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 »

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.
Forgot to address this. It's an important point. But really, I don't wanna. I'm not tempted by material things. They are over-rated. So, there's no reason to be selfish, once the ILLUSION that material things are so hot is clearly seen. The only irresistible temptation to me is women, but I want a woman to want me in the first place, so what I want must be totally in harmony with what she wants in order for me to want it. So, the only irresistible temptation is not a real problem. So, there you have it. Point refuted. If other people can't live up to my standards, that's not moral relativism's fault, it's their fault.

I suppose there are extreme situations that really put one's moral's to the test, but it's possible to wanna, but also not wanna at the same time. And the not wanna can win over. Doesn't need to be objectively right or wrong. You can still choose to do the right thing, whether it's objectively right or subjectively right. It doesn't matter.
"...if you want my personal preference say I found out that my wife was cheating with me flogging would be too good a punishment."

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

sword_of_truth wrote:And more generally, we may consider the possibility of the morality of animals, as a technicality when speaking of morality as a "human construct".
That's a very good point. Consider the bonobo at the London Zoo that not only demonstrated empathy, but interspecific empathy as well. The bonobo witnessed a starling fly into a glass pane and fall stunned to the ground. The bonobo picked it up, climbed the highest tree in the enclosure, anchored its feet and held the bird out with both hands, trying to release it into flight. What's important here is not just that it was trying to help the injured bird, but in an appropriate way that it would never use to help another bonobo.

Morality may not be exclusively a human construct, but instead a construct of sentient beings capable of empathy.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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Aksel Ankersen
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Aksel Ankersen »

THHuxley wrote:
sword_of_truth wrote:And more generally, we may consider the possibility of the morality of animals, as a technicality when speaking of morality as a "human construct".
That's a very good point. Consider the bonobo at the London Zoo that not only demonstrated empathy, but interspecific empathy as well. The bonobo witnessed a starling fly into a glass pane and fall stunned to the ground. The bonobo picked it up, climbed the highest tree in the enclosure, anchored its feet and held the bird out with both hands, trying to release it into flight. What's important here is not just that it was trying to help the injured bird, but in an appropriate way that it would never use to help another bonobo.

Morality may not be exclusively a human construct, but instead a construct of sentient beings capable of empathy.
Or dolphins... They are recorded to help drowning swimmers stay afloat.
بدرود , بدرود , بدرود

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Equestrian
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by Equestrian »

I knew that when I came back to this board Huxley would have a heaping pile of dung waiting for me. Lets dig through it and see if we can find a gem.
TTHuxley wrote: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."

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.
Eurika, Brainiac. As a moral relativist, you restrict yourself to only making assertions regarding what "is." The "is" defines the "ought." You can never argue from the "is" (morality is a human construct) to the "ought" (therefore slavery is wrong). If morality is a human construct, there is no way things ought to be. There is only the way things are.

Again, this begs the question: Why are you arguing that morality is a human construct? The mere fact that you are here arguing your case, affirms the contradiction. You are arguing that your personal criteria of morality is objectively true. Why else would you be making your case, and why ought I listen to you?
TTHuxley wrote: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?
I don't see how your premises (in the form of questions, no less) in any way invalidate the contradiction. Do you think by throwing "naunced" in your statement that you've managed to resolve the contradiction? This type of argument may work with the grade-schoolers you impress, but it carries no weight in this debate.

You can not ground morality in communal consensus, while at same time ground morality in mid air.
TTHuxley wrote: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.
This is just a repackaging of the same tired argument I've already refuted. If you act on your beliefs, you are confirming that morals are objective; you are confirming the oughtness. If oughtness is merely a human concept, then there are no moral implications. The implcations just are, with no relation to right and wrong. Your notion of subjectitility fails.

You say:

"...while thoughts do not and should therefore be completely free."

I see an "ought" in there somewhere, don't you? Odd, coming from some one who believes "oughtness" is a human construct. Actually its not just odd, it demonstrates clumsy reasoning, or as Ioshkafutz was hinting at, dishonesty on your part.

