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Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 10:18 pm
by Brendalee
Wish someone would have told a certain maths teacher of mine that non-criminals cannot be tyrannical.

On the other hand, he DID at times use colourful expressions; At least, he did sometimes when speaking to me.


Nevermind. No shouting please. Sorry for the interruption. I'm leaving...........

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Mon May 04, 2009 10:39 pm
by THHuxley
IoshkaFutz wrote:Great, that's what I wanted you to admit. No rights, just power. Might makes right. At last we have your definition of morality. Very frank and honest... it just happens to be the opposite of morality and that's what needs to be known.
Of course I have admitted none of those things and agree with none of them.

Perhaps you will use that fabulous command of the language to consider this question:

How is no "objective right to live, of the 'Thou shalt not murder' kind" different from "no rights?"

Better yet.... consider this:

How is "Thou shalt not murder" a subjective rather than objective statement?

It appears that equivocation is the only rhetorical weapon in your entire arsenal.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:00 am
by THHuxley
Thou Shalt Not Murder

The delusion under which IoshkaFutz (and most other religionists) operate is no better demonstrated than in their bizarre belief that they actually possess an “absolute moral system.” A recent example in this thread is Ioshka’s assertion that the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder” creates for humanity “an objective right to live.”

There is not a community or nation on the planet (and damned few religions) that actually believe or behave as if anybody has “an objective right to live.” The concept of “the sanctity of life” is pure unadulterated hypocrisy, false in both tone and tint. While most cultures certainly consider human life of very great value… none truly consider it “sacred” as all permit its taking under certain circumstances.

When we give our police the authority to use deadly force, we have conceded that life is not sacred. When we accept the concept of “a just war,” we have conceded that life is not sacred. When we permit capital punishment, we have conceded that life is not sacred.

The very phrase, “Thou shalt not murder” is a subjective rather than objective statement, as the definition of “murder” is ambiguous and sometimes arbitrary. What is murder? Where does one draw the line? “Though shalt not murder” is not the same thing as “thou shalt not kill.” It allows the taking of human life in certain circumstances. It grants us a right to not "be murdered," but not “an objective right to live.” Under the flaccid protection of “thou shalt not murder” our lives are allowably forfeit just as long as it not be by “murder,” however we subjectively choose to define the term.

The sheer absurdity of the religionist’s claim that there is such a thing as “absolute morality” is no better demonstrated than by this complete and utter failure to possess absolute moral convictions themselves. This is the naked emperor of their discourse. They insist that there is an absolute morality, but they cannot tell us what it is and do not follow one themselves.

“Thou shalt not murder” is a statement of pure unadulterated moral relativism.

It is ultimately that false delusion of absolute morality that leads to the greatest atrocities of intolerance and bigotry. The blood soaked histories of the “exclusive monotheisms” Islam and Christianity gain their sanguinary character directly because their behavior is insulated from reason or question by the conviction that they possess an absolute moral system delivered directly from God. The moral relativist must always doubt their certainty, and reevaluate the morality of their choices. The moral absolutist has no doubt concerning the righteousness of the blood on their blade.

The slaughter of infidels is not “murder.” The persecution of the Jews is not “murder.” The victims of the Inquisition were not “murdered.” Millions of people across history have been slaughtered by those who believed that “Thou shalt not murder.”

Where, pray tell, is any sign of IoshkaFutz’s mythical “objective right to live?”

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:16 am
by crazymonkie_
THHuxley wrote: The blood soaked histories of the “exclusive monotheisms” Islam and Christianity gain their sanguinary character directly because their behavior is insulated from reason or question by the conviction that they possess an absolute moral system delivered directly from God.
This.

Right here.

Beautiful.


I remember a bit of George Carlin's last routine where he talks about 'rights' in the sense of the term that you four are talking about here. He said, in essence, that they were made up- that they were 'cute,' but that we made them up, 'like the boogeyman.' And that, as a result, we either have unlimited rights or no rights at all; his opinion was that the latter was true. Carlin meant unlimited rights in the sense that we could potentially do anything. Which I think is true.

This is why we have ethics, why we as human beings try to figure out ethical ways of living and treating other humans (and sometimes other species of living things). Ultimately, though, a moral system is only as good, only as reasonable, only as ethical, as the people creating and sustaining it. Good moral systems don't come from gods, they come from human beings; an inflexible system is far more prone to abuse, and has the extra disadvantage of being inflexible.

When it comes to 'ultimate authority,' which it seems many god believers of many flavors (yum yum :tongueout: ) have- the authority is finally with human beings. The best moral systems are those that minimize harm to the highest degree, and do not dehumanize other human beings- no matter what race, creed, sexual orientation, etc. I talked about this earlier, and was trashed for it by Equestrian- the idea of greatest good for the greatest number, aim for 100%.

If someone could please explain to me how this is not at least a solid base for further inquiry into morality and ethics, I'd be interested to hear it. I'd also be interested to hear some alternatives, because I don't see how it could be any better than that.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 12:06 am
by IoshkaFutz
You're not very polite, Huxley. I asked you "pretty please" for the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.

The INTERplay, the Community, the balancing of interests, the consensus were part and parcel of your definition of morality. And now you just slough it off... but you do so outside the bounds of your own logic.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

This is not an answer.

"Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests."

Always bearing in mind that in the scenario, the people don't have a clue and are therefore not at all aware of any competition, always bearing in mind that any and all codification is useless, always bearing in mind that there is no balance whatsoever, not even lopsided, but all power is on one side and all loss on the other...

