Polytheism and monotheism

Does God exist? Is Allah God? Creation vs. evolution.
Is Religion needed? Logic vs. faith. Morality and ethics.
sword_of_truth
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Let me clarify the semantic issue, here.

Define wrong as "against certain trends in human psychology". Then murder is wrong for all people, not just the individual, provided we specify what trends we mean. So, we can even call it objectively wrong, if, by that, we mean what I said.

However, this doesn't cover all of ethics. The basics of killing, torturing, raping, etc. may be covered there. But there are subtle moral dilemmas that I think have no objective answer. The length of a sentence is such an issue, as I pointed out earlier. Murder and rape are things that are commonly agreed upon, but what about something like cutting a thief's hand off? It depends on how much you weigh mercy for thieves and concern for errors against any preventative value the punishment has. I don't think there's a good way to define whether it's wrong or right because of the absence of a suitable human trend to settle the matter. There's the trend of not wanting to cause pain and the trend of applying punishment for prevention, but I don't think there's any objective way to resolve the tension between those two trends. I just prefer that thieves don't get their hands cut off.

So, at best, SOME things are objectively morally wrong (not everything that you or I would consider wrong), if we are careful to define objective morality in the right way. However, even those things, people like crazy monkey and I prefer not to call "objective". One reason why is that right and wrong is a separate issue from true or false. Rape is not "false", it is wrong. Preventing murder is not "true", it is just right. You make a definition of wrong, and if it's well-defined enough, you can objectively say certain things are wrong and other things are right. But the definition is somewhat arbitrary. We just define murder to be wrong because we evolved a distaste for it, not because it was written somewhere in the laws of the universe that murder is wrong. Nature is indifferent to right and wrong. Nature murders people all the time with earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and so on, never bothering to think whether it is right or wrong to do so.

It's not a matter of individual choice. It's a matter of predispositions for those choices. We don't choose our predispositions and we are predisposed to have certain tendencies, such as a dislike for murder. We're not tapping into some great moral force external to ourselves through "moral intuition". Moral intuition is just what we're wired to find tasteful or distasteful. We didn't choose that.

I could program a robot to think that it was immoral to ever turn right. If asked to turn right, it would reply with its synthesized voice that it finds turning right to be morally reprehensible, hence it is unable to comply with your request. And you could program a whole army of robots that way. This doesn't mean that it would then be objectively wrong for them to turn right. It's objectively true that they all are programmed to reply to any request to turn right with non-compliance and a message saying that it's immoral. Yet, with proper design, one could guarantee that not a single one of these, let's say billions, of robots that I make will ever turn right. The situation with humans is similar, except that all we have is programming to find certain things distasteful, rather than absolute programs that rule out the "immoral" behavior altogether. This is why I stated that morality is a practical matter. Just adopting a philosophy of moral subjectivity will not take make us think that distasteful actions are tasteful.
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BlacKStaR
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by BlacKStaR »

But some groups of people like murder, even if it is pronounced under the name of the good god. Like these lowlife bastards below. Even a boy can behead an adult.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

butterbattle wrote:Yes, it appears that this will be a fun subject to discuss.
Indeed.
butterbattle wrote:I disagree. The claim, "morals are relative" is not a moral claim, but simply a claim about what is real. This is not a value statement; this has nothing to do with what is good or bad. Yes, there is absolutely no such thing as absolute morality, but these are two different categories of absolutes, and I do not contradict myself in rejecting absolute morality because it is an absolute assertion concerning ethics any more than when I reject Plato's Forms because it is an absolute assertion concerning concepts. Yes, it's a statement regarding the nature of morality, but my statement is that morality is nothing more than a human abstraction of various ideas and emotions; the statement itself says nothing about what is right or wrong. Again, it is not an absolute moral claim. It is an absolute metaphysical (?) claim, and hence, not a contradiction.
Morality is metaphysical, we are debating about something 'beyond' (meta) the physical. Any claim about morality is metaphysical.

At any rate, I certainly agree with you that a statement about morals is not istelf a moral statement, such as disagreeing with Plato's philosophical treatise, however the argument for moral relativism is still self-refuting. Because you are asserting that there is no objective right and wrong, which is a moral statement. Again, you are objectively asserting a claim about the nature of morality itself (human abstraction), while simultaneously asserting that morality is subjective (it doesn't exist), which is a claim about the nature of morality itself.



You claim that morality is a human construct.

If morality is a human construct, then morality is simply a mechanism used to describe how we do things. Morals are solely a descriptive enterprise. This view fails to account for the prescriptiveness of moral notions. Morality is not merely about what we have done in the past. There is an incumbency to morality, an oughtness as it were, that can not be explained by mere descriptiveness. Hence it can not be explained by your view.

If morality is exhausted by mere descriptiveness, then there is no adequate explanation, in your view, for the incumbency of morality. And since this is really what morality is all about (what one ought to do, or ought not to do in a given situation), your view as an explanation of morality, at least defined as a human construct, seems to fall apart.

This is something I don't think moral relativists understand. If you really believe that morality is just a human concept, then acts like child molestation and rape are not actually wrong. The moral validity of an action like rape, simple exists as a concept.

If morality is nothing more than a social convention we create as a conceptual apparatus, then acts of moral detriment are at the end of the day not actually wrong. And you need to admit this. What does it mean to say that Ted Bundy was wrong for raping and murdering women if morality is nothing but an illusion? This simply does not reflect our moral intuition whatsoever. We understand that raping a woman is actually wrong. No matter what time frame one is in, no matter what laws are set up by a given government, and no matter what hemisphere your on.


I asked if you are willing to admit that their literally is no difference between choosing strawberry ice cream and choosing to molest a child. Where you replied:
butterbattle wrote:Yes. Yes. Yes. A billion times, yes. Personal incredulity and fear are not good reasons for holding or rejecting any philosophical position.
But we are not arguing about some philosophical position, or Plato's philosophical treatise on morality. You are objectively claiming that morals are subjective, you are denying that morality exists. This has nothing to do with fear and incredulity. You are asserting that the act of molesting a child is no different than the act of saving the child from a child molester.

