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wokeem
05-28-2010, 11:05 PM
Organized religion seems to attempt to put the concept of morality on an objective scale, removed from circumstances and intentions, and to show it as an area that is only black and white. However, different religions across the globe differ on their view as to what can be considered truly "moral." Many eastern faiths (as well as native american) are pantheistic, that is, they are of the belief that god lies within every living thing, and that killing a creature of any kind (without need) is wrong. Other faiths are based on ritualistic sacrifices. Islamic extremists view suicide bombings as the epitome of self-righteousness, while others who practice the Muslim faith view these acts as morally reprehensible.

I think that morality is a somewhat cheap and shortsighted concept and is at best, culturally relative. I feel that a more rational and sensible distinction, and one more easily examined objectively, is whether or not certain actions are "pro-social."

What are your thoughts and opinions on this? Do you believe that certain actions are inherently right or wrong? Is there an objective value instilled in every action?

The Atheist
05-29-2010, 12:58 AM
I think that morality is a somewhat cheap and shortsighted concept and is at best, culturally relative. I feel that a more rational and sensible distinction, and one more easily examined objectively, is whether or not certain actions are "pro-social."

Yep; you've pretty much nailed it.

You've described humanist morality perfectly.


What are your thoughts and opinions on this? Do you believe that certain actions are inherently right or wrong?

Nope.

As you note, only religions try to suggest that things are inherently "immoral".

To me, it only works if you can explain how a cat is immoral for killing a bird.


Is there an objective value instilled in every action?

Not from where I sit, but others will differ.

Revolte
05-29-2010, 05:11 AM
Awesome I get to dig into my bit of psychology knowledge.

There are three stages of moral development. ( I can't remember their names and I don't feel like turning the lights on and getting uncomfortable to read through my text book at the moment )

1.What toddlers tend to have, where what they don't see doesn't exist. For example: I show the baby my hand, he believes it is real, I hide my hand under a sheet, he no longer believes in it.

2.What people in their teen years ( perhaps more so early teens ) have, where what they are told is right is right. For example: Laws, religion ect.. ect.. Though this may be disputable due to the rebellion in children, that's just my opinion anyway, and I may be a bit rusty on this, but as far as I know I'm hitting the nail.

3.The final stage, where what you believe is right or wrong comes from your own personal beliefs and emotions.



With that being said, moral codes are only owned by the individual's themselves and cannot or at least should not be generalized into any one culture or religion. Aside from maybe, religious radicals, a lot of people of the same faith have different views on their faith, different thoughts on what they would consider to be right or wrong, different justifications for their religious beliefs.

rabid reader
05-29-2010, 09:40 AM
humanity being able to justify. Whether their actions or their choices, they always seem to justify themselves in some sense or another. It could be something horrid like murder and yet they justify it as best they can, as if their action seemed not to have been evil just this once. I suppose a person is incapable of doing something bad without the purpose of seeing some good come from their action.

Eg. One might feel that theft is wrong but to commit a crime when incapable of feeding yourself, a person or individual might steal food, so that they can live. They did what they felt was wrong, but justify it by saying they committed a wrong for the chance at life, a greater good as some might say.

This would not be an unique characteristics of humanity, as it seems that all our wrong doings happen out of ignorance. We act in hopes of a beneficial end, but then latter regret it when that end is not achieved.

Eg. One might remorse that they had not spent their time during their math lectures (as an youth) playing tic-tac-toe with their friend, for they realize their options become more limited when they grow up.

Without hindsight the individual in question acted on the thought that immediate pleasure was the good, with he hindsight they can now not gain the lucrative wage of a civil engineer, which they now desire.

I think the easiest way to understand what I am saying is to hypothetically imagine a human that knew everything, whether or not this is possible is irrelevant merely for hypothetical purposes can we assume this human exists. This human that knows everything, knows what is good, whether that good is individualistic, whether it is socialist, whether it is the worship of green onions, is really quite irrelevant. Since this human knows everything, and knows what good is, this human will never be wrong, can never do bad, because it is impossible for a person to consciously do something they know to be wrong and unbeneficial in anyway toward accomplishing “the good.” People who do this under the individualist sense would see hard working people in first world countries producing less product in more expensive working conditions and note the effect that has as direct to their profit margins. This person, whose believes what benefits himself is "the Good" will then see a third world country with little labour laws and no minimum wage, realize the increase in personal profit and will be forced by their definition of "the good" to comply with their justification to move that company. Some would call this taking advantage of this third world nation human nature, I would disagree. I believe that it is derived from their nature, though. There have been known selfless communities, or people who have existed, they acted on their view of a social "good" and it is just as natural for them to share as it is for the individualist to take. Most earlier and modern hunter gather societies emulate this. The bottom line is that if there is on "objective" good, it will either be found via luck or omnipotence, but humans as a species are driven to commit their "good or bad deeds" through their subjective understanding of what is good.

My argument is not to claim that humans can achieve omnipotence, but rather I was trying to make a claim that we, as a species, naturally try to be good. Extrapolating my theory would be that each of us have conceived a different thought of what good is, and that certain people hold things like: “good for one’s self” as being better then: “good for a society,” and visa versa. If they believe that good is what benefits oneself their actions will reflect that principal. Which is where we see things like greed and excessive ambition come into play. If you believe what is good for society or humanity as a whole outweighs what is good just merely to you, your actions will reflect that too, (Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Caesar Chavez ect...).

Expanding even further, if you can control what other people consider the good, you can control the actions of those people, and you can see that with various cults, where brainwashing is seen, or you see it in the height of the Church in Europe and in Nazi Germany. Our desperation as a species to attain the good is so extreme that for some they become slaves to that attainment. Not all of course because as it has been proven with the fall of all these organizations, there are some in the world who naturally question and examine and begin to corrode the power that these organizations have over people's conception of the good.

