Monday 3 June 2024

Kant's unhappy necessity

The Formula of the Universal Law of Nature

Kant’s first formulation of the CI

the categorical imperative. Categorical means having a 'unique model'. This is fine for a first order logic in which case the model must be finite. The problem is that many second order logics can be 'observationally equivalent' but this does not necessarily mean they are equivalent. This is like the problem of 'multiple realizability' which arises when we think of supervenience. 

states that you are to “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”

Universal means 'unrestricted comprehension'. If the law or maxim has a restricted application it is local, contingent and, if challenged, plastic or almost immediately defeasible

The other problem is to differentiate which acts are 'eligible' for review under a universal law or maxim. Unless all fall within that rubric, we are back to 'restricted comprehension' because eligibility is a matter of fact not law. Anyone at all can will anything at all to be the law provided they can also stipulate that the facts are whatever it is they say they are.

Suppose there is an universal law or maxim which applies to all actions. Then either you should not piss or shit or even breathe the air because there can be no maxim or universal law with respect to such things or else some maxims are ridiculous or concerned with trivialities. 

In any case, it is a fact that there are places where it is not safe to breathe or piss or shit. Having a right to do so does not mean a remedy will be provided if that right is violated. Moreover, a maxim with respect to farting- e.g 'better out than in'- is farcical or infra dig.

On the other hand a person who thinks sex is evil, like Mahatma Gandhi, or that Jews are evil, like Hitler, may indeed want the law to ban sex or the existence of Jews. There is a story that Hitler asked Deiter Eckhart if there had ever been a good Jew. 'One,' that evil cunt replied, 'Otto Weininger. He killed himself at the age of 23.' 

Is there a way around this problem? 

(G 4:421). O’Neill (1975, 1989) and Rawls (1980, 1989), among others, take this formulation in effect to summarize a decision procedure

this could be a juristic procedure rather than an economic calculus.  If it is juristic, it could either be protocol bound or 'lawless' and either 'buck stopped' or only terminable if there is a 'natural'- i.e. non arbitrary- 'canonical' solution. 

This is not to say that the thing can't be a pure deontic logic. However in that case it must have a mathematical representation, or model, in a first order language or else it is itself 'second order'. But, if 'second order', then it can't itself be a first order duty.  

for moral reasoning, and we will follow their basic outline: First, formulate a maxim that enshrines your proposed plan of action.

That is easier said than done. Any maxim I might come up with would be inferior to what a smarter dude with better Language skills could do. Alas, even so, the maxim may be mischievous or meaningless.  

Second, recast that maxim as a universal law of nature governing all rational agents,

i.e. it has 'naturality' and is unique and thus has 'categoricity'. In other words, these fools are saying 'first do something impossible for any human we know off to do. Then do something we know it is fucking impossible to do- viz. produce a 'theory' which has a first order mathematical model which is categorical AND complete for Peano Arithmetic. 

and so as holding that all must, by natural law, act as you yourself propose to act in these circumstances.

A Gandhi could say all rational beings would find sex icky and abstain from it. That way, Humanity will die out and we would all get reborn on a paradisal planet.  

Third, consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this new law of nature.

Hitler would have been happy in a World without Jews and Homos and Darkies. Also women would be barefoot and pregnant to blonde beasts dressed in SS uniforms.  

If it is, then, fourth, ask yourself whether you would, or could, rationally will to act on your maxim in such a world. If you could, then your action is morally permissible.

So Hitler and Eichmann etc were acting in a morally permissible fashion.  Obviously, both should have topped themselves at some point because they weren't blonde enough. 

If your maxim fails the third step,

I just farted. Yet, I myself admit that there can be no universal law governing passing wind. 

you have a “perfect” duty admitting “of no exception in favor of inclination” to refrain from acting on that maxim (G 4:421).

I just farted again. This was a condign criticism of the notion that I had a 'perfect duty' not to stink up my own house to my heart's content. 

If your maxim fails the fourth step, you have an “imperfect” duty requiring you to pursue a policy that can admit of such exceptions.

E.g. don't try to exterminate Jews if their Bubbee's will beat the shit out of you.  

If your maxim passes all four steps, only then is acting on it morally permissible.

This is merely a claim. It can be countered by the claim that it is itself morally impermissible unless the guy making the claim had properly inserted his head up his own rectum and was appreciatively breathing in his own farts.  

