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The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few

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Why is empirical observability irrelevant? Why would you establish foundational principles for your ethical theory without first seeing if they conform to reality? What is an appropriate foundation for your ethical theory if not observations concerning the real world?
I don't mean to say empirical observability altogether is irrelevant. In that context, I meant to say that empirical observability of other people's subjective states are irrelevant or at best only orthogonally related. If we are talking about hedonistic utilitarianism, I believe (I am not too well studied on it), it has emerged from hedonistic reasoning - 'pain is bad - pleasure or 'higher states' is good' kind of thinking. The utilitarian goes on to say if pain is bad for me, it should be bad for everyone {
this a plausible induction, especially if we define pain to be necessarily (by definition) something that feels bad (so masochist don't count). }. So the utilitarian may reason if it is bad, and if the morally reasonable action would be to avoid pain, and seek better states for me, then it should be best to minimize pain overall for as many people as possible.

But then if you say: well, but we can't access other minds, and who knows if they can even feel pain or perhaps oxygen feels intense pain as we breathe in - may be then we ought to suffocate us to death...and stuff.

yeah, ok. But that is a 'later' concern. A more primary concern may be if the utilitarian reasoning is correct in the first place. If it is practically 'tractable' or not is the next concern. Also, even if it is 'intractable' because of inaccessibility of other minds that in itself doesn't contradict the principle that we ought to minimize overall pain and maximize happiness (or preference or whatever utility you want to entertain).

I wanted to keep it more focused on the primary foundational concern. I think we should get to the practical concern after its foundational principles have been established.

For example, you could ask, why should I even concern about other people's pain ? I may think it is reasonable for me to avoid pain because I dislike this, but why should I be further obligated to think of others unless it fulfills my own selfish concerns (like maintenance of stable society or whatever). From my perspective, other's pain are aliens and abstract - and only seem to matter to me in relation through me (through empathy and mirror neurons or whatever I may or may not actually have). Utilitarians may talk about having a more 'universal' outlook and intuitive plausibility, but none of that is convincing enough - why should I think beyond oneself? why should I not be selfish or be morally obligated to not be selfish ? One may even argue from a Humean fashion than in terms of action passion rules reason. So I may even argue that just because I feel pain doesn't mean it is 'normatively reasonable' for me avoid it, or even that I am 'morally obligated' too. One can attack the very idea that 'pure reason (moral or otherwise)' applies to actions and decisions in the first place. Reason applies only to the extent of the matter of answering whether our actions are consistent with our beliefs, passion, goal etc, but it is the passion, goals and dreams that RULE, while reason is only meant to serve our passions to optimize our actions. So there can be many directions to attack. There are also some interesting line of thoughts from the other direction, one of the most interesting I have found is from Santideva. These, I will say are some more primary concerns. I am not saying that these concerns exist today or haven't been solved or that it have been solved - I am just putting this as examples of some of the arguments that can address the core seed of utilitarianism. Furthermore, with certain thought expeiments one can make utilitarianism sound unappealing in certain contexts, thereby showing that they can't even win out the 'intuitive plausibility' criteria; though the epistemology of intuitive plausibility may be a bit questionable in the first place. Whatever.

Whether utilitarianism is practically tractable or not is a secondary problem - that doesn't mean we shouldn't concern ourselves with it before the foundational issues are solved, but I am not interested in them at the moment. Also note that typical practical problem does not usually point out a flaw in utilitarianism per se, but in the problem of 'utilizing' utilitarianism in a practical scenario. So it's a different topic altogether since in the thread ttitle you are attacking the foundations of utilitarianism itself.

This whole business of adding together or averaging subjective experiences is a fantasy with no connection to reality.
hmm...so let's get back to stats again but with some extra metaphysics. Let's say we live we don't actually share an external reality, but we share appearances of 'external' reality (synchronized <subjective> appearances). So technically, now nothing is really 'addable' beyond what is in one's own subjective experience, I guess. Now, most statistical analysis (let's say how many people were killed by cows) may depend on multiple subjective reports, records of past made by various people, and stuffs. But let's say we don't really have a 'death by cow' out there, but there was only a subjective experience of death by cow. So in this world, are most statistics that go beyonds one's immediate experience false or not grounded in any reality at all?

Also, I am not sure, what is with your subjective experience not sharing space - they share the SAME world if we can interact with our subjective fields even if not directly in our own subjective fields. I am not sure math requires something to be shared in some kind of specific kind of space.

if not what appears to be the case
We can confuse phenomenal appearances with epistemic appearances (which are also in a sense phenomenal, one could say). We can confuse mental judgments and beliefs as some other more particular kinds of phenomenal appearances. It is the 'myth of the given' to think what seems is absolute. What seems at best only probably tells you what seems at the most surface shallow level - at the level of immediate beliefs, mental frameworks.


I agree. We are all the same "I" experiencing different things. I no more end at the limits of my experience than the surface of the Earth ends at the horizon. Nevertheless, like the surface of the Earth beyond the horizon, I can't see any experience beyond my own.
Why do you think it is indeed the same "I" ? Did you mean just qualitatively same or even numerically ?

The hedonistic utilitarian can't take the suffering of objects into account if he doesn't know which ones suffer and which ones do not, hence the need for a procedure whereby he can decide whether to ascribe subjectivity—and, more to the point, experiences of pleasure and/or suffering—to any given object or not.
This is again, as elaborated earlier, is a concern that is not addressing utilitarianism in-itself but the epistemic limitations of using utilitarianism which goes on a different topic.
To address it we have to move more towards epistemology.

I am at the moment, more interested in solving if we should even think of using utilitarianism in the first place and why or why not. The problems associated with APPLYING utilitarianism (like how do we be good utilitarians if we can't even know who is suffering, if an object can suffer or not and so on....) comes after (in my list) the question: if we should try to apply utilitarianism in the first place, or what motivation do we really have to even concern ourselves with it, or if it is fundamentally wrong why so ?
The particular metaphysics of the actual world? What other metaphysics are there? If the actual world as disclosed by empirical observation is irrelevant to meta-ethics (though I have a very different understanding of what is meta-ethics), how can meta-ethics possibly be applicable to the real world? Again, where do these meta-ethical foundations come from if not empirical observation?
possible worlds, impossible worlds, and all kinds in between.

https://philpapers.org/rec/SINPG (this is more of a joke, but yeah).

I didn't meant to say empirical observability is irrelevant to metaethics altogether. Mainly I was trying to distinguish more metaethical concerns (about the foundations of the ethical principles themselves), to more practical concerns (about using the principles).

Modal thinking can help us to test out concepts and their robustness. Also it helps us to see what we ourselves actually think about the concepts, if our thinkings are consistent or not. 'possible worlds' don't have to be real (unless you are Lewis' fan); but note that possible worlds by definition should be logically consistent and mathematical principles should hold too. So imagining things in possible worlds rather than the actual world can also help us test what logically follows from what and if our ideas are logically consisent or necessarily connected etc.

Induction is very important; it is the essence of technology. But inventors don't make new tools by looking for empirical evidence that conforms to their inductive judgments; they make inductive judgments that conform to the evidence that they've already collected. How, then, can we expect our ethical theory to be applicable to the world if we make it conform to our intuitions instead of reality?
But what justifies the inductive judgments ? The evidence surely doesn't deductively justify them. Nor is there any solid deductive conformation to evidence. So we inductive deduce our inductive judgments ? This are actually pretty big topics - for example what does it even mean to 'conform' to evidence. I don't want to sidetrack here, nor do I myself know enough (other than having a vague idea about how much there is to them that I don't know) to talk about them. This doesn't mean that we should just go on relying intuitions for ethical reasoning. But simply that we may need to consider intuitions and\or certain kind of intuitions as a piece in the reasoning or not - i.e to say we may have to be careful before dismissing something altogether.