And then I come back to the thing that all my social thoughts return to, which is education. This is where our concepts of the good are established, through our education. If we as a society wish to deem that the individual is the most important thing in the world, our education must reflect that and if we deem that it is the community that is to be relished then our education should build around that. Or we can leave it as it is, but at least we can acknowledge that it is not human nature to be greedy, it is human nature to try for goodness, almost a human obsession, that if we cater to correctly, can be rationalized and thereby make all our actions more purposeful. This is the true power of this theory: you can help push people to value something as "the good" or even the "greater good" you can control there actions, to a degree and if they step out of line you have them demonize themselves with guilt, not saying that I want to do this, but it is something that people can make themselves aware of.

I think the easiest way to understand what I am saying is to hypothetically imagine a human that knew everything, whether or not this is possible is irrelevant merely for hypothetical purposes can we assume this human exists. This human that knows everything, knows what is good, whether that good is individualistic, whether it is socialist, whether it is the worship of green onions, is really quite irrelevant. Since this human knows everything, and knows what good is, this human will never be wrong, can never do bad, because it is impossible for a person to consciously do something they know to be wrong and unbeneficial in anyway toward accomplishing “the good.” People who do this under the individualist sense would see hard working people in first world countries producing less product in more expensive working conditions and note the effect that has as direct to their profit margins. This person, whose believes what benefits himself is "the Good" will then see a third world country with little labour laws and no minimum wage, realize the increase in personal profit and will be forced by their definition of "the good" to comply with their justification to move that company. Some would call this taking advantage of this third world nation human nature, I would disagree. I believe that it is derived from their nature, though. There have been known selfless communities, or people who have existed, they acted on their view of a social "good" and it is just as natural for them to share as it is for the individualist to take. Most earlier and modern hunter gather societies emulate this. The bottom line is that if there is on "objective" good, it will either be found via luck or omnipotence, but humans as a species are driven to commit their "good or bad deeds" through their subjective understanding of what is good.

Some might wonder if there is a practicality to this, and I say there might be. In the understanding that a single principal may be the root to the nature of a human being, we may better appreciate the education we perform. For instance, the individualist principal that is found in our media, via movies, music, news, celebrities, may be the cause for the west "naturally" customizing itself to consumerism. Where a person who was born in a farming community, first nations reserve, Brazilian tribe, may find themselves inclined toward a community oriented good, this seeming almost natural to them to take care of other members of their community when down on their luck, to have community festivals dedicated to sharing (potlucks) and other various events. These seemingly opposite views of human nature, I believe can be encompassed in the theory that the very nature of humanity was the attainment of their good.

hillwalker
05-29-2010, 09:45 AM
History certainly proves that morality can be objective depending on the situation at the time an 'antisocial' act was committed - one generation's 'terrorists' often become the next generation's 'freedom fighters' (and even end up as 'the government' further down the line).

Personally I believe everyone should be guided by 'do as you would be done by' - it might ruffle some feathers but it is preferable to having some 'Big Brother' (whether political or religious) telling us what to accept as right and what to reject as wrong.

BienvenuJDC
05-29-2010, 09:54 AM
morality can be objective depending on the situation at the time

Is this an oxymoron? It seems to be very contradictory.

hillwalker
05-29-2010, 10:07 AM
Doh, my error.

Objective/Subjective - please cross out the intended word.

Dodo25
05-29-2010, 10:53 AM
@ Rabid Reader, you make excellents points about how ignorance or a 'wrong perspective' causes people to do bad, even though they all think they're doing 'good'.

Also the thought experiment about an omniscient human (which you posted twice btw) is the right way to tackle the question, in my opinion.

Where I disagree is that there is no 'good' in the absolute sense. You can't just 'know what is good'. As you said, then comes the question 'good for what?'

Just like in mathematics, ethics needs certain axioms to start out with. There needs to be a foundation, a system of reference, and only after postulating this (relative) system, an omniscient being can make calculations and 'know what is good' in that particular system.

The most intuitive example would be something along the lines of utilitarianism: 'Good is whatever maximizes happiness and minimizes suffering'. There are certain problems with this, i.e. it would justify feeding people with drugs that make them happy yet take away their 'free will'. So an ammendment that stresses the importance of human liberty and decision making is needed too.

After having established such a 'dogma', then every action's consequences can be judged. In this way, I think there exists an 'objective', but not absolute ethical system.

Cunninglinguist
05-29-2010, 12:16 PM
Yep; you've pretty much nailed it.

You've described humanist morality perfectly.



Nope.

As you note, only religions try to suggest that things are inherently "immoral".

To me, it only works if you can explain how a cat is immoral for killing a bird.



Not from where I sit, but others will differ.


I find The Atheist rather expeditious to jump to conclusions in most of his forum posts, and typically I find these presumably well intentioned but inconsiderate and slightly hubris posts are rather forgivable, though I find this one obdurately irksome because, though he may not know it, he probably does not truly believe what he says, and hypocrisy is quite unpardonable when something can be done about it.

I find moral relativism a very ill-thought out viewpoint. For one the term “moral relativism” is an oxymoron. To insinuate that all morals are relative is to insinuate that they all adhere to the same relative nature, thereby not being entirely relative. Of course you can hold this view, I still think it is rather uneducated, but it surely warrants a name other than moral relativism.

Aside from purely semantic arguments which ultimately do not much improve our understanding, I will show why moral relativism is the child of an unsound argument using what I presume to be premises you believe in. I assume, since, as your name implies, you are an atheist, you believe in evolution; and it is clear that evolution has designed our being to possess certain values. E.g. we all intrinsically value water and food, they help us live, we all value shelter (it is probably in accordance with this principle that the child is so fascinated by caves and the like), it protects us, we all value intimate companionship, we are designed to value procreation whether it be of ideas, or children, or both, and most notable we are all designed to want to be happy, etc. So there is no doubt that we’re designed with inherent values, which can be observed without even accepting the idea of evolution; however evolution offers an elegant explanation as to where they came from.