Well you wrote this: "There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

I asked you "pretty please" for some examples of this INTERplay. You say "absolutely" no less.

I will grant you, as I did repeatedly that most normal people want to live and expect to live. But kindly stick to the scenario of unilateral action upon an unknowing humanity. If there is INTERplay between Dr. Smith and this unknowing humanity outside Dr. Smith's reckoning of it... please describe it for me. After all he is about to destroy the world (imaginably the ultimate immoral act).

The way I see it, Dr. Smith is Sword of Truth's "proud tyrant"... He is his own community of one, his own balance, his own consensus, his own codified or uncodified set of rules. He has all the elements with which you fellows described morality firmly in his hands. The only possible INTERplay is in his mind.

You said: "the community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other."

The moral system that exists at the moment of the act is called Dr. Smith's Moral System. For the sake of the story, he spent 10 years writing about it, more words than Thomas Aquinas ever wrote. He's a freethinker and got particularly interested in Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) the philosophical position that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented, that is to say "baseless." He discovered that there are no moral values with which to uphold a rule or to logically prefer one action over another.

Let's add that to your other concept and see how it applies to Dr. Smith.

So we have:

Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests.

"The community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other."


Okay, here goes:

Freethinker, nihilist, Dr. Smith CREATED a moral system for his community (which he describes as a mix of many but as ULTIMATELY of one - because man the social animal is born alone and dies alone); he created this moral system to codify the balance between his competing interest with the rest of humanity. Mostly a deranged and deluded humanity following baseless and falsely invented codes. And so to wrap it up, as you said and as Dr. Smith would probably agree: "the moral system that exists at the moment of the act, (in this case, Dr. Smith's moral system), is the one that matters.... no other."

Moral systems are man-made, Dr. Smith is a man and he made a moral system. Dr. Smith is a freethinker. He has links to the community, goes shopping, pays his taxes, he has voted, has invested in the stock market. He has no police record, excelled in school and University.

Now please, pretty please, tell me why his act is immoral with some consistency towards YOUR definition of morality.

You answered this.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

But that's not an answer. It's a side step. It begs the question (a terrific vice among you atheist believers who are supposedly fond of consistency).

Perhaps you should have said: there are always individuals who consider themselves outside of any and all communities. There are individuals who behave as individuals.

I really do think the answer is in the INTERplay, the "absolute" INTERplay you saw between Dr. Smith and the community.

Go there, Huxley... and then we'll see who's in a twist.

The community has an interest in living. How does it INTERplay with Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment?

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 12:39 am
by sword_of_truth
You're not very polite, Huxley. I asked you "pretty please" for the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.
It can be difficult to maintain politeness when one is talking to someone who is so obviously mistaken.


The INTERplay, the Community, the balancing of interests, the consensus were part and parcel of your definition of morality. And now you just slough it off... but you do so outside the bounds of your own logic.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

This is not an answer.

"Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests."

Always bearing in mind that in the scenario, the people don't have a clue and are therefore not at all aware of any competition, always bearing in mind that any and all codification is useless, always bearing in mind that there is no balance whatsoever, not even lopsided, but all power is on one side and all loss on the other...

Well you wrote this: "There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

I asked you "pretty please" for some examples of this INTERplay. You say "absolutely" no less.

I will grant you, as I did repeatedly that most normal people want to live and expect to live. But kindly stick to the scenario of unilateral action upon an unknowing humanity. If there is INTERplay between Dr. Smith and this unknowing humanity outside Dr. Smith's reckoning of it... please describe it for me. After all he is about to destroy the world (imaginably the ultimate immoral act).

The way I see it, Dr. Smith is Sword of Truth's "proud tyrant"... He is his own community of one, his own balance, his own consensus, his own codified or uncodified set of rules. He has all the elements with which you fellows described morality firmly in his hands. The only possible INTERplay is in his mind.
My "proud tyrant" is precisely the person who would KILL Dr. Smith, if necessary, to save the world. My "proud tyrant" is not present. If my "proud tyrant" was Dr. Smith, then due to his innate moral sense, he would not be a threat. So, don't bring MY "proud tyrant" into it. He's MINE. Only I have control over him. So, this is YOUR "proud tyrant", not mine.

You said: "the community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other."

The moral system that exists at the moment of the act is called Dr. Smith's Moral System. For the sake of the story, he spent 10 years writing about it, more words than Thomas Aquinas ever wrote. He's a freethinker and got particularly interested in Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) the philosophical position that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented, that is to say "baseless." He discovered that there are no moral values with which to uphold a rule or to logically prefer one action over another.
No, they are not baseless. They are inherent in us. But they are arbitrary. Clearly, you are artificially creating a problem where there is none. We have explained morals, not taken them away. There is no nihilism in our position--instead, YOU are, if you actually believe the nonsense you claim to believe, the nihilist who is only held in check by your religion. As such, you are morally deficient because you need a crutch. We are simply people who are able to function properly without religious crutches. This is not inherent in religious belief, but it is inherent in those who insist that we must have religious belief in order to have morals. They are the true nihilists.

It's a practical issue. 80% of Swedes are atheists and their country didn't spontaneously combust. All anyone really cares about is that people don't go around committing immoral acts. So, religious people making such arguments are just making a big fuss about nothing.

Let's add that to your other concept and see how it applies to Dr. Smith.

So we have:

Moral systems are created for the purpose of codifying the balance between competing interests.

"The community and the moral system that exists at the moment of the act is the one that matters.... no other."