You say:
butterbattle wrote:Molesting a child is wrong, and it is wrong because it harms someone against their will. Harming someone against their will is wrong because I said so.
You claim here that molesting a child is wrong, but only according to you. The act of molesting a child is in and of itself not wrong. If this is the case, then if you witness an adult molesting a child, you have no justification to intervene. Because the moment you intervene, the action of intervening violates your relativistic principle that child molestation is only wrong to you. By intervening (interacting with reality) you surrender your belief that child molestation is subjectively wrong, and that its also wrong for the child molester. Hence the act of child molestation is objectively wrong.

Intervening can be from you physically stopping the molester to simply saying "damn, that's wrong." By reacting to the situation, you are interacting with reality.

butterbattle wrote:No, you don't, Equestrian; I cannot emphasize this enough. You know, through moral intuition, that the act of molesting a child is morally wrong, to you. You cannot conclude that it is inherently wrong. That is a complete non sequitur. This shows that ours worldviews truly are different. Your version of morality is top-down. Mine is bottom-up.
First, I certainly agree that our world views differ. Thats why I said that the differences between moral relativism and moral realism are more than just semantics. The moral position we espouse dramatically influences the way we view the world.

I mean hey, my world view is very different than Ted Bundy's world view. You, however, can not say the same.

You say here that I can't conclude that the act of child molestation is actually wrong by appealing to moral intuition. It's a bad argument.

The problem here is with the term 'intuition.' I don't think you fully understand what I mean by intuition. So allow me to delve a bit into epistemology (ways of knowing), please bear with me.

There's different ways of knowing that certain things are true or false. One way is knowledge by intuition. This way of knowing is so foundational that justification is impossible. Because knowledge by intuition is not gained by following a series of facts or a line of reasoning to a conclusion, instead we know intuitional truth simple by the process of introspection and immediate awareness.

So when I use the term intuition, I don't mean a female intuition or a detective's hunch, or a stock broker sensing a bear market. Each of these examples are a type of specialized insight into a circumstance based off of prior experience. The kind of intuition I'm referring to is immediate and direct.
In philosophy this is known as a priori knowledge, Knowledge which one has prior to sense experience.

Example:

Premise 1) All men are mortal.

Premise 2) Plato is a man.

Therefore Plato is mortal.

Now how do we know this? How did we come to this conclusion? Did we get this from prior knowledge? no. Did we get this from observation? no. We know the conclusion is true through a priori intuition in the same way we know rape is actually wrong. We know that the act of rape is morally wrong. And when we witness the act, we immediately have a direct understanding that it is wrong. The people who don't believe it's wrong are called sociopaths, and we locked them up.

Intuitional truth does not require a defense, because this kind of truth isn't a result of reasoning by steps to a conclusion. It's a self-evident truth that no rational person who understands the nature of the issue would deny.

Now I know you are probably going to be uncomfortable with this notion, but we have no other alternative. If you can't know some things without knowing why you know them, you can't know anything at all. You can't even begin the task of discovery if there aren't at least some truths that are a priori intuitionally found. Intuition is the way we begin knowing everything. There are certain things you must know immediately-directly in order to have the tools you need to begin learning other things.

"If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved."

~C.S. Lewis

EDIT: second attempt at posting this. I lost part of my rebuttal. :nono:
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan
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BlacKStaR
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by BlacKStaR »

Morality cannot be predicted, quantified, judged or scientifically proven. It is the works that yields the results, yet again, former highly morally ethical people like Jefferey Dahmer can be evil at the same time. It only shows in their deeds. It is either evil or good and depends on how people perceive their morality.

Perception of morality differs from person to person. And by defining "Person" it can be anyone from any walks of life.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

But some groups of people like murder, even if it is pronounced under the name of the good god. Like these lowlife bastards below. Even a boy can behead an adult.
As I stated earlier, cultural trends can over-ride natural tendencies, but that doesn't mean that they aren't there. In particular, the people who like murder did have the wiring that predisposes us to find murder wrong. They just reprogrammed themselves to get rid of that tendency. Sometimes, in wars, soldiers have difficulty shooting the enemy because it's hardwired into them naturally that they should not kill. So, to me, it's a neurology/psychology question, not a philosophy question.
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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

Equestrian wrote:If morality is a human construct, then morality is simply a mechanism used to describe how we do things. Morals are solely a descriptive enterprise. This view fails to account for the prescriptiveness of moral notions. Morality is not merely about what we have done in the past. There is an incumbency to morality, an oughtness as it were, that can not be explained by mere descriptiveness. Hence it can not be explained by your view.
This comment strikes me as tautologous. Morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."

Whether something is prescriptive or not depends only upon whether or not it has been prescribed, not whether it is true, valid or "ought" to be adhered to. Some moral systems are prescribed, yes. Others are reasoned to. All are human constructs, even those that make the claim to be divinely revealed.
Equestrian wrote:If morality is exhausted by mere descriptiveness, then there is no adequate explanation, in your view, for the incumbency of morality. And since this is really what morality is all about (what one ought to do, or ought not to do in a given situation), your view as an explanation of morality, at least defined as a human construct, seems to fall apart.
Again, you appear to be furiously begging the question.

To whom does one owe the obligation? Believers in revealed religion would assert that the incumbency belongs to God, and the moral system is absolute and divinely revealed. Nonbelievers might (among their many choices) assert that the incumbency belongs to the community, and the moral system is not absolute, but instead derived by community consensus.

Nothing about the incumbency of morality is difficult to explain.
Equestrian wrote:This is something I don't think moral relativists understand. If you really believe that morality is just a human concept, then acts like child molestation and rape are not actually wrong. The moral validity of an action like rape, simple exists as a concept.
Moral relativists do not "understand" that because they do not believe it to be true. The argument astounds me in its persistence, since it is fundamentally absurd. It presumes first off that individuals do not have personal interests in their own integrity, security, happiness and well being. And secondly, it ignores that all moral systems are social; outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions.

Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community. The "moral validity of an action like rape" is based upon the shared community interest in mediating between the interests of the rapist and the raped. We have as a community concluded that the interests of the potentially raped in securing their own integrity and security supersedes the interests of the rapist whatever they might be. In that act, we have created a moral standard.