Also, why do you think that the suffering of inorganic objects is likely to be trivial?
Pain requires consciousness. Not-trivial consciousness requires some dynamic phenomenal structure (following from the evidence of observing the fading of consciousness with the fading of structure and order of phenomenal thoughts and perception
(Introverted mystical consciousness may be a counter-point, but I haven't have it yet, so I don't know what to say about it)). Structure seems to correletae with biology, neurology, some neural mechanism with strong interconnections. Induction -> something with a much simpler structure or connection may not hold united consciousness.
No positive evidence giving inorganic substances any reason to have consciousness.
One may argue for panpsychism and argue that fundamental stuffs ma have some form of fundamental mentality. But still no positive evidence for them having any non-trivial level of consciounsess.

None of these reasoning are deductive or close to perfect. But that's how the world rolls in abductions and apparent plausibilities.

I am still more of a pyrrhonian, so I don't necessarily strictly adhere to any of the above beliefs.


Justify? Bah! Let those tedious pedants justify themselves. They're the ones who have been endlessly pontificating about this meaningless word 'ought', not I.
Fair enough.

Have you read all their works of trying to justify them?


I didn't understand what you meant by 'still'. I thought something like, I know someone is experiencing the benefit—it's Alice!—so what's does this talk of 'someone' change?
It changes nothing. It was a shift in emphasis.

but nobody experiences any overall benefit.
but to have an overall benefit it MUST be the case that MOST people experiences BENEFIT.

It is basically, veery roughly speaking, counting happy people with sad people as negatives. And people seem to share space, and subjective happiness seem to share and belong to the same world. There is no reason why we can't count it. That other subjective worlds can't be directly accessed is an irrelevant point to the concept of counting them.

You can say that BECAUSE we CAN'T access them we CAN'T truly KNOW them or their state. We can't 'count' what we can't know. Good enough. But that's where some epistemology comes in; but before even bringing that in, it is still a matter of practical epistemic limitations. For example, would addressing this problem answer if we SHOULD count them in the first place ? If we COULD count them, then would we do count them and follow utilitarianism. These are the foundational questions I am more interested in. Whether we can or can't is an important question sure, but it doesn't indicate whether we should or should not.

Well actually, it is taken for granted that ought implies can, but here by 'should' I mean more of a "should if could".
 

The Grey Man

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But then if you say: well, but we can't access other minds, and who knows if they can even feel pain or perhaps oxygen feels intense pain as we breathe in - may be then we ought to suffocate us to death...and stuff.

yeah, ok. But that is a 'later' concern. A more primary concern may be if the utilitarian reasoning is correct in the first place. If it is practically 'tractable' or not is the next concern. Also, even if it is 'intractable' because of inaccessibility of other minds that in itself doesn't contradict the principle that we ought to minimize overall pain and maximize happiness (or preference or whatever utility you want to entertain).

I wanted to keep it more focused on the primary foundational concern. I think we should get to the practical concern after its foundational principles have been established.
My objection to utilitarianism has nothing to do with solipsism or any particular problem of how to apply utilitarianism in a particular scenario. I believe that other minds exist, I just think that the utilitarian conception of goodness as a quantity of magnitudes that can be added together, averaged, or otherwise manipulated is a category mistake. Quantity is a property of objects, which are complex; goodness is a property of some subjective experience as a whole, which is simple: my hypothetical examples of particular scenarios were intended only to illustrate this general principle.

hmm...so let's get back to stats again but with some extra metaphysics. Let's say we live we don't actually share an external reality, but we share appearances of 'external' reality (synchronized <subjective> appearances). So technically, now nothing is really 'addable' beyond what is in one's own subjective experience, I guess. Now, most statistical analysis (let's say how many people were killed by cows) may depend on multiple subjective reports, records of past made by various people, and stuffs. But let's say we don't really have a 'death by cow' out there, but there was only a subjective experience of death by cow. So in this world, are most statistics that go beyonds one's immediate experience false or not grounded in any reality at all?
In order to survive as human beings, we must act as if we know some things that we don't know because we don't know everything that we must act as if we know in order to survive as human beings.

When the statistician tells you that some number of people have died due to cow attacks over some period of time in some region of the world, you don't know that he's telling the truth, but you can act as if you do, which is to say that you can add the cow deaths to your imaginative model of the world. The products of your imagination won't be as detailed as witnessing the cow deaths yourself if they are based on the aforementioned statistic alone (you'll still have numerous possible questions to ask like "At what time of day did the deaths happen most commonly?", "What colour were the cows", etc.), but to be in possession of the former may be conducive to your survival. They add to your objective map of the world, even if only virtually (inductive judgments may turn out to be wrong after a).

You can't act as if you know that the expected utility of some population over some period of time is 0 hedons. There's simply no way to imagine this state of affairs. How can my pleasure and another person's suffering 'cancel out'? I can't even imagine this, let alone posit it as a fact.

We can confuse phenomenal appearances with epistemic appearances (which are also in a sense phenomenal, one could say). We can confuse mental judgments and beliefs as some other more particular kinds of phenomenal appearances. It is the 'myth of the given' to think what seems is absolute. What seems at best only probably tells you what seems at the most surface shallow level - at the level of immediate beliefs, mental frameworks.
The shallow surface level is exactly what I'm talking about. At the shallow, surface level, we have a multiplicity of phenomena unified by the subject. The given is not a myth. It is the only island of knowledge in an infinite ocean of uncertainty.

This is again, as elaborated earlier, is a concern that is not addressing utilitarianism in-itself but the epistemic limitations of using utilitarianism which goes on a different topic.
To address it we have to move more towards epistemology.
Yes, the problem of whether a given object has subjective experience or not is a discussion for another thread, as I said at the beginning of this digression.

Modal thinking can help us to test out concepts and their robustness. Also it helps us to see what we ourselves actually think about the concepts, if our thinkings are consistent or not. 'possible worlds' don't have to be real (unless you are Lewis' fan); but note that possible worlds by definition should be logically consistent and mathematical principles should hold too. So imagining things in possible worlds rather than the actual world can also help us test what logically follows from what and if our ideas are logically consisent or necessarily connected etc.
Consistency is important. A conceptual system that contradicts itself says nothing.

But a conceptual system that doesn't refer to the real world also says nothing, at least from the point of view of we people who live in it. The most flawless and intricate symbolic system, if it has no attributed meaning, has as much moral significance as any immaculate, but inaccessible gemstone has commercial value.

But what justifies the inductive judgments ? The evidence surely doesn't deductively justify them. Nor is there any solid deductive conformation to evidence. So we inductive deduce our inductive judgments ? This are actually pretty big topics - for example what does it even mean to 'conform' to evidence. I don't want to sidetrack here, nor do I myself know enough (other than having a vague idea about how much there is to them that I don't know) to talk about them. This doesn't mean that we should just go on relying intuitions for ethical reasoning. But simply that we may need to consider intuitions and\or certain kind of intuitions as a piece in the reasoning or not - i.e to say we may have to be careful before dismissing something altogether.
I agree, moral intuitions are a piece in the puzzle. Just as scientists must consider all the information that is pertinent to their investigations, so must ethicists.