It is quite impossible to refute that what is moral is what actions and states of beings are what are in accord with what we value. In this way morality and values are forever married to each other. The typical consequnetialist view now, and ever since utilitarianism and before is that, as Percy Shelley so eloquently puts it: “It is admitted that a virtuous or moral action, is that action which, when considered in all its accessories and consequences, is fitted to produce the highest pleasure to the greatest number of sensitive beings.” (Essay on Speculations on Morals) However the clever reader will note that this theory only judges a man by his methods and not his intentions thereby allowing wickedly intentioned men to gain the epithet of moral and well intentioned men to never acquire it, but that point is the subject of a different forum.

In light of both these views I think it is quite impossible to contest that evolution did not all design us with “moral values,” as it were, e.g. killing others is bad, working together is good (through evolution we are designed to inherently know teamwork aids in our survival far more than fighting does, and naturally those of us who have the capacity for teamwork are those who turned out to be most fit to survive). In this sense there is at least a base set of moral values that are not relative that do, in fact, make things inherently moral or inherently immoral. We may call these moral maxims “objective” but in this use of the term it would merely mean the “collective subjective.”

Dodo25
05-29-2010, 12:49 PM
I assume, since, as your name implies, you are an atheist, you believe in evolution;

And any reasonable non-atheists ACCEPTS (better word for it) evolution as well, because the evidence is overwhelmingly convincing.



and it is clear that evolution has designed our being to possess certain values. E.g. we all intrinsically value water and food, they help us live, we all value shelter (it is probably in accordance with this principle that the child is so fascinated by caves and the like), it protects us, we all value intimate companionship, we are designed to value procreation whether it be of ideas, or children, or both, and most notable we are all designed to want to be happy, etc. So there is no doubt that we’re designed with inherent values, which can be observed without even accepting the idea of evolution; however evolution offers an elegant explanation as to where they came from.

[..]

In light of both these views I think it is quite impossible to contest that evolution did not all design us with “moral values,” as it were, e.g. killing others is bad, working together is good (through evolution we are designed to inherently know teamwork aids in our survival far more than fighting does, and naturally those of us who have the capacity for teamwork are those who turned out to be most fit to survive). In this sense there is at least a base set of moral values that are not relative that do, in fact, make things inherently moral or inherently immoral. We may call these moral maxims “objective” but in this use of the term it would merely mean the “collective subjective.”

What you're saying is right, but you are omitting things. Evolution has indeed equipped us with some form of moral sense, yet that doesn't justify calling it 'moral'. After all, evolution has also wired xenophobia, selfishness and aggression into our brains (to certain extents at least).

Biology provides the foundation of possible experiences, emotions and desires. The goal of any successful ethical system is to reach the best conclusions that take into account the foundations.

I very much like the last sentence about 'collective subjective', this is pretty much the crucial point. It's similar to what I referred to as the axiom (actually even better because it kind of justifies it).

Cunninglinguist
05-29-2010, 04:06 PM
And any reasonable non-atheists ACCEPTS (better word for it) evolution as well, because the evidence is overwhelmingly convincing.



What you're saying is right, but you are omitting things. Evolution has indeed equipped us with some form of moral sense, yet that doesn't justify calling it 'moral'. After all, evolution has also wired xenophobia, selfishness and aggression into our brains (to certain extents at least).

Biology provides the foundation of possible experiences, emotions and desires. The goal of any successful ethical system is to reach the best conclusions that take into account the foundations.

I very much like the last sentence about 'collective subjective', this is pretty much the crucial point. It's similar to what I referred to as the axiom (actually even better because it kind of justifies it).

In the interest of time I felt obligated to omit things, leaving suggestiveness at the expense of clarity, like any poet. I just want to make a distinction that I think you have missed, though I may be wrong, through no fault of your own (I didn't clarify this); that is, a value is a moral value when it has in some way to do with the condition of another human being or beings. Since we inherently possess these values I would have to adamantly argue that evolution has equipped us with some moral values.

As for the evolution thing, I have to agree with you that “accept” is a better word than believe, however I had chosen it because it comes off as a more open-minded word to use—a symptom of an overly diplomatic person. However Darwin only supported his theory of evolution using a posteriori knowledge, I am pretty sure it can be proven with a priori knowledge.

Dodo25
05-29-2010, 04:34 PM
In the interest of time I felt obligated to omit things, leaving suggestiveness at the expense of clarity, like any poet. I just want to make a distinction that I think you have missed, though I may be wrong, through no fault of your own (I didn't clarify this); that is, a value is a moral value when it has in some way to do with the condition of another human being or beings. Since we inherently possess these values I would have to adamantly argue that evolution has equipped us with some moral values.

It is a very difficult subject and I find it hard to phrase my view in an internally consistent way. I see what you mean. What I'm doubting is just that the moral values evolution has equipped us with are truly ethical. Because evolution doesn't care about anything, it's a non-teleological, mindless process. We can definitely say that we have inbuilt 'morals', but that's not the whole story and these basic feelings should serve as kind of 'direction' indicators. If that makes any sense at all..

The reason I say this is that morality in our ancestors always rested on conditions. Kin selection ('be nice to relatives because they share your genes') and reciprocal altruism ('I scratch your back, you scratch mine') are the forms of cooperation found in the animal kingdom. But things like 'being nice to unrelated strangers unlikely to ever pay you back' have no evolutionary benefits.



