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Moral Subjectivism vs Objectivism

the_croftmeister
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6/24/2013 2:58:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
As my opponent pointed to my misrepresentation of his argument in the title of my thread, I am now posting a new thread with what I hope will be a less objectionable topic.
bladerunner060
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6/24/2013 3:59:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 2:58:47 AM, the_croftmeister wrote:
As my opponent pointed to my misrepresentation of his argument in the title of my thread, I am now posting a new thread with what I hope will be a less objectionable topic.

I'm not really sure, having read your other thread but not the debate which wasn't linked to, what your question is.

God's morality, if it exists (which I strongly doubt), is subjective to God. That he has pronounced it doesn't make it somehow magically "more" objective than other ethical systems that don't reference God. Some do, of course, have subjective elements (utilitarianism springs to mind), but the rules themselves objectively rely on that subjectivity.

Someone who wasn't me on here once pointed out (and I can't remember who it was) that the rules of Checkers might be arbitrary, but they're objective. You can refer to them, they're concrete.
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wiploc
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6/24/2013 9:24:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 2:58:47 AM, the_croftmeister wrote:
As my opponent pointed to my misrepresentation of his argument in the title of my thread, I am now posting a new thread with what I hope will be a less objectionable topic.

Great! What's this thread going to be about?
AlbinoBunny
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6/24/2013 11:25:36 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 2:58:47 AM, the_croftmeister wrote:
As my opponent pointed to my misrepresentation of his argument in the title of my thread, I am now posting a new thread with what I hope will be a less objectionable topic.

Where's/what's his argument?
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the_croftmeister
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6/24/2013 5:34:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Sorry guys, I didn't have time to finish posting yesterday.

This is a link to the debate.
http://www.debate.org...

This is a copy of the original OP

This thread arises from a debate (tied) regarding the possibility of an objective morality without the existence of god.

My opponent was 2-D who claims morality can vary from person to person while still remaining objective in nature. I take the opposite view that the fact that it varies from person to person makes it relative and hence non-objective.

As we ended up disputing a lot of our points in comments I thought it would be better to have a forum topic for discussion since it allows for shorter turn around time than debates and also facilitates external input.
AlbinoBunny
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6/24/2013 5:59:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 5:34:30 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
Sorry guys, I didn't have time to finish posting yesterday.

This is a link to the debate.
http://www.debate.org...

You both wrote a large and well put together debate which didn't argue about the topic at hand? LOL
bladerunner060 | bsh1 , 2014! Presidency campaign!

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wiploc
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6/24/2013 6:03:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 5:34:30 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
My opponent was 2-D who claims morality can vary from person to person while still remaining objective in nature. I take the opposite view that the fact that it varies from person to person makes it relative and hence non-objective.

We've got objective vs subjective, right? And we've got relative vs absolute?

What, in your mind, is the relationship between objectivity and absoluteness?

Also, what, in your mind, is objectivity?
the_croftmeister
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6/24/2013 6:28:11 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 5:59:54 PM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
At 6/24/2013 5:34:30 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
Sorry guys, I didn't have time to finish posting yesterday.

This is a link to the debate.
http://www.debate.org...

You both wrote a large and well put together debate which didn't argue about the topic at hand? LOL

I would disagree, my opponent opened the debate by saying I was free to argue relativism. I would also point out that the way the question is phrased implies that we can assume the non-existence of God and reason from there. As supporting the statement 'without god there is no basis for an objective morality' I just have to defeat his supposed objective morality.
the_croftmeister
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6/24/2013 6:39:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 6:03:08 PM, wiploc wrote:
At 6/24/2013 5:34:30 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
My opponent was 2-D who claims morality can vary from person to person while still remaining objective in nature. I take the opposite view that the fact that it varies from person to person makes it relative and hence non-objective.

We've got objective vs subjective, right? And we've got relative vs absolute?

What, in your mind, is the relationship between objectivity and absoluteness?

Also, what, in your mind, is objectivity?

Well my opponent seems to have different views on this than I do. Objectivity in my mind is independence from normative statements. Absoluteness is about not only making it independent of norms but also being able to make categorical statements regarding the status of a particular proposition (in this case its moral status). So objectivity makes absolute comparisons between relative ideas, and in this case must make more than just comparison of effect but also comparison of moral support. An absolute theory would require not just absolute comparison but absolute support.

My position (and that of my opponent) is that absolutism is untenable. However, I take this further to say that even seemingly objective comparisons are not truly so, as they always make reference to a normative position which can be opened to debate.