Pain requires consciousness. Not-trivial consciousness requires some dynamic phenomenal structure (following from the evidence of observing the fading of consciousness with the fading of structure and order of phenomenal thoughts and perception
(Introverted mystical consciousness may be a counter-point, but I haven't have it yet, so I don't know what to say about it)). Structure seems to correletae with biology, neurology, some neural mechanism with strong interconnections. Induction -> something with a much simpler structure or connection may not hold united consciousness.
No positive evidence giving inorganic substances any reason to have consciousness.
One may argue for panpsychism and argue that fundamental stuffs ma have some form of fundamental mentality. But still no positive evidence for them having any non-trivial level of consciounsess.

None of these reasoning are deductive or close to perfect. But that's how the world rolls in abductions and apparent plausibilities.

I am still more of a pyrrhonian, so I don't necessarily strictly adhere to any of the above beliefs.
I don't have any positive evidence proving that fundamental stuffs or inorganic objects have a mental aspect and I never will (the problem of other minds applies to things other than humans, of course), but neither do I see any reason why they wouldn't. What is the minimum requirement for an object to be complex enough to suffer? Most agree that it doesn't need a human's level of intelligence. Does it need an animal's level of intelligence? Does it need some other faculty without which pain would be impossible? More importantly why? I've never heard a satisfactory answer to this question. Do you know where to find one? We're pretty sure that humans suffer and that this suffering is correlated with certain activities of neuronal structures, but if there's some reason why something as seemingly elemental as suffering is contingent upon the presence of these peculiar cells, I haven't heard it.

Fair enough.

Have you read all their works of trying to justify them?
I think 'ought' is a word that doesn't mean anything and I prefer to read works that are about something, so no.

but to have an overall benefit it MUST be the case that MOST people experiences BENEFIT.

It is basically, veery roughly speaking, counting happy people with sad people as negatives. And people seem to share space, and subjective happiness seem to share and belong to the same world. There is no reason why we can't count it. That other subjective worlds can't be directly accessed is an irrelevant point to the concept of counting them.
When you count people, you count their bodies and not their minds, the people as objects and not subjects. You can put them on a scale together and weigh them, but their subjective experiences don't complement or negate each other in any way because they don't relate to each other at all; they are isolated from each other and simple. This is why hedonic calculations are nonsense, they mix a property of objects (parochial quantity) with that of the subject (holistic goodness/badness).

You can say that BECAUSE we CAN'T access them we CAN'T truly KNOW them or their state. We can't 'count' what we can't know. Good enough. But that's where some epistemology comes in; but before even bringing that in, it is still a matter of practical epistemic limitations. For example, would addressing this problem answer if we SHOULD count them in the first place ? If we COULD count them, then would we do count them and follow utilitarianism. These are the foundational questions I am more interested in. Whether we can or can't is an important question sure, but it doesn't indicate whether we should or should not.

Well actually, it is taken for granted that ought implies can, but here by 'should' I mean more of a "should if could".
I can't select a course of action that isn't available to me, so I see no reason to argue over whether I 'should' select it or not, though I suppose I'm just repeating the old "ought implies can" argument...
 

The Grey Man

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Why do you think it is indeed the same "I" ? Did you mean just qualitatively same or even numerically ?
We can all say that we are located "here" without contradicting each other despite occupying many different locations because "here" is understood to refer not to one location, but that location among the many where the speaker happens to be. In other words, here makes sense only as part of a complex. The precise opposite is the case with "I"; instead of being one among many, "I" is the simple unity that comprehends the many. Therefore I say that "I" is the subjective cognate of "here"; the former indicates a reference point in space, the latter that which transcends space.
 
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When the statistician tells you that some number of people have died due to cow attacks over some period of time in some region of the world, you don't know that he's telling the truth, but you can act as if you do, which is to say that you can add the cow deaths to your imaginative model of the world. The products of your imagination won't be as detailed as witnessing the cow deaths yourself if they are based on the aforementioned statistic alone (you'll still have numerous possible questions to ask like "At what time of day did the deaths happen most commonly?", "What colour were the cows", etc.), but to be in possession of the former may be conducive to your survival. They add to your objective map of the world, even if only virtually (inductive judgments may turn out to be wrong after a).
But if the cows are merely subjective experiences, aren't they 'simple'. So if by chance, we live in an intersubjective world without anything much living outside the bubbles of consciousness, will nothing be countable?


My objection to utilitarianism has nothing to do with solipsism or any particular problem of how to apply utilitarianism in a particular scenario. I believe that other minds exist, I just think that the utilitarian conception of goodness as a quantity of magnitudes that can be added together, averaged, or otherwise manipulated is a category mistake. Quantity is a property of objects, which are complex; goodness is a property of some subjective experience as a whole, which is simple: my hypothetical examples of particular scenarios were intended only to illustrate this general principle.
I can experience varying 'intensity' of suffering. Anything that has an intensity can be in-principle mathematically representable and comparable. For example, if I happen to have perfect memory and extremely keen consciousness - enough to determine exactly if the how greater and less I feel the intensity of suffering compared to some other experience of suffering. Then I can map my 'feeling' of 'greater-ness', and 'less-ness' to numbers. I can choose a specific experience as the 0, and +deltax, and -deltax based on the exact intricate and subtle observable changes I experience. A neurologist may even believe that we already have a mapping that is discoverable in the brain though that may require some more epistemic leaps to get into. If we use real numbers (which is continuous), we don't have to consider suffering as something discrete either

So I doubt your apparent implicit claim that suffering is not quantifiable even in principle.

I am continuing from a saved response so I forgot what I was writing about. I will respond to the rest later on, probably half a week later or more.
 
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Why do you think it is indeed the same "I" ? Did you mean just qualitatively same or even numerically ?
We can all say that we are located "here" without contradicting each other despite occupying many different locations because "here" is understood to refer not to one location, but that location among the many where the speaker happens to be. In other words, here makes sense only as part of a complex. The precise opposite is the case with "I"; instead of being one among many, "I" is the simple unity that comprehends the many. Therefore I say that "I" is the subjective cognate of "here"; the former indicates a reference point in space, the latter that which transcends space.
I wanted to respond to this before.
I may be the unity behind the multiplicity in perception, but it is not clear that I is THE unity behind ALL multiplicity that may exist in ALL perception. There can be in principle multiple simple Is, each being numerically different, yet qualitatively similar to the extent of being the unity behind the multiplicity in their own sphere of perception - different Is comprehending their own 'many's.
So I am still not sure if your suggesting that there is a numerically identical one I behind all or not.
 

The Grey Man

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But if the cows are merely subjective experiences, aren't they 'simple'. So if by chance, we live in an intersubjective world without anything much living outside the bubbles of consciousness, will nothing be countable?
The unity of subjective experience is simple, but it incorporates a multiplicity of objects. Because these objects are a complex, because they are reciprocally individuated by their relations to each other, they have quantity and number. Because they have quantity, they can be counted. Hands, fingers, knees, toes, rocks, trees, deaths by cow—all of these are possible quantities of objective features of subjective experience that can be counted.

When the statistician tells you that 81 people died due to cow attacks over the past two years on Planet X, even if you didn't personally witness the deaths, you can furnish an objective corollary for his statistic by means of your imagination. You can imagine somebody in a field somewhere being attacked and killed by a cow. 81 may be too big a number to imagine, but you can break it down by imagining three or four for every month. In any case, the statistic is meaningful to you because it represents some possible objective feature of the world as it is disclosed to you by subjective experience.

