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If i were a true atheist....


beanieb
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Iggy,

 

Was with you, till the last phrase. Wouldn't all humans have the same instinct against lying and murdering? If we were to carry your logic through? (plus I was taught in 12 grade psychology that humans don't have any instincts, instincts being complex, unlearned behaviours, that are species wide, like nest building). And murdering and lying should have been, under your logic, selected right out of existence.

 

I'm thinking we have to give some credit to religion and spirituality, whether its taken literally or figuratively.

 

Regards, TAR2

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But that brings us to the next questions:

1) when we say something or someone is good or bad.. who's standard do we refer to?

if we say the standard just comes directly from the society we live in.. and is purely (100%) subjective...

then we should also be able to say our tolerance and standard to define injustice and sufferings are purely subjective too...

its just takes a matter of conditioning or shrewd reasoning to allow ourselves to change our mindset on them to say "there is nothing wrong actually"....

However, in reality, despite coming from different cultures or backgrounds, people are still able to discern what is good and what is "evil"..

 

Well, cultures always define codes of law and ethics, but that's simply a function of survival. Without them, society couldn't exist. You'll notice that no two cultures can ever seem to agree on just what constitutes "good" and "evil." But just think about how it works on smaller scales, like in a classroom. You walk into a classroom, and your teacher is going to lay out the ground rules. Is this because there are objective rules to classroom etiquette? No, they do it because without rules, the class couldn't function. Nobody would learn anything if they were allowed to chat and play on their phones or make out with their girlfriends or boyfriends.

 

Of course some may argue and say "well there are those terrorists who believe strongly in their actions and visions too and say their brand of right and wrong is correct and true.."

so does it mean at the end of the day...we must conclude indeed.. there is actually no true right and wrong after all? but just a matter of perspective?

 

Yes. Even seemingly objective moral statements like "Do not hurt children" relies on a subjective value being placed on children. I think most people tend to agree with statements like this because most people feel empathy for children, but there are those who don't. And there are also those who believe that hurting a child can be beneficial to the child. The fact that sweatshops exist should give you some clue as to the nature of morality.

 

2) and from 1), if we were the group to say "there has to be a true version of right and wrong"....so where does that standard of right and wrong come from?

Because if it is not subjective anymore (but absolute..) then it wouldn't have come from society...but has to be beyond us..

and that implies we are operating against some invisible rules that governs our "spirituality".

 

Not necessarily. Everyone has to pee, too. Does the universality of peeing signify our divine origins?

 

But even before we get to that point, you'd have to assume that there are objective rights and wrongs, and you simply can't do that. There are no universal rights and wrongs, not even within a single society.

 

Consider the function for morality.. does the animal kingdom need that? Are they surviving properly even without it?

To practice morality requires a conscious effort and much hard work. Why is it man wilfully choose to do it, if we are but just another form of animals on this planet?

 

Well, if I'm not mistaken, either apes or chimps (or possibly both) have displayed proto-moral traits (they've even shown signs of culture, where apes in one part of a country use stone to crack open walnuts, and apes in another part use wood even though stone is available), so morality as a concept doesn't seem to be entirely unique to humans. Our morality is certainly more complex than any other animal, but it needs to be, because our behavior in general is more complex than any other animal. I won't say humans would entirely die out without morality, but you couldn't live in a city without law or ethics. There needs to be some kind of guiding influence.

 

My points here are:

1) can we truly absolve ourselves to say there isn't this invisible law that shows us right from wrong? --> and thus the need a religion to explain what it is

 

Yes, and thus no religion is required to explain it. Though it is obvious that religion was perhaps our first proto-philosophical attempt at such an influence. You'll notice that the Bible, Torah, and Quran all not only cover spiritual matters, but day-to-day matters, from what clothes to wear to how to prepare your food.

 

2) which is the religion that proves itself to be true?

 

None of them.

 

By the way.. sorry if i got it wrong but can anyone share if Atheism equates to no religion too?

 

I don't understand the question. Atheism is not a religion, if that's what you're asking.

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Iggy,

 

Was with you, till the last phrase. Wouldn't all humans have the same instinct against lying and murdering? If we were to carry your logic through?

Not that I see.

 

(plus I was taught in 12 grade psychology that humans don't have any instincts, instincts being complex, unlearned behaviours, that are species wide, like nest building).