I argue that we can have objective measures only on agreement of a group of people on the principles (basis) for their chosen morality. This chosen basis is arbitrary. This does not make it less valuable since any chosen basis is arbitrary. Each person has an individual morality (which is subjective and relative) we obtain objectivity by performing some kind of aggregation method over the people to extract an objective measure. The chosen aggregation method is arbitrary and also subject to debate. Thus any proposed objective measure for a group is actually subjective (on the chosen aggregation method). Utilitarianism is one method of aggregation which normally assigns equal weight to each individual's moral values. There are plenty of others.
wiploc
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6/24/2013 8:03:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At first I thought you were being deliberately obscure, perhaps punishing me because you took offense at my question. But now I think that's just how you write: Your prose is dense, thick with undefined words, almost opaque.

If you continue to write that way, you will drive away voters. People who do finish reading your debate will against you just because they understand your opponents' arguments.

I recently ran across a phrase something like, "Explain it as if you were talking to a five year old."
the_croftmeister
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6/24/2013 9:01:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/24/2013 8:03:43 PM, wiploc wrote:
At first I thought you were being deliberately obscure, perhaps punishing me because you took offense at my question. But now I think that's just how you write: Your prose is dense, thick with undefined words, almost opaque.

If you continue to write that way, you will drive away voters. People who do finish reading your debate will against you just because they understand your opponents' arguments.

I recently ran across a phrase something like, "Explain it as if you were talking to a five year old."

Well in the debate I was severely restricted by character limits.

Here, you are more than welcome to clarify my points. Perhaps my writing is dense. I'll attempt to avoid that in future, thank you for the constructive criticism. I would however point out that it is (in my view) partially your responsibility to ask the questions you need answered in order to understand. If I had to present my initial argument so that any person could understand precisely what I am saying, I would waste hours doing so. I attempt to strike a balance, perhaps I have not done enough and I will endeavour to do more.

Did you have any specific questions? Or would you like me to rewrite my argument for a 5 year old?
AlbinoBunny
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6/24/2013 11:15:42 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Yeah ok. I see what the debate is now...
bladerunner060 | bsh1 , 2014! Presidency campaign!

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2-D
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6/27/2013 7:00:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think at the heart of this debate many see objective morality as a claim that a single morality applies to everyone in every circumstance and I do not see the issue in the same way. objective only means that morality exists independent of personal opinions or cultural norms. There is an element of personal opinion and cultural pressure but that does not mean that morality is dependent of personal bias.

A moral code works well or it doesn't. The proposed goal is helpful or destructive independent bias and can be evaluated like any other strategy. Some leadership strategies work well or they don't. This may vary within a culture or from person to person but it works or it doesn't regardless of bias.
the_croftmeister
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6/27/2013 10:00:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/27/2013 7:00:57 PM, 2-D wrote:
I think at the heart of this debate many see objective morality as a claim that a single morality applies to everyone in every circumstance and I do not see the issue in the same way. objective only means that morality exists independent of personal opinions or cultural norms. There is an element of personal opinion and cultural pressure but that does not mean that morality is dependent of personal bias.

A moral code works well or it doesn't. The proposed goal is helpful or destructive independent bias and can be evaluated like any other strategy. Some leadership strategies work well or they don't. This may vary within a culture or from person to person but it works or it doesn't regardless of bias.
How do you distinguish variation from dependence? This I think is the key to the issue.
2-D
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6/29/2013 4:36:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/27/2013 10:00:03 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
At 6/27/2013 7:00:57 PM, 2-D wrote:
I think at the heart of this debate many see objective morality as a claim that a single morality applies to everyone in every circumstance and I do not see the issue in the same way. objective only means that morality exists independent of personal opinions or cultural norms. There is an element of personal opinion and cultural pressure but that does not mean that morality is dependent of personal bias.

A moral code works well or it doesn't. The proposed goal is helpful or destructive independent bias and can be evaluated like any other strategy. Some leadership strategies work well or they don't. This may vary within a culture or from person to person but it works or it doesn't regardless of bias.
How do you distinguish variation from dependence? This I think is the key to the issue.

Individuals and cultures develop moral codes independently so obviously they are different but that does not mean that they work well or are effective in anyway. Some cultures develop bad moral codes based on superstition. I am claiming that simply because a moral code is developed does not mean that it cannot be criticized and improved. Do you believe that moral codes are maximally beneficial to a culture simply because they believe this is true? Would you be willing to condemn honor killings as immoral? I don't know why these are difficult questions.

Health is defined as:

a : the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain
b : the general condition of the body <in poor health> <enjoys good health>
2
a : flourishing condition : well-being <defending the health of the beloved oceans

Vague and difficult to apply yes but does this mean if I claim a 12 pack, Twinkies and 24 hours of rest leads to the same condition of health as an hour of daily exercise and a healthy diet? Health is not relative or subjective even though their are many good paths and strategies to health.
Poetaster
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6/29/2013 6:11:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
2-D,

I think that your claims may be problematic because they are themselves ethical evaluations: you assert that some conceptions of morality are 'better' (more 'good') than others. This implies that you are performing a moral judgement of those systems, and, in doing so, pitting your ethical apparatus against theirs.