Any conception of average or total utility that depends upon the combination of subjective experience is meaningless because it is precisely the character of subjective experiences that they are simple and not combined with each other. Subjective experience is not any combination of objects, like hands, fingers, knees, toes, trees, or rocks, but the unity of the combination itself.

I can experience varying 'intensity' of suffering. Anything that has an intensity can be in-principle mathematically representable and comparable. For example, if I happen to have perfect memory and extremely keen consciousness - enough to determine exactly if the how greater and less I feel the intensity of suffering compared to some other experience of suffering. Then I can map my 'feeling' of 'greater-ness', and 'less-ness' to numbers. I can choose a specific experience as the 0, and +deltax, and -deltax based on the exact intricate and subtle observable changes I experience. A neurologist may even believe that we already have a mapping that is discoverable in the brain though that may require some more epistemic leaps to get into. If we use real numbers (which is continuous), we don't have to consider suffering as something discrete either

So I doubt your apparent implicit claim that suffering is not quantifiable even in principle.
I agree that you can quantify instances of your own suffering in relation to each other because your experience extends in time as well as space and this allows you to experience changes, including changes in the magnitude of your suffering. You may even be able to quantify your own suffering in relation to that of other people if the enterprise of science succeeds in charting the objective corollary of pain. All the same, any talk of combining your suffering with that of other people to form a global utility value is pure nonsense merely because each person's experience is an exclusive self-contained unity.
 
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Maybe so, but the physics textbook is far from useless in that case. It is perhaps necessary.
Words are certainly necessary in some cases, but not sufficient in any case. They need the will to animate them, much like the corpse of Frankenstein's monster needs the thunderbolt to animate it. Like the corpse, they are dead, lifeless objects on their own.

So... the future is important because it is the present of the future self. Just like other people are important because they're their own subject, right? So doesn't this hint at utilitarianism, especially given that you "don't see why that present is more important than any other"?
I'm hinting at utilitarianism because it solves this particular problem of ethical egoism, the seemingly arbitrary boundary it draws between "me" and "me". But utilitarianism has problems of its own.
There really is no legit way to categorize the future because it hasn't happened yet. So when I say "I hope" I am tapping into faith because of the knowledge of what happened in the past. You CAN say my hope is illegitimate because the future has never happened, but without hope there is no reason to do anything.
Did you ever respond to this @The Grey Man?

And may I add, Though I think the present is the stuff of metaphysical, it doesn't actually have any directive power. Going back to a prior point, if you only consider the self, in terms of direction, what is the motivation to actually do anything? You can't say all the sudden people should just start acting like themselves are the only thing that matters because we have already built up so much structure around mutual benefit that it's kind of silly to argue to do only what the self wants.

As far as freedom goes, if all that matters is the self, then the motivation of the self is going to implode society as a whole. Why? Because people are inherently selfishly motivated. Why? Because the self is always plagued by suffering, which leads to discontent and wanting to inflict suffering (or at least harm) on everyone else. All the sudden, you have half the population not following any of the society governing rules because all people care about is "I'll do me, you think about you."

Cooperation is ultimately much more productive in a practical sense than being self motivated. What happens when you leave people to themselves for a long enough time is that you see that their society slowly disintegrates (or quickly, like in a coup) because people no longer want to follow the rules.

Also, I find your theory completely Nihilistic. How is it not? How does it NOT lead to Nihilism?
 
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Also, I find your theory completely Nihilistic. How is it not? How does it NOT lead to Nihilism?
You find my theory nihilistic because it presents you with nothing where you were expecting something. You expect an ethical theory to give you hope for the future, but my theory gives you none. You expect an ethical theory to provide principles for the organization of society as 'oughts', but my theory provides nothing of the sort. I think good and evil are in the present, wherever that may be.
 
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When the statistician tells you that some number of people have died due to cow attacks over some period of time in some region of the world, you don't know that he's telling the truth, but you can act as if you do, which is to say that you can add the cow deaths to your imaginative model of the world. The products of your imagination won't be as detailed as witnessing the cow deaths yourself if they are based on the aforementioned statistic alone (you'll still have numerous possible questions to ask like "At what time of day did the deaths happen most commonly?", "What colour were the cows", etc.), but to be in possession of the former may be conducive to your survival. They add to your objective map of the world, even if only virtually (inductive judgments may turn out to be wrong after a).
How can I add the cow deaths to my imagination model.
Those cow deaths are inseparable parts (dependent origination) of the isolated subjective experiences of the one who experiences the death.
If I can add 'components' of subjective experiences of different people in my imagination why can I not do the same with suffering by taking into account quantifications of suffering (let's say we have a mechanism to quantify other's suffering or reasonably estimate it using some machinery )?

"They add to your objective map of the world, even if only virtually (inductive judgments may turn out to be wrong after a)."

Why then it doesn't add to my objective map if I quantify the average suffering experienced by a population of some planet X. It can suggest me what to expect if I am on planet X. It can suggest that, on average, the people I will meet will tend to be suffering. It can give me some expectation of how they may behave or how I should behave with them. It may also suggest that there may be something wrong with planet X that is contributing to the condition. Just like high cow-deaths in a planet would suggest to me that there may be something wrong and peculiar there. How is all that not useful information that relates to the world?

You said cows are different because you can refer to them as objects in your experience and count them, but I can consider suffering as an object of my consciousness and quantify them just the same. Whatever you speak of cows seems to apply to suffering. You said how suffering is made of the whole, it's simple, but so are cows, the cow exists in perception only because of being conditioned by various things and due to the overall interaction of various perceptual, cognitive and affective processes from which the cow can't be separated. If the experience is one simple, the cow is an inseparable part of it ...it can't even be really a 'part' of it, if tt's simple.

So why is adding cow 'real', and adding suffering totally abstract and possible useless
 
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But if the cows are merely subjective experiences, aren't they 'simple'. So if by chance, we live in an intersubjective world without anything much living outside the bubbles of consciousness, will nothing be countable?
The unity of subjective experience is simple, but it incorporates a multiplicity of objects. Because these objects are a complex, because they are reciprocally individuated by their relations to each other, they have quantity and number. Because they have quantity, they can be counted. Hands, fingers, knees, toes, rocks, trees, deaths by cow—all of these are possible quantities of objective features of subjective experience that can be counted.

When the statistician tells you that 81 people died due to cow attacks over the past two years on Planet X, even if you didn't personally witness the deaths, you can furnish an objective corollary for his statistic by means of your imagination. You can imagine somebody in a field somewhere being attacked and killed by a cow. 81 may be too big a number to imagine, but you can break it down by imagining three or four for every month. In any case, the statistic is meaningful to you because it represents some possible objective feature of the world as it is disclosed to you by subjective experience.