The problem comes when a community embraces and labels as "moral" standards that actually have nothing to do with morality. Much of "revealed morality" serves no genuinely moral purpose, but instead serve to enforce particular social power relationships often as justifications for a status quo that is itself immoral by any rational standard.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Morality is metaphysical, we are debating about something 'beyond' (meta) the physical. Any claim about morality is metaphysical.

At any rate, I certainly agree with you that a statement about morals is not istelf a moral statement, such as disagreeing with Plato's philosophical treatise, however the argument for moral relativism is still self-refuting. Because you are asserting that there is no objective right and wrong, which is a moral statement. Again, you are objectively asserting a claim about the nature of morality itself (human abstraction), while simultaneously asserting that morality is subjective (it doesn't exist), which is a claim about the nature of morality itself.
No, it's a moral statement TO YOU. For us, it's not a moral statement. For it to be a moral statement for us, we would have to say that it is immoral to believe in absolute morals. We're not saying it's immoral to think that it's absolute. We're just saying that it's not absolute. So, essentially, you are imposing your own definition of morality on us, so it's a straw-man argument. Morality is defined to be the actions that we consider moral. It doesn't matter WHY we find them immoral. It's just a division of things into what we consider moral or immoral. Another thing to keep in mind is that whenever someone says, "self-refuting", that's a red flag for me. Sometimes, all you have to do is allow one exception to the rule and it's no longer self-refuting, which leaves whatever philosophy that was in question basically intact without any significant modification.

You claim that morality is a human construct.

If morality is a human construct, then morality is simply a mechanism used to describe how we do things. Morals are solely a descriptive enterprise. This view fails to account for the prescriptiveness of moral notions. Morality is not merely about what we have done in the past. There is an incumbency to morality, an oughtness as it were, that can not be explained by mere descriptiveness. Hence it can not be explained by your view.
False dichotomy. Prescriptive-ness is part of how we do things. It's moral not to kill, and furthermore, it's moral to prevent other people from killing and generally make it seem socially unacceptable by denouncing it as wrong and having disdain for anyone who does it. It's not a conscious choice to do all this, but it happens.


If morality is exhausted by mere descriptiveness, then there is no adequate explanation, in your view, for the incumbency of morality. And since this is really what morality is all about (what one ought to do, or ought not to do in a given situation), your view as an explanation of morality, at least defined as a human construct, seems to fall apart.

This is something I don't think moral relativists understand. If you really believe that morality is just a human concept, then acts like child molestation and rape are not actually wrong. The moral validity of an action like rape, simple exists as a concept.
No. We don't think that morality is something that some philosopher just sat down and consciously invented. It's not ideas that people come up with. It's evolutionary and cultural processes working beyond people's individual whims, and even beyond their understanding. Although people's individual ideas may be thrown into the mix.

As a concept. You got that right. It exists as a CONCEPT. So does the concept that rape is actually good. That exists as a concept and is well-defined. If we were so inclined, we could define THAT to be objectively moral. But we are not so inclined. Perhaps, through some bizarre evolutionary experiment (keep it a thought experiment), one could create a race that thinks it is the height of morality to rape, and to not rape would seem to them to be as bad as raping seems to us. They would think that it was objectively moral.

If morality is nothing more than a social convention we create as a conceptual apparatus, then acts of moral detriment are at the end of the day not actually wrong. And you need to admit this.
What does it mean to say that Ted Bundy was wrong for raping and murdering women if morality is nothing but an illusion?
It means I don't like the bastard if he does that. And it's not an illusion. It's a perception of your own neural wiring.

This simply does not reflect our moral intuition whatsoever. We understand that raping a woman is actually wrong. No matter what time frame one is in, no matter what laws are set up by a given government, and no matter what hemisphere your on.
Yes, but we just prefer that. I prefer for people to always think that it's wrong because I prefer for women not to get raped. Preference, here is on a deep, conscious as well as unconscious level. It's not a personal whim, but a predisposition. But it's still just a preference. I didn't choose to think that cheesecake is good. I just eat it and it excites my brain in a certain way. It's not a whim to say that I like cheesecake. I haven't tried to not like it, but I can't really imagine myself thinking it was gross. To do that, I would have to try pretty hard. Possibly, by associating cheesecake with something really gross, I might be able to do it, but it would require rewiring my brain.


I asked if you are willing to admit that their literally is no difference between choosing strawberry ice cream and choosing to molest a child. Where you replied:

butterbattle wrote:Yes. Yes. Yes. A billion times, yes. Personal incredulity and fear are not good reasons for holding or rejecting any philosophical position.



But we are not arguing about some philosophical position, or Plato's philosophical treatise on morality. You are objectively claiming that morals are subjective, you are denying that morality exists. This has nothing to do with fear and incredulity. You are asserting that the act of molesting a child is no different than the act of saving the child from a child molester.
The same to whom? Another free false statement, given to us, I see. In no way are we saying it's the same to any decent person. What defines a person as decent? Again, because we said they are decent.

You say:

butterbattle wrote:Molesting a child is wrong, and it is wrong because it harms someone against their will. Harming someone against their will is wrong because I said so.



You claim here that molesting a child is wrong, but only according to you. The act of molesting a child is in and of itself not wrong. If this is the case, then if you witness an adult molesting a child, you have no justification to intervene. Because the moment you intervene, the action of intervening violates your relativistic principle that child molestation is only wrong to you. By intervening (interacting with reality) you surrender your belief that child molestation is subjectively wrong, and that its also wrong for the child molester. Hence the act of child molestation is objectively wrong.
No, no, no. Until now, I thought maybe you knew what you were talking about and there was some sophisticated understanding behind this "objective" morality, but it's clear now that we're safe and do not have to rethink our position. Let's say society doesn't care if the child is molested, too, so we can't rely on that back-up excuse. So, essentially, the claim here is that I personally care about the child's well-being, yet SOMEHOW I have no justification for intervening because of some irrelevant philosophical acrobatics. Even if it were correct, I would still consider it irrelevant philosophical nonsense, and only my understanding of morality would be wrong, not my actual morality. But apparently, it's also impossible for me to think it's "wrong for me" NOT to intervene. Presumably, God will strike me down because he favors moral absolutism. Or perhaps, it's conveniently assumed that we think it's "wrong for us" to impose our ideas on other people forcefully. No, in some cases, it's not.