So when you determine another moral system to be 'wrong', this effectively amounts to a statement that your system is incompatible with the other. It's analogous to 'refuting' Euclidean geometry by using theorems in non-Euclidean geometry: the resulting arguments do negate Euclidean geometry, but on the trivial grounds that they are incompatible to begin with.

It seems that a non-trivial argument in favor of one moral system over another must be made prior and externally to any moral system. Would you say that this is what you are, in fact, doing?
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
wiploc
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6/29/2013 6:55:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/29/2013 6:11:06 PM, Poetaster wrote:
2-D,

I think that your claims may be problematic because they are themselves ethical evaluations: you assert that some conceptions of morality are 'better' (more 'good') than others. This implies that you are performing a moral judgement of those systems, and, in doing so, pitting your ethical apparatus against theirs.

So when you determine another moral system to be 'wrong', this effectively amounts to a statement that your system is incompatible with the other. It's analogous to 'refuting' Euclidean geometry by using theorems in non-Euclidean geometry: the resulting arguments do negate Euclidean geometry, but on the trivial grounds that they are incompatible to begin with.

It seems that a non-trivial argument in favor of one moral system over another must be made prior and externally to any moral system. Would you say that this is what you are, in fact, doing?

Excellent! Well said.
2-D
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6/29/2013 8:43:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/29/2013 6:11:06 PM, Poetaster wrote:
2-D,

I think that your claims may be problematic because they are themselves ethical evaluations: you assert that some conceptions of morality are 'better' (more 'good') than others. This implies that you are performing a moral judgement of those systems, and, in doing so, pitting your ethical apparatus against theirs.

So when you determine another moral system to be 'wrong', this effectively amounts to a statement that your system is incompatible with the other. It's analogous to 'refuting' Euclidean geometry by using theorems in non-Euclidean geometry: the resulting arguments do negate Euclidean geometry, but on the trivial grounds that they are incompatible to begin with.

It seems that a non-trivial argument in favor of one moral system over another must be made prior and externally to any moral system. Would you say that this is what you are, in fact, doing?

Not necessarily and I did not really address this until the last round of the debate let me try to clarify with the two scenarios I mentioned:

1. I accept the goal of their moral code based on facts of reality not preference:
I can in a sense step into a moral system and evaluate it from the inside. It may not be a goal that my culture values as intensely but I understand that people are different and cultural norms have an often-permanent effect on personal preference. In the debate we discussed a culture that valued strong vs weak children and so they decided to beat them to "weed out the weak".

I agreed with their goal that strong children are good and offered better solutions and alternate goals that they would likely appreciate and should consider as more important goals given that we agree that morality is important. This assumes that we agree on an overall definition of morality.

2. The goal is clearly immoral and I reject it and encourage them to pursue a morality that advocates another primary goal:

How do I evaluate whether a goal of morality is good? Based on the definition of morality, which we currently disagree on. A simple overall definition similar to health that I accept is, "a code of conduct that encourages the well being of conscious creatures." Now there are several good strategies to accomplish this primary goal and several that are bad based on facts not preference.

If someone had a goal to inflict as much suffering as possible they would clearly not be talking about morality and I would disagree with the goal since I am an advocate of morality. If they suggested that honor killings help the overall well being of their society I would strongly disagree. If they suggest an alternate goal like, "persue happiness without hurting those around you," I may agree with this secondary definition and evaluate their moral code in this context.

I am also convinced that my definition of morality is not arbitrary but that is probably another debate. Let"s just say I do not think the concept of health is arbitrary and consider it a good analogy.
Poetaster
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6/29/2013 9:32:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/29/2013 8:43:04 PM, 2-D wrote:
At 6/29/2013 6:11:06 PM, Poetaster wrote:
It seems that a non-trivial argument in favor of one moral system over another must be made prior and externally to any moral system. Would you say that this is what you are, in fact, doing?
Not necessarily and I did not really address this until the last round of the debate let me try to clarify with the two scenarios I mentioned:
1. I accept the goal of their moral code based on facts of reality not preference: I can in a sense step into a moral system and evaluate it from the inside. It may not be a goal that my culture values as intensely but I understand that people are different and cultural norms have an often-permanent effect on personal preference. In the debate we discussed a culture that valued strong vs weak children and so they decided to beat them to "weed out the weak".
I agreed with their goal that strong children are good and offered better solutions and alternate goals that they would likely appreciate and should consider as more important goals given that we agree that morality is important. This assumes that we agree on an overall definition of morality.