So you say thoughts "ought" to be completely free. Since law is derived from thoughts, then law "ought" not have any restrictions. If law "ought" not have any restrictions, then the community is subject to coercion.

Morality does not stand on law. Law stands upon the necessary foundation of morality. If law is not based on an objective good, and is only established to enforce group preference, then the law is nothing more than a raw exercise of power.

Your entire notion of "community consensus morality" fails to account for reform, or dissent. According to the consensus of the community in America, slavery was at one time considered morally right. The Abolisionits were therefore morally wrong. There was no objective reason to abolish slavery.

...no gem.

Here's something for you to contemplate:

Slavery is actually wrong. By actually wrong I mean that even if in the opinion of a person or community of persons or an entire society, slavery was right, it would still be wrong. Indeed, if everyone in the world thought that slavery is right, they would all be wrong. Slavery would still be actually wrong.

Standard form syllogism:

Premise 1) Slavery can be actually wrong only if moral law exists.

Premise 2) Slavery is actually wrong.

Therefore moral law exists.

Given the premises a moral relativist can never say that slavery is actually wrong in the way I defined above. At best, the moral relativist can say that slavery is wrong and that most people agree with him. He can never say that slavery is wrong in and of itself. All he can say is that he personally does not prefer slavery.

Find me a willing slave, and destroy the syllogism.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" ~Carl Sagan

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charleslemartel
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by charleslemartel »

Equestrian wrote: Find me a willing slave, and destroy the syllogism.
More than one billion Muslims who readily admit they are the slaves of Allah/Muhammad :)
Islam is a funny religion which is misunderstood by its scholars and correctly understood by ordinary Muslims.
Faith is keeping your eyes shut when looking at the world, and/or keeping your eyes open only for the beauty of the world.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

THHuxley wrote: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 actual 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:
Why would I deny that communities are able to "cobble together" what they mistakenly think is moral?

What I'm saying is that to be truly moral, a morality must also apply to those who are wealthy and powerful and in control. They too like the weakest and humblest must have a higher and meaningful reference, outside themselves. So that when they cobble, they cobble well.

Would you like the most influential and heavily funded scientists issuing scientific statements which are only scientific because they say so, or would you like even them to submit to something outside themselves?

The same goes for morality. Nothing is moral simply because the moral agent is rich, powerful, or is a community. To even suggest it, is morally bankrupt.

In science, it's fairly simple, it's merely a methodology; in morality, the field is infinitely more complicated. INFINITELY MORE.

If we are condemned to self-referencing, better that the self-referencer be God, the creator of all things, law-giver and teacher, than a community, a leader or each single person.

I cited the hypothesis of the physicist working alone, who has the possibility of imploding the planet. Before him lies the ultimate moral choice. He holds in his hand life and death. What do you say and what do I?

You: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

Me (but only quoting God): "Thou shalt not murder."

Ergo, for you, ending planet earth is not a moral question. I beg to differ. My axiom, what I simply take for granted (on faith) and wouldn't even bother to prove even if I could, is the value of life and its furtherance.

Your axiom has something that your branpain cobbled together about communities, competing interests and mediation.

I gave the example of a 3 year old boy who's blown to bits by a suicide bomber.

Where's the competing interest? Where's the community? What's there to mediate? Who is left to mediate, once Achmed is past all the possible military controls and is "go?"

You: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

Me (but only quoting God): "Thou shalt not murder." - meaning, that even outside the community - oh yes indeed! - there can be genuine moral questions. Because there are moments when the only community is between One man's conscience and God.

Let me fix up your statement: "Outside the context of a community with God, there can be no genuine moral questions." There, your statement is now corrected.

That covers the mad scientist and young Achmed the bombarolo (that a rationalist Muslim sent out to kill children), that covers the rapists on a rampage. That covers even paedophile Catholic priests, who might preach one thing and practice another, it covers crappy "under-stitious" communities that have gone down the tubes following their penchant for believing that things are what they define them to be. That includes kings, emperors, paupers.

And it would even satisfy your community business.