Okay, here goes:

Freethinker, nihilist, Dr. Smith CREATED a moral system for his community (which he describes as a mix of many but as ULTIMATELY of one - because man the social animal is born alone and dies alone); he created this moral system to codify the balance between his competing interest with the rest of humanity. Mostly a deranged and deluded humanity following baseless and falsely invented codes. And so to wrap it up, as you said and as Dr. Smith would probably agree: "the moral system that exists at the moment of the act, (in this case, Dr. Smith's moral system), is the one that matters.... no other."

Moral systems are man-made, Dr. Smith is a man and he made a moral system. Dr. Smith is a freethinker. He has links to the community, goes shopping, pays his taxes, he has voted, has invested in the stock market. He has no police record, excelled in school and University.

Now please, pretty please, tell me why his act is immoral with some consistency towards YOUR definition of morality.

You answered this.

And even though we normally have ways of enforcing it, sometimes we don't, and always there are individuals who will act immorally regardless.

But that's not an answer. It's a side step. It begs the question (a terrific vice among you atheist believers who are supposedly fond of consistency).

Perhaps you should have said: there are always individuals who consider themselves outside of any and all communities. There are individuals who behave as individuals.

I really do think the answer is in the INTERplay, the "absolute" INTERplay you saw between Dr. Smith and the community.

Go there, Huxley... and then we'll see who's in a twist.

The community has an interest in living. How does it INTERplay with Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment?
We already answered. It's immoral because Dr. Smith has an innate moral sense. If not, then we call him a psychopath and lock him up. Since we cannot lock him up, well, that's tough luck. That's not our problem. It's Dr. Smith's problem. There's no precise definition of morality. It would presumably cause pain to people, which is an act normally prohibited by empathy. Those who have no empathy are criminals. They are not that way because of some philosophy, but because they are mentally ill.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 12:40 am
by Equestrian
TTHuxley wrote:
Equestrian wrote:By holding to moral relativism, you are holding to a position of moral neutrality.

No, I am not. That would be your first error in this post.
Then it's obvious that you do not have a clear understanding of the moral position for which you argue.

Moral relativism is the belief that there are no universally valid moral principles. Morals are subject to each individual, therefore what "ought" and what "ought not" is strictly derived from the individual; not derived from the group, community or society.

This argument is subjective because it is being argued that each individual determines what is morally right for him or her. Now if there are no universally valid right and wrongs, then there exists no objective point of reference to determined whose "right and wrong" is true. They are all equally valid.

If it is true that morals are derived from the individual and that there are no universal moral truths, then one can not recommend any moral action above another because any moral action would affirm the existence of a moral truth.

For example if I were to say "you must be tolerant of others," I'm making a moral claim that ought be acknowledged universally, thereby violating the principle that there are no objective moral principles.

Moral relativism can't be consistently carried out in the way we live our lives, all I would have to do to prove that it can not be consistently carried out is to take your wallet. You would immediately take umbrage and respond by saying "that's wrong," or express the iniquity of my action by assaulting me to reclaim your wallet.

Whether or not the pied piper of moral relativism and the mice that follow believe it, none of us at the end of the day are moral relativists.

TTHuxley wrote:Sometimes you come so close to "getting it" and then you turn and run screaming from the conclusions you so deeply do not want to reach.

Individuals "postulate a moral notion that cares nothing for the benefit of the community" all the time. We call them "psychopaths" and when they act on that personal moral notion in a way that violates our community established laws we call them "criminals."

What about that do you find contradictory?
I'll demonstrate the contradiction once again, this time I'll break it down remedially. Hopefully it will finally sink in.

First you are asserting that there are two points of origin from which morality is derived. One is from each individual and the other from community consensus. The former is subjective and the latter is objective.

1.) Moral relativism-subjective to the individual: morality is derived from each individual. Right and wrong are not codified, they are preferences.

2.) Community consensus-objective to the community: Morality is derived from what is advantageous for the community. Everyone in the community congruently holds to a set of moral codes established by traditions, customs and/or reason. Whoever violates these moral codes are punished. Right and wrong is objective to us in the community.

You are arguing from two ethical forms of relativism--subjectivism and conventionalism-- which are in direct conflict with each other. Subjectivism views morality as a personal decision (nothing is morally valid), where conventionalism views moral validity by communal acceptance.

The contradiction stands. If morality is derived from both the individual and community consensus, then I could make the moral claim that all relgionists should be executed and justify my claim by saying that it would be advantageous for our community to rid religious extremism. You would respond by saying that it opposes the moral code of the community, and in so doing, you would violate the principle of moral relativism. Moral relativism fails, as such so does your notion of morality. At least this particular view of morality--in which I referred to as subjectitility--fails.

I think the argument you are really advancing is that morality is derived from what is advantageous for the community, and that's it. Since the brunt of your argument hinges on conventionalism, which is commonly referred to as cultural relativism, that is what I'll focus on.
TTHuxley wrote:What does "function on the consensus of the community" even mean? If you stop a rapist from raping a woman you have acted on the moral system (and the legal system) emplaced by the community. That is a key reason we develop moral systems in the first place; to elicit behaviors that are of benefit to the community.


This presumes another moral imparative. If the key reason we developed a moral system was to direct behaviors to conform to what is advantageous to community, then what was the key reason to develop the moral system in the first place? What need is there to develop a "moral system" to engineer behaviors that benefit the community if human behavior is already directed by the need to benefit the community?

TTHuxley wrote:Now here is a perfect demonstration of the superiority of a rationally derived moral system to one alledgedly derived from "divine revelation." Slavery was not "advantageous to the community." It was advantageous to certain members of the community, at unacceptable cost to other members.