But that assumption undermines the thrust of asserting the 'objectivity' of morality: that certain things would be good, and should be done, whether or not anyone thinks so.

Getting people to agree on moral ends is a secondary concern to what those ends should be, regardless of the state of consensus. That latter element of total opinion-independence is the thing to be defended if one is to defend moral realism ('objective' morality) at all.

I don't see your arguments doing that.

2. The goal is clearly immoral and I reject it and encourage them to pursue a morality that advocates another primary goal:
How do I evaluate whether a goal of morality is good? Based on the definition of morality, which we currently disagree on. A simple overall definition similar to health that I accept is, "a code of conduct that encourages the well being of conscious creatures." Now there are several good strategies to accomplish this primary goal and several that are bad based on facts not preference.

Fine, so you advocate a set of moral propositions derived from the precept that 'moral' conduct is that which encourages well-being. But what do you make of the prescription, "We should encourage well-being"?

If your behavioral protocol is not logically circular, then this prescription must be external to it. So what behavioral code of conduct does it belong to? A larger, more powerful moral system in which the 'goodness' of well-being is a theorem, rather than an unjustified axiom? Wouldn't that system then be the superior morality in your view?

If someone had a goal to inflict as much suffering as possible they would clearly not be talking about morality and I would disagree with the goal since I am an advocate of morality. If they suggested that honor killings help the overall well being of their society I would strongly disagree. If they suggest an alternate goal like, "persue happiness without hurting those around you," I may agree with this secondary definition and evaluate their moral code in this context.
I am also convinced that my definition of morality is not arbitrary but that is probably another debate. Let"s just say I do not think the concept of health is arbitrary and consider it a good analogy.

Even if you were granted that the concept of health is entirely non-arbitrary, analogizing this to morality is to restate your position, not defend it. Demonstrating that your definition of morality is non-arbitrary is not impertinent to your arguments; indeed, they require just that to mean much at all.
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
2-D
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6/30/2013 9:36:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Objective Morality Light

Ok, it sounds like you are insisting that the goal of morality (well being) must be objective for the moral code to be. I"m not convinced this is necessarily so but I admit this is a common perceived problem with objective morality.

Total opinion-independence is not a requirement in other areas of life to be considered objective and so this appears to be special pleading. This is why I brought up business leadership strategies. There may be many strategies that work for different people and are objectively good or bad. The leadership Strategy is still objective in the context of the goal - to lead the company.

No one is saying, "Leadership is totally relative what if I want to fire the whole company, who"s to say I"m wrong?" Yet those are the kind of objections I have heard when I say morality is objective. I was once told that if a culture accepted murder on religious grounds it was, "right for them." Moral goals are fairly consistent across cultures because human needs are very similar. The big wrench in the plan is superstition and ignorance.
2-D
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6/30/2013 9:39:18 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Objective Morality Heavy?
I read a lot on this a couple years ago so maybe I"ll brush up since I have a few ways to approach this. In this case the goal of morality is itself objectively good even though strategies to achieve these goals may vary with personality types and cultural pressures.

There is a set of near Fundamental Human needs identified by Manfred Max-Neef: affection, protection, freedom, leisure etc that are often expressed and gratified in different ways but end up nearly universal even since we are all the same species. We can establish and clarify these needs using psychology, cognitive science, social economists etc. We all have a remarkably similar moral reasoning apparatus that is expressed in a moral metric also used to evaluate morality in other species: an innate sense of fairness, empathy, equity and compassion. I would also add reason as a moral tool that is uniquely human.

Working together to satisfy the fundamental human needs utilizing our moral reasoning is what we are talking about when we say morality per my definition. Note: I equate our universal needs with well-being in my definition. I am not aware of a moral code that does not attempt to support this primary goal in some way but I would be open to a broader definition.

Maybe I should define morality as, "utilizing our moral apparatus to fulfill our personal and collective fundamental human needs," but then I"m pretty sure I would sound like a douche. This is why I use my loose definition of morality, "a code of conduct that encourages the well being of conscious creatures." If you were to tell me that you would prefer to frustrate and destroy your natural needs and those of others I would tell you that you are mentally ill and should see a doctor.

Satisfying human needs is a good thing because you are in fact human.

