you were implying that the dinner conversation Caplan attends is the conversation depicted in the Republic. Is it just meant to be another similar conversation, with earlier incarnations of Socrates' views on the tripartite soul and Thrasymachus' views on justice?

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