Intervening can be from you physically stopping the molester to simply saying "damn, that's wrong." By reacting to the situation, you are interacting with reality.
What's to stop us from doing so? There's no inconsistency. We're not moral relativists in the sense that we think things are only "wrong to us". We do think they are wrong for other people. That doesn't mean it's objective. It just means that we impose our own preferences on other people. There's no external source that told us to do so, other than a complex interaction between nature and nurture that made us who we are now. Of course, we're all against moral relativism, proper, which does state that things are "wrong to so and so" only. The way we would state that position is that we prefer for people in our own culture not to molest children, but it's okay if another culture accepts it. But that's not what we're saying. We PREFER for EVERYONE not to molest children. Again, just a preference.


butterbattle wrote:No, you don't, Equestrian; I cannot emphasize this enough. You know, through moral intuition, that the act of molesting a child is morally wrong, to you. You cannot conclude that it is inherently wrong. That is a complete non sequitur. This shows that ours worldviews truly are different. Your version of morality is top-down. Mine is bottom-up.



First, I certainly agree that our world views differ. Thats why I said that the differences between moral relativism and moral realism are more than just semantics. The moral position we espouse dramatically influences the way we view the world.

I mean hey, my world view is very different than Ted Bundy's world view. You, however, can not say the same.
Umm, no. Our worldview is quite different. It could be that our position is inconsistent, but in practice, it's quite different from Ted Bundy.


You say here that I can't conclude that the act of child molestation is actually wrong by appealing to moral intuition. It's a bad argument.

The problem here is with the term 'intuition.' I don't think you fully understand what I mean by intuition. So allow me to delve a bit into epistemology (ways of knowing), please bear with me.

There's different ways of knowing that certain things are true or false. One way is knowledge by intuition. This way of knowing is so foundational that justification is impossible. Because knowledge by intuition is not gained by following a series of facts or a line of reasoning to a conclusion, instead we know intuitional truth simple by the process of introspection and immediate awareness.

So when I use the term intuition, I don't mean a female intuition or a detective's hunch, or a stock broker sensing a bear market. Each of these examples are a type of specialized insight into a circumstance based off of prior experience. The kind of intuition I'm referring to is immediate and direct.
In philosophy this is known as a priori knowledge, Knowledge which one has prior to sense experience.

Example:

Premise 1) All men are mortal.

Premise 2) Plato is a man.

Therefore Plato is mortal.

Now how do we know this? How did we come to this conclusion? Did we get this from prior knowledge? no. Did we get this from observation? no. We know the conclusion is true through a priori intuition in the same way we know rape is actually wrong. We know that the act of rape is morally wrong. And when we witness the act, we immediately have a direct understanding that it is wrong. The people who don't believe it's wrong are called sociopaths, and we locked them up.

Intuitional truth does not require a defense, because this kind of truth isn't a result of reasoning by steps to a conclusion. It's a self-evident truth that no rational person who understands the nature of the issue would deny.

Now I know you are probably going to be uncomfortable with this notion, but we have no other alternative. If you can't know some things without knowing why you know them, you can't know anything at all. You can't even begin the task of discovery if there aren't at least some truths that are a priori intuitionally found. Intuition is the way we begin knowing everything. There are certain things you must know immediately-directly in order to have the tools you need to begin learning other things.

"If nothing is self-evident, nothing can be proved."

~C.S. Lewis
So, yes, at least, in my case, the disagreement is mostly semantic. You're just defining objective morality as whatever our moral intuition tells us. But that's a psychology question, not a factual question. It's not "true" that things are moral or immoral, it's just hardwired into us. As my earlier thought experiment shows, we could, through a bizarre evolutionary experiment, create a race that intuitively thinks that grossly immoral things by our standards are objectively moral to them, to the point where people who are not rapists are considered by them to be insane and worthy to be locked up.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Bob »

Equestrian writes:
This is something I don't think moral relativists understand. If you really believe that morality is just a human concept, then acts like child molestation and rape are not actually wrong.
No-one would describe Muslims as 'moral relativists' and yet acts that we would judge as examples of immorality such as child molestation and rape have been permitted and theorized by all schools of fiqh. We consider the sexual penetration of a 9 year-old girl by an adult man several times her senior to be an example of child molestation. We consider the 'right' of Muslims to copulate with their slave women to be examples of rape. For Muslims these acts are not immoral because they are ultimately sanctioned by God.

So let's be clear. It is NOT the case of 'If there is no God then everything is permitted' but rather 'WITH God what IS permitted?' The question is not restricted to islam. For example, we have been taught to admire Abraham who obeys God to the point that he would kill his own son. In this case God empties Abraham of any individual moral responsibility to such a point that the latter is fully prepared to commit a monstruous act if it means obeying God.

To reverse the formulation. 'If there is a God then there are an awful lot of terrible things that can be permitted.'
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by butterbattle »

Hey Equestrian.

http://www.veritas.org/media/talks/693

Try this video. Neither of us agree with the debaters on everything, but their discussion continuously tackles the fundamental disconnect we are experiencing here.

I have other stuff to do now, I'll respond to your previous post within the next two days.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. Bertrand Russell
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

To reverse the formulation. 'If there is a God then there are an awful lot of terrible things that can be permitted.'
Only certain Gods.

To put it another way, if our moral intuition is objectively true, it implies immediately that the Bible is objectively false, or that the morality of the God of the Bible or Quran is objectively false. So, actually, we have a great ulterior motive to prove that there is an objective morality because it would provide immediate falsification of these awful religious texts. But no, we do not believe in an objective morality, so we cannot take advantage of what would otherwise be a wonderful opportunity. It might lend some credibility to a deist God, but not any of the malevolent versions of God, such as the Abrahamic God.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

TTHuxley wrote:This comment strikes me as tautologous. Morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."


Really? "Ought" I believe you? What is the point of your argument here if not to offer me a way I "ought" to look at things? Your claiming that morality and its definition is a human construct while at the same time asserting that morality "ought" to be viewed as a human construct and based on perspective. Your view is literally self-refuting. Furthermore your view fails to account for intent and motive.