If you are attempting to satisfy these needs in yourself and others then you have some code of morality. You may have a bad strategy or be too focused on one need or the other. Some needs are more important to individuals, which can be evaluated by introspection, friends and family or a psychiatrist. Some needs are more important to a culture, which can easily be studied to tailor a recommended code that may be more beneficial. Morality in this context can be studied evaluated and even challenged.
Poetaster
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6/30/2013 2:50:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
2-D,

Your separation of moral codes from moral goals, I'm afraid, is an unwarranted divorce: if a certain goal is objectively 'good', then a moral code which prescribes the pursuit of this goal is saying the 'right thing'. If there is no objective 'goodness' to any goal, then how can any moral code be objectively 'right' in declaring the 'goodness' of any end? Asserting the existence of objectively 'right' moral codes assumes an ability to correctly assert that particular goals are objectively 'good' and to be pursued.

Whether or not a moral code is 'right' is a function of whether it says the 'right thing' about what we should do.

As we've previously noted, this kind of normative utterance structure is problematic because any non-trivial defense of such a system must issue a sound non-normative inauguration of it. Thus, we arrive at Hume's Razor: the is-ought problem. How can one derive the way the world should be from the way that the world is? In this respect, I see that you're drawing upon descriptive ethics (which non-normatively catalogs moral systems and human values), in order to make prescriptive ethical and meta-ethical claims: you adduce facts concerning what values people do hold on average, and from this you try to argue that people should hold certain values.

This is just the is-ought fallacy committed on a particular fact-domain: facts about values. So your claims seem to be reliant on an illicit transition between description and prescription, and, for this reason, descriptive ethics is a mechanism inadequate to provide a defense of your moral judgements and prescriptive claims.

Earlier in this thread, bladerunner recalled an analogy he'd heard between moral rules and board game rules: the rules of checkers are there, and they aren't different for each player. So if we are to play checkers, then we must follow its rules. But building on this, we can recognize our circumstances as follows: we all have the same basic game pieces, but a plurality of competing rule books, each of which differently prescribes how to use those pieces. How do we decide between the rule books? What rule book can prescribe that decision? How can a non-rule-book determine the rules by which we manipulate the pieces?
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
the_croftmeister
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6/30/2013 6:25:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/30/2013 9:39:18 AM, 2-D wrote:
Objective Morality Heavy?
I read a lot on this a couple years ago so maybe I"ll brush up since I have a few ways to approach this. In this case the goal of morality is itself objectively good even though strategies to achieve these goals may vary with personality types and cultural pressures.

There is a set of near Fundamental Human needs identified by Manfred Max-Neef: affection, protection, freedom, leisure etc that are often expressed and gratified in different ways but end up nearly universal even since we are all the same species. We can establish and clarify these needs using psychology, cognitive science, social economists etc. We all have a remarkably similar moral reasoning apparatus that is expressed in a moral metric also used to evaluate morality in other species: an innate sense of fairness, empathy, equity and compassion. I would also add reason as a moral tool that is uniquely human.

Working together to satisfy the fundamental human needs utilizing our moral reasoning is what we are talking about when we say morality per my definition. Note: I equate our universal needs with well-being in my definition. I am not aware of a moral code that does not attempt to support this primary goal in some way but I would be open to a broader definition.

Maybe I should define morality as, "utilizing our moral apparatus to fulfill our personal and collective fundamental human needs," but then I"m pretty sure I would sound like a douche. This is why I use my loose definition of morality, "a code of conduct that encourages the well being of conscious creatures." If you were to tell me that you would prefer to frustrate and destroy your natural needs and those of others I would tell you that you are mentally ill and should see a doctor.

Satisfying human needs is a good thing because you are in fact human.

If you are attempting to satisfy these needs in yourself and others then you have some code of morality. You may have a bad strategy or be too focused on one need or the other. Some needs are more important to individuals, which can be evaluated by introspection, friends and family or a psychiatrist. Some needs are more important to a culture, which can easily be studied to tailor a recommended code that may be more beneficial. Morality in this context can be studied evaluated and even challenged.

2-D could you give us an argument for why a subjective moral code couldn't be studied and analysed in the way that you are proposing?
2-D
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6/30/2013 7:13:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/30/2013 2:50:44 PM, Poetaster wrote:
2-D,

Your separation of moral codes from moral goals, I'm afraid, is an unwarranted divorce: if a certain goal is objectively 'good', then a moral code which prescribes the pursuit of this goal is saying the 'right thing'. If there is no objective 'goodness' to any goal, then how can any moral code be objectively 'right' in declaring the 'goodness' of any end? Asserting the existence of objectively 'right' moral codes assumes an ability to correctly assert that particular goals are objectively 'good' and to be pursued.

I explained that the "good" goals are based on the research of human nature and our identified needs basic needs. There are nine fundamental human needs according to the school of human development, which can be perfected with further research [1]. Moral codes are not divorced from these goals but would be various strategies to achieve these goals

Whether or not a moral code is 'right' is a function of whether it says the 'right thing' about what we should do.