That doesn't seem like a useful definition to me. I gave an example -- people have an instinct toward avoiding dangerously hot or cold temperatures. This doesn't make it impossible for someone to go ice swimming or to throw themselves in a volcano -- that's not the point I was making. The point is that such an obviously evolved pattern of behavior that clearly originates from a benefit in survival doesn't imply, let alone necessitate, a designed universe like Beanieb insists.

 

And murdering and lying should have been, under your logic, selected right out of existence.

I can't figure out why you're saying that. When evolution selects for a trait it doesn't necessitate that all other traits or all other concerns be selected out of existence. If light hair and eyes have been selected for in Europeans it doesn't follow that dark haired Europeans must have been selected out of existence.

 

I'm thinking we have to give some credit to religion and spirituality, whether its taken literally or figuratively.

The context is that no quality of humanity requires the universe be designed. Spirituality suggests that our actions are explained by spirits and religion suggests that we were created by a god in his image. Both ideas turned out to be mistaken guesses and neither deserves any credit.

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For those who say morality (the good and bad of things) is subjective...

Consider human trafficking (or slavery)... or the concept that the guy with the bigger stick rules (think big time mafia bosses, tyrannical dicatators etc)...

If we were to be truly objective and think in terms of 'survival of the fittest, big fish eats small fish' , then the 2 above-mentioned examples seems legit and no one should have a problem with it..

After all, this line of thought is logical, natural and also works fine in the animal kingdom..

 

Thus it should be more likely man took the path of armament (nature's arms race) to stay at the top of the food chain..

than to have the awareness to exercise restraint and value peace observing rules we have now as the "correct" direction to go...

For the oppressors, they would think it is their entitlement for they hold the power.. for the weak, they would think they have no choice but to be trampled on or have to find better ways to fend for themselves.

and so we should expect things to stay status quo for good because it is "naturalistic" of the world.. (until perhaps 1 day the weak become strong.. but ironically that too..still follows the rule of the "bigger stick")

 

So with things being so, and if social governing laws were truly a result of culture, why was it at a certain point of time, the strong (slavery example) would suddenly realise "right from wrong" ..and decide to change tack to start consider protecting the weak?

Where could the strong find such sense of “right and wrong” from this cold and brutal environment to make him determined enough to change the laws of the world to what we know of today?

 

 

With regards to the point about moral compass..

We may not be able to discern right and wrong from the start...but being able to be taught about it shows we have the innate capacity to understand and comprehend it..

consider a dog or an ape learning moral values (not to be confused with natural social etiquette amongst animals).. that would be unimaginable...

and to be taught, it has to be spelt out outright what is right or wrong 1st...

and if it takes root.. it forms our compass (in the form of conscience) to convict ourselves of the rights from wrongs...(complying with it or not is another matter)..

 

 

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So with things being so, and if social governing laws were truly a result of culture, why was it at a certain point of time, the strong (slavery example) would suddenly realise "right from wrong" ..and decide to change tack to start consider protecting the weak?

The only premise necessary in recognizing that slavery is morally wrong is a sense of compassion toward fellow human beings. Because people evolved in groups it is natural to have an evolved sense of compassion toward our fellow primates. It is no more surprising than finding that wolves have a sense of solidarity with other wolves. You don't seem to recognize a refuted point when you see one.

 

By the way, morality is different from "good and bad". Chinese food is good. That doesn't make it moral. Morality has the added aspect of coming from a place of compassion and solidarity.

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For those who say morality (the good and bad of things) is subjective...

Consider human trafficking (or slavery)... or the concept that the guy with the bigger stick rules (think big time mafia bosses, tyrannical dicatators etc)...

If we were to be truly objective and think in terms of 'survival of the fittest, big fish eats small fish' , then the 2 above-mentioned examples seems legit and no one should have a problem with it..

After all, this line of thought is logical, natural and also works fine in the animal kingdom..

 

Thus it should be more likely man took the path of armament (nature's arms race) to stay at the top of the food chain..

than to have the awareness to exercise restraint and value peace observing rules we have now as the "correct" direction to go...

For the oppressors, they would think it is their entitlement for they hold the power.. for the weak, they would think they have no choice but to be trampled on or have to find better ways to fend for themselves.

and so we should expect things to stay status quo for good because it is "naturalistic" of the world.. (until perhaps 1 day the weak become strong.. but ironically that too..still follows the rule of the "bigger stick")

 

So with things being so, and if social governing laws were truly a result of culture, why was it at a certain point of time, the strong (slavery example) would suddenly realise "right from wrong" ..and decide to change tack to start consider protecting the weak?

Where could the strong find such sense of “right and wrong” from this cold and brutal environment to make him determined enough to change the laws of the world to what we know of today?