Yes, community might be the key to it all. I congratulate you for going there. Like it or not, we should always strive to be a community. Like Manchester United or Liverpool, a believing man never walks alone. Morality has very much to do with community...
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:If we are condemned to self-referencing, better that the self-referencer be God, the creator of all things, law-giver and teacher, than a community, a leader or each single person.
And therein lies the self defeating crux of your entire position.

All moral systems are invented by humans. All of them. Every single one, to include the ones that falsely claim to originate with "god." And of course you know full well that there are many human invented moral systems that make that false claim. I suspect you would agree that the moral system of Islam which claims to be directly revealed by God is instead a human invented system that originated with Muhammad and the companions.

While you only reject most of these claims of divine origin as fake, I must be more intellectually consistent and reject them all as being so.

Such moral systems are most offensively immoral when, as is true with so many of them, they use the false claim of divine origin as their enforcement mechanism for retaining an entrenched status quo. Usually (as you yourself complain) a status quo that serves to benefit the "wealthy and powerful and in control" at the expense of "weakest and humblest."

Bottom line is that what you see as "better" I see as the most profound and prolific source of genuinely immoral "moral systems." Unlike any rationally derived moral system they brook no intellectual challenge. As such, what would be an obvious atrocity under any rational moral system can become legitimized under the rubric of "god said it, I believe it, and that settles it."

If we are condemned to self-referencing (and the simple fact ,whether you accept it or not, is that we are so condemned), then the worst possible circumstance is that we pretend otherwise. To pretend this is to abdicate any hope of ever getting it right. All moral systems are human derived, and as such, all moral systems are imperfect.

Your position means that we not only would have a moral system that was imperfect, but one that could never imporve.
Ioshkafutz wrote:I cited the hypothesis of the physicist working alone, who has the possibility of imploding the planet. Before him lies the ultimate moral choice. He holds in his hand life and death. What do you say and what do I?

You: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

Me (but only quoting God): "Thou shalt not murder."
Wrong. I would never say the first since the physicist working alone is still part of the community that has interest regarding his action. It is still a moral question.

And if you said the second, I would have to at least correct your assertion that you were quoting god.

You are not thinking this through very hard.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Eurika, Brainiac. As a moral relativist, you restrict yourself to only making assertions regarding what "is." The "is" defines the "ought." You can never argue from the "is" (morality is a human construct) to the "ought" (therefore slavery is wrong). If morality is a human construct, there is no way things ought to be. There is only the way things are.

Again, this begs the question: Why are you arguing that morality is a human construct? The mere fact that you are here arguing your case, affirms the contradiction. You are arguing that your personal criteria of morality is objectively true. Why else would you be making your case, and why ought I listen to you?
No, no, no. We are not saying our personal criteria is objectively true. We're saying it's subjectively true.

This is an artificial contradiction that's obtained by interpreting things in the wrong way, not a genuine contradiction.

Human construct is not the criteria for morality. It's an EXPLANATION of it. The criteria is just because we said so. The explanation being objective doesn't imply that the criteria is objective.

Yes, we can say slavery "ought" not be practiced. We just can't say it objectively. It's a subjective ought.

What a giant load of map/territory confusion!

And to claim that a factual "ought" translates into a moral "ought" is about the most outrageous example of map/territory confusion we could hope for.
"...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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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

Equestrian wrote:I knew that when I came back to this board Huxley would have a heaping pile of dung waiting for me.
Horse dung, no doubt. My father used large amounts every spring in his garden. We had the best tomatoes and bell peppers in all of Southern California.
Equestrian wrote:As a moral relativist, you restrict yourself to only making assertions regarding what "is." The "is" defines the "ought." You can never argue from the "is" (morality is a human construct) to the "ought" (therefore slavery is wrong). If morality is a human construct, there is no way things ought to be. There is only the way things are.
Wrong again, ranger. As a moral relativist I not only have no problem whatsoever making assertions regarding what "ought," I contend that I have a far superior method than you do for defining that "ought." I can reason to what "ought," while you cannot. You can only accept what someone else has told you.
Equestrian wrote:Again, this begs the question: Why are you arguing that morality is a human construct? The mere fact that you are here arguing your case, affirms the contradiction. You are arguing that your personal criteria of morality is objectively true. Why else would you be making your case, and why ought I listen to you?
You "ought" to listen to me if and only if you believe it would be a good thing for me to listen to you. If you do not believe it a good thing for me to listen to you, then you "ought" not listen to me.