Yup, the best moral codes would form strategies to achieve the basic human needs I mentioned and whatever other needs we discover keeping the code simple enough to be practical.

As we've previously noted, this kind of normative utterance structure is problematic because any non-trivial defense of such a system must issue a sound non-normative inauguration of it. Thus, we arrive at Hume's Razor: the is-ought problem. How can one derive the way the world should be from the way that the world is? In this respect, I see that you're drawing upon descriptive ethics (which non-normatively catalogs moral systems and human values), in order to make prescriptive ethical and meta-ethical claims: you adduce facts concerning what values people do hold on average, and from this you try to argue that people should hold certain values.

You could have stated this clearly in three lines so that the casual reader could follow, please just stop with the jargon. Adduce, seriously? That means I"m actually citing evidence like the scientific research I mentioned. Basically he is arguing that my ethical code is too theoretical and not a practical system.

What I"m proposing is a clearly a practical way to develop an objective moral code. What is exists. We conform to existence there is no is-ought problem. We act based on observed reality to fulfill basic human needs we have discovered. I am not proposing values that the average person holds. I am proposing a general framework of needs that could form a general code that will personally be adapted to the individual.

This is just the is-ought fallacy committed on a particular fact-domain: facts about values. So your claims seem to be reliant on an illicit transition between description and prescription, and, for this reason, descriptive ethics is a mechanism inadequate to provide a defense of your moral judgements and prescriptive claims.

Yes there are facts about the nature of humans that we can study to understand our needs. Then you go on to argue that my morality is theoretical. Covered that.

Earlier in this thread, bladerunner recalled an analogy he'd heard between moral rules and board game rules: the rules of checkers are there, and they aren't different for each player. So if we are to play checkers, then we must follow its rules. But building on this, we can recognize our circumstances as follows: we all have the same basic game pieces, but a plurality of competing rule books, each of which differently prescribes how to use those pieces. How do we decide between the rule books? What rule book can prescribe that decision? How can a non-rule-book determine the rules by which we manipulate the pieces?

Yeah moral decisions are difficult everyone knows this. There is not a "plurality" of rulebooks. That is clearly not what research is revealing about our nature. We are very similar with similar needs. A general moral code can be formed based on what we know which can be adapted to different cultures and individuals.

I have demonstrated that morality is based on facts about humanity that we can research and discover. In spite of popular opinion morality is based on objective human needs/values and so morality is objective even though it may be a long while before we can form an exact personal moral code. This is not as difficult as you make out. We already know the basics just by trying to live together in society. We know to treat each other well, don"t kill steal etc and it allows everyone to live and pursue their basic needs. I"m sorry that science has contributed to morality when philosophy could not find all the answers.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
2-D
Posts: 226
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6/30/2013 7:43:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"2-D could you give us an argument for why a subjective moral code couldn't be studied and analysed in the way that you are proposing?"

Sure! But maybe we're not on the same page. Typically a subjective moral code is considered right simply because the culture believes that it is right which is my objection in the first place. I am trying to point out that there are basic human needs or a state of 'well being' that improves the lives of the people that achieve them. These needs/values are being identified by various fields of research in sociology, psychology cognitive science etc which are telling us how to improve morality which should be examined and evaluated critically across cultures. Be willing to say that child abuse and honor killings are clearly wrong in any culture! Ha, I can"t believe that I can never get anyone to admit that.

We all have a natural morality, which developed through evolution. Cultural and personal bias gets in the way and we need to evaluate moral norms we have accepted to improve them. Cultures accept ideas that are bad for them. Sexual norms, spousal abuse, child rearing goals, work ethic and many other moral issues are often heavily skewed by religion and culture so take a second look not be a better way to live. This is really really easy so long as you accept that morality can be improved.

I"m sure I haven"t told you anything you don"t already in practice. That"s why morality is clearly objective.
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
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6/30/2013 7:48:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/30/2013 7:13:29 PM, 2-D wrote:
I explained that the "good" goals are based on the research of human nature and our identified needs basic needs. There are nine fundamental human needs according to the school of human development, which can be perfected with further research [1]. Moral codes are not divorced from these goals but would be various strategies to achieve these goals

Whether or not a moral code is 'right' is a function of whether it says the 'right thing' about what we should do.

Yup, the best moral codes would form strategies to achieve the basic human needs I mentioned and whatever other needs we discover keeping the code simple enough to be practical.

As we've previously noted, this kind of normative utterance structure is problematic because any non-trivial defense of such a system must issue a sound non-normative inauguration of it. Thus, we arrive at Hume's Razor: the is-ought problem. How can one derive the way the world should be from the way that the world is? In this respect, I see that you're drawing upon descriptive ethics (which non-normatively catalogs moral systems and human values), in order to make prescriptive ethical and meta-ethical claims: you adduce facts concerning what values people do hold on average, and from this you try to argue that people should hold certain values.

