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Objective morality

Questionner
Posts: 233
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6/3/2014 5:49:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Is it possible to establish certain moral principles that we all agree with?

There's already a common moral basis: All humans seek pleasure and avoid pain.

So logically, immoral deeds should be deeds that get in the way of humans getting the pleasure they seek. That's something we all agree on, isn't it?

What other moral principles can be commonly agreed upon?

I'll provide the context to guide you on what kind of answers I'm looking for: I am asking these questions as a result of my meditation about world peace.

The broader question that spawned the ones I introduced is: Are there moral principles that we can all agree on that make it okay for a country (X) to intervene in the affairs of another country (Y) because it considers the laws of country Y immoral or is morality so arbitrary and subjective that country X should be able to do whatever it wants and it would be pretentious of country Y to intervene even if that which country X is doing isn't moral according Y's standards?

For example, if country X allows rapes and murder (like the hanging of gay people or stoning for adultery), can Y intervene?

A rape is intercourse against a person's will, so it's inherently unpleasant (= goes in the way of our pursuit of pleasure), so according to the US moral system, nothing can possibly justify thinking it's moral to do that to an innocent person. Can we impose that moral system on these other countries?
PureX
Posts: 1,533
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6/3/2014 10:34:06 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I think you have two very different issues, here. One is moral agreement. And the other is universal or objective moral truth.

On the point of agreement, I don't see that ever really happening. However, there are, as you pointed out, some universal moral truths, such as the "golden rule", and the presumption that what is good for many is better than what is good for a few. And that good is defined as that which promotes continued existence and happiness.

And this being the case, we might be able to cobble together a set of 'objective' moral imperatives that we could use to guide and justify some forms of enforcement.
Questionner
Posts: 233
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6/3/2014 10:49:48 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 10:34:06 AM, PureX wrote:
I think you have two very different issues, here. One is moral agreement. And the other is universal or objective moral truth.

How do these two things differ?

On the point of agreement, I don't see that ever really happening. However, there are, as you pointed out, some universal moral truths, such as the "golden rule", and the presumption that what is good for many is better than what is good for a few. And that good is defined as that which promotes continued existence and happiness.

And this being the case, we might be able to cobble together a set of 'objective' moral imperatives that we could use to guide and justify some forms of enforcement.

You say that you do not see moral agreement ever happening, but at the same time you say that we can obtain a set of 'objective' moral imperatives. Isn't that a contradiction? If we can establish objective imperatives, we can agree on them, can we?

Do you agree that country Y should be able to impose some of its morals on country X?
PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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6/3/2014 11:50:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 10:49:48 AM, Questionner wrote:
At 6/3/2014 10:34:06 AM, PureX wrote:
I think you have two very different issues, here. One is moral agreement. And the other is universal or objective moral truth.

How do these two things differ?

We can agree on certain morals, but those things are not necessarily objective.

For example, two people can agree that abortion is morally permissible and is perfectly okay, and they are in moral agreement. Is this an objective moral truth? No.

So, to what you were saying, you said we could agree that it is moral to enjoy pleasure and avoid pain, but this wouldn't be true for a masochist or a sadist. In fact, it's also not true for philosophies which state that suffering is good for human development. Clearly, it's not objectively moral.

This is what I believe he meant by the difference between moral agreement and objective moral truths.
Questionner
Posts: 233
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6/3/2014 12:46:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 11:50:21 AM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 6/3/2014 10:49:48 AM, Questionner wrote:
At 6/3/2014 10:34:06 AM, PureX wrote:
I think you have two very different issues, here. One is moral agreement. And the other is universal or objective moral truth.

How do these two things differ?

We can agree on certain morals, but those things are not necessarily objective.

For example, two people can agree that abortion is morally permissible and is perfectly okay, and they are in moral agreement. Is this an objective moral truth? No.

If their moral stance on abortion logically results from their principle for morality, then their moral stance on abortion is just as objective as saying that 2+4=6 because 1+1 =2, isn't it?