Again, it is not very complicated. Yet you demonstrate a studied insistence on not understanding.

Equestrian wrote:I don't see how your premises (in the form of questions, no less) in any way invalidate the contradiction. Do you think by throwing "naunced" in your statement that you've managed to resolve the contradiction? This type of argument may work with the grade-schoolers you impress, but it carries no weight in this debate.
Since those comments are completely non-responsive to the questions I asked, am I to assume that you have conceded the point? You make no additional effort beyond bald assertion to describe any contradiction in my position, so I can only conclude that I have adequately answered your previous objection.
Equestrian wrote:This is just a repackaging of the same tired argument I've already refuted. If you act on your beliefs, you are confirming that morals are objective; you are confirming the oughtness.
Wrong. If you act on your beliefs, and if that action impinges on the interests of anyone else in the community, then you have introduced a moral question. You are allowing (though not confirming) that an "ought" exists in the circumstance. An "ought" may exist... but then again, it may not.
Equestrian wrote:If oughtness is merely a human concept, then there are no moral implications.
That sentence is complete absurdity. There is no conceivable rational connection between the first clause and the second. It is also simply and factually false.

If "oughtness" exists then here are moral implications. It does not matter the origin of the ought.
Equestrian wrote:The implcations just are, with no relation to right and wrong.
Another statement that is simply, factually false. The existence of any "oughtness" is an explicit contention of a right or a wrong. The concepts can not be decoupled.
Equestrian wrote:I see an "ought" in there somewhere, don't you?
Of course. How wonderful that, even in spite of yourself, you are beginning to catch on.
Equestrian wrote:So you say thoughts "ought" to be completely free. Since law is derived from thoughts, then law "ought" not have any restrictions. If law "ought" not have any restrictions, then the community is subject to coercion.
Nothing in that construction makes any sense whatsoever. Please try again, only this time make an explicit effort to connect the dots between each sentence. Maybe take a crack at assembling a set of classical syllogisms. As far as I can tell, you are stringing together random ideas with inappropriate use of the conjuctions, "if" and "then."
Equestrian wrote:Morality does not stand on law. Law stands upon the necessary foundation of morality. If law is not based on an objective good, and is only established to enforce group preference, then the law is nothing more than a raw exercise of power.
Well, again, you are having a very difficult time assembling your thoughts in a way that they logically follow each other.

Yes... law stands upon the necessary foundation of morality. But whether or not that morality has any relationship with "an objective good" is the core of the issue we are discussing. Many moral systems are not objectively good, but we base laws on them anyway. Shari'a would come immediately to mind as an example.

Some laws absolutely are exercises of raw power, some are not. Much of that depends on the moral system upon which they were founded.
Equestrian wrote:Your entire notion of "community consensus morality" fails to account for reform, or dissent.
Excuse me?

I believe you have that exactly backwards. The acknowledgment of even the possibility of reform or dissent is an admission that moral systems cannot possibly be based on anything that is absolute. Moral systems evolve with the zeitgeist; this is simple historical fact.
Equestrian wrote: According to the consensus of the community in America, slavery was at one time considered morally right. The Abolisionits were therefore morally wrong. There was no objective reason to abolish slavery.
Ignoring that your final sentence does not actually follow from the previous two, how is that any different from:

"According to the consensus of the community in America, slavery is considered morally wrong. Any slaveholders are therefore morally wrong. There is no objective reason to establish slavery."

?

Both cases acknowledge that the moral system in place at the time in question was derived by community consensus. Both communities even used the identical information basis for defending their respective consensi; the Judeao-Christian Bible. Both the slavers and the abolitionists explicitly insisted that their moral system was founded on an absolute objective truth.

At least one of them was wrong.