You could have stated this clearly in three lines so that the casual reader could follow, please just stop with the jargon. Adduce, seriously? That means I"m actually citing evidence like the scientific research I mentioned. Basically he is arguing that my ethical code is too theoretical and not a practical system.
This is not at all what he was saying and a lot of the jargon was important.
The practical vs. theoretical distinction is not at issue, even the most complex theoretical system would still be acceptable as a prescriptive system if you had a good reason to make this prescription.
You have decided that human well-being is the ultimate measure on which we should judge our morals. What Poetaster is trying to say is that this statement itself is an unsupported ethical statement. It may be acceptable or even necessary in your moral system, but you have not provided an argument as to why we should accept it. I would go so far as to say that it is arbitrary and subjective itself as there is more than one definition of well-being. Even if we agreed on the definition of well-being I could still argue for a different moral system (and I bet you I could convince a large number of people I was right no matter which system you decided to back). We have no good reason to accept the ones that you have provided other than based on empirical research into what someone, somewhere decided was part of well-being. I am not saying that a moral code built on these principles would be unacceptable or that it would not even achieve maximal goodness by some measure of goodness (yet to be determined), but it is not a priori preferred to another moral system just because it happens to conform to average people's expectations of a moral system.

What I"m proposing is a clearly a practical way to develop an objective moral code.
Yes, you are perfectly correct here.

What is exists. We conform to existence there is no is-ought problem.
So the way things are is the way things ought to be? Then surely morality is unnecessary since we can just accept everything the way it is. Morality to me, and I would think most people would agree, is about deciding what kind of changes we want to make.

We act based on observed reality to fulfill basic human needs we have discovered.
Here is the problem, we do not discover basic human needs, we decide them. Thus they are subjective in nature. We discover what makes some people happy and some people sad, what makes some people sick and some people well. It is a human judgement that takes facts about the 'effect' on a person to calling these effects 'needs'.

I am not proposing values that the average person holds. I am proposing a general framework of needs that could form a general code that will personally be adapted to the individual.
And such a framework is admirable, but the fact that is adapted to the individual makes it subjective.

This is just the is-ought fallacy committed on a particular fact-domain: facts about values. So your claims seem to be reliant on an illicit transition between description and prescription, and, for this reason, descriptive ethics is a mechanism inadequate to provide a defense of your moral judgements and prescriptive claims.

Yes there are facts about the nature of humans that we can study to understand our needs. Then you go on to argue that my morality is theoretical. Covered that.

Earlier in this thread, bladerunner recalled an analogy he'd heard between moral rules and board game rules: the rules of checkers are there, and they aren't different for each player. So if we are to play checkers, then we must follow its rules. But building on this, we can recognize our circumstances as follows: we all have the same basic game pieces, but a plurality of competing rule books, each of which differently prescribes how to use those pieces. How do we decide between the rule books? What rule book can prescribe that decision? How can a non-rule-book determine the rules by which we manipulate the pieces?

Yeah moral decisions are difficult everyone knows this. There is not a "plurality" of rulebooks. That is clearly not what research is revealing about our nature. We are very similar with similar needs. A general moral code can be formed based on what we know which can be adapted to different cultures and individuals.
I don't know about you, but this has not been my experience at all. I have distinctly different needs to other people. For instance, my girlfriend likes to be happy all the time, she needs people around to be positive or she feels physically ill. I however, enjoy melancholy and begin to feel disconnected from the world if I do not experience sadness and joy both. Of course you can generalise the rules to the point that a human sense of poetry can make the rules appear to apply in every situation (astrology here we come) but this is not objective morality, this is vague morality. There will always be controversial moral rules that don't work in certain circumstances (and if there weren't we would struggle to make any decisions).

I have demonstrated that morality is based on facts about humanity that we can research and discover. In spite of popular opinion morality is based on objective human needs/values and so morality is objective even though it may be a long while before we can form an exact personal moral code. This is not as difficult as you make out. We already know the basics just by trying to live together in society. We know to treat each other well, don"t kill steal etc and it allows everyone to live and pursue their basic needs. I"m sorry that science has contributed to morality when philosophy could not find all the answers.
We do not dispute that science can contribute something, just that this contribution will always be measured in the context of a subjective moral system. The needs and values that you cite are not objectively defined. They are posited in vague enough words that people can interpret them to conform to their preconceived notions of morality.

You still have not answered my question on how variation is to be distinguished from dependence.
Poetaster
Posts: 587
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6/30/2013 7:57:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
2-D,

I am not arguing that "your" ethical code is "too theoretical and not a practical system". That would have been sloppy of me. I suspect that your accusation of such sloppiness in my reply implies something about your reading of it.