Any conception of average or total utility that depends upon the combination of subjective experience is meaningless because it is precisely the character of subjective experiences that they are simple and not combined with each other. Subjective experience is not any combination of objects, like hands, fingers, knees, toes, trees, or rocks, but the unity of the combination itself.
But the planet X, I was speaking of doesn't have anything but phenomenal appearances.
There is no cow killing people, there are only subjective experiences of being killed by a cow. In planet X, therefore, it is not correct to imagine people dying by cows. We should be them imagining from the first-person view point - of being the people killed by cows. But if that is a valid thing to do - we are essentially combining the experiences of multiple people's death by cow to count an average death by cow per some unit of time or whatever.
Then why can we not do the same with suffering?
Why can we not 'imagine' to be in other person's place and imagine us as them suffering and having their intensity of suffering (the intensity may be estimated by survey reports, may be by some advanced machine or whatever) ...and then keep on adding the intensities like adding the discrete cows?
I am not sure how you can be consistent in saying adding subjective experiences is nonsense in case of suffering, but something useful in case of cow deaths. Either both should be nonsense, or none. But I still don't understand what is the important and relevant distinction between the two cases.

I am also finding it strange that you keep on stressing about how subjective experiences cannot be 'combined'...when math is not even about the literal combination. We don't combine cows when we count them. So why is it even relevant?
 
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Consistency is important. A conceptual system that contradicts itself says nothing.
It does tell something important namely that the conceptual system is untrue (or very likely to be untrue). The impossibility of true contradictions is one of the few things that approaches near absolute certainty if not truly absolute; up there with "I". It is not always clear if a conceptual system relates to reality, or if part of the principles of system is in some manner analogous or relevant to reality. However, if the system is shown to entail contradiction, it can be shown to be as implausible as a system can get. But sure, consistency alone doesn't say anything about reality. It's just a bare minimum requirement if one believes reality lacks true-contradictions.

I don't have any positive evidence proving that fundamental stuffs or inorganic objects have a mental aspect and I never will (the problem of other minds applies to things other than humans, of course), but neither do I see any reason why they wouldn't. What is the minimum requirement for an object to be complex enough to suffer? Most agree that it doesn't need a human's level of intelligence. Does it need an animal's level of intelligence? Does it need some other faculty without which pain would be impossible? More importantly why? I've never heard a satisfactory answer to this question. Do you know where to find one? We're pretty sure that humans suffer and that this suffering is correlated with certain activities of neuronal structures, but if there's some reason why something as seemingly elemental as suffering is contingent upon the presence of these peculiar cells, I haven't heard it.
I don't think there will ever be a satisfactory answer, but it really depends on how deep you are willing to get into the bottomless epistemic hole. One answer can be that the very lack of positive evidence should suggest that we have no justifiable reason to believe in that, or even believe the opposite - depending on which epistemic norm you choose to patchily cover up the hole (note: lack of evidence can actually be considered as evidence of absence depending on which epistemic norms you use). One may also use Occam's Razor as a heuristic but that's still just a messy and tricky heuristic.
I don't think everything has to have a 'why', in fact. There may be brute facts. The fundamental facts of the world, the logos, the will are all probably brute facts. So if suffering seems to depend on peculiar cells, then that can just be a brute fact. If it seems to depend on a specific organization or structure of stuffs then we may estimate and\or extrapolate that without the functionally equivalent organization there won't be any suffering, even though that extrapolation can very well be incorrect.
 
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How can I add the cow deaths to my imagination model.
Those cow deaths are inseparable parts (dependent origination) of the isolated subjective experiences of the one who experiences the death.
If I can add 'components' of subjective experiences of different people in my imagination why can I not do the same with suffering by taking into account quantifications of suffering (let's say we have a mechanism to quantify other's suffering or reasonably estimate it using some machinery )?
There are two sides to the deaths by cow:
  1. The singular subjective experience of one who gets killed by a cow; and
  2. The objectifications of the deaths by cow, which are experienced by an observer as a multiplicity of events in time and space
When we say 'deaths by cow', we may be referring to either #1 or #2, either a subjective experience or an objective phenomenon. Insofar as deaths by cow are a statistic, they are #2; statisticians don't count the private experiences of the people getting killed by cows, they count the number of instances of the objective phenomena associated with them. Suffering is not an objective phenomenon any more than taste, smell, touch, sound, and colour are. You can look out into a farmer's field and count three people being killed by cows, but there is no way to count their suffering.

Why then it doesn't add to my objective map if I quantify the average suffering experienced by a population of some planet X. It can suggest me what to expect if I am on planet X. It can suggest that, on average, the people I will meet will tend to be suffering. It can give me some expectation of how they may behave or how I should behave with them. It may also suggest that there may be something wrong with planet X that is contributing to the condition. Just like high cow-deaths in a planet would suggest to me that there may be something wrong and peculiar there. How is all that not useful information that relates to the world?
Measuring the objective corollaries of suffering in those people may give you useful information, but the objective corollary of suffering is not suffering. I'm criticizing utilitarianism as a theory of the good, not as an expedient to trip or community planning.

You said cows are different because you can refer to them as objects in your experience and count them, but I can consider suffering as an object of my consciousness and quantify them just the same. Whatever you speak of cows seems to apply to suffering. You said how suffering is made of the whole, it's simple, but so are cows, the cow exists in perception only because of being conditioned by various things and due to the overall interaction of various perceptual, cognitive and affective processes from which the cow can't be separated. If the experience is one simple, the cow is an inseparable part of it ...it can't even be really a 'part' of it, if tt's simple.

So why is adding cow 'real', and adding suffering totally abstract and possible useless
Experience is simple and complex. Simple because one's experience is one's own and no-one else's, complex because the unity of this experience comprehends a multiplicity of phenomena—the whole is composed of parts. Your experience may comprehend a number of similar objects that you can count such as cows, but you can't experience the suffering of two people.

But the planet X, I was speaking of doesn't have anything but phenomenal appearances.
There is no cow killing people, there are only subjective experiences of being killed by a cow. In planet X, therefore, it is not correct to imagine people dying by cows. We should be them imagining from the first-person view point - of being the people killed by cows. But if that is a valid thing to do - we are essentially combining the experiences of multiple people's death by cow to count an average death by cow per some unit of time or whatever.
If there are only subjective experiences of being killed by a cow and no observer to count the deaths, then they are no more relevant to statisticians, or to anyone for that matter, than the sound made by a tree that falls in the forest that is heard by no-one. I don't see your point.

Then why can we not do the same with suffering?
Why can we not 'imagine' to be in other person's place and imagine us as them suffering and having their intensity of suffering (the intensity may be estimated by survey reports, may be by some advanced machine or whatever) ...and then keep on adding the intensities like adding the discrete cows?
I am not sure how you can be consistent in saying adding subjective experiences is nonsense in case of suffering, but something useful in case of cow deaths. Either both should be nonsense, or none. But I still don't understand what is the important and relevant distinction between the two cases.
As I said, you can't experience the suffering of two people. You can perceive an arbitrary number of cows, possibly the same number that someone else perceives, but any suffering you experience is your own.

I am also finding it strange that you keep on stressing about how subjective experiences cannot be 'combined'...when math is not even about the literal combination. We don't combine cows when we count them. So why is it even relevant?
We don't combine cows when we count them because they are already combined for us in perception. Cows, pins, sandbags, car accidents, water droplets...we are always counting some number of things of which we are conscious. At the very least, we count successive moments in time, like children reciting the words for numbers in order without referring to any object in particular. We can't count subjective experiences because only one is available to us—our own.
 