So, to what you were saying, you said we could agree that it is moral to enjoy pleasure and avoid pain, but this wouldn't be true for a masochist or a sadist.

It would still be true even for them. Masochists derive pleasure from pain, so it's still for the pleasure that they do it, not the pain. They too will avoid the type of pain that isn't pleasurable for them.

In fact, it's also not true for philosophies which state that suffering is good for human development. Clearly, it's not objectively moral.

Same thing here. Human development (which leads to pleasure) is the ultimate goal, not the suffering, so the statement is true for that too.
PureX
Posts: 1,533
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6/3/2014 1:17:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 10:49:48 AM, Questionner wrote:
At 6/3/2014 10:34:06 AM, PureX wrote:
I think you have two very different issues, here. One is moral agreement. And the other is universal or objective moral truth.

How do these two things differ?

The problem with 'morality' is that it is essentially subjective. What is good, is good for the subject making the decision, and what is bad is bad for the subject deciding. However, we 'subjects' also have very similar objective needs and desires, and therefor there will be some degree of objective universality in determining the good from the bad.

The truth very often appears paradoxical to we humans. And morality is yet another instance of this. As it is both subjective and objective, as well as both personal and universal. But I don't think it would be that difficult for us to identify universal values and justify enforcing them, to some degree.
HumbleThinker1
Posts: 144
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6/3/2014 1:26:05 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 5:49:28 AM, Questionner wrote:
Is it possible to establish certain moral principles that we all agree with?

There's already a common moral basis: All humans seek pleasure and avoid pain.

So logically, immoral deeds should be deeds that get in the way of humans getting the pleasure they seek. That's something we all agree on, isn't it?

What other moral principles can be commonly agreed upon?

I'll provide the context to guide you on what kind of answers I'm looking for: I am asking these questions as a result of my meditation about world peace.

The broader question that spawned the ones I introduced is: Are there moral principles that we can all agree on that make it okay for a country (X) to intervene in the affairs of another country (Y) because it considers the laws of country Y immoral or is morality so arbitrary and subjective that country X should be able to do whatever it wants and it would be pretentious of country Y to intervene even if that which country X is doing isn't moral according Y's standards?

For example, if country X allows rapes and murder (like the hanging of gay people or stoning for adultery), can Y intervene?

A rape is intercourse against a person's will, so it's inherently unpleasant (= goes in the way of our pursuit of pleasure), so according to the US moral system, nothing can possibly justify thinking it's moral to do that to an innocent person. Can we impose that moral system on these other countries?

Even if there are objective morals, I don't see how we would possibly derive them without playing with the definition of objective. And personally, I don't see a reason to seek objective morality. I can understand why some would want to such as the perception of there being a unifying code that all of humanity could rally around, but there is no logical reason that any one person or group of people needs objective morality to act morally. Nor does one need to show an objective moral that another is breaking to intervene in what the first person perceives as an immoral act. This would be only one way of persuasion among many.

I believe that morals can be derived from this or that, such as the law of karma or human's biology as a social species or the natural behaviors that arise in humans under perfect environmental conditions, but none of these are objective morals. The closest one is a morality based on the law of karma, but the law itself is what is objective, not the morality.

Also, depending on what you mean by pleasure, you could run into such issues as the hedonistic paradox, or into moralities that claim that avoidance of pain and attachment to pleasure are not to be undertaken (ie. a simplification of Buddhism).
CaptainBallarms
Posts: 24
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6/3/2014 1:48:38 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
There are a lot of problems with your reasoning. For the example, not everyone agrees that it is wrong to get in the way of people getting pleasure. In fact, I think most of us disagree with that. For example, someone may get pleasure from hurting others or may get pleasure hurting themselves. However, most of us would consider stopping someone else from hurting other people regardless of the pleasure involved. You mention rape as an example of getting in the way of someone's pleasure, however preventing rape does the exact same thing. And something tells me you would agree we ought to prevent rape even though that gets in the way of some people pleasure.