 

 

With regards to the point about moral compass..

We may not be able to discern right and wrong from the start...but being able to be taught about it shows we have the innate capacity to understand and comprehend it..

consider a dog or an ape learning moral values (not to be confused with natural social etiquette amongst animals).. that would be unimaginable...

and to be taught, it has to be spelt out outright what is right or wrong 1st...

and if it takes root.. it forms our compass (in the form of conscience) to convict ourselves of the rights from wrongs...(complying with it or not is another matter)..

 

 

Where may I ask does your ideas on objective morality come from? Why is human trafficking wrong? Why is might makes right wrong? Who set those standards?

 

BTW there are a great many examples of cooperation and different species helping each other, the animals kingdom is not exclusively eat or be eaten...

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For those who say morality (the good and bad of things) is subjective...

Consider human trafficking (or slavery)... or the concept that the guy with the bigger stick rules (think big time mafia bosses, tyrannical dicatators etc)...

If we were to be truly objective and think in terms of 'survival of the fittest, big fish eats small fish' , then the 2 above-mentioned examples seems legit and no one should have a problem with it..

After all, this line of thought is logical, natural and also works fine in the animal kingdom..

 

Promiscuity is also logical, natural, and works fine in the animal kingdom, yet we humans tie ourselves up in monogamous relationships all the time. This has nothing to do with morality, yet we go against our natural inclination to bang everything that moves. Why? Social pressures, of course.

 

The point is, just because something can be viewed as acceptable in evolutionary terms doesn't mean that humans would or should be okay with it. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who believe in exactly that, or some variation on it.

 

 

Thus it should be more likely man took the path of armament (nature's arms race) to stay at the top of the food chain..

than to have the awareness to exercise restraint and value peace observing rules we have now as the "correct" direction to go...

For the oppressors, they would think it is their entitlement for they hold the power.. for the weak, they would think they have no choice but to be trampled on or have to find better ways to fend for themselves.

and so we should expect things to stay status quo for good because it is "naturalistic" of the world.. (until perhaps 1 day the weak become strong.. but ironically that too..still follows the rule of the "bigger stick")

 

I'm sorry, since when does subjective morality equate to Social Darwinism? I mean, people can believe the above is the right way to do things, but I have no idea what makes you think this should be the prevailing opinion. What about subjective morality makes you believe that it must be dominated by slavery?

 

So with things being so, and if social governing laws were truly a result of culture, why was it at a certain point of time, the strong (slavery example) would suddenly realise "right from wrong" ..and decide to change tack to start consider protecting the weak?

Where could the strong find such sense of "right and wrong" from this cold and brutal environment to make him determined enough to change the laws of the world to what we know of today?

 

There was nothing sudden about it, and as I said above, slavery is still practiced in parts of the world. To that end, the premise of your question is flawed. We didn't simply flip a switch and decide not be to slavers. Some cultures abandoned it before others, as well, and the people behind these abolitionist movements were great moralists and philosophers. You seem to be American--have you not studied how slaves came to be free in our country?

 

 

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Actually to be clearer, I should state my question would be directed at the specific atheist group who believes everything in the universe started out by chance (where there is no creator) as stated in the opening question...

 

I think i would be not be incorrect to state that for this group, the chief laws that governs the universe, are the law of chance and the law of survival of the fittest...

Within that context, it implies our world is also just a random planet which its components happened to mix correctly, and achieve some level of consciousness (as Phi for all pointed out)..

and very importantly, it also means whatever sense of morality.. righteousness.. would be actually just man-created laws which are agreed upon by the majority of the planet's inhabitants..

 

So if these group of people were correct in their theory/explanation of the world, they should also realised that by virtue of the 2 laws mentioned above..

when faced with injustice or sufferings, they can somewhat be comforted and be resigned to their ill-fate..

because they should realise also whatever feelings of injustice(when compared against their understanding of righteousness) is a mere byproduct of a man-created law.. which is freely floating and subjected to the majority's choice...

 

But of course we know the above illustration goes against our instinct and observation of the world as we know..

and that is why for those people who hasn't considered where our innate sense of righteousness.. understanding of lawfulness (morality) comes from, it should point us to consider if is truly just from ourselves.. or beyond us?