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Consistency is important. A conceptual system that contradicts itself says nothing.
It does tell something important namely that the conceptual system is untrue (or very likely to be untrue). The impossibility of true contradictions is one of the few things that approaches near absolute certainty if not truly absolute; up there with "I". It is not always clear if a conceptual system relates to reality, or if part of the principles of system is in some manner analogous or relevant to reality. However, if the system is shown to entail contradiction, it can be shown to be as implausible as a system can get. But sure, consistency alone doesn't say anything about reality. It's just a bare minimum requirement if one believes reality lacks true-contradictions.
Quite right. I was referring to the principle of explosion; a conceptual system that contradicts itself "says nothing" because any affirmation or negation can be inferred from it. I reckon saying everything is as good as saying nothing.

I don't think there will ever be a satisfactory answer, but it really depends on how deep you are willing to get into the bottomless epistemic hole. One answer can be that the very lack of positive evidence should suggest that we have no justifiable reason to believe in that, or even believe the opposite - depending on which epistemic norm you choose to patchily cover up the hole (note: lack of evidence can actually be considered as evidence of absence depending on which epistemic norms you use). One may also use Occam's Razor as a heuristic but that's still just a messy and tricky heuristic.
I don't think everything has to have a 'why', in fact. There may be brute facts. The fundamental facts of the world, the logos, the will are all probably brute facts. So if suffering seems to depend on peculiar cells, then that can just be a brute fact. If it seems to depend on a specific organization or structure of stuffs then we may estimate and\or extrapolate that without the functionally equivalent organization there won't be any suffering, even though that extrapolation can very well be incorrect.
I don't see what's so messy about Ockham's Razor. I thought the whole point of it was to get rid of 'messy' superfluous assumptions. Like the idea that suffering is dependent upon the highly specific structure of the human or animal neurological system. In our experience, suffering is always accompanied by this structure, but then, our very experience is predicated upon this structure! So on what grounds do we assert that suffering is dependent upon it if not an irrational anthropocentric tendency?
 

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Also, I find your theory completely Nihilistic. How is it not? How does it NOT lead to Nihilism?
You find my theory nihilistic because it presents you with nothing where you were expecting something. You expect an ethical theory to give you hope for the future, but my theory gives you none. You expect an ethical theory to provide principles for the organization of society as 'oughts', but my theory provides nothing of the sort. I think good and evil are in the present, wherever that may be.
Well, I don't know if I thought about it that way, but, true.

There should always be something to direct our actions in philosophy IMO.
 
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Measuring the objective corollaries of suffering in those people may give you useful information, but the objective corollary of suffering is not suffering. I'm criticizing utilitarianism as a theory of the good, not as an expedient to trip or community planning.
Do you mean objectively observable potential correlations of suffering?
Can we measure them and make 'expected values' out of them?

Can they be 'useful'?

If so, why are they 'useful'? What do they tell us about if not suffering?

Even though they themselves are not suffering directly wouldn't they tell us about the state of suffering by virtue of being correlated to it or being corollaries of it?

If utility is defined as minimizing the expected value of observable correlations of suffering - would it make 'relatively' more sense to you?

If there are only subjective experiences of being killed by a cow and no observer to count the deaths, then they are no more relevant to statisticians, or to anyone for that matter, than the sound made by a tree that falls in the forest that is heard by no-one. I don't see your point.
Ok, let's go with that. People experiences death by cow, by for some strange reason no third person can experience people dying by cows. Some strange law make the people invisible from everyone's (but the cows) perspectives and memories just before they are about to die by a cow.
But the deaths are still real so far as they are being really experienced by the ones who die.
First question: Is the no. of deaths of by cow per year (although may be inaccessible to any conscious being) - a real fact about the world (as opposed to being 'merely' abstract)?
 
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I don't see what's so messy about Ockham's Razor. I thought the whole point of it was to get rid of 'messy' superfluous assumptions. Like the idea that suffering is dependent upon the highly specific structure of the human or animal neurological system. In our experience, suffering is always accompanied by this structure, but then, our very experience is predicated upon this structure! So on what grounds do we assert that suffering is dependent upon it if not an irrational anthropocentric tendency?
There are no 'solid' grounds which is what my point was mentioning 'epistemic hole'.

I honestly don't know too much about Ockham's Razor. Of course, I know the standard definition and stuff, but I don't think I know deeply enough about it.

From what I have seen, there are varying interpretations on Ockham's Razor (among amateurs and laymen if not among professional philosophers or philosophy majors - though I am not sure about them either) and it has been applied in contradictory ways.

According to Occam's Razor we shouldn't needlessly multiply entities.
TThere are usually two aspects surrounding Occam's Razor:
1) Keep the no. of entities involved to a minimum (not more than necessary to explain the observable world)
2) Prefer the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions for the world.

Now, I can take the Razor to its logical extreme and argue for Metaphysical Solipsism.

Solves the mind-body problem and all things. Simple explanation - all in the mind. Minimal entities - only you. yada yada. Everything else is products of some unconscious mechanism etc. This alone can bring suspicion to Occam's Razor.

But, one can counter argue that Solipsism is NOT a simple explanation. It raises a lot of question. What makes one so special that one is alone in the universe, and exists like that and so on ...

But I can counter-counter argue that those questions are ill-founded. There don't need to be an answer. It can be simple brute facts. Even in a non-solipsistic case, I can ask why is the universe exactly how it is? why am I NOT alone, and why do other people exist or came into being? and so and so forth. Ultimately you end up to some 'brute fact', unless you choose to use some suspicious ontological argument to argue for the logical necessity of the world.

We may hit a brute fact sooner when questioning Solipsism, but I can argue it doesn't really matter how soon we hit a brute fact, the point is, either way, we seem to be standing on the grounds of brute facts, there are no ultimate metaphysical explanations. But if you are asking for some assumptions about metaphysics of the world...assumptions that are consistent with how the world appears, then Solipsism seem high up there. Solipsism does appear very 'implausible', but it's hard to argue against its 'simplicity'. If not solipsism we can make some other weird scenarios.

One can argue against Solipsism using the private language argument but that's beside the point related to the razor.

Coming to your own assertion than Razor is about removing superfluous assumptions like "suffering IS dependent on a certain structure of materials" - the other way around "suffering IS INDEPENDENT of any structural condition" is ALSO an equally superfluous assumption. Why should one be given more preference? Because the former assumes a positive presence of a relation, whereas the later doesn't. I am not sure about that. Is that a good criterion? What if everytime I drink water I feel chest pain and never otherwise? What would be the better assumption that the chest pain is dependent on me drinking water, or simply arises independently and that there's no real connection? One may even argue it is simpler to assume that all kinds of suffering are dependent on specific structural conditions because it appears to in our case.

On the other hand, one can say that the latter assumption can amount to ploriferation of suffering and consciousness - to something like panpsychism - a proliferation of entities is not at all favorable by Occam's Razor.

But again, one can stress that what matters here are 'types' of entities as opposed to 'token'. So while panpsychism may include more tokens of entities they are of the same type.

Ultimately, the most important point is that there is no justification for Occam's Razor. Something favorable by Occam's Razor is not necessarily epistemically likely to be true - such is never justified. Occam's Razor rather serves as an abductive heuristic - it's significance then seems rather practical and may work good with a scientific investigation or choosing a hypothesis for empirical testing.

But what if I am interested in something that is epistemically more likely to be true even if on the basis of induction as opposed to something that is more practical to believe or work with by virtue of simplicity? What if both the hypotheses are empirically untestable?

What purpose would Occam's Razor serve to me then?
 
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Do you mean objectively observable potential correlations of suffering?
Can we measure them and make 'expected values' out of them?

Can they be 'useful'?

If so, why are they 'useful'? What do they tell us about if not suffering?