A lot people believe moral principles cannot be agreed upon whatsoever, as they are either subjective or nonexistent. With subjective morals, depending upon whether your advocating personal or cultural relativism, then the justification for allowing those things within those countries would be pretty valid. Intervening would be imposing Western Morals, that they don't share, upon them. Perhaps according to their culture rape is okay in some circumstances, or perhaps killing is justified.

You could argue from a empirical perspective that these actions are wrong in other ways, but the moral system you propose doesn't have legs to stand on. I could elaborate if you wanted(the inherent issue has to do with the conflict of rights).
PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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6/3/2014 3:50:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 12:46:05 PM, Questionner wrote:

If their moral stance on abortion logically results from their principle for morality, then their moral stance on abortion is just as objective as saying that 2+4=6 because 1+1 =2, isn't it?

How so?

Just because they have their principles for morality doesn't mean that their principles are objective. Nor does it mean that their moral stances are objective.


It would still be true even for them. Masochists derive pleasure from pain, so it's still for the pleasure that they do it, not the pain. They too will avoid the type of pain that isn't pleasurable for them.

Hm, you make a good point there. I can't say anything to that.


Same thing here. Human development (which leads to pleasure) is the ultimate goal, not the suffering, so the statement is true for that too.

But in order to develop, you must go through suffering and not avoid it.

In other words, to gain pleasure, you need suffering to progress, and you should not avoid it.
HumbleThinker1
Posts: 144
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6/3/2014 7:20:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 3:50:10 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
But in order to develop, you must go through suffering and not avoid it.

In other words, to gain pleasure, you need suffering to progress, and you should not avoid it.

I think this idea is a bit off, though it is a common belief. In short, I believe the only way for this statement to be necessarily true is to define suffering as any form of exertion and/or failure or for a human to have developed in a deviated manner that may perhaps require them to suffer to develop. Or at the very least the person perceives that they need to suffer to develop.
PeacefulChaos
Posts: 2,610
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6/3/2014 8:24:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 7:20:25 PM, HumbleThinker1 wrote:
At 6/3/2014 3:50:10 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
But in order to develop, you must go through suffering and not avoid it.

In other words, to gain pleasure, you need suffering to progress, and you should not avoid it.

I think this idea is a bit off, though it is a common belief. In short, I believe the only way for this statement to be necessarily true is to define suffering as any form of exertion and/or failure or for a human to have developed in a deviated manner that may perhaps require them to suffer to develop. Or at the very least the person perceives that they need to suffer to develop.

Oh, I wasn't necessarily arguing that it was true or not. I was simply saying that there are differing moral views, showing that a moral view is not always objective.
Questionner
Posts: 233
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6/3/2014 8:45:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 1:17:45 PM, PureX wrote:
But I don't think it would be that difficult for us to identify universal values and justify enforcing them, to some degree.

And what do you believe that all these universal values that we could justify enforcing to some degree are?

At 6/3/2014 1:26:05 PM, HumbleThinker1 wrote:
I don't see a reason to seek objective morality. I can understand why some would want to such as the perception of there being a unifying code that all of humanity could rally around, but there is no logical reason that any one person or group of people needs objective morality to act morally.

There is a logical reason: the fact that it enables us to reach pleasure more easily, which is intrinsically desirable to every human being.

Nor does one need to show an objective moral that another is breaking to intervene in what the first person perceives as an immoral act.

They don't need an objective moral to do it, but they need to be able to claim a moral highground to do it in a way that is justified; a way that the counterpart would not be able to logically argue against.