(and thus the consideration of Theism....)

several obvious problems

1. atheists can not be generalized

2. atheists generally do not think the universe was a random coincidence (at least none that I have ever spoken to have claimed to) that is an over-simplification of several theories like evolution and the big bang theory

3. the non belief in an all powerful creator does not preclude the belief in other supernatural powers ex fate, ghosts, spirits, etc

4. you don't have to have someone to blame to feel anger about a situation

5. one does not have to have an entity to blame to have feelings of injustice and no one would ever stop and think "my emotions are just social conditioning and governed by majority choice"

6. the person in question might instead be more inclined to turn to blaming others or themselves or even inanimate objects and animals. illogical yes; but whats your point?

7. they could simply accept that bad things happen and move on without needing an object to direct their indignation at.

 

Jesus was purportedly the son of God who performed miracles and rose from the dead.

And while depictions or narratives of his life are dismissed by atheists as imaginative fairy stories, believers in this story arn't expecting God to make some kind of personal appearance in their own lives.

I can only hope 2000 years from now my accounts of what happened 100 years ago will be treated as well as we treat the accounts bronze age people who wrote the bible

ps. I may have made some homophone errors sorry about that :P

 

For those who say morality (the good and bad of things) is subjective...

Consider human trafficking (or slavery)... or the concept that the guy with the bigger stick rules (think big time mafia bosses, tyrannical dicatators etc)...

If we were to be truly objective and think in terms of 'survival of the fittest, big fish eats small fish' , then the 2 above-mentioned examples seems legit and no one should have a problem with it..

After all, this line of thought is logical, natural and also works fine in the animal kingdom..

 

Thus it should be more likely man took the path of armament (nature's arms race) to stay at the top of the food chain..

than to have the awareness to exercise restraint and value peace observing rules we have now as the "correct" direction to go...

For the oppressors, they would think it is their entitlement for they hold the power.. for the weak, they would think they have no choice but to be trampled on or have to find better ways to fend for themselves.

and so we should expect things to stay status quo for good because it is "naturalistic" of the world.. (until perhaps 1 day the weak become strong.. but ironically that too..still follows the rule of the "bigger stick")

 

So with things being so, and if social governing laws were truly a result of culture, why was it at a certain point of time, the strong (slavery example) would suddenly realise "right from wrong" ..and decide to change tack to start consider protecting the weak?

Where could the strong find such sense of “right and wrong” from this cold and brutal environment to make him determined enough to change the laws of the world to what we know of today?

 

 

With regards to the point about moral compass..

We may not be able to discern right and wrong from the start...but being able to be taught about it shows we have the innate capacity to understand and comprehend it..

consider a dog or an ape learning moral values (not to be confused with natural social etiquette amongst animals).. that would be unimaginable...

and to be taught, it has to be spelt out outright what is right or wrong 1st...

and if it takes root.. it forms our compass (in the form of conscience) to convict ourselves of the rights from wrongs...(complying with it or not is another matter)..

well might makes right is a consent that some believe in...

your argument seems to be something along the lines of "if animals have no problem with it then its kewl"

survival of the fittest is a statement of tendency not a justification.

as for the rest of what you say that happened there was a time where rulers believed they ruled by divine right etc and then there was the enlightenment.

to say that we innately know that democracy is the best way or that exploitation is wrong (presumably from god) is ridiculous as throughout history we humans haven't gotten those concepts very well.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lg6Q_xRII0

*edit* I think that there is a very good likelihood that dogs do understand morality (at least to some extent)

Edited by dragonstar57
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Where may I ask does your ideas on objective morality come from? Why is human trafficking wrong? Why is might makes right wrong? Who set those standards?

Is there any chance that BeanieB is going to address my questions?

as I see it his response is fairly obvious he would say that god was responsible for setting objective morality and that god sets those standards

he would claim that god saying that it is wrong makes it wrong.

afaict from what he has said so far that is likely what he would say.

Quantum mechanics teaches us that there is always a chance, however infinitesimal it might be.

it also tells us that everything happens (a universe for every possible permutation of events) so if he doesn't reply in this universe at least we know he did in another :P Edited by dragonstar57
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as I see it his response is fairly obvious he would say that god was responsible for setting objective morality and that god sets those standards

he would claim that god saying that it is wrong makes it wrong.

afaict from what he has said so far that is likely what he would say.

 

Well then things like slavery, human trafficking, might makes right, genocide, aggressive war like behavior, incest, among other things must be ok....

 

it also tells us that everything happens (a universe for every possible permutation of events) so if he doesn't reply in this universe at least we know he did in another :P

 

Yes but would his answer still be based on misinformation?

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Quantum mechanics teaches us that there is always a chance, however infinitesimal it might be.