As for the evolution thing, I have to agree with you that “accept” is a better word than believe, however I had chosen it because it comes off as a more open-minded word to use—a symptom of an overly diplomatic person. However Darwin only supported his theory of evolution using a posteriori knowledge, I am pretty sure it can be proven with a priori knowledge.

I'm not sure if I am understand it correctly. If I am, then I think you really should do that. Being 'politically correct' to people who reject science doesn't help anyone. I think such believes should be challenged immediately, and certainly they don't deserve any respect when it comes to using them in arguments (about anything). I think it is very strange and irrational, but acceptable if people believe things without evidence. If however they believe agaisnt evidence, then it's too much of it. And actually religious fundamentalism can be pretty dangerous, what makes me mad the most is the indoctrination of children.

Anyway, what exactly do you mean by the last sentence? Do you mean that evolution can be 'proven' by armchair reasoning, without even studying organisms? I think that's actually true, because it really is the only theory that can explain complexity without postulating more complexity.

IzzaThePush
05-29-2010, 04:37 PM
hard to to say what is good/right and what is Bad/wrong. easier to say what is harmfull and what is helping. also hard to see what a persone deserve, but there can be made science on what a person needs.

The Atheist
05-29-2010, 05:17 PM
I find The Atheist rather expeditious to jump to conclusions in most of his forum posts, and typically I find these presumably well intentioned but inconsiderate and slightly hubris posts are rather forgivable, though I find this one obdurately irksome because, though he may not know it, he probably does not truly believe what he says, and hypocrisy is quite unpardonable when something can be done about it.

I don't jump to conclusions; ever.

What I do is post my thoughts on subjects which have been honed by half a century's contemplation of the evidence.

I do indeed believe every word I say, so I'll be interested in where you're going to cure my ignorance.


I find moral relativism a very ill-thought out viewpoint. For one the term “moral relativism” is an oxymoron. To insinuate that all morals are relative is to insinuate that they all adhere to the same relative nature, thereby not being entirely relative. Of course you can hold this view, I still think it is rather uneducated, but it surely warrants a name other than moral relativism.

I'm not too fussed what it's called, but I'm pretty close to 100% certain that all morals are human constructs, which makes morality relative, so I look forward to being educated, which I must need.


Aside from purely semantic arguments which ultimately do not much improve our understanding, I will show why moral relativism is the child of an unsound argument using what I presume to be premises you believe in. I assume, since, as your name implies, you are an atheist, you believe in evolution; and it is clear that evolution has designed our being to possess certain values.

This is so full of assumptions and errors that I don't know where to start.

"Evolution has designed us"?

I'm not sure where you're getting your assumptions, but that's a leap of faith way too far for me. Evolution didn't "design" anything - it just happened.

I wouldn't say "I believe in evolution" either. I'm happy to admit that I accept the fact of evolution as shown by empirical evidence, but I don't have any beliefs about it.


E.g. we all intrinsically value water and food, they help us live, we all value shelter (it is probably in accordance with this principle that the child is so fascinated by caves and the like), it protects us, we all value intimate companionship, we are designed to value procreation whether it be of ideas, or children, or both, and most notable we are all designed to want to be happy, etc.

Sorry, but this reads as though it were written by a proponent of what I call "IDiocy", but refers to itself by the deceitful name of "intelligent design".

The mistake you're making is that you are adding a human construct to an evolutionary imperative - we don't "value" any of those things you mention any more than we "value" breathing; they are simply reflective of how humans live, as a result of ~2M years of evolution.

Take your companionship as an example. Humans are useless on their own in the wild - we're slow, weak, have no built-in weapons, are too big to climb far enough to be useful and are nice & meaty with crunchy bones. Two humans are better off than one, and ten of them, while still easy food for a lion, would at least make a lion think twice.

I'm just not comfortable with assigning "value" to things which are simply biological imperatives we could no more avoid than those which make us blink, scratch our ear or swallow.


So there is no doubt that we’re designed with inherent values, which can be observed without even accepting the idea of evolution; however evolution offers an elegant explanation as to where they came from.(bolding mine)

In your post, you describe my thoughts on the subject as "uneducated", "ignorant" (bit tautological, I'd have thought) and "hypocritical".

Then you post that.

From where I sit, the massive weight of evidence of evolution shows no sense of design whatsoever, so I'll leave you to those premises and stick with my ignorance, thanks.


It is quite impossible to refute that what is moral is what actions and states of beings are what are in accord with what we value. In this way morality and values are forever married to each other.

I gotta admit; that's funny.

Above, you deigned to use semantics, yet all you've done is use "value" as a synonym for "morality". You haven't married them; you've made them interchangeable, and on very sloppy premises. Cunning plan, but no go.


The typical consequnetialist view now, and ever since utilitarianism and before is that, as Percy Shelley so eloquently puts it: “It is admitted that a virtuous or moral action, is that action which, when considered in all its accessories and consequences, is fitted to produce the highest pleasure to the greatest number of sensitive beings.” (Essay on Speculations on Morals)

Is that supposed to be some kind of evidence?

Some vegan said something of value to him and his own constructed morality and you're using it to prove a point that morality is not relative?

Oops.


However the clever reader will note that this theory only judges a man by his methods and not his intentions thereby allowing wickedly intentioned men to gain the epithet of moral and well intentioned men to never acquire it, but that point is the subject of a different forum.

You're reading it wrong as well.

"When considered in all its accessories and consequences" is clearly Shelley talking to intent.


In light of both these views I think it is quite impossible to contest that evolution did not all design us with “moral values,” as it were, e.g. killing others is bad, working together is good (through evolution we are designed to inherently know teamwork aids in our survival far more than fighting does, and naturally those of us who have the capacity for teamwork are those who turned out to be most fit to survive). In this sense there is at least a base set of moral values that are not relative that do, in fact, make things inherently moral or inherently immoral. We may call these moral maxims “objective” but in this use of the term it would merely mean the “collective subjective.”