But it was accepted as moral based on the community consensus that it was part of "God's divine plane" for humanity. It was defended (at least in this country) by two groups of people, both explicitly basing their conviction on the text of The Bible. One group was the "Monogenists" who believed that slavery was justified by the "Curse of Ham" on the "black race." The other were the "Polygenists" who believed that slavery was justified because blacks were not even human, but "livestock" created on the Sixth Day of creation.

In this way, the moral system that allowed slavery based on "divine revelation" is inferior to a moral system that rationally includes a consideration of the costs of slavery and determines them unacceptable and detrimental to the well being of the community.
You are asserting that the moral notion of slavery back then is inferior to the moral notion of slavery today. Now that is amusing, because what you're really saying is that slavery is actually wrong.

You say:

"Slavery was not "advantageous to the community." It was advantageous to certain members of the community, at unacceptable cost to other members."

No, Mr. Huxley. According to your notion of morality, slavery must have been advantageous for the community and thus morally virtuous, as morality is derived from communal consensus, i.e. what is beneficial for the community.

It matters not one iota where the idea of slavery originated, the fact remains that slavery was established by the consensus of the community. And by your notion of morality, the act of enslaving another was morally virtuous.

You say:

"the moral system that allowed slavery based on "divine revelation" is inferior to a moral system that rationally includes a consideration of the costs of slavery and determines them unacceptable and detrimental to the well being of the community."

So because slaves cost too much, the people determined that slavery was a detriment to their community and decided to free them, give them equal rights and now slavery is immoral. This is patently absurd. Why not simply reduce the price of slaves instead of going through the blood and tears of the civil war and civil rights movement? reducing the price of slaves is far more rational and beneficial for the community than killing one another and ravaging the community.


If what is morally right is just defined as whatever the community majority believes is morally right, then a reformer (such as Martin Luther King) is morally wrong. You notion of community consensus leaves no room for any kind of moral reform because it implies that something needed changing with the community in the first place.

This means that Martin Luther King in trying to change the dominant racism in American society was morally wrong; abolitionists who tried to end slavery were morally reprehensible; Ali Sina who has made it his life work to bring about reform in Iran and the Islamic World at large, is morally wrong.

If it is true that morality is determined by what is beneficial to the community, then you would have to change the way yo view the moral reformers who went against cultural norms to change the way of society. Instead of viewing these reformers as heroes, you would have to view them as violating the already culturally determined standards of right and wrong. But you don't do you?

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 2:28 am
by sword_of_truth
TTHuxley wrote:

Equestrian wrote:By holding to moral relativism, you are holding to a position of moral neutrality.




No, I am not. That would be your first error in this post.



Then it's obvious that you do not have a clear understanding of the moral position for which you argue.
No, it's obvious that you impose your own conceptions on us and insist that everything means the same thing to us as it does to you.


Moral relativism is the belief that there are no universally valid moral principles. Morals are subject to each individual, therefore what "ought" and what "ought not" is strictly derived from the individual; not derived from the group, community or society.

This argument is subjective because it is being argued that each individual determines what is morally right for him or her. Now if there are no universally valid right and wrongs, then there exists no objective point of reference to determined whose "right and wrong" is true. They are all equally valid.
Equally valid in a sense that we don't care about. You will say that that's a contradiction because by not caring about it (i.e. actually going against it), we affirm the existence of a moral principle that is universally valid. No, we do not. We affirm a principle that is subjectively valid to us. In other words, in person A's view, it is wrong for person B to do so and so. It is just person A's view that it is wrong, not something universally valid. Hence, it is not a violation to the idea that it comes from individuals. By the way, it's not each individual determining it entirely consciously by choice, but unconsciously by upbringing and genes, and the upbringing includes social pressure from other people.

We already refuted this nonsense a while back.


If it is true that morals are derived from the individual and that there are no universal moral truths, then one can not recommend any moral action above another because any moral action would affirm the existence of a moral truth.
No, as I explained above.

For example if I were to say "you must be tolerant of others," I'm making a moral claim that ought be acknowledged universally, thereby violating the principle that there are no objective moral principles.
What frightful rigidity of thinking. Exactly as I stated at the beginning--imposing your own meanings on us. "You must be tolerant of others" is being interpreted in a totally inflexible way to mean just the right thing, so as to furnish the contradiction that you so desperately desire. When we say "you must be tolerant to others", it means you must do so in order to have our moral approval. That's it. It doesn't mean that there is some giant stone tablet levitating over the skies of Madagascar with an inscription that says, "you must be tolerant to others" that is binding on all humans, subject to the penalty that the flying spaghetti monster will make you eat his disgusting appendages for all eternity in the afterlife if you fail to obey. I stated long ago that our moral statements MEAN something different than yours do.


Moral relativism can't be consistently carried out in the way we live our lives, all I would have to do to prove that it can not be consistently carried out is to take your wallet. You would immediately take umbrage and respond by saying "that's wrong," or express the iniquity of my action by assaulting me to reclaim your wallet.

Whether or not the pied piper of moral relativism and the mice that follow believe it, none of us at the end of the day are moral relativists.
If I say it's wrong, that's my personal opinion that it's wrong. Wrong is not a precisely defined term. It's just a disapproval of the act in question. That's it. It doesn't mean, "objectively wrong". Nobody thinks about whether it's subjective or objective wrong when they say it. They just say it. Would you respond, "what do you mean, is it wrong in your opinion, or is there some external source of moral truth, according to which it is wrong?" No. It's a practical issue. It does not require moral philosophy to figure it out. Of course, none of us are moral relativists in your ridiculously narrow-minded sense.