Your entire position is premised on the existence of something for which you yourself appear to be having a hell of a time defending, and which you regularly find yourself accidentally attacking: "absolute" morality.
Equestrian wrote:Slavery is actually wrong. By actually wrong I mean that even if in the opinion of a person or community of persons or an entire society, slavery was right, it would still be wrong. Indeed, if everyone in the world thought that slavery is right, they would all be wrong. Slavery would still be actually wrong.
That is the current zeitgeist, yes. It is also your (and my) deeply held belief.

Still entire nations have existed that believed (as you do) in absolute morality, and yet sill disagreed with us on the issue of slavery.
Equestrian wrote:Standard form syllogism:

Premise 1) Slavery can be actually wrong only if moral law exists.

Premise 2) Slavery is actually wrong.

Therefore moral law exists.

Given the premises a moral relativist can never say that slavery is actually wrong in the way I defined above. At best, the moral relativist can say that slavery is wrong and that most people agree with him. He can never say that slavery is wrong in and of itself. All he can say is that he personally does not prefer slavery.

Find me a willing slave, and destroy the syllogism.
Why would I want to destroy the syllogism?

I simply point out that it says nothing about that moral law being absolute. It is therefore quite irrelevant to the discussion.
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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

You are of course entitled to be "consistent," though you could also have said "stubborn" or even "fanatical" and come to the same conclusion. That's not the issue.

Your problem is that you cannot have a meaningful morality without God.

About the physicist you wrote:

Wrong. I would never say the first since the physicist working alone is still part of the community that has interest regarding his action. It is still a moral question.

In the hypothesis, he is part of no community, no one is controlling him, no one even knows of his work. There is no interest regarding his action, just as you have no interest in what a Sfingman Gorph is doing inside his pod on the Planet Grabulax or a newborn squid in Capri.

What community is he a part of? And what about that business of mediating?

You didn't really answer the question, did you? And you didn't because your view of morality isn't broad enough to contemplate it.

For your reference this is what you said: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

AND

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

But in this example, there is no community, and no mediator, no cops, no kids, no wife, no priest, no rabbis, no friends, Just him, the physicist, the whole world and a switch.

Naturally you and everyone WOULD say: "No please, don't flip the switch!" But no one knows. We are merely to count on his (I quote) "personal interests, integrity, security, happiness and sense of well being."

Well, he's personally interested even at the cost of his own life of being intellectually vindicated.

His integrity is impeccable: he has no debts, he recycles his beer cans, regularly pays his alimony and has salt licks outside his home/labratory for the deer.... But for the sake of the story, let's have him diagnosed with a malady that will anyway cause his death in a matter of weeks. So he's got nothing to live for.

And like you, he's very consistent. What does he care?

In your morality, no one is going to judge him. He has no eternal soul and nothing is sacred. He's spent countless hours, vasts sums and many sleepless nights doing the math. It's what he's living for.

In his situation only a notion of God could reach him. That's the only community, FORCED community even if only in the form of a niggling doubt, that's left.

Admittedly this is an extreme example, though there is already a "buzz" about world-ending experiments.

http://www.cracked.com/article_16583_5- ... world.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Not to mention tons of science fiction scenarios.

But being alone, outside a community, with nothing but your conscience is very common. There just aren't enough mediators to go around (at the moment). And anyway, communities might be in a flux (wars, upheavals, strikes).

And that's why that other community - God - linked anyhow to the miracle of existence, (that makes nonsense out of any intellectual consistency) is important.

There are many times when THAT is the only community.

So it might not matter to you, but your morality does not contemplate the above hypothesis of world destruction. In fact, it does not contemplate MAN vis-à-vis the world, but organizations. In other words, just brute force.

You've got nothing to say to the guy, unless you change the elements of your definition of morality.

Now imagine a link, a super-secret, impossible to trace phone/ radio / internet link between you and him.

What would you say? What would you show? How important would your intellectual consistency be in your argumentation (imaginably trying to dissuade him)?