TTHuxley wrote:To whom does one owe the obligation? Believers in revealed religion would assert that the incumbency belongs to God, and the moral system is absolute and divinely revealed. Nonbelievers might (among their many choices) assert that the incumbency belongs to the community, and the moral system is not absolute, but instead derived by community consensus.

Moral relativists do not "understand" that because they do not believe it to be true. The argument astounds me in its persistence, since it is fundamentally absurd. It presumes first off that individuals do not have personal interests in their own integrity, security, happiness and well being. And secondly, it ignores that all moral systems are social; outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions.

Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community. The "moral validity of an action like rape" is based upon the shared community interest in mediating between the interests of the rapist and the raped. We have as a community concluded that the interests of the potentially raped in securing their own integrity and security supersedes the interests of the rapist whatever they might be. In that act, we have created a moral standard.
I've already explained how this view fails in a previous post. Here you assert that morality is derived from communal utility and at the same time subjective (human construct). These are contradictory. Communal utility is an objective term, but subjectiveness relativizes everything. So which is it? Is morality grounded in an objective notion of communal utility (which has its own problems), or is it grounded in subjectiveness, which is a relative notion to each individual? Maybe its a mixture of the two and we can call it subjectitility, in which morality is grounded in the notion of communal utility that is determined by the perspective of the individual. This would mean that my subjective moral notion--in steadfast obligation to the integrity and security of the community--that every Islamofascist sympathizing Liberal should be exterminated, would be justified. You don't seem to realize that all one has to do to self-destruct this view is to offer a moral perspective that cares nothing about communal utility. Which is evidence that your view is faulty.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

butterbattle wrote:Hey Equestrian.

http://www.veritas.org/media/talks/693

Try this video. Neither of us agree with the debaters on everything, but their discussion continuously tackles the fundamental disconnect we are experiencing here.

I have other stuff to do now, I'll respond to your previous post within the next two days.
Hey butterbattle

Thanks for sharing the video. I'm actually very intrigued by Dr. Kagan's notion of compatiblism. Although I enjoyed the debate immensely, I don't see how it pertains to our dialectic. Both the atheist and theist philosophers in the debate are moral objectivists. They were debating on the origin of morality. Maybe you can better explain where lies the disconnect.

Dr. Kagan seems to take Ali Sina's position that morality is grounded in human rationality. (at least I believe that is Ali Sina's position)
At any rate, I agree with both philosophers in so far as morality being objective.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

TTHuxley wrote:This comment strikes me as tautologous. Morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."



Really? "Ought" I believe you? What is the point of your argument here if not to offer me a way I "ought" to look at things? Your claiming that morality and its definition is a human construct while at the same time asserting that morality "ought" to be viewed as a human construct and based on perspective. Your view is literally self-refuting. Furthermore your view fails to account for intent and motive.
No, that particular "ought" is not included in the system of "oughts", hence it is not self-refuting.

Intent and motive. Another false dichotomy. We can easily say that one "ought" to have such and such intent and motive. That doesn't include the explanations behind the intent and motive.

TTHuxley wrote:To whom does one owe the obligation? Believers in revealed religion would assert that the incumbency belongs to God, and the moral system is absolute and divinely revealed. Nonbelievers might (among their many choices) assert that the incumbency belongs to the community, and the moral system is not absolute, but instead derived by community consensus.

Moral relativists do not "understand" that because they do not believe it to be true. The argument astounds me in its persistence, since it is fundamentally absurd. It presumes first off that individuals do not have personal interests in their own integrity, security, happiness and well being. And secondly, it ignores that all moral systems are social; outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions.

Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community. The "moral validity of an action like rape" is based upon the shared community interest in mediating between the interests of the rapist and the raped. We have as a community concluded that the interests of the potentially raped in securing their own integrity and security supersedes the interests of the rapist whatever they might be. In that act, we have created a moral standard.



I've already explained how this view fails in a previous post. Here you assert that morality is derived from communal utility and at the same time subjective (human construct). These are contradictory. Communal utility is an objective term, but subjectiveness relativizes everything. So which is it? Is morality grounded in an objective notion of communal utility (which has its own problems), or is it grounded in subjectiveness, which is a relative notion to each individual? Maybe its a mixture of the two and we can call it subjectitility, in which morality is grounded in the notion of communal utility that is determined by the perspective of the individual. This would mean that my subjective moral notion--in steadfast obligation to the integrity and security of the community--that every Islamofascist sympathizing Liberal should be exterminated, would be justified. You don't seem to realize that all one has to do to self-destruct this view is to offer a moral perspective that cares nothing about communal utility. Which is evidence that your view is faulty.
Communal utility is not an objective term, what are you talking about? If I eat an apple, how many units of utility does that count for? What about the utility of preventing one rape? How many units of food (including that apple) are worth one rape prevention, keeping in mind that without food we starve? OBVIOUSLY subjective.

Basically, yes, if anyone wants to say whatever horrible thing is morally justified, they can. What's going to stop them? Do you think just because you called it something, namely, "objectively wrong", that a criminal is going to care? No. He doesn't care. If he wants to convince himself that so and so is a good idea, that's his choice and there's nothing anyone can do to forbid him from doing that. All that can be done is to discourage him, try to make him feel guilty about, socially rejected, and threaten him with punishment. Likewise, a good person, such as myself, doesn't give two hoots if the term "objectively wrong" cannot be associated with immoral acts. I'll never do them, and I'll never condone them. The point is, it's not moral subjectivity that is the problem. It's the very autonomy of the individual to decide independently what he or she wants to think. You can't erase the fact that people make their own independent choices just by giving those choices a name like "objectively wrong". The only difference is that instead of insisting on particular, misleading words and concepts, I just say it's wrong (and wrong for everyone) because I said so, rather than trying to wrap it up in unnecessary philosophical ideas and invoking some kind of Platonism along with its map/territory confusion. It amounts to ALMOST the same thing. Wrong because I said so, in turn because "moral intuition" told me so. The disagreement is just about the source of this moral intuition. I think moral intuition is an arbitrary construct arising from genes, life experience, and culture. Human construct is a misleading term. You're essentially just telling us to listen to our moral intuition. And we are. We never suggested that one should not listen to it.