If YOU say it's wrong, you mean it's objectively wrong. If I say it's wrong, I mean, it's my opinion that it is wrong. I don't bother to say, "it's my opinion that it's wrong". The distinction is unimportant for the purposes of the situation in question. The term wrong in the present context is ambiguous and might refer to ANY notion of wrong. It is left unspecified which notion of wrong is being used. Hence, one may perfectly well carry out moral relativism in the way we live our lives.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 3:43 am
by THHuxley
IoshkaFutz wrote:You're not very polite, Huxley. I asked you "pretty please" for the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.
I have no obligation to knock down the straw men you set up. You are the one who introduced the concept of "inteplay," not me.

I have laid out my position, you keep attacking a different one. We are done here.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:45 am
by CuteCoot
Equestrian wrote:Moral relativism is the belief that there are no universally valid moral principles. Morals are subject to each individual, therefore what "ought" and what "ought not" is strictly derived from the individual; not derived from the group, community or society.
The best way to represent a "universally valid moral principle" is to say that "it comes from God", that is, from something that transcends any human community in any given time and place.

Morals cannot be subject to each individual in the sense that his interests alone are being considered. That's not morality in anyone's definition.

The moral atheist (or non-theist or non-believer in a personal God who validly dictates moral law) is not an individual concerned only with his own interests. He is something far more important than that. He is someone who is listening to the concerns of the whole community and not only to some priestly power elite. That, in my view, makes him a lot more moral than any of the absolutists I've ever come across.

You and Ioshkafutz are speaking for the absolutist standpoint and it's quite clear that you are listening to no one else but your own voices.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:52 am
by THHuxley
Equestrian wrote:Then it's obvious that you do not have a clear understanding of the moral position for which you argue.
That's not the only option that would account for our disagreement.
Equestrian wrote:Moral relativism is the belief that there are no universally valid moral principles. Morals are subject to each individual, therefore what "ought" and what "ought not" is strictly derived from the individual; not derived from the group, community or society.
No. It is not. There can be no moral questions if only the "individual" is considered. Outside of the context of a community, "morality" is meaningless.
Equestrian wrote:I'll demonstrate the contradiction once again, this time I'll break it down remedially. Hopefully it will finally sink in.

First you are asserting that there are two points of origin from which morality is derived. One is from each individual and the other from community consensus. The former is subjective and the latter is objective.
No. You are not even close. I will repeat again my position in the hope that this time a miracle will occur and you will finally understand it.

First... you are confusing the purpose of moral systems with the origin of moral systems. The purpose of a moral system is to mediate between the competing interests of individuals, or between individuals and their communities. It is all about delivering the greatest net benefit to the community.

Not all moral systems, however actually achieve that purpose. And this is primarily based upon how they originate.

A moral system that actually does represent community consensus (i.e. a rationally derived moral system) is generally superior to a moral system that is imposed by force or intimidation against the consensus of the community. The latter include most religious moral systems that claim a revelatory origin.

Now... I do not believe that moral systems derive from two points of origin. I believe that a rationally derived moral system derives from a process that has at least two consecutive steps.

Moral systems do not and cannot directly derive from any individual. Instead, the initial determination of "good" and "bad" is an individual exercise... i.e. we each evaluate goodness of badness based upon our personal sense of how we desire to be treated by others. This is very personal, very individual, likely to be somewhat diverse, and sometimes quite pathological. This is also why any individual's or any any small group's determination of "good" or "bad" cannot serve as the foundation for a moral system. There are people whose valuations of "good" or "bad" would be destructive to the community's interests, and they cannot be allowed to establish moral authority.

It is the posterior process of building a community consensus that allows us to account for individual pathology and protect ourselves, as a community, from the destructive potential of the patholog or psychopath. It is there that we assemble, for the first time, a moral system that codifies the community's consensus regarding what is most widely understood and shared regarding "good" and "bad." We each bring with us our individual conclusions regarding "good" and "bad" and together reach agreement over which "goods" are assigned moral weight as "oughts." Some but not all individually perceived "goods" will make the cut to become "oughts." There will be compromises and disagreements, but the end result of this rational process will be a moral system that, while not universally followed, still serves as the framework for the community's ability to influence behavior for the good of the whole.

So... the first step, individual assessment of "good" vs. "bad" is a subjective and relative exercise. And the second step, community assessment of "oughts" is also a subjective and relative exercise, though it strives to utilize objective inputs when available.

That's how it should work. That's not how it always works.

This process as described is the "rational" process which I strive to defend. But it historically has often been short circuited by brute force and intimidation. While the first step goes on constantly by default, the second step of consensus building is sometimes left out completely, and an individual or small group imposes a moral system designed to benefit that small group, not the larger community. It is these circumstances that generally create the "immoral" moral systems that are so often characteristic of dictatorships and theocracies.

The fact that dogmatic moral systems like Christianity and Islam skip the step of building community consensus accounts for the often immoral behavior of the members of the preferred group.
Equestrian wrote:You are arguing from two ethical forms of relativism--subjectivism and conventionalism-- which are in direct conflict with each other. Subjectivism views morality as a personal decision (nothing is morally valid), where conventionalism views moral validity by communal acceptance.
I am not. I am simply deferring to what "is" before pretending to determine what "ought."