Well, as explained above, I don't accept that we're "designed" in any way at all, so I'd like you to show how that design works before we get to your errors in human morality itself.

I will note those errors for you so you can prepare properly for the response:

Killing is bad. Do I really need to point out the obvious here? Ok, I will. Remember that our evolutionary imperative is survival of our genetic code. If someone is threatening you and those who carry your genes and the only choice is to kill the instigator, then that killing cannot be "bad". (I won't bother getting into the relativity of what constitutes "good" and "bad" in terms of killing; it's just more construct anyway.)

Working together is good....teamwork aids in our survival far more than fighting does

Half right and half wrong. You have heard of wars? Teamwork helps in them too and all of human history has contained warfare and genocide. Fighting is as much an evolutionary imperative as teamwork. On the teamwork angle, even ants work together, so it's no big deal. Whether or not it's "good" is highly debatable; it just is.

Humans could just have easily evolved into solitary hunter/gatherers. That we didn't confers no value on the trait we ended up with. Unless you want to argue that sheep are superior to other animals because of their companionship, non-violence and vegetarianism.

I do like the way you resorted to semantics again by changing "objective" to "collective subjective". Coberst had a thread on that very subject a while back.


...But things like 'being nice to unrelated strangers unlikely to ever pay you back' have no evolutionary benefits....

Aesop did this subject a few hundred years before that Jesus bloke was alleged to have done so. It might just pay you back, so it still carries the smell of self-preferment.

Pure altrusim is hard to find.

Dodo25
05-29-2010, 05:28 PM
@The Atheist and Cunninglinguist,

I find this topic so interesting that I'm now writing an essay on it. I hope I can reach a consistent opinion. My stance is somewhere in between of you two, I agree with Cunninglinguist that there is an 'objective morality', altough only under certain important constraints. And I agree that evolution gave us the basics to moral values. However, I also agree with Atheist's comments about evolution being mindless and so on.

The Atheist
05-29-2010, 05:37 PM
Goodo; I look forward to it.

It's a fascinating subject, not made simpler by there being no universal morals.

Cunninglinguist
05-29-2010, 06:27 PM
I don't jump to conclusions; ever.

What I do is post my thoughts on subjects which have been honed by half a century's contemplation of the evidence.

I do indeed believe every word I say, so I'll be interested in where you're going to cure my ignorance.



I'm not too fussed what it's called, but I'm pretty close to 100% certain that all morals are human constructs, which makes morality relative, so I look forward to being educated, which I must need.



This is so full of assumptions and errors that I don't know where to start.

"Evolution has designed us"?

I'm not sure where you're getting your assumptions, but that's a leap of faith way too far for me. Evolution didn't "design" anything - it just happened.

I wouldn't say "I believe in evolution" either. I'm happy to admit that I accept the fact of evolution as shown by empirical evidence, but I don't have any beliefs about it.



Sorry, but this reads as though it were written by a proponent of what I call "IDiocy", but refers to itself by the deceitful name of "intelligent design".

The mistake you're making is that you are adding a human construct to an evolutionary imperative - we don't "value" any of those things you mention any more than we "value" breathing; they are simply reflective of how humans live, as a result of ~2M years of evolution.

Take your companionship as an example. Humans are useless on their own in the wild - we're slow, weak, have no built-in weapons, are too big to climb far enough to be useful and are nice & meaty with crunchy bones. Two humans are better off than one, and ten of them, while still easy food for a lion, would at least make a lion think twice.

I'm just not comfortable with assigning "value" to things which are simply biological imperatives we could no more avoid than those which make us blink, scratch our ear or swallow.

(bolding mine)

In your post, you describe my thoughts on the subject as "uneducated", "ignorant" (bit tautological, I'd have thought) and "hypocritical".

Then you post that.

From where I sit, the massive weight of evidence of evolution shows no sense of design whatsoever, so I'll leave you to those premises and stick with my ignorance, thanks.



I gotta admit; that's funny.

Above, you deigned to use semantics, yet all you've done is use "value" as a synonym for "morality". You haven't married them; you've made them interchangeable, and on very sloppy premises. Cunning plan, but no go.



Is that supposed to be some kind of evidence?

Some vegan said something of value to him and his own constructed morality and you're using it to prove a point that morality is not relative?

Oops.



You're reading it wrong as well.

"When considered in all its accessories and consequences" is clearly Shelley talking to intent.



Well, as explained above, I don't accept that we're "designed" in any way at all, so I'd like you to show how that design works before we get to your errors in human morality itself.

I will note those errors for you so you can prepare properly for the response:

Killing is bad. Do I really need to point out the obvious here? Ok, I will. Remember that our evolutionary imperative is survival of our genetic code. If someone is threatening you and those who carry your genes and the only choice is to kill the instigator, then that killing cannot be "bad". (I won't bother getting into the relativity of what constitutes "good" and "bad" in terms of killing; it's just more construct anyway.)

Working together is good....teamwork aids in our survival far more than fighting does

Half right and half wrong. You have heard of wars? Teamwork helps in them too and all of human history has contained warfare and genocide. Fighting is as much an evolutionary imperative as teamwork. On the teamwork angle, even ants work together, so it's no big deal. Whether or not it's "good" is highly debatable; it just is.

Humans could just have easily evolved into solitary hunter/gatherers. That we didn't confers no value on the trait we ended up with. Unless you want to argue that sheep are superior to other animals because of their companionship, non-violence and vegetarianism.

I do like the way you resorted to semantics again by changing "objective" to "collective subjective". Coberst had a thread on that very subject a while back.