Following Hill (1971), we can understand the difference in duties as formal: Perfect duties come in the form “One must never (or always) φ to the fullest extent possible in C”,

Presumably 'perfect' means 'indefeasible'. But the perfect duty my be to never have perfect duties save in so far as fools are welcome to display their foolishness more particularly if they are pedants teaching worthless shite.  

while imperfect duties, since they require us to adopt an end, at least require that “One must sometimes and to some extent φ in C.”

No. Speaking generally, an 'end' is 'multiply realisable'. You only have a duty to do φ if there is a binding stipulation to that effect. True, you may have a defence against a charge of dereliction of duty if you did not do φ but achieved a superior outcome in some other way. But, this defence may fail. 

So, for instance, Kant held that the maxim of committing suicide to avoid future unhappiness did not pass the third step, the contradiction in conception test.

Kant was wrong. A guy who kills himself may want everybody to do likewise.  

Hence, one is forbidden to act on the maxim of committing suicide to avoid unhappiness.

Unless one wants everybody to commit suicide.  

By contrast, the maxim of refusing to assist others in pursuit of their projects passes the contradiction in conception test,

There has never been any such maxim. We may refuse to assist others save for adequate recompense or by reason of affectional tie or some other psychic benefit. But the relevant maxim is 'look out for number one' or, less brutally, 'charity begins at home'.  

but fails the contradiction in the will test at the fourth step.

It doesn't fucking exist. Looking out for number one involves taking jobs which advance other people's projects.  

Hence, we have a duty to sometimes and to some extent aid and assist others.

Only in the sense that we have a duty to sometimes and to some extent pretend we have a duty in the same way as we have a God given right to suck ourselves off.  

Kant held that ordinary moral thought recognized

that pedants have shit for brains. It's okay if the Pastor talks bollocks on Sunday. That's what he is paid to do and we get a good reputation by pretending to give ear. But Professors of shite subjects are merely glorified child-minders unless, like Kant, they are Prussian Civil Servants.  

moral duties toward ourselves as well as toward others.

You have a moral duty not to use your dick as a means to pleasure rather than an end in itself. This means you should not lay rough hands upon it. Simply suck it off in an empathetic and psychologically supportive manner so that it gains confidence to pursue its own project of qualifying as an Actuary- like Novalis.  

Hence, together with the distinction between perfect and imperfect duties,

which only exists by arbitrary stipulation 

Kant recognized four categories of duties: perfect duties toward ourselves,

e.g. the duty to give yourself a blow-job 

perfect duties toward others,

unless they beat you or run away 

imperfect duties toward ourselves and imperfect duties toward others.

As a matter of fact, something like this does arise in the case of the duties of a 'bonus pater familias' who is expected to show a higher standard of care and diligence with respect to the law of trusts, torts and certain Civil functions or duties. This would be 'in abstracto' i.e. at a 'universalizable' level. The problem here is that 'factorization' of duties is non unique, i.e. lacks categoicity, because of the de juris/de facti distinction. In other words, what is fact and what is law are impredicative and so multiple realizability obtains. 

Kant uses four examples in the Groundwork, one of each kind of duty, to demonstrate that every kind of duty can be derived from the CI, and hence to bolster his case that the CI is indeed the fundamental principle of morality.

Poor fellow, he was neither an actual lawyer, nor had access to the sort of results in mathematical logic we have had for almost a century. He was bound to fuck up. Why is this failed research program, or availability cascade, still trundling on? Why not ask Physicists to disprove the Wu experiment so as to re-establish 'incongruent counterparts' instead? Better still, why not campaign for Alchemy and Voodoo to be taught at M.I.T?  

To refrain from suicide is a perfect duty toward oneself;

In Kant's time, a gentleman who couldn't pay his gambling debts had a duty to blow his brains out. The same was true if he was caught taking it up the arse from his footman.  

to refrain from making promises you have no intention of keeping is a perfect duty toward others;

Nonsense! It is wholly defeasible when it isn't highly entertaining. Anyway, without the passing of consideration, no promise is a contract. Either the promise pertains to a pre-existing duty or it is mere puffery. Kant's problem was that he hadn't studied or, better yet, practiced, Law  

to develop one’s talents is an imperfect duty toward oneself;

whereas sucking yourself off is a perfect duty 

and to contribute to the happiness of others is an imperfect duty toward others. Again, Kant’s interpreters differ over exactly how to reconstruct the derivation of these duties. We will briefly sketch one way of doing so for the perfect duty to others to refrain from lying promises and the imperfect duty to ourselves to develop talents.