All moral systems are human derived. All moral systems are relative, even those that do not realize it. No moral systems require a miraculous explanation; neither the good ones nor the bad ones
Equestrian wrote:This presumes another moral imparative. If the key reason we developed a moral system was to direct behaviors to conform to what is advantageous to community, then what was the key reason to develop the moral system in the first place?
Huh? You just answered that yourself: to direct behaviors to conform to what is advantageous to the community.
Equestrian wrote:What need is there to develop a "moral system" to engineer behaviors that benefit the community if human behavior is already directed by the need to benefit the community?
To account for diversity, of course. Refer again to the discussion above regarding pathalogs and psychopaths.
Equestrian wrote:You are asserting that the moral notion of slavery back then is inferior to the moral notion of slavery today. Now that is amusing, because what you're really saying is that slavery is actually wrong.
I believe it is. It was not a rationally derived moral system, and so it ended up being immoral.

There are bad moral systems. These are the ones that fail, for whatever reason, to serve their purpose of protecting the shared interests of the community. They are the ones that violate rational community consensus.
Equestrian wrote:No, Mr. Huxley. According to your notion of morality, slavery must have been advantageous for the community and thus morally virtuous, as morality is derived from communal consensus, i.e. what is beneficial for the community.
No, Mr. Equestrian. According to my notion of morality slavery is an immoral system because it is not advantageous for the community. And it is not advantageous at least partly because the entire community (to include the slaves) was not part of the process of building consensus.
Equestrian wrote:So because slaves cost too much, the people determined that slavery was a detriment to their community and decided to free them, give them equal rights and now slavery is immoral. This is patently absurd.
I was not referring to the cost of slaves. I was speaking of the societal costs.
Equestrian wrote:If what is morally right is just defined as whatever the community majority believes is morally right, then a reformer (such as Martin Luther King) is morally wrong.
No. A reformer such as Martin Luther King is the catalyst for a new, more rational consensus. He was a critical advocate for stepping back from a moral system imposed by force that benefited only a certain part of the community and changing the moral system to be more rational, more comprehensive, more genuinely consensual and ultimately superior.

You need to get off the oblivious "moral neutrality" misconception that undermines your effort to understand what is being said.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:01 am
by IoshkaFutz
THHuxley wrote:
IoshkaFutz wrote:You're not very polite, Huxley. I asked you "pretty please" for the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.
I have no obligation to knock down the straw men you set up. You are the one who introduced the concept of "inteplay," not me.

I have laid out my position, you keep attacking a different one. We are done here.
Ciao Huxley,

Well you wrote this: "There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

Your words, (which I contest). How is it a strawman? Goodness gracious, you even said "absolutely"!!!!

Do I have this power over you? Can I post in your name? You made a statement and it's the key to your description of what morality is.

Who's in a twist? Calling something he himself has said (just go and check if you don't believe me) and labeled "absolutely" as a strawman?

"A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position."

Huxley said: ""There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

IoshkaFutz asked: "Please, pretty please, show me the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.

Now Huxley says: "I have no obligation to knock down the straw men you set up. You are the one who introduced the concept of "inteplay," not me."

Complimenti!



"We are done here"?

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:17 am
by CuteCoot
THHuxley wrote:A moral system that actually does represent community consensus (i.e. a rationally derived moral system) is generally superior to a moral system that is imposed by force or intimidation against the consensus of the community. The latter include most religious moral systems that claim a revelatory origin.
There are really two issues entwined here leading to possible confusion. The first is the value of rational derivations versus the irrational; the second is the value of voluntary adoption of a moral system in contrast to its imposition by force.

I'm not myself convinced that the rational always trumps the irrational. New ideas, especially, seem irrational because they go so much against the status quo or currently received wisdom. For example, Jesus wanted us to base our relationships on love rather than power and to many to this day, this seems a silly and irrational idea. Martin Luther King wanted us to love one another also, no matter the colour of our skins. Both of these men persuaded rather than coerced but I think that love (empathy, compassion, respect if you like polysyllabic words) has an irrational component to it. Why love one another? Why not dominate and exploit to one's heart's content?

You also have a problem when the consensus wants the irrational as happened when Muslims rejected the rationalist Mutazilite approach being forced onto them. Were they rejecting the coercion? Or the rationality?

The trouble is that faith in a vision (including especially an embedded moral vision) must be held by most of the community and for those whose interests are less well represented by that system, then some form of coercion must occur. Unless you had a complete 100% consensus you'd always have those outsiders needing to be controlled, imprisoned, rejected, or otherwise excluded.

I don't believe that humanity will ever side fully with the rational. We are just not made that way. So it seems to me to be morally incumbent on you to accept that. And I think you do so long as your way of seeing things is also accommodated. So you're happy for people to attend church - I'm sure you do it yourself at times - but not happy to see Darwin dismissed. By contrast, others on this board are happy with what science produces by and large but are not happy to see God dismissed.

There are some very intelligent people - I'm thinking especially of those espousing a form of panpsychism as derived from Whitehead's work - who dismiss neither God nor Darwin. In my view, this pathway offers the current best hope for anything approaching a 100% consensus.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:22 am
by CuteCoot
IoshkaFutz wrote:Huxley said: ""There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

IoshkaFutz asked: "Please, pretty please, show me the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.
You're not gonna let go of your strawman, are you?
You keep getting told that the interplay is between *interests* and you keep asking for interplay between a person and a community.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:28 am
by CuteCoot
And furthermore, IoshkaFutz, you've ignored my posts because the man's conscience is just in his mind.
Right now I feel an obligation to go make dinner for my son (who is currently miles away but will return later this evening) rather than continuing to post on here. It's all happening in my mind ... which interest has priority.
Don't tell me there is no interplay between my and my son's interests.
Don't even tell me there is no current interplay between me and my son.
I'm off to make dinner now.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:43 am
by IoshkaFutz
CuteCoot wrote:
IoshkaFutz wrote:Huxley said: ""There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

IoshkaFutz asked: "Please, pretty please, show me the INTERplay between humanity's will to live and Dr. Smith's determination to run his experiment.
You're not gonna let go of your strawman, are you?