We tried Quantum Thanksgiving last year, where you set the table and then sit around and wait for the waveform function to collapse but the turkey never materialized. We just figured it was our fault because we knew exactly how fast we were going to eat it, so we had no idea where it was.

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We tried Quantum Thanksgiving last year, where you set the table and then sit around and wait for the waveform function to collapse but the turkey never materialized. We just figured it was our fault because we knew exactly how fast we were going to eat it, so we had no idea where it was.

 

Maybe this year I'll try quantum Santa Claus with the kids. "Just wait kids - any second now that waveform is gonna collapse into those iPhones you all wanted. But remember, if that's not what's in the box, you opened it too soon. Or too late."

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We tried Quantum Thanksgiving last year, where you set the table and then sit around and wait for the waveform function to collapse but the turkey never materialized. We just figured it was our fault because we knew exactly how fast we were going to eat it, so we had no idea where it was.

+1 Now I just need to remember that for 114 days

 

 

Maybe this year I'll try quantum Santa Claus with the kids. "Just wait kids - any second now that waveform is gonna collapse into those iPhones you all wanted. But remember, if that's not what's in the box, you opened it too soon. Or too late."

I feel sorry for anyone within a few miles radius when you try and explain that one on Christmas morning

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!

Moderator Note

That's not what we meant when we told you that you need to be clearer. This is a discussion forum, not your personal site. Do you have a point to make or are you just here to post chunks of weirdly-written english bits with not much sense in them? If it's the latter, I suggest you stop now.

 

This is preaching (an unclear one at that) - which is against our rules. It's my utmost sencere recommendation you go over our rules once again, and start following them.

 

Also, as we've discussed before, English sentences start with a capital letter, usually contain a verb, and end with a period. Stop... making.. making making.. making... your own version... version... your own... of what english... yes, english englishg... needs to look ... look like.. you're just being unclear.. unclear unclear unclear.

 

If you don't have an actual CLAIM to make, don't post in the thread. The staff will start deleting pointless posts to avoid derailing a thread, and the next step is to delete your access.

 

Follow our rules, Amanbir, that's not a request.

 

 

 

 

I hope this doesn't violate the rules. But the moderator note did make me laugh out loud... out loud out loud.

 

 

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I think dragonstar made some good points:

-the non belief in an all powerful creator does not preclude the belief in other supernatural powers ex fate, ghosts, spirits, etc

-you don't have to have someone to blame to feel anger about a situation

-one does not have to have an entity to blame to have feelings of injustice and no one would ever stop and think "my emotions are just social conditioning and governed by majority choice"

-they could simply accept that bad things happen and move on without needing an object to direct their indignation at.

they are reflective of the observable world we live in and we can certainly find people like that around us..i stand corrected that it "must" follow the conclusions i stated previously...

 

Subjective morality seems a reasonable concept when we consider how people could conclude their own rules to living.. give/create meaning of life for themselves..

However, that does not mean Absolute morality cannot exist alongside too..(absolute in the sense the laws to right and wrong is beyond our own creation..and pre-existed before us)...

It could be there all the while, but just that people didn't choose it or recognize it...(no one could empirically prove it doesn't exist ya.. since this scope is "subjective")

Thus at best, it could only show we are free to choose our paths concerning right and wrong..(not enough to conclude morality is subjective or absolute..)

 

 

To moontanman's question..

i'm in the group that believes in a designed universe.. thus the relevance for seeing there exists an intended way of living with regards to the design intention..

How about you?

 

 

 

with design, there will be an intention..

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I think dragonstar made some good points:

-the non belief in an all powerful creator does not preclude the belief in other supernatural powers ex fate, ghosts, spirits, etc

-you don't have to have someone to blame to feel anger about a situation

-one does not have to have an entity to blame to have feelings of injustice and no one would ever stop and think "my emotions are just social conditioning and governed by majority choice"

-they could simply accept that bad things happen and move on without needing an object to direct their indignation at.

they are reflective of the observable world we live in and we can certainly find people like that around us..i stand corrected that it "must" follow the conclusions i stated previously...

 

Subjective morality seems a reasonable concept when we consider how people could conclude their own rules to living.. give/create meaning of life for themselves..

However, that does not mean Absolute morality cannot exist alongside too..(absolute in the sense the laws to right and wrong is beyond our own creation..and pre-existed before us)...

It could be there all the while, but just that people didn't choose it or recognize it...(no one could empirically prove it doesn't exist ya.. since this scope is "subjective")

Thus at best, it could only show we are free to choose our paths concerning right and wrong..(not enough to conclude morality is subjective or absolute..)