Would crying and begging or seriously discussing his calculations make much of a difference? Would showing him prairie sunsets and youtube videos of happy girls playing hopscotch be out of place? You would probably appeal to beauty, emotions, compassion, reason... etc. etc.

There would be no intellectual consistency. Or rather, everything smacking of life, intellectual or not, would be consistent.

Those are the arguments of God: not A=B, B=C, A=C - (just a petty mind game) - but life versus death. Light versus darkness. Good versus evil. Everything with all its paradoxes, varieties, potentials, things yet to be discovered, formulae yet to be concocted, pleasures and pains, VS NOTHING, VS all lost.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:Your problem is that you cannot have a meaningful morality without God.
Your problem is that you cannot defend that position without contradicting yourself repeatedly.
IoshkaFutz wrote:In the hypothesis, he is part of no community, no one is controlling him, no one even knows of his work. There is no interest regarding his action, just as you have no interest in what a Sfingman Gorph is doing inside his pod on the Planet Grabulax or a newborn squid in Capri.
You have a massive, gaping, screaming non sequitur between those two sentences. There is global interest regarding his action.
IoshkaFutz wrote:What community is he a part of? And what about that business of mediating?
In this case the community is the entire population of the planet. "Mediation" is irrelevant.
IoshkaFutz wrote:You didn't really answer the question, did you? And you didn't because your view of morality isn't broad enough to contemplate it.
It cannot be answered because it is an incoherent hypothesis. In this case, it is not a question of whose morality is broad enough to contemplate a problem, it is a question of whose reasoning is coherent enough to frame a problem that is meaningful.

You are simply factually in error when you claim there is not community involved in this example. There is.
IoshkaFutz wrote:But in this example, there is no community, and no mediator, no cops, no kids, no wife, no priest, no rabbis, no friends, Just him, the physicist, the whole world and a switch.
Wrong. In this example there is a community. His actions entail a moral choice based on the consensus of that community. It is fascinating that you don't seem to keep missing that.

If you want to try again with a better example, I'm all ears.
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by CuteCoot »

IoshkaFutz wrote:I cited the hypothesis of the physicist working alone, who has the possibility of imploding the planet. Before him lies the ultimate moral choice. He holds in his hand life and death. What do you say and what do I?

You: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

Me (but only quoting God): "Thou shalt not murder."
Firstly, I do agree with Hux that this "hypothesis" is embedded in a context of a community, that is, of the whole world of living creatures.

Secondly, whether you specifically quote God or not, you are clearly invoking a community in your own response, that is, the community of God believers (and more specifically the community of people who believe that "Thou shalt not murder" is a divine quotation). You are bringing to bear their disapproval as a weighty argument in favour of your favoured course of action. And that argument would have no weight whatsoever if the community you're invoking was not a large and powerful one.

If the physicist had no love for any living thing and no belief in any kind of after life then perhaps community could be excluded but it's highly unlikely that anyone would be 100% bereft on either score.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by crazymonkie_ »

CuteCoot wrote:If the physicist had no love for any living thing and no belief in any kind of after life then perhaps community could be excluded but it's highly unlikely that anyone would be 100% bereft on either score.
It's definitely not even possible (save for those who are brain damaged, sociopaths, or have Autism Spectrum Disorders) to not have any love for any living being at all. We are social animals, and have been before we even became species Homo.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

THHuxley wrote:
IoshkaFutz wrote:Your problem is that you cannot have a meaningful morality without God.
Your problem is that you cannot defend that position without contradicting yourself repeatedly.
IoshkaFutz wrote:In the hypothesis, he is part of no community, no one is controlling him, no one even knows of his work. There is no interest regarding his action, just as you have no interest in what a Sfingman Gorph is doing inside his pod on the Planet Grabulax or a newborn squid in Capri.
You have a massive, gaping, screaming non sequitur between those two sentences. There is global interest regarding his action.

How can there be global interest in the dealings of (let's give the physicist a name) "Howard Smith" if no one knows? There WOULD be global interest, THAT'S without a doubt. But it's just him and his invention. So where's the non sequitor and if it is a non sequitor, how is it screaming?

