I have a reply to this I decided to make into a blog post. I'd be happy to continue our other discussions in a blog exchange as well. Here's my response:


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Here's a summary of some of the main objections:

(1) Claiming that pain is good or bad does not make the metaethical presuppositions behind such claims explicit. There are antirealist construals of things being "good" or "bad." By not making the realist presuppositions implicit in these claims explicit, the argument presented here involves normative entanglement - the conflation between metaethical and normative considerations - which may give the misleading impression that to reject the argument isn't merely to reject a form of moral realism but to reject that happiness are good or bad in any respect, which a moral antirealist is not obliged to do; antirealist construals of good/bad are available.

(2) You say that when "we" reflect on pleasure we conclude that it''s good and that pain is bad. This is an extraordinarily unclear claim. Who is "we"? Why are you making claims about what other people think? Such claims are empirical, and would require empirical evidence to know what proportion of people think what and under what circumstances. Philosophers cannot know how people think about these kinds of issues by a priori reasoning alone.

I develop on these and some other thoughts in my response.

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I sent this to Neil -- he said these objections were addressed in the original paper.

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Have you read the paper?

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Premise One is False:

A. Something other then introspection allowed us to conclude that this very argument about morality is true, and thus form a moral belief.

B. Introspection can be false - one can be mistaken about their own feelings towards something. I.E. one might be convinced that they want to be ethical, when in reality what really motivates them is self-interest.

C. It seems implausible that *only* phoenominal introspection could lead to correct moral beliefs. If a hypothetical alien species were unable to introspect on the morality of sensations, why would they be unable to arrive at hedonism using all of the other considerations in favor of it you've listed ot in your posts?

D. Mental Insanity - Obviously in the extreme hypothetical, insanity impacts everything, but there are certainly situations where it could uniquely apply to moral introspection. Take someone with a special form of OCD, developed by me for the purpose of winning arguments on the internet. A person with this disease gets a creeping feeling that their stove is on - which will kill the mythical god Ra by stealing his light. Introspecting on this reveals a creeping feeling of sheer wrongness. This must be bad.

This is manifestly unreliable, because I could change this form of OCD into anything I wished.

Premise Two is False:

A. You didn't defend the "only" in the statement at all. That's a simple failure to carry your prima facie burden of persuasion. You can imagine a list of 500 other things that introspection could say is good here. (If this was a product of the wordcount limitation, you must revise!!!)

B. I think that many people's introspection would lend itself much better to desire furfillment. One might often deisre to have pleasure, but when one introspects, they can often come to believe that accomplishing their desires is good in itself.

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A) This is a non-moral belief about reliability, so we don't need PI for it.

B) This is introspecting about emotions, not phenomenal introspection -- while one maybe can be wrong about their experience, people usually aren't. There's also a clear evolutionary reason for this.

C) I think they could -- I don't think I agree with the claim that the rest of our moral beliefs are unreliable. However, Sinhababu would say they couldn't -- unless they used his universality argument for hedonism.

D) This person isn't wrong -- they feel bad. However, phenomenal introspection can't lead you to make conclusions about the world that are accurate -- just about your mental states.


A) PI can't inform us of anything other than the goodness of our mental states. Only pleasurable mental states feel good.

B) Desire fulfillment isn't a qualia -- it thus can't be proved through PI.

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Seems self-defeating. You don't know the premises of the argument through phenomenal introspection. So there must be other reliable ways to form philosophical (including moral) beliefs.

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Three points are worth making.

1) I reject premise 1 in Sinhababu's argument. I do, however, think that the argument has some force and that we should disproportionately count our hedonist intuitions.

2) One can think that we have reliable ways of forming philosophical beliefs but that we don't have the same types of reliable ways of forming moral beliefs. One might think that specifically moral beliefs are often inaccurate, given their poor track record, but the same isn't true of the rest of philosophy.

3) (This is a version of the argument which I fully agree with). Let's say we think that phenomenal conservatism is true. We can still believe in the argument from phenomenal introspection. It may seem to us that we have good reason to reject the rest of our moral beliefs. Or, more plausibly, even if we think that seemings are prima facie evidence, given how often they're wrong, we'd expect the correct moral view to be oftentimes counterintuitive. I don't think we a good gauge of how often it would be counterintuitive -- it could very well be .001% or 20%. Thus, PI informs us of hedonism, and the rest of the data is solidly within the range of the things we'd expect, were hedonism true.

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Richard, both 1 and 2 are nonmoral beliefs.

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Yes, of course, but there's no basis for such selective skepticism about justifying moral vs other (e.g. epistemic) normative beliefs. See: https://www.philosophyetc.net/2015/11/self-undermining-skepticisms.html

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There’s a strong basis once one distinguishes what it takes for them to be true, and how reliable our information is about various categories of norms. Legal and etiquette norms only require social structures of various sorts to exist. Any norms based on categorical reasons require more. The processes generating beliefs about these various norms differ in reliability. This follows from nonmoral premises about how reliably processes generating moral belief generate true nonmoral belief, and how frequently the moral beliefs generated fall into contradiction.

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