 

 

To moontanman's question..

i'm in the group that believes in a designed universe.. thus the relevance for seeing there exists an intended way of living with regards to the design intention..

How about you?

 

 

 

with design, there will be an intention..

 

The whole case against there being objective morality is the evidence for morality's subjectivity. You couldn't therefore say that "Okay, well morality is subjective after all. But it still could be objective, and you can't prove it isn't." If it is subjective than it cannot be objective, and yes we did just prove it.

Edited by TheVillageAtheist
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To moontanman's question..

i'm in the group that believes in a designed universe.. thus the relevance for seeing there exists an intended way of living with regards to the design intention..

 

But where does the objective morality that allows you to to say that human trafficking is wrong or that might makes right is wrong. Where does this objective morality come from?

 

How about you?

 

I think all morality is subjective...

 

with design, there will be an intention..

 

What would that intention be?

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I think all morality is subjective...

I wonder, though, if it might be possible to say that morality is objective. I think Sam Harris has made a good case for it. The way I look at it to convince myself is that psychopaths who are devoid of feelings of morality could, nonetheless, determine a morally good action and distinguish it from a morally bad action. They may not act on that information, or have the drive to act on it, but determining its truth from simple principles is possible. So, morality would have an objective basis.

 

I think this is a good thing because I want to object to morally disgusting acts that another culture may be comfortable with on something like objective moral reasons. I still think an important argument would be...

 

i'm in the group that believes in a designed universe.. thus the relevance for seeing there exists an intended way of living with regards to the design intention..

How about you?

Epic non sequitur.

 

Why do humans have hair?

 

I'm in the group that believes in a designed universe, thus the relevance of seeing the existence of an intended amount of human hair with regards to the intended design.

 

Why do humans enjoy sex?

 

Well... I believe the universe was designed, thus the relevance of there being an intended way for me to get off properly.

 

Why do puddles of water fit potholes so well?

 

With a designed universe it is relevant to see that potholes are intended to fit puddles perfectly.

 

 

Such reasoning makes an epic example of both confirmation bias and non sequitur.

Edited by Iggy
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I wonder, though, if it might be possible to say that morality is objective. I think Sam Harris has made a good case for it. The way I look at it to convince myself is that psychopaths who are devoid of feelings of morality could, nonetheless, determine a morally good action and distinguish it from a morally bad action. They may not act on that information, or have the drive to act on it, but determining its truth from simple principles is possible. So, morality would have an objective basis.

 

I think this is a good thing because I want to object to morally disgusting acts that another culture may be comfortable with on something like objective moral reasons. I still think an important argument would be..

 

 

Sam Harris' argument still begins with a subjectively valued premise: We should try to avoid the worst possible suffering. While this is a noble thought, it's not something everyone agrees with. And of there is a difference between morality being innate--which it is, as it arises from and is rooted in our ability to feel empathy--and morality being objective. Arms and legs are innate, yet their lengths and specific measurements are subjective. In other words, just because we feel empathy doesn't mean that morality is therefore objective. It doesn't take a psychopath to feel less empathy for a serial killer on death row than, say, me. I imagine empathy is as subjective as anything else.

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Sam Harris' argument still begins with a subjectively valued premise: We should try to avoid the worst possible suffering. While this is a noble thought, it's not something everyone agrees with.

At the foundation of every science, and I imagine every human idea, there are premises. They are the axioms of math, the first principles of philosophy, and the postulates of physics. They can't be proven true. They're arbitrary, and not everyone agrees with them.

 

If morality is subjective for this first reason you give then I'm positive nothing would not be.

 

And of there is a difference between morality being innate--which it is, as it arises from and is rooted in our ability to feel empathy--and morality being objective.

No doubt there is a big difference between those things, but you've got the cart before the horse. Empathy evolved into a human characteristic because animals -- particularly our primate ancestors -- which made certain choices were, on average, more successful than animals making different choices. Before humans defined morality and decided to call these decisions moral choices, and before human empathy ever existed, solidarity amongst group animals could still be recognized by the force of natural selection as an asset.

 

Empathy only exists because our ancestors made moral choices and they were rewarded for doing so. Empathy is absolutely rooted in morality and not the other way around.

 

Arms and legs are innate, yet their lengths and specific measurements are subjective.

If the length of an arm is subjective then there would be no aspect or quality of any person that could be called objective. As it is, I think the length of body parts can safely be described as objective.