Once again, you are so expeditious to judge. By the perceived tone of your protests and the vast quantity of them, I am inclined to think that I hit some fragile chord in your soul that made your ego shudder. I am not going to dissertate to you every proof, as I think 50 years of vanity has honed a lot of bigotry on your part that has closed your mind and prevented you from seeing any value in my points—you must be a very sequestered and miserable person—and will unquestionably prevent you from seeing any of my future points, thus you are virtually beneath my consideration. I write this so that our silent readers may gain some knowledge You may respond to this post, as I am almost 100% sure you will; however I will not reciprocate and respond once again in return. Your objections will fall upon my deaf ears and you will doubtless come off as a perverse harlequin to the silent readers.

I have not denied that morals are a human construct. Though this does not imply that they are 100% relative. Morality being a human construct is not a sufficient condition for the relativity of morals; I have sufficiently explained this in my initial post and will not do it again.

Evolution hardly “just happened.” It was not random. As atoms interacted with each other they formed systems. Naturally systems designed with integrity lasted longer than those without. Human life happened to possess the special trait of evolution which, through procreation, could modify its design.

I am using value in perhaps a more abstract sense than you can detect. We value anything that ultimately serves to fulfill our purpose in life (survival, procreation, happiness, etc.) So, yes, we do value breathing. If someone is choking you you’re going to value air and consequently you’re going to want them to stop.

The point you condemn here was to show that even for one who didn’t believe in or accept evolution it could be observed that there are non-relative values.

You will see in my second post I clarified that this was not so, and I thought the distinction was relatively implicit so I omitted it; I’m not here to write you a 10,000 word dissertation on morality.

As for the next point I thought it was an interesting tangent for the reader; it is fairly obvious that it is not very pertinent to the argument, and I had considered deleting it; but, once again, the world does not revolve around you.

Oh, yes, you’re right about that. I had read the essay a while ago and I suppose I had not picked up on that. All I recalled was thinking that he was a consequentialist; in haste I posted this quote, but you’re right.

The reason we didn’t evolve into solitary hunter-gathers due to one simple principle: survival of the fittest.

In that post the question was posed purely as rhetorical to try and demonstrate that there was a distinction between the collective subjective and the objective, yet, in all your infinite wisdom, you were blind to that fact and dissented without much consideration. Another demonstration of your judgmental nature.

OrphanPip
05-29-2010, 06:42 PM
You're committing the Naturalistic Fallacy CL, there is no reason to extract moral judgment from the way things exist in nature. You're also using the term "design" rather loosely. A snowflake is hardly designed by the laws of chemistry, despite it taking on an ordered structure. Design implies intention, evolution has no broad scoped intention behind. I even object to Atheist's anthropomorphic descriptions of humans having a purpose of improving the survival of their genes. The only reason all life acts in ways that promote their self-propagation is because any life that didn't would not exist.

It also doesn't strengthen your argument very much to begin with a slew of ad hominem.

The Atheist
05-29-2010, 07:38 PM
I even object to Atheist's anthropomorphic descriptions of humans having a purpose of improving the survival of their genes.

I didn't say anything about improvment of genes, I said that keeping them alive was a biological imperative. Every animal has a survival instinct, that's all I'm saying, and which you note right here:.


The only reason all life acts in ways that promote their self-propagation is because any life that didn't would not exist.


It also doesn't strengthen your argument very much to begin with a slew of ad hominem.

I'm about to deal with those right now!

:D


Once again, you are so expeditious to judge.

Where have I been at all judgemental?

I'm beginning to think you're making things up, because I have not made any judgemental statement at all - at least, not in the way I'd use the word.


By the perceived tone of your protests and the vast quantity of them, I am inclined to think that I hit some fragile chord in your soul that made your ego shudder.

You what?

I'm perfectly comfortable with having opinions challenged, but I have no idea where that came from. Why on earth would ny ego shudder at anything you've typed so far? I'm sticking, as far as possible to a simple factual analysis, but to date, you've shown a complete lack of facts, so your intended criticism is pointless.


I am not going to dissertate to you every proof, as I think 50 years of vanity has honed a lot of bigotry on your part that has closed your mind and prevented you from seeing any value in my points—you must be a very sequestered and miserable person—and will unquestionably prevent you from seeing any of my future points, thus you are virtually beneath my consideration.

See what I mean about facts and you making things up?

50 years of vanity.... closed your mind..... sequestered and miserable person... you are virtually beneath my consideration...

I usually find ad hominem a substitute for argument, but I'll keep looking for your argument anyway.


I write this so that our silent readers may gain some knowledge

They will gain knowledge of how you approach rational argument but little else.


You may respond to this post, as I am almost 100% sure you will; however I will not reciprocate and respond once again in return.

Fine by me, but I do love the way you're trying to manoeuvre yourself into some kind of high moral [sic] ground here, by insinuating that my reply to a blatant ad hominem attack is bad.


Your objections will fall upon my deaf ears and you will doubtless come off as a perverse harlequin to the silent readers.

That could well be true.


I have not denied that morals are a human construct. Though this does not imply that they are 100% relative. Morality being a human construct is not a sufficient condition for the relativity of morals; I have sufficiently explained this in my initial post and will not do it again.

This is a plain contradiction - you have clearly just messed up here and are not prepared to admit it. What part of "human construct" can be anything other than relative?


Evolution hardly “just happened.” It was not random. As atoms interacted with each other they formed systems. Naturally systems designed with integrity lasted longer than those without. Human life happened to possess the special trait of evolution which, through procreation, could modify its design.

To work through your points in order:

Wrong - evolution did "just happen".

It is certainly random, and this can be proven very simply by events like meteors, climate change and viruses. While you could use determinism to claim that nothing's "random", I like to stick to the dice and not know whether a 1 or 6 will roll. Our evolution as a species is due to so many random events, the calculation would be almost infinite.