It should also be noted that moral appeals do not affect the factual validity of moral subjectivism.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

Equestrian wrote:
TTHuxley wrote:This comment strikes me as tautologous. Morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."

Really? "Ought" I believe you? What is the point of your argument here if not to offer me a way I "ought" to look at things? Your claiming that morality and its definition is a human construct while at the same time asserting that morality "ought" to be viewed as a human construct and based on perspective. Your view is literally self-refuting. Furthermore your view fails to account for intent and motive.
You are equivocating, and it has tied you into knots.

First off, I have never asserted that you "ought" to view morality as a human construct. You make the mistake of many ethical absolutists in that you confuse the "is" with the "ought." I have made only assertions regarding what "is." Many such assertions have no moral implication whatsoever.

What you believe is entirely up to you. It is an internal and solitary phenomenon that in and of itself includes no other person. It has, therefore, no moral implication, as morality exists only in the context of a community. Your personal beliefs are not communal until you act on them. That is why actions have moral implications and can be subject to community coercion, while thoughts do not and should therefore be completely free.

I have asserted that morality and its definition is a human construct. This is a statement regarding what "is." How you imagine that is contradicted by any independent assessment of a moral implication to how it "ought" to be viewed is beyond me. There is no contradiction there at all.

Intent and motive are also absolutely accounted for by my view.
Equestrian wrote:I've already explained how this view fails in a previous post.
And your explanation has been rejected as false
Equestrian wrote:Here you assert that morality is derived from communal utility and at the same time subjective (human construct). These are contradictory.
They are not contradictory in any adequately nuanced understanding of human behavior. Why else then would consensus be necessary? And why else would the community require instruments of coercion to enforce that consensus?
Equestrian wrote:Communal utility is an objective term, but subjectiveness relativizes everything. So which is it?
Communal utility might be an "objective term," but it is not an objective process. What is an appropriate value for, say, a human life or clean water or access to nutritional foods will vary considerably from individual to individual. Such assessments can almost never be based on truly objective criteria. So... even the assessment of "communal utility" is a process that entails significant subjectivity, and requires community consensus before it can be codified in any system of "morals" or law.

Your affection for false dichotomy ( a core facet of your reasoning) does not help you think these things through. You need to allow yourself just a little more cognitive flexibility.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Bob »

sword_of_truth wrote:
To reverse the formulation. 'If there is a God then there are an awful lot of terrible things that can be permitted.'
Only certain Gods.

'Only certain Gods'? So how do we know which God or Gods should be the source of 'absolute moral standards'? The OT God? The NT God? The God of Islam? The Gods of the Aztecs?

In the polytheistic religions of antiquity questions of ethics and religion were disconnected. It is one of the advantages of polytheism that Gods only need to be propitiated rather than taken as providers of absolute moral rules. The Greeks themselves were free to say and write that their gods behaved abominably - look at Homer or Aristophanes. The distinction between the two domains led to the invention of Ethics as a separate branch of philosophy. The West only fused morality and religion with the advent of Christianity. In fact with monotheism, ethics per se disappears only to reappear with the rise of humanism.

You write :
To put it another way, if our moral intuition is objectively true, it implies immediately that the Bible is objectively false, or that the morality of the God of the Bible or Quran is objectively false.
It is not possible to 'prove' intuition objectively as if it had a quasi mathematical foundation. If we intuit that 'it is wrong for a father to murder his son simply because his god orders it' then we are clearly passing judgement on that man's God (the Abrahamic God) as well as upon the moral weakness of the individual man. The point is that OBJECTIVELY our judgements are as well or as ill-founded as the judgements, pronouncements and rules of any transcendental entity if one exists. There is strictly NO difference between the two for just as our ethical standards cannot be objectively true (according to which criteria?) then the moral standards set by a God cannot be 'objectively true' either, for what vouchsafes the moral foundations of the commands of a transcendental entity? Itself or himself or herself?

The arguments for 'absolute morality' as guaranteed by a divinity are as 'self-referential' as the humanistic ones referring to human beings. What changes is the being to which reference is made but the great advantage of the latter over the former is that we KNOW that human beings exist.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

Community consensus vis-a-vis morality is a funny concept, when we clearly see communities at war, clashing, or excluding others, or breaking down and plunging into civil war.

Seeking morality from such self-referencing plainly doesn't make sense. It's an axiom built on sand. Would it work for the life and furtherance of science?

If the Aztec community believes in human sacrifice, if the schoolroom community believes in bullying, If the WWII Japanese morality allowed for the Rape of Nanking, and the nefarious examples given by man through the ages suffice to suggest that evolution might be involution, by what right are things called wrong?

What would you tell the leaders and the people?

"Settle down boys: moral systems are social; outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions?"

They'd just answer: "Well, we're definitely in the context of a community and this is the way we do things in this community, as attested by our mountain-high pyramid of human skulls. Here in this human-sacrifice community, many of us, as Huxley rightfully asserts, have personal interests in our integrity, security, happiness and well being."

(Fine says the other side, but that's not in question. Everybody except a few million mystics wants a full belly, a fine house, bowing bank directors, great orgasms, fast cars and all the rest).

One of the needs for Morality arises precisely because we DON'T seem so interested in the integrity, security, happiness and well being of OTHERS.

But that's normal isn't it? Man knows dog-eat-dog and "mors tua, vita mea" very well and he's done it time and time again, especially in the name of half-cocked communities which (unsurprisingly enough) did not include God, but class, race, Umma, nation, tribe, market, me-me-me, us-us-us.

This community that you're talking about, might it not in many instances contain every human being in the world and in others, only a couple or even a single person, perhaps a boy torturing a cat or pulling the wings off a fly? Could it not be a sole and solitary scientist, working alone? If a physicist working entirely alone in a secluded lab, had the opportunity to implode the world, what good would your "Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community" be?

He's alone. The choice is fairly binary: life / death. No mediation. In fact nobody even knows what he's up to. Speaking about "systems" is absurd. Yet he faces the ultimate moral choice. So obviously there's something not right about your definition

Who decides the bounds of the community? The community? Arbitrarily?