 

In other words, just because we feel empathy doesn't mean that morality is therefore objective.

Indeed. Moreover, if feeling empathy were the only way to recognize an act as moral then morality would be 100% subjective. I don't believe and I'm sure I never said "because we feel empathy morality is therefore objective". I meant to give the example of the psychopath who doesn't feel empathy but can recognize morality to dispel that idea.

 

It doesn't take a psychopath to feel less empathy for a serial killer on death row than, say, me. I imagine empathy is as subjective as anything else.

I wonder about morality though. If you start by defining morality in terms of solidarity and compassion and recognize the premise "solidarity and compassion are good for humanity" it should be possible to deductively and objectively sort moral choices from immoral ones, and even assert that we should make the moral choices.

 

edit:

 

I think this is good because it gives a person an objective leg to stand on when hearing that someone else's idea of morality is just as valid in terms of that person's subjugation of women, or child abuse, or whatever it might be.

 

I can't objectively tell someone to stop eating ice cream because it is disgusting, but I should be able to objectively tell them to stop being cruel to their children because it is morally wrong. It is certainly good that there is far more objective quality in the latter.

Edited by Iggy
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At the foundation of every science, and I imagine every human idea, there are premises. They are the axioms of math, the first principles of philosophy, and the postulates of physics. They can't be proven true. They're arbitrary, and not everyone agrees with them.

 

If morality is subjective for this first reason you give then I'm positive nothing would not be.

 

I'm no mathematician, but I have heard that proof only exists in math, so I would assume that if there was any place one could find true objectivity, it's there. As for your overall point, I was say that you're right.

 

No doubt there is a big difference between those things, but you've got the cart before the horse. Empathy evolved into a human characteristic because animals -- particularly our primate ancestors -- which made certain choices were, on average, more successful than animals making different choices. Before humans defined morality and decided to call these decisions moral choices, and before human empathy ever existed, solidarity amongst group animals could still be recognized by the force of natural selection as an asset.

 

Empathy only exists because our ancestors made moral choices and they were rewarded for doing so. Empathy is absolutely rooted in morality and not the other way around.

 

I hadn't thought of it that way, but now it seems obvious. You learn something new every day, I suppose!

 

 

If the length of an arm is subjective then there would be no aspect or quality of any person that could be called objective. As it is, I think the length of body parts can safely be described as objective.

 

Unless your arms and mine are the same length, then arm length is not objective. Even your own arms are of different lengths, same goes for your legs. There is no objective mold from which a person comes from. Not liking the implications of something is certainly not a good enough reason to disbelieve.

 

 

Indeed. Moreover, if feeling empathy were the only way to recognize an act as moral then morality would be 100% subjective. I don't believe and I'm sure I never said "because we feel empathy morality is therefore objective". I meant to give the example of the psychopath who doesn't feel empathy but can recognize morality to dispel that idea.

 

What do you mean "recognize" morality? There is no true, objective morality for them to recognize, so if they in fact do intellectually understand that they have done wrong, it is only because they are aware of what the law says. There is no "true' morality. Anything you think is objective requires a subjective valuation of that principal.

 

I wonder about morality though. If you start by defining morality in terms of solidarity and compassion and recognize the premise "solidarity and compassion are good for humanity" it should be possible to deductively and objectively sort moral choices from immoral ones, and even assert that we should make the moral choices.

 

But solidarity and compassion aren't always good for humanity. Sometimes cruelty is required. Or if not required, at least you can achieve the same goals using different methods. That isn't to say there aren't some things that most people would agree upon, or that you can't make a reasoned argument for the rightness of something, but at the end of the day you still have to make a value judgment, and value judgments are subjective.

 

 

I think this is good because it gives a person an objective leg to stand on when hearing that someone else's idea of morality is just as valid in terms of that person's subjugation of women, or child abuse, or whatever it might be.

 

You don't need moral objectivity to argue against Bronze Age ethics. Hitchens liked to point to the fact that the liberation of women was one of the few things we know works as a cure for poverty. This is a sound argument that makes no reference to the moral rightness of the liberation of women. But if that's not enough, you can make intellectual arguments that are stronger than "God says so," without the need for an objective basis.

 

I can't objectively tell someone to stop eating ice cream because it is disgusting, but I should be able to objectively tell them to stop being cruel to their children because it is morally wrong. It is certainly good that there is far more objective quality in the latter.

 

And what exactly is this objective quality? I'm curious.

Edited by TheVillageAtheist
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I'm no mathematician, but I have heard that proof only exists in math, so I would assume that if there was any place one could find true objectivity, it's there. As for your overall point, I was say that you're right.