Your problem is that you state that there IS global interest in something the world is unaware of. Where's the global interest? Seems to me that in my scenario, everybody is going about his day-to-day business. There's nothing on the news, no one is in a panic, there are no prayer groups. There's no special inter-governmental task force. It's just another day and people are worried about a tomorrow, completely unaware that through the act of a man, there will be no tomorrow. You win the howling non sequitor award, not I.

"There IS global interest regarding his action.

Where, how, when, who? Write the article up for the New York Times, would you? How big and thick do you want the headline? But please, when you write up the article, remember that you don't have a clue about the news, not even the scent of a clue.

Now if you mean that the rest of the world has an interest in living another day, I'll easily grant that. It's obvious, but we see with amused interest that the word you used in your description of moral systems "mediation" is now "irrelevant" even though the whole world will be destroyed by a purposeful human act. Therefore, by your standards, we cannot call such an act that murders every man, woman and child as well as all living creatures IMMORAL.

It's entirely up to Howard Smith's definition. He's his own community, and he made up his mind.

It seems to me that if such is the case, then YOUR idea of morality is irrelevant.

But one needn't resort to end-of-the-world scenarios. As already illustrated there are plenty of instances of NO MEDIATION combined with unilateral acts.

Mediation presupposes knowledge and at least some token of power sharing, even if lopsided, or shared accepted authority between the opposite sides. How does it apply to Howard Smith?

The world is ignorant of him and therefore powerless. He doesn't accept any authority (besides the fact that the authorities are in the dark).

So by your standards, the destruction of the world does not enter the moral realm.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

CuteCoot wrote:
IoshkaFutz wrote:I cited the hypothesis of the physicist working alone, who has the possibility of imploding the planet. Before him lies the ultimate moral choice. He holds in his hand life and death. What do you say and what do I?

You: "Outside of the context of a community, there can be no genuine moral questions."

Me (but only quoting God): "Thou shalt not murder."
Firstly, I do agree with Hux that this "hypothesis" is embedded in a context of a community, that is, of the whole world of living creatures.

Secondly, whether you specifically quote God or not, you are clearly invoking a community in your own response, that is, the community of God believers (and more specifically the community of people who believe that "Thou shalt not murder" is a divine quotation). You are bringing to bear their disapproval as a weighty argument in favour of your favoured course of action. And that argument would have no weight whatsoever if the community you're invoking was not a large and powerful one.

If the physicist had no love for any living thing and no belief in any kind of after life then perhaps community could be excluded but it's highly unlikely that anyone would be 100% bereft on either score.
Ciao Cutecoot,

I think you've forgotten something. It's not about me being part of a community of believers, numerous and powerful as it might be. It's about the physcist not being part of any community, not having any shared transcendental beliefs, not considering anything sacred. He's alone.

You say:

If the physicist had no love for any living thing and no belief in any kind of after life then perhaps community could be excluded but it's highly unlikely that anyone would be 100% bereft on either score.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death. It's instead highly likely that people have no love (shall we call it "attachment"?) for any living thing and no belief in anything except oblivion.

Hey, if it satisfies Huxley's consistent intellect, fine. Howard's free, unmediated act of world destruction doesn't enter the moral realm.

The next angle would probably describe him as "sick."... Well he IS sick and he knows it. He has a couple of weeks to live. On the other hand, he's quite brilliant and until now has been a good and quiet neighbor, paid all his debts and even gotten some poetic elements in his life watching the deer at his salt licks. The fact that he too will die after running his experiment doesn't bother him. And anyway suicide is a human right these days. The fact that everyone else will die doesn't bother him any more than any other suicide is worried about the consequences to others (spouse, children, colleagues, etc.). He is free.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:How can there be global interest in the dealings of (let's give the physicist a name) "Howard Smith" if no one knows?
You're joking right? You think that the rest of the world has no interest in their own survival just because they "don't know" that a lone physicist somewhere is about to blow it up? I am having a very difficult time reconciling your general eloquence with this strange conceptual lapse you seem to be experiencing.

"Interest" is a noun here. Not a verb.