It seems to me that you've created a system that can justify any and all "might (or determination) makes right" situations. In other words, the exact opposite of justice or morality. You've simply redefined morality as something akin to a randomly placed surveillance camera.

This is the result of making man the center of morality and not something outside him. In so many words, you describe morality as whatever happens in human interplay and then blithely think the problem's licked by inserting ear candy: "personal interests in our integrity, security, happiness and well being."

Eh? Integrity? As in the (dictionary definition) "adherence to moral principles?" What moral principles? Those in vogue in the community of Pakistan, the community of the Great Leap forward, the community of the ex-Belgian Congo?

You say: "Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."

Is this a moral statement? Does it tell the slaveholder why he should free his slave? Does it tell the marauding soldiers why they shouldn't rape the captured women?

BTW, where's the "competing" interest if all power is on one side and the other is at its complete mercy?

How do children blown to bits by suicide bombers fit into to this most bizarre statement of yours? Who was two and a half year old Daniel of Tel Aviv "competing" against while he was playing with his yo-yo and Achmed's bomb went off? The community of children vs the community of adults?

If the community isn't looking, doesn't know or doesn't even care to know, then anything goes?

Your morality is vacuous and blank, utterly meaningless. It is just an alien-like observation. A surveillance camera.

Yes, of course: You say: "Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."

But moral system also serve the purpose of keeping those interests as Godly and in most realms as natural and uncompetitive as possible. And if competitive, it limits the competition. In other words its ultimate purpose is sanity and not mediating competitions.

The latter is more in the realm of law and law is in the realm of an accepted morality. No accepted morality, no law.

In other words, objective morality is what keeps every question from becoming a cause for war or strife. It's what keeps competing interests to a minimum and when anyhow inevitably arising between different subjects, allows for judgment. Morality is sanity.

And for the pleasure and pride of mind the saneness of it, is precisely what you've done away with.

The secret is not OUR integrity, security, happiness and well being, but Integrity, Security, Happiness And Well Being period... meaning for us, our families, our neighborhood, province, region, country, world... our future unborn as well as respect for those who came before us and are no more.

Communities themselves need to be moral to one another, so quite obviously they can't be the source of morality.

Morality is THOU SHALT NOT when instead THOU WANNA and more often than not, when THOU WANNA precisely for THINE OWN integrity, security, happiness, well being and other forms of self-aggrandizement. In other words it is sacrifice... And not just the sacrifice of the weak, but if referenced outside of man, the sacrifice of the rich and powerful.

Judges can be bought, but Justice cannot, only a travesty of justice.

"Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."

And the mediating is... automatically moral? The competing individuals could very well be crooks divvying up a heist. Everybody and everything involved could be wrong, the competing individuals, the community and the moral system doing the mediating. Why is this so hard to understand?

My guess is that you understand it perfectly well, but by refusing God, when talking about morals, you have condemned yourself to senseless loops with awkward statements that invariably beg the question. Like carzymonkie's "enlightened" self-interest... and now you here with talk about "integrity." Very poor and shoddy.

This comment strikes me as tautologous. Morality has an "oughtness" to it because that is what we define morality to be; a system of "oughts."

Whether something is prescriptive or not depends only upon whether or not it has been prescribed, not whether it is true, valid or "ought" to be adhered to.


We cannot define morality any way we like, just as we cannot define mashed potatoes or a cappuccino any way we like. If so, you have killed gastronomy... In fact, if that's how things work, you've been verbally clever enough to deconstruct and destroy everything, even your own arguments.

When a hungry baby cries for milk, the oughtness of a mother's care was not defined by the mother even though as a human being she has the faculty of defining things.

Things being only what we define them to be is merely a recipe for insanity.

The objective "oughtness" of many things necessary for the very survival of man (and by that rendered objective) is what the moral realm is all about: life and its furtherance. The fact that we have the faculty of defining things is not proof that things are what we define them to be, but proof that vis-a-vis life and its furtherance, our definitions can be right or wrong.

Much of "revealed morality" serves no genuinely moral purpose, but instead serve to enforce particular social power relationships often as justifications for a status quo that is itself immoral by any rational standard.

"Much"... whereas your alternative instead has nothing at all to do with morality, because saying:

"Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."

...is morally inert. It says nothing about what is good and evil. It seems to describe the purpose of law more than morality (and in fact the real question is sloughed off crazymonkie style except instead of speaking about "enlightened self-interest" you come out with doggerel about humans having personal interests in integrity, security, happiness and well being.

I call it doggerel because history has proven that man is also prone to very opposite of integrity, security, happiness and well being.

Sword_of_truth says:

As my earlier thought experiment shows, we could, through a bizarre evolutionary experiment, create a race that intuitively thinks that grossly immoral things by our standards are objectively moral to them, to the point where people who are not rapists are considered by them to be insane and worthy to be locked up.

All well and good, I mean, besides the fact that the creation of an "evil" race is not a particularly "evolutionary" activity, but a choice that can be easily renounced, just as creating computer viruses is a matter of will. But there's a problem. Your scenario only works with a sense of morality. But if what you say is true, and its awareness is made poignant to one and all and accepted, then neither we nor the created Frankensteins would consider anything immoral. Enlightened by your thought, we would just consider each other hardwired.

We don't need to create new races. Indeed take the hacking community. It exists and it's huge, to the point that there's hardly a computer without anti-virus.

So in this field we have a "race" that intuitively thinks that grossly immoral things by our standards are objectively moral to them.

And yet, I'm sure that even the virus makers have anti-virus programs. They value the "life" and "sanity" of their machines. They would take it poorly if a third-party virus were to kill their machines. So your scenario of rapists and murderers is only half real. They would not themselves want to be raped of murdered. Unless they were insane. The axiom is the worthiness of life and its furtherance. That cannot be proven, where as the fact of death can. And that is why the outcome of atheist moralities is always and invariably destructive. Matter is morally inert, man is not. Life and its furtherance are hardwired into the animal kingdom, we instead for our very survival require morally correct "definitions".

No "ought" no man.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

The funny thing about Ioshka's post is this:

He insists that morality cannot possibly be derived by community consensus, because if it were, all these horrible immoral things would occur.