No doubt math is the very model of objectivity. Godel's incompleteness theorem is good on showing that some axioms must remain unproven by a math theorem.

 

Come to think of it, I hope I don't imply that a theory explaining morality would be as objective as a math theorem. No hope of that. It's just that they have in common the idea that first principles are judged by their usefulness rather than the ability to prove them true.

 

Unless your arms and mine are the same length, then arm length is not objective.

I may be unfamiliar with how you're using the term. There is, to my knowledge, no requirement that objective quantities be constant.

 

Planetary mass is objective because different astronomers independently find the same mass for any given planet -- that is to say, because the method of finding mass doesn't depend on the astronomer's subjective interpretation of personal experience it is an objective matter. The same could be said for tailors measuring a person for a suit. The tailor could be a computer devoid of subjectivity and the arm could belong to a dead person for whom all subjectivity is lost and the result would be the same as anyone could predict. That is my understanding of something that is entirely objective... even if it is a body part :blink:

 

What do you mean "recognize" morality?

If you ask a psychopath which is the greater moral good: giving blood at the blood bank or mocking the mentally handicapped, they know the answer. They recognize morality without feeling empathy.

 

There is no true, objective morality for them to recognize... There is no "true' morality.

Yeah, I agree there is no true morality, but truth and objectivity are different beasts altogether. Newtonian mechanics (for example) is objective, and it was objectively derived, but it isn't true. Objectivity makes a well marked path that anyone can follow regardless of how their personal perspective is colored by their feelings, but... right, it doesn't guarantee the truth of the destination.

 

, so if they in fact do intellectually understand that they have done wrong, it is only because they are aware of what the law says.

To be fair to psychopaths ;) I would doubt the law's ability to inform anyone of morality. Although... thinking about it... that might explain why there are so many sociopaths in congress. They tried looking into the law to sharpen their skills in faking morality and almost all of the legal statutes ended up being a long ongoing story of political hackery that taught our young sociopaths to be politicians.

 

It suddenly makes perfect sense :D

 

Seriously though, psychopaths certainly aren't like replicants from Blade Runner where a few questions from an empathy test reveals them for what they are. They know moral right from wrong. Even when considering a unique moral dilemma previously unconsidered, morality isn't so hard to reason -- even without the feeling of empathy pulling them toward morality they can still find it and recognize it by reasoning out a concept which isn't overly complicated.

 

I can't objectively tell someone to stop eating ice cream because it is disgusting, but I should be able to objectively tell them to stop being cruel to their children because it is morally wrong. It is certainly good that there is far more objective quality in the latter.

And what exactly is this objective quality? I'm curious.

ok, when I say quality I mean things like... I'll make a list...

 

  • A drive towards solidarity
  • The tendency to value others
  • Having compassion for others

 

When I say objective quality I mean that we know enough to objectively say,

 

  • Humans do better with a drive towards solidarity.
  • We benefit from our tendency to value others.
  • We thrive when compassion strengthens our connection to others.

 

and to say, even, that our drive toward morality owes its existence to the objective value of those qualities.

 

As far as first principles go, those don't appear half bad.

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“No one thinks of himself as a villain, and few make decisions that they think are wrong. A person may dislike his choice, but he will stand by it, because even in the worst circumstances, he believes that it was the best option available to him at the time. On it’s own, being a decent person is no guarantee that you will act well.”- eldest by Christopher Paolini

The fact is that different people's views on morality differ widely. this is proof positive that morality is subjective.

The insane don't just not care that something is wrong. The insane don't just not see the difference. The insane actually believe that that they are morally justified in doing something insane.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lg6Q_xRII0

Some think the death penalty is justified.

Some don't.

Some think promiscuity is wrong.

Some don't.

Some Most think that slavery is wrong

and yet still some don't.

Their is no uniform way to view morality, no "correct" way and to think that you have found the "true" morality is the height of arrogance and only the opinion of the pious.

we can say that "maybe somewhere written in the stars is the true morality" but this is a failed precept because morality is based upon personal values (ie fighting a war to gain freedom for yourself or another)

I can't objectively tell someone to stop eating ice cream because it is disgusting

you could no more tell someone to stop eating spinach because it is disgusting.

so in cases like the on you described (about being able to say being cruel to children) our morality is based on consensus and while this reduces the subjectivity somewhat it does not in any way make it objective

ps watch my linked video this time if you didn't before

Edited by dragonstar57
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