Had dinsoaurs not died out, we would be most unlikely to be here.

That's just one of trillions of random events which has enabled us to talk to each other by electronic means.

Wrong. None of the systems are "designed" in any way. They turned out the way they turned out - some were successful, some were not.

Wrong. Human life possesses no special traits, and I find it incredibly arrogant to say so. As a species, we've dominated the planet for a mere eyeblink in evolutionary terms - 10,000 years or so. When we've survived for 50 or 60 million, I think we might be able to claim special status, but as of right now, we're not even a blip on evolution, although later species may wonder whether we caused the great extinction of the human epoch, or whether it was out of our control.

Wrong. Procreation doesn't modify anything, it merely takes bits from two established genes. Modification requires mutation or viral interference.


I am using value in perhaps a more abstract sense than you can detect.

Nah, you're just changing the meaning when it suits you - see under:


We value anything that ultimately serves to fulfill our purpose in life (survival, procreation, happiness, etc.) So, yes, we do value breathing. If someone is choking you you’re going to value air and consequently you’re going to want them to stop.

You're playing with semantics. (Badly, as it happens)


The point you condemn here was to show that even for one who didn’t believe in or accept evolution it could be observed that there are non-relative values.

No, I haven't condemned that point at all. I really don't care what people who cannot accept evolution think.


You will see in my second post I clarified that this was not so, and I thought the distinction was relatively implicit so I omitted it; I’m not here to write you a 10,000 word dissertation on morality.

The distinction's fine, but irrelevant. I'm pleased to hear about the 10,000 word dissertation, though.


As for the next point I thought it was an interesting tangent for the reader; it is fairly obvious that it is not very pertinent to the argument, and I had considered deleting it; but, once again, the world does not revolve around you.

Says who? If there's anything more important than my ego around here, I want it caught and shot right now!


Oh, yes, you’re right about that. I had read the essay a while ago and I suppose I had not picked up on that. All I recalled was thinking that he was a consequentialist; in haste I posted this quote, but you’re right.

And that's it? You base your entire argument on the premise then admit it's wrong but carry on as though it was right?

Wow!


The reason we didn’t evolve into solitary hunter-gathers due to one simple principle: survival of the fittest.

Again you display a lack of knowledge of evolution. Yes, that is what actually happened, but all that would have been required is for sole hunter-gatherers to have developed a more useful trait than society for us to have gone that way.

If a random mutation had left some humans able to run at 70kph, we might well have lived the life that cheetahs do, running to catch small game and running away from predators. We might just as easily have developed a semi-aquatic nature and returned to the oceans.

That we evolved one way does not mean we could not have evolved any other. Neanderthals are a classic example - they were social, well-developed, possibly smarter than our ancestors, yet died out.

Maybe if you had a better understanding of evolution and lost the idea that "design" plays any part, you'd find it easier to understand my view.

I don't expect you to agree with it, but understanding it should be quite simple.

And still looking for your argument....

Jozanny
05-29-2010, 07:47 PM
I believe that evil does exist in the abstract, even if it is exceedingly difficult to prove through a logical construct. An example I used in another thread is a mother who cooked her baby to death in a microwave while engaging in substance abuse. One can find the links to it online. But I do not know that morality is in and of itself an absolute value system, and the philosophical arguments surrounding moral value judgments are complex--and no, I do not think god(s) exist, we merely project them out of metaphysical need, which is itself still a relatively fresh consequence of our self-recognition and awareness.

Scheherazade
05-29-2010, 07:49 PM
Organized religion seems to attempt to put the concept of morality on an objective scale, removed from circumstances and intentions, and to show it as an area that is only black and white. However, different religions across the globe differ on their view as to what can be considered truly "moral." Many eastern faiths (as well as native american) are pantheistic, that is, they are of the belief that god lies within every living thing, and that killing a creature of any kind (without need) is wrong. Other faiths are based on ritualistic sacrifices. Islamic extremists view suicide bombings as the epitome of self-righteousness, while others who practice the Muslim faith view these acts as morally reprehensible.

I think that morality is a somewhat cheap and shortsighted concept and is at best, culturally relative. I feel that a more rational and sensible distinction, and one more easily examined objectively, is whether or not certain actions are "pro-social."

What are your thoughts and opinions on this? Do you believe that certain actions are inherently right or wrong? Is there an objective value instilled in every action?No.




__________________

Jozanny
05-29-2010, 08:11 PM
No.




__________________

Well, I guess my favorite moderator settled that!:lol: (And yes Sche, of all the moderators who just didn't know what to do with me, you are my favorite, even though I've been good of late. (I think).

wok: though I stand by my prior post, I am not sure actions can constitute moral objectivity, and agree with Sche, upon rereading her quote of your thread starter.

Cunninglinguist
05-29-2010, 09:03 PM
You're committing the Naturalistic Fallacy CL, there is no reason to extract moral judgment from the way things exist in nature. You're also using the term "design" rather loosely. A snowflake is hardly designed by the laws of chemistry, despite it taking on an ordered structure. Design implies intention, evolution has no broad scoped intention behind. I even object to Atheist's anthropomorphic descriptions of humans having a purpose of improving the survival of their genes. The only reason all life acts in ways that promote their self-propagation is because any life that didn't would not exist.

It also doesn't strengthen your argument very much to begin with a slew of ad hominem.

We have values that exist in nature, and from some of these values, namely the ones that are concering others, are moral values. I am not too keen on naturalistic fallacy, if I am committing it please further enlighten me as to why this is an error.
The goal or "intention" of evolution is to create species that are pretty much immortal.