But he then goes on to point out that, actually, yes. All these horrible immoral things actually do occur.

Now... someone who actually believed his own argument might have noticed that and concluded, "Damn! Morality must actually be derived by community consensus after all."

But not Ioshka. Nosiree!!!

:prop:
Last edited by THHuxley on Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

I do have a quibble with Huxley with his statement that moral questions only make sense in a cultural context. I think that describes how morals are enforced. But imagine you are the last person on Earth with only one other person. You have plenty of food to live your life. You don't need the other person. Let's say, you also dislike him, so there's no utility to his companionship, or at least, you perceive that any such utility is far outweighed by the irritation of having to deal with this person. Is it now moral to kill him because there is no need for him? No, that would be distasteful. So, morality to me comes from deep within.

Sword_of_truth says:

As my earlier thought experiment shows, we could, through a bizarre evolutionary experiment, create a race that intuitively thinks that grossly immoral things by our standards are objectively moral to them, to the point where people who are not rapists are considered by them to be insane and worthy to be locked up.

All well and good, I mean, besides the fact that the creation of an "evil" race is not a particularly "evolutionary" activity, but a choice that can be easily renounced, just as creating computer viruses is a matter of will. But there's a problem. Your scenario only works with a sense of morality. But if what you say is true, and its awareness is made poignant to one and all and accepted, then neither we nor the created Frankensteins would consider anything immoral. Enlightened by your thought, we would just consider each other hardwired.
Hardwired is what moral is. It's independent of the question of whether we're moral. It's an explanation of morality, not a replacement.

We don't need to create new races. Indeed take the hacking community. It exists and it's huge, to the point that there's hardly a computer without anti-virus.

So in this field we have a "race" that intuitively thinks that grossly immoral things by our standards are objectively moral to them.

And yet, I'm sure that even the virus makers have anti-virus programs. They value the "life" and "sanity" of their machines. They would take it poorly if a third-party virus were to kill their machines. So your scenario of rapists and murderers is only half real. They would not themselves want to be raped of murdered. Unless they were insane. The axiom is the worthiness of life and its furtherance. That cannot be proven, where as the fact of death can. And that is why the outcome of atheist moralities is always and invariably destructive. Matter is morally inert, man is not. Life and its furtherance are hardwired into the animal kingdom, we instead for our very survival require morally correct "definitions".
No, in our experiment, in theory, if we had enough time, we could arrange things so that they do want, not themselves, but others to be raped and murdered. We may find such species in nature. Do you know what the female black widow does to the male? Why do you think they are called black WIDOWS?

I actually think someone who insists on moral objectivity is closer to Ted Bundy than many moral relativists. Essentially, they are the ones who agree with Ted Bundy because the truth is there is no morality out there that just exists somewhere in limbo. It just isn't there. Hence, the moral objectivist who THINKS that implies we are free to do whatever we want in light of this truth is the one whose morals actually stand on a very shaky foundation. A truly moral person does not care if morals are objective. They just do what's right, no matter what, and that's it. The point is that we ARE free to do what we want, good or bad. Therefore, our worth is determined by what we CHOOSE, not whether or not we accept the existence of some faulty, unjustified moral philosophy.

We do not define morality arbitrarily. It is defined in accordance with what we are PREDISPOSED to think is moral. The whole argument is so silly. Suppose you give me a choice of either eating cheesecake or lamb sausage. I like cheesecake. I hate lamb sausage. Why on earth would I eat the lamb sausage when I don't like it? How incredibly silly! Likewise, I like to be good, I don't like to be bad. Why would I be bad when I don't like it? I don't give a rat's ass if it's not objectively wrong. I don't like it, so why would I do it? It's that simple. Therefore, this idea of atheist morals leading destruction is the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard of. If you like to have false beliefs, go be my guest and believe that.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

sword_of_truth wrote:I do have a quibble with Huxley with his statement that moral questions only make sense in a cultural context. I think that describes how morals are enforced. But imagine you are the last person on Earth with only one other person. You have plenty of food to live your life. You don't need the other person. Let's say, you also dislike him, so there's no utility to his companionship, or at least, you perceive that any such utility is far outweighed by the irritation of having to deal with this person. Is it now moral to kill him because there is no need for him? No, that would be distasteful. So, morality to me comes from deep within.
Well... actually, I said they only make sense in a community context, not a "cultural" context. From that perspective, let's consider your discussion here:

If you are the last person on earth, there can be no moral questions. You are personally free to make whatever choices you wish.

If, on the other hand, you are one of only two people remaining on earth (as per above) then you are part of a community, and there can be moral questions. Your interests in killing him conflict with his interests in not being killed, so there is the opportunity for the creation of a moral system that codifies the balance between those interests. The fact that there is really little coercive imposition of such a morality other than personal strength or guile is irrelevant, after all people act immorally all the time in larger communities too.

As to "morality... comes from deep within," well you are very close. But it is not morality that comes from deep within. It is the knowledge of right from wrong that arises from within. And that knowledge, in the best case scenario, should serve as the foundation of any rationally derived moral system.

It is no mystery as to how such internal knowledge of right versus wrong originates. It does not require programming, or revelation, or the magical imposition by a bearded thunderer sitting on a cosmic throne. Among our many biological capacities as humans is empathy, and empathy is the central tool for assessing "good" versus "bad." The assessment is a simple one: If I would not want someone to behave that way towards me, then it is bad. If I would want someone to behave that way towards me, then it is good. There is always the potential (too often realized) of individuals who have pathologically different empathic responses, but that is why community consensus is important; to serve as a buffer against the psychotic or psychopathic.

If I am one of the last two people on Earth, and I gratuitously kill the other person while simultaneously opposing my own gratuitous killing, then I have committed an immoral act.

It's really not that complicated.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Well... actually, I said they only make sense in a community context, not a "cultural" context.
Okay. I see your point, but the word community threw me off. But even if you are the last person on Earth, we might have to include ethical treatment of animals, which makes the term "community" even more of a stretch.

And more generally, we may consider the possibility of the morality of animals, as a technicality when speaking of morality as a "human construct".
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

--fudgy
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