You keep getting told that the interplay is between *interests* and you keep asking for interplay between a person and a community.

Ciao Cutecoot,

Divergent interests doesn't mean that they are INTERplaying, especially when the action is extreme and unilateral. I can agree and have agreed, over and over again, that humanity wants and expects to live. I want to know how this interplays with Dr. Smith's planned experiment. Interests in a disembodied sense are just concepts. Like Huxley to me, Dr. Smith simply said "I'm done here." End of the interplay. Are we to imagine concepts that go on INTERplaying in some cosmic dimension?

If you are writing a novel and are only half way through it, is it already "interplaying" with some magical force called "the future book reviews by people who haven't read it yet?"

Jeeze, I thought we were dealing with materialists, but I see that we have entered a highly spiritual realm of disembodied interests duking it out. And naturally why imagine only opposite and divergent interests, all interests are then INTERplaying, those who in part agree and in part disagree... all the interests are at play. This is wonderful. Perhaps Huxley can report to the God thread and describe this magical Interplay and how it works.

The fact remains that he wrote: "There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."

His own statement enriched with an "Absolutely" no less, when questioned, got called a strawman.

He copped out and you popped in. Please tell me how the interests in the given scenario are INTERplaying. Remember that the world doesn't know about Dr. Smith whereas Dr. Smith obviously knows about the world on which he is about to operate with a unilateral act.

Is it some kind of Geist?

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 10:46 am
by IoshkaFutz
CuteCoot wrote:And furthermore, IoshkaFutz, you've ignored my posts because the man's conscience is just in his mind.
Right now I feel an obligation to go make dinner for my son (who is currently miles away but will return later this evening) rather than continuing to post on here. It's all happening in my mind ... which interest has priority.
Don't tell me there is no interplay between my and my son's interests.
Don't even tell me there is no current interplay between me and my son.
I'm off to make dinner now.
Ciao CuteCoot,

He is your son, you know him and he knows you, both he and you have expectations. You've probably talked over the phone.

But hey, a Mrs. Vigilotti who lives in Greenland is also cooking dinner for your son. This is closer to the scenario. Is there Interplay? Your son has never met Signora Vigilotti. If so, please describe it.

Is it some sort of Universal "hum" or "vibration" that the stone-out hippies used to rap about? Is there some sort of "dinner-for-Cutecoot's-son-DOM" tha exists and INTERplays.

Unaware interests interplay. Fine.

But I say that the interplay, of interests is in the mind of the perpetrator. For instance, I want to build a dam to provide drinking water to a community. I imagine the interests, the "good" of the community, meaning even the unborn, and I operate in this imagined interest. The unborn are not Interplaying with me. Notions of right and wrong, harmful and beneficial are interplaying in my mind.

If an ecological group - say - "Friends of the Earth" objects to my plan and calls for changes or alternatives, then one may speak of Interplaying. Otherwise, my plan for the dam is INTERplaying with ALL opinions near and far, pro and con, serious and facetious... a "hum" a "vibration"... Please don't bogart the joint,

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 11:32 am
by CuteCoot
IoshkaFutz wrote:Divergent interests doesn't mean that they are INTERplaying, especially when the action is extreme and unilateral.
Why not? The interplay doesn't go away just because the man is dangerous and callous.
I can agree and have agreed, over and over again, that humanity wants and expects to live. I want to know how this interplays with Dr. Smith's planned experiment.
Well, if you don't get it by now I don't think you ever will. I can fully understand Hux's exit in light of your obtuseness.
Interests in a disembodied sense are just concepts. Like Huxley to me, Dr. Smith simply said "I'm done here." End of the interplay. Are we to imagine concepts that go on INTERplaying in some cosmic dimension?
Interests are not material objects. Neither are "communication" or "interplay". So, we cease to discuss these immaterial things?
If you are writing a novel and are only half way through it, is it already "interplaying" with some magical force called "the future book reviews by people who haven't read it yet?"
Does "it" refer to the half-finished novel? I'm not sure a novel whether finished or not ever interplays with book reviews. I fail to see any relevance whatsoever in this scenario. I fail to see any moral issue whatsoever in this scenario.
Jeeze, I thought we were dealing with materialists, but I see that we have entered a highly spiritual realm of disembodied interests duking it out. And naturally why imagine only opposite and divergent interests, all interests are then INTERplaying, those who in part agree and in part disagree... all the interests are at play. This is wonderful. Perhaps Huxley can report to the God thread and describe this magical Interplay and how it works.
This is nonsensical waffle aimed at covering up your inadequacies. Try something else next time. I can still see your nakedness shining through.
The fact remains that he wrote: "There absolutely is contact and interplay between interests in your scenario."
And the fact remains that he meant what he wrote and you are obstinately failing to "get it".
His own statement enriched with an "Absolutely" no less, when questioned, got called a strawman.
Not by me, it didn't. The strawman is your own fantasy about what he meant.
He copped out and you popped in. Please tell me how the interests in the given scenario are INTERplaying. Remember that the world doesn't know about Dr. Smith whereas Dr. Smith obviously knows about the world on which he is about to operate with a unilateral act.
It's bleeding obvious how they are. Despite there being no material interplay between the parties at this point in time. Interests don't stop clashing - or interplaying - just because the two parties are no longer talking to each other.
Is it some kind of Geist?
Yes, and so what? It's a Geist in the same sense that "a community" is a Geist. It is not the material body of people that is being referred to here, or not simply that. Just as "society" is a Geist and "love" is a Geist and "truth" and "justice" are Geists. So what? If you want to talk in German and mean ghosts then stick to German. Otherwise "spirit" will do. And even grown up and rational people have no problem with such spirits, even if they gave up fear of ghosts a long time ago.