I didn't tailor my word choice to the "causal reader" because I am not addressing a causal reader: I am addressing you, and you asserted your literacy on the subject earlier in this conversation. Is the word "normative" too jargonistic for someone who's read "a lot on this"? Besides, your speech isn't so much more 'average-joe' than mine: "moral metric"? "Manfred Max-Neef"? Come now, would you speak to your grandmother in that way?

But all of this is beside the point. The following is my sincere reply:

You deny that there exists an is-ought problem. I am genuinely curious to hear your solution of it, or a defense of your rejection of it. Until then, you will bleed at the edge of Hume's Razor.

Furthermore, even if we recognized that moral claims use sound facts about the world to make statements about what we should do, this does not imply that those moral claims have the same concrete status or soundness as those facts. To bluntly assert otherwise is to miss the point of what a prescriptive utterance is: a prescriptive utterance says that something should be the case, even when it is not currently the case; even when the facts do not correspond to it.

You also seem to miss what the moral realist has to defend about claims of this form, possibly because you appear to be confusing generic counterfactuals with truly normative statements. An example of a counterfactual is: "If you want your garden to flourish, then you should water it." This is a true statement. But that's not the kind of statement that a moral realist has to defend. The moral realist would have to defend statements which are something more like, "You should water your garden, whether you want to or not."

My point is that you are relying upon a presumed consensus of values in order to make general counterfactual claims about we should do, given that condition of consensus. But that's not what you have to do if you want to defend 'objective' morality. You have to successfully derive/defend normative claims, not merely counterfactual claims.
"The book you are looking for hasn't been written yet. What you are looking for you are going to have to find yourself, it's not going to be in a book..." -Sidewalker
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
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6/30/2013 8:03:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/30/2013 7:43:16 PM, 2-D wrote:
"2-D could you give us an argument for why a subjective moral code couldn't be studied and analysed in the way that you are proposing?"

Sure! But maybe we're not on the same page. Typically a subjective moral code is considered right simply because the culture believes that it is right which is my objection in the first place.
No, it can be right for them but simultaneously wrong for us to allow them to continue thinking it is right for them. In fact, it can be right for the culture as a whole while being wrong for each individual as well. This is the nature of subjectivity. We cannot consider every subjective perspective at all times, there are too many.

I am trying to point out that there are basic human needs or a state of 'well being' that improves the lives of the people that achieve them. These needs/values are being identified by various fields of research in sociology, psychology cognitive science etc which are telling us how to improve morality which should be examined and evaluated critically across cultures. Be willing to say that child abuse and honor killings are clearly wrong in any culture! Ha, I can"t believe that I can never get anyone to admit that.
You can't get anyone to admit it, because it isn't true. It might always be right for us to interfere and stop it, just because it is right for them doesn't mean we should allow it to continue.

We all have a natural morality, which developed through evolution. Cultural and personal bias gets in the way and we need to evaluate moral norms we have accepted to improve them. Cultures accept ideas that are bad for them. Sexual norms, spousal abuse, child rearing goals, work ethic and many other moral issues are often heavily skewed by religion and culture so take a second look not be a better way to live. This is really really easy so long as you accept that morality can be improved.
We clearly are not on the same page. Subjective morality does not mean that it cannot be improved. It does not mean that we have to accept another morality and not interfere with others. Subjective morality is to stop the 'moral superiority complex' that is common amongst objectivists. Because you accept the existence of an objective moral code you have permission to impose your morality on us without reason, rather than explaining how your moral code could benefit us and thus allow us to adopt your code voluntarily.

I"m sure I haven"t told you anything you don"t already in practice. That"s why morality is clearly objective.
This is not at all the case, just because we do it in practice doesn't mean we do it for the same reasons and morality is quite clearly about reasons. I don't kill people because A. I don't want to go to jail and B. because if I go around killing people, others might do the same and I like my life and the lives of people close to me.
There are plenty of other reasons why one might not kill others, but this is not to say that they 'should not'. It is to say that there are moral codes under which it is forbidden which people accept and live by. These codes are subjective. Particular moral codes survive because people see value in them. Moral codes that have been made poor choices by environment or society are 'killed off' by environment, education or law enforcement. Evaluation of moral codes objectively can only say what the moral code 'does' and then we use a 'pre-theoretic' subjective moral system in order to determine which of these moral codes to 'accept' and live by.
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
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6/30/2013 8:07:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 6/30/2013 7:55:42 PM, 2-D wrote:
God already Croft how did you crank that out so fast?

Lol, I care very deeply about this issue, so I think about it a lot. Perhaps this is why I can respond so quickly.