I do not need to know that someone is about to kill me to have an interest in not being killed.

Your example is rendered completely incoherent by that single point.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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IoshkaFutz
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by IoshkaFutz »

"Mediating" Huxley... of course people have an interest in living. That's obvious. I was referring it to your definition: "Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."

If no one knows, there's no chance of mediating. Mediating, in this instance, of murderous world destruction, as you said, is "irrelevant," because it is one man, alone, unbeknownst to any other, doing the harm. Therefore by your definition, it would not be an immoral act.

Congratulations, the world was destroyed, but in your system, it's not immoral. If you don't believe me go over your definition again.

In the scenario, it's just the physicist, binary choice. Survival / doom. Kindly list the mediators and tell me what they would say, how they would intervene.
“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. His involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler led to his imprisonment and execution. 1906-1945

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THHuxley
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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by THHuxley »

IoshkaFutz wrote:"Mediating" Huxley... of course people have an interest in living. That's obvious. I was referring it to your definition: "Moral systems serve the single fundamental purpose of mediating competing interests between individuals, or between an individual and its community."
And they do. They mediate the competing interests... not the competing individuals. The latter is the function of law, not morality.
Ioshkafutz wrote:If no one knows, there's no chance of mediating. Mediating, in this instance, of murderous world destruction, as you said, is "irrelevant," because it is one man, alone, unbeknownst to any other, doing the harm. Therefore by your definition, it would not be an immoral act.
Ioshka... you are man fluent in multiple languages. As such, you should have more respect for language than to engage in such silly equivocation.

I am not speaking of an "act of mediation" in which a human "mediator" stands between the competing members of the community and actively guides them through resolution of a conflict. I am speaking of the role of moral systems themselves. Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests, "mediating" between them and setting the standard for which trumps which. The mediation of which I speak has already (in this scenario) taken place, and the result of that mediation is the moral conclusion that the interest of the rest of the world in living has a higher moral priority than his interest in conducting his experiment. It has nothing to do with any "mediation" between the physicist and the rest of the world.

If he destroys the world, it is an immoral act. It does not matter if anybody else sees it coming.

This is not really that hard, Ioshka.
The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Post by sword_of_truth »

Basically, Ioksha's argument is that if we strip away all other things except the concept of God, then the only thing left that can save us from the immoral is the concept of God.

In that case, if we strip away every other criteria, except MY subjective moral criteria, it is the only thing that can save us from the immoral, and I can also declare the superiority of my moral system, using this logic.

Is it just me or is this just one gigantic example of special-pleading?
"...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 sword_of_truth »

Slavery is actually wrong. By actually wrong I mean that even if in the opinion of a person or community of persons or an entire society, slavery was right, it would still be wrong. Indeed, if everyone in the world thought that slavery is right, they would all be wrong. Slavery would still be actually wrong.
Another point I forgot to address. I agree with all that, provided that it is qualified with the statement that I personally think it is wrong, even if no one else does. This follows from empathy. Empathy is an arbitrary attribute that evolution endowed certain living creatures with, so I do not consider it to be an entirely objective criteria. This does not mean that I do not possess empathy.

The problem is that "actually wrong" has been defined, but "wrong" has not been defined.

One of the nagging issues here is that it's not clear what people mean by the term "wrong". But unless one has an objective way of defining the term, making that definition concedes the point that morality is not objective in the sense that we mean. It seems rather absurd that there would be an objectively fixed way to define a mere word. A word is just a word. This is not to say that the definition is arbitrary from a human perspective, since there is a rough idea of what wrong means already. It's only arbitrary from an external, purely objective perspective. However, once a choice is made as to what the definition is, depending on how well-defined a definition we come up with, we can then say some things are objectively wrong according to the definition.

The reason why I don't want to say morals are objective boils down to two things:
1) There is no objective way to define a word.
2) Wrong has already been defined in ordinary English language as a word that is too imprecise to qualify as being objective.

My morality is objective in the sense that I think there is an objective way for me to determine what I personally consider to be moral, at least in many specific situations. But you have to agree to my moral premises, which are not objective.
"...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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