Even though they themselves are not suffering directly wouldn't they tell us about the state of suffering by virtue of being correlated to it or being corollaries of it?

If utility is defined as minimizing the expected value of observable correlations of suffering - would it make 'relatively' more sense to you?
Yes.

Yes, we can make 'expected values' out of them.

Yes, they can be useful in the sense that knowledge of the physical universe can inform our selection of a course of action to achieve our goals in the physical universe.

What they tell us about is not suffering, but the objective correlate of suffering; in other words, when we see two, three, or however many people who appear to be suffering, we are not actually seeing so many instances of suffering occupying the same space any more than a person who appears to be tasting something sour is the taste of something sour.

If utility were redefined as some quantity related to the objectification of suffering, it would thereby make more sense to me, but it would also lose all of its moral significance because good and bad are not objective quantities like length, breadth, depth, volume, circumference, etc., but properties of subjective experience as a whole.

Ok, let's go with that. People experiences death by cow, by for some strange reason no third person can experience people dying by cows. Some strange law make the people invisible from everyone's (but the cows) perspectives and memories just before they are about to die by a cow.
But the deaths are still real so far as they are being really experienced by the ones who die.
First question: Is the no. of deaths of by cow per year (although may be inaccessible to any conscious being) - a real fact about the world (as opposed to being 'merely' abstract)?
It is a real fact about this world because you say it is—said world is your conception. Still, the fact is utterly irrelevant to everyone who lives in that world.
 
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Now, I can take the Razor to its logical extreme and argue for Metaphysical Solipsism.

Solves the mind-body problem and all things. Simple explanation - all in the mind. Minimal entities - only you. yada yada. Everything else is products of some unconscious mechanism etc. This alone can bring suspicion to Occam's Razor.

But, one can counter argue that Solipsism is NOT a simple explanation. It raises a lot of question. What makes one so special that one is alone in the universe, and exists like that and so on ...

But I can counter-counter argue that those questions are ill-founded. There don't need to be an answer. It can be simple brute facts. Even in a non-solipsistic case, I can ask why is the universe exactly how it is? why am I NOT alone, and why do other people exist or came into being? and so and so forth. Ultimately you end up to some 'brute fact', unless you choose to use some suspicious ontological argument to argue for the logical necessity of the world.

We may hit a brute fact sooner when questioning Solipsism, but I can argue it doesn't really matter how soon we hit a brute fact, the point is, either way, we seem to be standing on the grounds of brute facts, there are no ultimate metaphysical explanations. But if you are asking for some assumptions about metaphysics of the world...assumptions that are consistent with how the world appears, then Solipsism seem high up there. Solipsism does appear very 'implausible', but it's hard to argue against its 'simplicity'. If not solipsism we can make some other weird scenarios.
A1: All bodies are conscious.

A2: All bodies are unconscious except mine.

How metaphysical solipsism is Ockham's Razor taken to the extreme is unclear to me. Is the first axiom not much simpler than the second? Both axioms express brute facts, but does the first not express fewer of them? The second axiom says that there are two classes of bodies, conscious and unconscious, and that there is only one of the former class. How is this simpler than merely saying that there is one class of body?

I guess this is all to say that I would rather keep types of entities to a minimum than tokens, which is probably why I'm drawn to monistic philosophers. My tendencies are synthetic rather than analytic; I want to fit all concepts together into a coherent world-model.

Coming to your own assertion than Razor is about removing superfluous assumptions like "suffering IS dependent on a certain structure of materials" - the other way around "suffering IS INDEPENDENT of any structural condition" is ALSO an equally superfluous assumption. Why should one be given more preference? Because the former assumes a positive presence of a relation, whereas the later doesn't. I am not sure about that. Is that a good criterion? What if everytime I drink water I feel chest pain and never otherwise? What would be the better assumption that the chest pain is dependent on me drinking water, or simply arises independently and that there's no real connection? One may even argue it is simpler to assume that all kinds of suffering are dependent on specific structural conditions because it appears to in our case.
It's even simpler to assume neither. If your chest pain follows your drinking water, then your drinking water may be the cause of the pain or it may not. To be more certain, you'd need to perform some sort of empirical test. Which takes us to your next point...

Ultimately, the most important point is that there is no justification for Occam's Razor. Something favorable by Occam's Razor is not necessarily epistemically likely to be true - such is never justified. Occam's Razor rather serves as an abductive heuristic - it's significance then seems rather practical and may work good with a scientific investigation or choosing a hypothesis for empirical testing.

But what if I am interested in something that is epistemically more likely to be true even if on the basis of induction as opposed to something that is more practical to believe or work with by virtue of simplicity? What if both the hypotheses are empirically untestable?

What purpose would Occam's Razor serve to me then?
Indeed, unlike the correlation between drinking water and test pain, the correlation between the specific structural conditions of the human or animal brain and suffering cannot be tested. All the same, I think the simplest thing to do is not to assume that suffering is dependent upon the structure or even that it's not, but not to assume at all.
 
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Now, I can take the Razor to its logical extreme and argue for Metaphysical Solipsism.

Solves the mind-body problem and all things. Simple explanation - all in the mind. Minimal entities - only you. yada yada. Everything else is products of some unconscious mechanism etc. This alone can bring suspicion to Occam's Razor.

But, one can counter argue that Solipsism is NOT a simple explanation. It raises a lot of question. What makes one so special that one is alone in the universe, and exists like that and so on ...

But I can counter-counter argue that those questions are ill-founded. There don't need to be an answer. It can be simple brute facts. Even in a non-solipsistic case, I can ask why is the universe exactly how it is? why am I NOT alone, and why do other people exist or came into being? and so and so forth. Ultimately you end up to some 'brute fact', unless you choose to use some suspicious ontological argument to argue for the logical necessity of the world.

We may hit a brute fact sooner when questioning Solipsism, but I can argue it doesn't really matter how soon we hit a brute fact, the point is, either way, we seem to be standing on the grounds of brute facts, there are no ultimate metaphysical explanations. But if you are asking for some assumptions about metaphysics of the world...assumptions that are consistent with how the world appears, then Solipsism seem high up there. Solipsism does appear very 'implausible', but it's hard to argue against its 'simplicity'. If not solipsism we can make some other weird scenarios.
A1: All bodies are conscious.

A2: All bodies are unconscious except mine.

How metaphysical solipsism is Ockham's Razor taken to the extreme is unclear to me. Is the first axiom not much simpler than the second? Both axioms express brute facts, but does the first not express fewer of them? The second axiom says that there are two classes of bodies, conscious and unconscious, and that there is only one of the former class. How is this simpler than merely saying that there is one class of body?

I guess this is all to say that I would rather keep types of entities to a minimum than tokens, which is probably why I'm drawn to monistic philosophers. My tendencies are synthetic rather than analytic; I want to fit everything together.
It's a matter of phrasing.

A1: All bodies are conscious
A2: Only One body is conscious.

I am not sure how exactly one is more presumptuous than the other if phrased like this.
All vs only One - both are assumptions.
But if someone interprets Occam's razor as that if two hypotheses have equal no. of types of entities, and both explain the world similarly, that we should choose the one with fewer tokens of entities then A2 seems preferable. I think reducing types get the higher priority, but I am not sure exactly if tokens are entirely irrelevant from Occam's razor or if it depends on context.