There is a perfect duty to others to kill your colleagues if you say 'I'll fucking kill you, if you help yourself to the cookies I bought'.  On the other hand gaining the skill to suck yourself off is only an imperfect duty though sucking yourself off is a perfect duty because it is wrong to treat your dick as just a means to the end of pissing or jizzing. You must show it empathy and be emotionally supportive, by sucking it off regularly, of its project to qualify as a Chartered Accountant or Professional Actuary.

Kant’s example of a perfect duty to others concerns a promise you might consider making but have no intention of keeping in order to get needed money.

In which case you won't get the money. Only people with no fucking money will lend on the basis of a promise. Alternatively, they will also hand over cash in exchange for some magic beans. Why borrow, when you can defraud?  

Naturally, being rational requires not contradicting oneself, but there is no self-contradiction in the maxim “I will make lying promises when it achieves something I want.”

That is not a maxim. It is stupid shite. When making a promise, it is better if you yourself believe it is sincere because, in that case, there is a greater likelihood of being believed.  

An immoral action clearly does not involve a self-contradiction in this sense (as would the maxim of finding a married bachelor).

Narendra Modi is a married bachelor because though his marriage was not binding on him by reason of non-consummation and 'brahmachari' status, his wife chose to be 'pativrata'. Thus, GoI is obliged to provide her the level of security mandated for the spouse of the Head of Government even though, legally, Modi is a bachelor. 

Stupid cunts who teach useless shite don't know what is or isn't 'self-contradictory'. 

Kant’s position is that it is irrational to perform an action if that action’s maxim contradicts itself once made into a universal law of nature.

Coz we can make up universal laws of nature any time we like- right? Fuck you, Newton for inventing Gravity! But for your, darkies like me could just float in the air shitting on the heads of peeps wot iz smarter than us.  

The maxim of lying whenever it gets you what you want generates a contradiction once you try to combine it with the universalized version that all rational agents must, by a law of nature, lie when doing so gets them what they want.

No. We evolved by natural selection. Screening out liars is something which is evolutionarily adaptive. Spotting rogues and cheats is an useful skill. It also helps us identify occasions when we are likely to lie to ourselves or see what we want to see in the data.  

Here is one way of seeing how this might work: If I conceive of a world in which everyone by nature must try to deceive people any time this will get them what they want, I am conceiving of a world in which no practice of giving one’s word could ever arise and, because this is a law of nature, we can assume that it is widely known that no such practice could exist.

Fuck off! There will be a 'separating equilibrium' based on 'costly signals'. The 'cheap talk' pooling equilibrium may be good enough for 'non-material' transactions. I give a quid to a beggar who fervently calls down God's blessings on me though I know that he knows that I know that he thinks I'm a low income, low I.Q, shithead. 

So I am conceiving of a world in which everyone knows that no practice of giving one’s word exists. My maxim, however, is to make a deceptive promise in order to get needed money.

Because peeps just hand out cash to anyone who makes deceptive promises- right? 

And it is a necessary means of doing this that a practice of taking the word of others exists, so that someone might take my word and I take advantage of their doing so. Thus, in trying to conceive of my maxim in a world in which no one ever takes anyone’s word in such circumstances, and knows this about one another, I am trying to conceive of this: A world in which no practice of giving one’s word exists, but also, at the very same time, a world in which just such a practice does exist, for me to make use of in my maxim.

In the real world, Banks lend money on security or on the basis of objective credit-worthiness.  

It is a world containing my promise and a world in which there can be no promises.

The promise does not matter. You will gladly lend money to a guy whom you know will pay you back with interest.  

Hence, it is inconceivable that I could sincerely act on my maxim in a world in which my maxim is a universal law of nature.

These cretins can't conceive shit.  

Since it is inconceivable that these two things could exist together, I am forbidden ever to act on the maxim of lying to get money.

In the same sense that you are forbidden to have a wank. On the other hand, it is a perfect duty to suck yourself off.  

By contrast with the maxim of the lying promise, we can easily conceive of adopting a maxim of refusing to develop any of our talents in a world in which that maxim is a universal law of nature.

I refused to develop my talent as a guy who proves the Reimann hypothesis while simultaneously being crowned Miss Teen Tamil Nadu. 

It would undoubtedly be a world more primitive than our own, but pursuing such a policy is still conceivable in it.

if you have nothing better to do and are terminally stupid- sure.  