At 6/3/2014 1:48:38 PM, CaptainBallarms wrote:
There are a lot of problems with your reasoning. For the example, not everyone agrees that it is wrong to get in the way of people getting pleasure. In fact, I think most of us disagree with that. For example, someone may get pleasure from hurting others or may get pleasure hurting themselves. However, most of us would consider stopping someone else from hurting other people regardless of the pleasure involved. You mention rape as an example of getting in the way of someone's pleasure, however preventing rape does the exact same thing. And something tells me you would agree we ought to prevent rape even though that gets in the way of some people pleasure.

It sure is not always wrong to get in a person's way of seeking pleasure, but every time that is done, it is to protect another person's pleasure. I don't think anybody agrees with gratuitously impeding a person's pursuit of happiness, it has to be justified. So the principle of protecting people's pleasure remains something that we all agree on, but what pleasure should be sacrificed for what higher pleasure is the question. So you think it's impossible to find a common ground on that question, right? I'm finding it difficult to answer it myself, but I wonder if somebody else will be able to do so.

At 6/3/2014 3:50:10 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 6/3/2014 12:46:05 PM, Questionner wrote:

If their moral stance on abortion logically results from their principle for morality, then their moral stance on abortion is just as objective as saying that 2+4=6 because 1+1 =2, isn't it?

How so?

Just because they have their principles for morality doesn't mean that their principles are objective. Nor does it mean that their moral stances are objective.

The principles themselves aren't objective, but the logical reasoning that follow from them are.

The definition of 1 and 2 is not objective, it's arbitrarily defined and 1+1=2 is the axiom we've created to formulate calculations.

Likewise, if we define "good" as "everything that makes people smile", a funny joke logically has to be "good", logically, there is no way around it.

In both case, a basic principle is lain and conclusions logically follow from it. I'm trying to verify the hypothesis that morality, if we have clear definitions of "good" and "bad" and a common ground among humans (which we do because of our common relation to pain and pleasure) should work the same way, with certain things ending up being logically good (without way around it) and others not.

Same thing here. Human development (which leads to pleasure) is the ultimate goal, not the suffering, so the statement is true for that too.

But in order to develop, you must go through suffering and not avoid it.

In other words, to gain pleasure, you need suffering to progress, and you should not avoid it.

Some suffering is needed to develop in a way that will allow one to feel more pleasure in the future, and that's the only suffering you won't avoid, but it's just like with the masochists, you will still avoid the suffering that doesn't lead to the human development (=pleasure) you seek.
HumbleThinker1
Posts: 144
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6/4/2014 6:09:34 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 8:24:46 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
At 6/3/2014 7:20:25 PM, HumbleThinker1 wrote:
At 6/3/2014 3:50:10 PM, PeacefulChaos wrote:
But in order to develop, you must go through suffering and not avoid it.

In other words, to gain pleasure, you need suffering to progress, and you should not avoid it.

I think this idea is a bit off, though it is a common belief. In short, I believe the only way for this statement to be necessarily true is to define suffering as any form of exertion and/or failure or for a human to have developed in a deviated manner that may perhaps require them to suffer to develop. Or at the very least the person perceives that they need to suffer to develop.

Oh, I wasn't necessarily arguing that it was true or not. I was simply saying that there are differing moral views, showing that a moral view is not always objective.

Oh ok, thanks for the clarification. I agree with that.
PureX
Posts: 1,533
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6/4/2014 7:05:58 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/3/2014 8:45:54 PM, Questionner wrote:
At 6/3/2014 1:17:45 PM, PureX wrote:
But I don't think it would be that difficult for us to identify universal values and justify enforcing them, to some degree.

And what do you believe that all these universal values that we could justify enforcing to some degree are?

Nearly all human beings want to continue existing. And most human beings want to do so according to their own will. So it would be reasonable to propose that, that which aids in the virtue of our continued existence, both collectively and individually, be considered a moral imperative. But only to the degree that it does not significantly infringe upon individual will. To propose such a virtue would be difficult to argue with, even though there are many who would gladly enslave others for their own benefit.

This is what I meant by there being a difference between a universal moral virtue or imperative, that we still would not likely all agree to.