Killing is bad. Do I really need to point out the obvious here? Ok, I will. Remember that our evolutionary imperative is survival of our genetic code. If someone is threatening you and those who carry your genes and the only choice is to kill the instigator, then that killing cannot be "bad". (I won't bother getting into the relativity of what constitutes "good" and "bad" in terms of killing; it's just more construct anyway.)

Let us take this to be true, and let us also take for granted that killing each other goes against our values. Then we get the moral maxims "killing others when we don't have to is immoral" and "killing others when it is absolutely necessary is not immoral." And these are "objectively" true.

OrphanPip
05-29-2010, 09:20 PM
We have values that exist in nature, and from some of these values, namely the ones that are concering others, are moral values. I am not too keen on naturalistic fallacy, if I am committing it please further enlighten me as to why this is an error.
The goal or "intention" of evolution is to create species that are pretty much immortal.


Evolution has no goal, evolution is something that happens, point finis. you might as well state that the Sun's goal is to create light.

If our "natural values" are a worthwhile objective guide to morality, then xenophobia and racism must be moral. Our distrust of other groups is something biologically motivated, should we hate others for being different? Is our natural tendency for hating what is different moral? Extrapolating a moral judgment simply from human nature is not an acceptable justification of any morality.

Cunninglinguist
05-30-2010, 02:46 AM
Evolution has no goal, evolution is something that happens, point finis. you might as well state that the Sun's goal is to create light.

If our "natural values" are a worthwhile objective guide to morality, then xenophobia and racism must be moral. Our distrust of other groups is something biologically motivated, should we hate others for being different? Is our natural tendency for hating what is different moral? Extrapolating a moral judgment simply from human nature is not an acceptable justification of any morality.

xenophobia and racism I would fain argue are learned habits, just as fighting is and the like. I've never met a bigotted baby. I presume we learn to hate when a lack of resources and an insatiable necessity cause two beings to be pitch against eacher for that reward. As for children, when they fight it can be observed, there is always an external reason. Suppose they fight over some toy, there is only at present ever 1 toy, not two which they could both easily play with independently and peacefully.

Even if they are I never said it was not possible that we didn't possess quite destructive values that guide our behavior immorally.

My basic argument is based on two premises; that is, morals come from values, and we all possess certain values that are not variable, therefore some morals are not relative. Take for example, we value not killing, as The Atheist has pointed out there are times when it is necessary to kill, so we get the moral maxims “killing when necessary is not immoral” and “unnecessary killing is immoral.” The moral status of killing then is conditional i.e. killing is immoral when x, killing is not immoral when y; and someone may perchance try to say that since the moral status is conditional it is thus relative. But this is not so, the moral status of killing for anyone is, under either of these circumstances, always dependent on these conditions; that is to say, no matter who you are, if killing is not necessary it is always immoral. Same thing goes for xenophobia and racism, though I can’t think of many scenarios where these two things are ever really necessary. The Atheist’s rudeness is immoral because it is quite unnecessary and destructive.

as for evolution: While mutations are random, which kind of mutations generally survive is quite determined. The mutations that survive are those that serve to make a species more fit, and I see nothing farfetched about saying in this sense evolution has a general goal; however, the specific incidences of it happening are indeed quite random.

Dodo25
05-30-2010, 01:57 PM
I've just finished a first draft of my essay on the subject. I am paranoid when it comes to posting my texts online. Furthermore it is kinda long and I wouldn't want to scare away people from this thread by posting it here.

Hence I offer that if anyone is interested, he/she can send me a PM with an email address and I will send the essay.

I'll briefly summarize my point of view again though:

Objective morality is possible, under certain important restrictions. Just like in mathematics, an axiom, a frame of reference for an ethical system must be chosen. A rational agent can then, along utilitarian lines, choose the best action for any given situation.

Of course there are exceptions and additions to it, that's why I wrote a long essay.

The Atheist
05-30-2010, 03:10 PM
The Atheist’s rudeness is immoral because it is quite unnecessary and destructive.

I find this hilarious.

I have not once been rude or used ad hominem, while even others have noted yours. I'm sure you mentioned hypocrisy somewhere....


The mutations that survive are those that serve to make a species more fit, and I see nothing farfetched about saying in this sense evolution has a general goal; ....

You'll just continue to be wrong, then.


Hence I offer that if anyone is interested, he/she can send me a PM with an email address and I will send the essay.

Post it as an attachment, then we can at least discuss it, which isn't all that practical if it's only available by PM.

We'll be kind. (-ish)

:D

Dodo25
05-30-2010, 03:48 PM
Post it as an attachment, then we can at least discuss it, which isn't all that practical if it's only available by PM.

We'll be kind. (-ish)

:D

Haha that's not the reason, thanks for the reassurance though.

Scheherazade
05-30-2010, 03:59 PM
R e m i n d e r

Please do not personalise your arguments.

Posts containing inflammatory remarks or OT posts will be removed without further notice.

The Atheist
05-30-2010, 05:53 PM
Haha that's not the reason, thanks for the reassurance though.

Well, whatever you do, send me a link or copy by PM anyway so I don't miss it.

soundofmusic
06-11-2010, 06:52 PM
Depends on whose morality we're talking about:

For the rich man and myself, morality is very adaptable.

For a poor man, my husband, my friends and my neighbors, there is only one yardstick for morality:lol:

IceM
06-11-2010, 07:24 PM
Morality is what Man considers appropriate at that given moment in time. Is it consistent? No, because neither are the attitudes Man possess when making decisions. Is it objective? No, because "black-and-white" morality offers no room for human consideration, and we know Man likes to be self-righteous* and determine the laws to which he adheres.

Gladys
06-11-2010, 11:08 PM
Depends on whose morality we're talking about...

I'm rather taken by the simple but absolutist morality of clergyman Brand in Ibsen's successful play of the same name: God is love.