However, it is not, Kant argues, possible to rationally will this maxim in such a world. The argument for why this is so, however, is not obvious, and some of Kant’s thinking seems hardly convincing: Insofar as we are rational, he says, we already necessarily will that all of our talents and abilities be developed.

Like our talent and ability to stab people?  

Hence, although I can conceive of a talentless world, I cannot rationally will that it come about, given that I already will, insofar as I am rational, that I develop all of my own.

It is not rational to will anything which is not in your actual control. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. I am currently willing the Planet Neptune to bump uglies with Uranus.  

However, mere failure to conform to something we rationally will is not yet immorality.

Unless we willed that morality. There is a circularity here. Kant's morality has to be subjective but what is subjectively immoral may be no such thing from any intersubjective or 'common sense' point of view.  

Failure to conform to instrumental principles, for instance, is irrational but not always immoral. In order to show that this maxim is categorically forbidden, one strategy is to make use of several other of Kant’s claims or assumptions.

But what one has shown is stupidity.  

First, we must accept Kant’s claim that, by “natural necessity,” we will our own happiness as an end.

Even though we don't do any such thing.  

This is a claim he uses not only to distinguish assertoric from problematic imperatives, but also to argue for the imperfect duty of helping others.

Why not the imperfect duty of breathing?  

He also appears to rely on this claim in each of his examples. Each maxim he is testing appears to have happiness as its aim.

You don't need to do stupid shit to be happy.  

One explanation for this is that, since each person necessarily wills her own happiness,

in between willing their own respiration and willing the evacuation of their own bowels and then willing themselves to go for a walk.  

maxims in pursuit of this goal will be the typical object of moral evaluation. This, at any rate, is clear in the talents example itself: The forbidden maxim adopted by the ne’er-do-well is supposed to be “devoting his life solely to…enjoyment”  rather than to developing his talents.

Plenty of epicureans were good economists and good poets. Cicero praised one such. Those who devote themselves to being a misery-guts may contribute nothing to the world.  

Second, we must assume, as also seems reasonable, that a necessary means to achieving (normal) human happiness is not only that we ourselves develop some talent, but also that others develop some capacities of theirs at some time.

The problem here is that we don't know whether a thing can only be realized in one way- i.e. there is a 'necessary' condition for its existence without which it simply would not obtain. But 'multiple realizability' appears ubiquitous in the human and social world. There are no 'necessary' or 'sufficient' conditions.  Thus this whole line of reasoning- or the notion that there could be a 'natural' religion or 'natural' law- was useless.  

For instance, I cannot engage in the normal pursuits that make up my own happiness, such as playing piano, writing philosophy or eating delicious meals, unless I have developed some talents myself,

No. You can enjoy all those things even if your Mummy cajoled you into taking part in those activities and they gradually became habitual.  

and, moreover, someone else has made pianos and written music, taught me writing, harvested foods and developed traditions of their preparation.

You can make your own piano, write your own music, invent your own alphabet, grow your own food etc. There are no 'necessary' conditions.  

Finally, Kant’s examples come on the heels of defending the position that rationality requires conformity to hypothetical imperatives.

Which is not the case. Rationality requires us to tell Kantians they are stupid and useless unless it doesn't because it is in our interest to pretend otherwise.  

Thus, we should assume that, necessarily, rational agents will the necessary and available means to any ends that they will. And once we add this to the assumptions that we must will our own happiness as an end, and that developed talents are necessary means to achieving that end, it follows that we cannot rationally will that a world come about in which it is a law that no one ever develops any of their natural talents. We cannot do so, because our own happiness is the very end contained in the maxim of giving ourselves over to pleasure rather than self-development.

But we would be happier if we didn't bother with any of this shite.  There's a reason Utilitarianism- which is what Hume championed- prevailed while Kantianism became a cul de sac of virtue signaling imbecility. Money is a good enough proxy for utility. Governments, sooner or later, have to follow a simple rule- spend on stuff which will end up boosting tax revenue, not on stuff which will end up reducing it. The one problem with Utilitarianism was that it didn't recognize that disutility means 'opportunity cost' and only disutility matters. So, in the end, everything in this field just cashes out as positive econ, mechanism design etc. On the other hand, we may well have a duty to will that God create us and that it is necessary to chop off our own heads and shove them up our poopers lest the Sky fall on our heads. 

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