Note Solipsism doesn't necessarily have to mean that there is an 'unconscious' type of bodies. I was thinking more in line of idealistic solipsism where all other bodies that appears, are merely that appearances and nothing more (there are no bodies to be unconscious). There is only consciousness and that's your, that's just what appears to you. One may still invoke the concept of some unconscious mind or unconscious cognitive processes to make it slightly plausible, but one can also assume that 'unconscious' mind to not be fundamentally unconscious or of a different type than the 'conscious'. And anyway even A1 may need a similar concept of unconscious mind. So that doesn't really make much difference.

If tokens are entirely irrelevant, then I guess solipsism wouldn't be more preferable than some form of plain idealism.

It's even simpler to assume neither.
But then you aren't assuming anything. You aren't USING occam's razor at all.
Occam's razor is about selecting a hypothesis among many given one. But in this case you choose to not select one at all due to lack of evidence. This doesn't pertain to my concern here about what Occam's Razor tells us to do.
 
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Indeed, unlike the correlation between drinking water and test pain, the correlation between the specific structural conditions of the human or animal brain and suffering cannot be tested. All the same, I think the simplest thing to do is not to assume that suffering is dependent upon the structure or even that it's not, but not to assume at all.
But you are forced to choose one, or at least live like as if one is true unless you are not bothered by the suffering of strangers at all.
If you keep on walking without caring about if your steps bring immense pain to the materials making up the road then either you don't care about other's pain or you don't give much credence to the idea that the road can be at pain as you walk.
Sure you can maintain that you don't really know and you try to give equal credence to both sides, but your actions are bound to be biased towards one way or the other unless the suffering of other materials are totally irrelevant to you.
Now if we take up a more Wittgensteinian sense of 'knowledge', acting as if the materials of the road are not suffering immensely as you walk is in-itself like knowing that they don't. There's no practical difference. The hard and strict concept of knowledge doesn't really work for most cases...other than maybe for 'Self' and stuff.
 
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It's a matter of phrasing.

A1: All bodies are conscious
A2: Only One body is conscious.

I am not sure how exactly one is more presumptuous than the other if phrased like this.
All vs only One - both are assumptions.
But if someone interprets Occam's razor as that if two hypotheses have equal no. of types of entities, and both explain the world similarly, that we should choose the one with fewer tokens of entities then A2 seems preferable. I think reducing types get the higher priority, but I am not sure exactly if tokens are entirely irrelevant from Occam's razor or if it depends on context.

Note Solipsism doesn't necessarily have to mean that there is an 'unconscious' type of bodies. I was thinking more in line of idealistic solipsism where all other bodies that appears, are merely that appearances and nothing more (there are no bodies to be unconscious). There is only consciousness and that's your, that's just what appears to you. One may still invoke the concept of some unconscious mind or unconscious cognitive processes to make it slightly plausible, but one can also assume that 'unconscious' mind to not be fundamentally unconscious or of a different type than the 'conscious'. And anyway even A1 may need a similar concept of unconscious mind. So that doesn't really make much difference.
Even a metaphysical solipsist has knowledge of bodies. At the very least, he has knowledge of his own body, assuming he is human. He can see his hands, fingers, and toes, so he has knowledge of himself both as a subject of experience and as an object for that subject, whereas he has knowledge of other bodies only as objects, which is why he can say of them that they are mere objects, mere appearances, without being contradicted by experience. This is what I meant by "All bodies are unconscious except mine": the metaphysical solipsist believes that among all objects, his body alone is the focal point of a subjective experience, and all others are not. Saying "Only one body is conscious" merely begs the question, "What about all the other bodies?", because whether or not you believe in anything beyond your present experience, that experience nonetheless comprehends a multiplicity of objects.

But then you aren't assuming anything. You aren't USING occam's razor at all.
Occam's razor is about selecting a hypothesis among many given one. But in this case you choose to not select one at all due to lack of evidence. This doesn't pertain to my concern here about what Occam's Razor tells us to do.
I can't select a hypothesis among many if there's only one to start with. There are no competing hypotheses in your chest pain example, just a correlation between your drinking water and chest pain, so I don't know what there is to say other than that the correlation can be tested, assuming you have the resources.

But you are forced to choose one, or at least live like as if one is true unless you are not bothered by the suffering of strangers at all.
If you keep on walking without caring about if your steps bring immense pain to the materials making up the road then either you don't care about other's pain or you don't give much credence to the idea that the road can be at pain as you walk.
Sure you can maintain that you don't really know and you try to give equal credence to both sides, but your actions are bound to be biased towards one way or the other unless the suffering of other materials are totally irrelevant to you.
If I can bring immense pain to the materials making up the road merely by walking, what other inanimate objects am I bringing immense pain to? If the world is a vast ocean of consciousness and suffering, what am I supposed to do about it?
 
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This is what I meant by "All bodies are unconscious except mine": the metaphysical solipsist believes that among all objects, his body alone is the focal point of a subjective experience, and all others are not.
No,

The absolute solipsist believes that everything that exists only exists inside their subjective experience. Reality cannot be objective because for something to be objective it would need to exist outside the solipsists subject. The objects one experiences are not outside the self so cannot really be defined as being objects. Immanuel Kant defined the noumena as everything outside the self that is inaccessible to the self and therefore we can never know if it exists. You must be a subjectivist to be a solipsist because you believe there is nothing but your own subjectivity as all that there is. You cannot say that other bodies exist unconsciously and you are conscious. Nothing but you exists so nothing can be an object of unconsciousness (the noumena).

btw, I do believe some people suffer more than others if we are using a quantitative system. By taking certain actions we can increase or decrease the balance of the system leading towards a state change of the minima or maxima optimization.
 
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No,

The absolute solipsist believes that everything that exists only exists inside their subjective experience. Reality cannot be objective because for something to be objective it would need to exist outside the solipsists subject. The objects one experiences are not outside the self so cannot really be defined as being objects. Immanuel Kant defined the noumena as everything outside the self that is inaccessible to the self and therefore we can never know if it exists. You must be a subjectivist to be a solipsist because you believe there is nothing but your own subjectivity as all that there is. You cannot say that other bodies exist unconsciously and you are conscious. Nothing but you exists so nothing can be an object of unconsciousness (the noumena).

btw, I do believe some people suffer more than others if we are using a quantitative system. By taking certain actions we can increase or decrease the balance of the system leading towards a state change of the minima or maxima optimization.
Objects and noumena are two very different things. Objects are not that which is outside subjective experience, but the content of subjective experience. They are not noumenal, but phenomenal. My experience of a rock is still an experience of a rock even if there is no thing-in-itself behind the phenomenal appearance, as would be my belief if I was a metaphysical solipsist.

I'd be interested to learn what your procedure for determining the optimal course of action is.
 
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I'd be interested to learn what your procedure for determining the optimal course of action is.
If others do have phenomenal experience you will never be able to access it except through the will. Because the will grounds our perception in reality as control of reality then the confluence of wills grounds us in terms of the interactive existence of other wills. We are able to feel that the sentience of others is real by encountering the act of their will. There is no objective scientific test for consciousness but that does not mean it is not real. Only a conscious being can recognize the consciousness of another conscious being. And so the will is pulled back and forth by other wills entangling the will's control to the other wills. The acts of the others will have been integrated into the will and so the will has in effect been programmed to know what a conscious mind is when they interact with one. On rare occasions, I have had dreams of a female person that undeniably must have possessed a conscious mind. She looks different each time but, she is as real a person as I am.
 
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