You really are a very dishonest and conniving interlocutor. Unethical actually.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 11:57 am
by CuteCoot
IoshkaFutz wrote:He is your son, you know him and he knows you, both he and you have expectations. You've probably talked over the phone.

But hey, a Mrs. Vigilotti who lives in Greenland is also cooking dinner for your son. This is closer to the scenario. Is there Interplay? Your son has never met Signora Vigilotti. If so, please describe it.
More nonsense. You admitted that Smith has been living a normal life as a member of his community, shopping, discussing the weather, etc. So he does know his community and his community knows him. He might be technically alone right now just as I'm technically separate from my son but the interplay of interests has not changed one iota for that.
Is it some sort of Universal "hum" or "vibration" that the stone-out hippies used to rap about? Is there some sort of "dinner-for-Cutecoot's-son-DOM" tha exists and INTERplays.
As I wrote above, it's bleeding obvious and doesn't require any special hum.
Unaware interests interplay. Fine.
Smith is not unaware of others' interests. He can see the bleeding obvious even if you can't.
But I say that the interplay, of interests is in the mind of the perpetrator. For instance, I want to build a dam to provide drinking water to a community. I imagine the interests, the "good" of the community, meaning even the unborn, and I operate in this imagined interest. The unborn are not Interplaying with me. Notions of right and wrong, harmful and beneficial are interplaying in my mind.
Well, the interplay would be in his mind. And in my view there is a real sense in which the unborn are indeed interplaying with him (though this may not be nor does it need to be Hux's view). Well, if all that *is* interplaying in your mind are mere notions then it may be because you lack any love whatever. It's also very likely that you're an absolutist as experience has taught me that absolutists tend to lack love (compassion) for their fellow creatures since they are instead obsessed with transcendental notions.
If an ecological group - say - "Friends of the Earth" objects to my plan and calls for changes or alternatives, then one may speak of Interplaying. Otherwise, my plan for the dam is INTERplaying with ALL opinions near and far, pro and con, serious and facetious... a "hum" a "vibration"... Please don't bogart the joint,
Inside your head, your plan for the dam is interplaying with those opinions you're aware of and that is all. You may be aware of the objections of "Friends of the Earth" but just not talking with them right now. So their objections are in play in your head. However, ignorance is no excuse before the law. Certainly not before God's law. Before taking such drastic action as anihilating the entire planet you should have done a little research regarding a wide range of interests. Including, in this case, potentially ALL opinions near and far, pro and con, serious and facetious.

Now, if all you're doing is planning a meal for a son, then all of that comprehensive research is unnecessary.

And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether Smith knows or cares about what he is doing. If he does destroy us all, he will have acted immorally, that is, against all of our interests.

Re: Polytheism and monotheism

Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 12:14 pm
by IoshkaFutz
I'm being unethical? The famous materialist / rationalist has entered a fantastic realm of conflicting spiritual entities. He said they "absolutely interplay" and I, the unethical bastard asked "how?" and in "what way?"

For my trouble in wondering about a statement he peppered with "absolute" I got accused of strawman activity!

In your answer you just expressed a dislike of me and my questions. You said: "You just don't get it."

In fact I don't... and that's why I asked, "please, pretty please" for an explanation.

I granted conflicting interests. I have trouble granting conflicting interests INTERplaying in my scenario, just as I have trouble with Signora Vigilotti of Greenland interplaying with your son. I want to know how it works. I DON'T get it, but I'm all ears, all hope. We're here to learn.

I'm a nice guy, just look at my Avatar and compare it to:

Image

But this thread which warped towards the meaning of morality is unduly fascinating me. We were told that morality is this and the other (mediating conflicting interests, codified this and that, consensus, Proud Tyrants) and now, via my scenario in which perhaps the greatest crime imaginable is about to be perpetrated on an unaware Human community, I see disembodied spirits at work (and cop-outs) and me being called names and insinuations made against my honorability.

Fine, I'm the Loch Ness monster and my soul is darker than Hitler's heart.

Now will you, or Huxley please tell me how conflicting interests interplay when one side has absolute and unilateral power and the other side is totally in the dark (like your son's knowledge of the dinner that Signora Vigilotti prepared for him in Greenland). I ask this of a materialist / rationalist.

If I am told that the interplay is totally in Dr. Smith's mind, I can understand it. If I am told that disembodied "spirits" are somehow duking it out in lala land... forgive me for being curious. This is new and unexpected from materialist / rationalists.

Why is it unethical to insist? What's wrong with the question?

The world is about to be destroyed and someone's method of morality cannot really call it immoral... not with any intellectual honesty and consistency... unless - so it seems to me - that person goes into a lala land.

I'm a religionist. I am deluded. I am irrational. I have a disease of the brain. So I've been told time and time again.

So please explain how interests (conflicting or otherwise) interplay unto themselves, disembodied.