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Reason Obligates Because ....

dogparktom
Posts: 112
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10/30/2009 6:29:44 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I'm reading The Concept of Sin by Josef Pieper. http://staugustine.net...

This morning I read this surprising paragraph:

"Of course, reason can only possess this power to obligate a person if, in the act of knowledge itself, somehow a kind of participation in the divine Logos is taking place and if the interior word-character of things by which we are cognitively orientated to them simultaneously points to the creative aboriginal Word [Ur-Wort] of God himself" p. 46

This question comes to mind:

For the atheist or non-believer , what foundation or property or element or power or whatever in human reason obligates the reasoner?

I have long thought that the atheist or non-believer actually recognizes as moral wrongs only those human actions that are defined as crimes in his or her particular criminal law. In other words, moral reasoning attains certainty only in the criminal law. Other than in the criminal law, moral reasoning does not obligate the reasoner.

What do you think?
tkubok
Posts: 5,044
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10/30/2009 7:27:48 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 6:29:44 AM, dogparktom wrote:
I'm reading The Concept of Sin by Josef Pieper. http://staugustine.net...

This morning I read this surprising paragraph:

"Of course, reason can only possess this power to obligate a person if, in the act of knowledge itself, somehow a kind of participation in the divine Logos is taking place and if the interior word-character of things by which we are cognitively orientated to them simultaneously points to the creative aboriginal Word [Ur-Wort] of God himself" p. 46

This question comes to mind:

For the atheist or non-believer , what foundation or property or element or power or whatever in human reason obligates the reasoner?

I have long thought that the atheist or non-believer actually recognizes as moral wrongs only those human actions that are defined as crimes in his or her particular criminal law. In other words, moral reasoning attains certainty only in the criminal law. Other than in the criminal law, moral reasoning does not obligate the reasoner.

What do you think?

Religion is just another law that obligates the person to follow a moral reasoning. It is no different than the criminal law. Just with a different enforcer, and a different punishment.

The obligation that I have, is that i want to live in a society. It doesnt take God, or religion, or some higher power to want to live in society. Here is a simple scenario where this is true:

I dont want to die. I dont care if i lose the ability to kill anyone i please. Therefore, i will band with people who think like me, and we will create a society that bans murder.

I clearly cannot live by myself. Therefore, the obligation comes from the fact that i want to live in a society. And in a society, it benefits us all if we are nice to each other and outlaw things that harm people.
Floid
Posts: 751
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10/30/2009 7:41:11 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 6:29:44 AM, dogparktom wrote:
I'm reading The Concept of Sin by Josef Pieper. http://staugustine.net...

This morning I read this surprising paragraph:

"Of course, reason can only possess this power to obligate a person if, in the act of knowledge itself, somehow a kind of participation in the divine Logos is taking place and if the interior word-character of things by which we are cognitively orientated to them simultaneously points to the creative aboriginal Word [Ur-Wort] of God himself" p. 46

This question comes to mind:

For the atheist or non-believer , what foundation or property or element or power or whatever in human reason obligates the reasoner?

I have long thought that the atheist or non-believer actually recognizes as moral wrongs only those human actions that are defined as crimes in his or her particular criminal law. In other words, moral reasoning attains certainty only in the criminal law. Other than in the criminal law, moral reasoning does not obligate the reasoner.

What do you think?
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
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10/30/2009 7:43:26 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I would suggest that our laws come from ourselves. Ourselves being the source of goodness, justice, righteousness etc. Certainly I think these things can be developed only when we interact with others, but we evolved to do so, and evolved our nature of thinking, including thinking in terms of goodness.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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10/30/2009 9:17:32 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
Obligates the reasoner to what?

There are no absolute obligations, only ones conditional upon one's chosen goal--in my case, to live.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
dogparktom
Posts: 112
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10/30/2009 2:49:30 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
"Obligates the reasoner to what?"

REPLY: The reasoner is obligated to seek to do good and to avoid doing evil. In the Catholic Christian the FOUNDATION for this obligation is the Natural Law which is a part of the Divine Law. (The foundation is external to the reasoner)

In contrast, instead of the authority of religion, the non-believer points to Reason as his or her substitute for (instead of religion) and authority in moral reasoning.

What I want to know is what is the FOUNDATION IN Reason for an OBLIGATION to obey the judgment that results from the process of moral reasoning? (Is the foundation internal or external to the reasoner?)

At 10/30/2009 9:17:32 AM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Obligates the reasoner to what?
There are no absolute obligations, only ones conditional upon one's chosen goal--in my case, to live.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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10/30/2009 3:30:54 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
What is the obligation to act upon 5 + 7 = 12 as being true? There are times when it would be more convenient to believe it to be something else, or to suppose that the facts ought not be a compelling reason to act accordingly. The ultimate reason for acting reasonably is that not doing so gets a person into trouble, whether there are relevant laws or not. In the case moral reasoning, "trouble" means bad relationships with family, friends, community, and society. The moral person is happier, and the moral society a better one to live in.
dogparktom
Posts: 112
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10/30/2009 8:24:11 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 3:30:54 PM, RoyLatham wrote:
What is the obligation to act upon 5 + 7 = 12 as being true? There are times when it would be more convenient to believe it to be something else, or to suppose that the facts ought not be a compelling reason to act accordingly. The ultimate reason for acting reasonably is that not doing so gets a person into trouble, whether there are relevant laws or not. In the case moral reasoning, "trouble" means bad relationships with family, friends, community, and society. The moral person is happier, and the moral society a better one to live in.
_____________________________________

Hi Roy:

Happy Halloween.

If I understand your reply correctly, you hold that the FOUNDATION for the OBLIGATION to act in accordance with the judgment of Reason is the production of Good Consequences.1 No human action is inherently good or bad. The moral quality of a human action is determined by its consequences after the action has occurred. Or the moral quality of the action is provisionally judged by predicting the probable consequences of the act.

Lets consider this common fact situation:

A married man works with a beautiful young single woman. They acknowledge a mutual sexual attraction. They begin talking about having a sexual affair. They leave work at lunch, get a hotel room, and have sex. They enjoyed the sex. They return to work separately and no other person suspects that they have just had sex.

I put this question to you: Is their act of sexual intercourse a morally right or morally wrong or morally indifferent act?

Tom

1. consequentialism
Any normative theory holding that human actions derive their moral worth solely from the outcomes or results that they produce. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory that typically identifies happiness or pleasure as the favored consequence. One of the difficulties inherent in the practical application of any such theory is our notoriously feeble ability (or willingness) to predict accurately what consequences our own actions will produce. http://www.philosophypages.com...
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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10/30/2009 8:53:59 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 2:49:30 PM, dogparktom wrote:
"Obligates the reasoner to what?"

REPLY: The reasoner is obligated to seek to do good and to avoid doing evil.
That's basically redundant. Good has no meaning aside from goals which one sets for oneself, and evil has no meaning but blocking them. The choice of goal sets the obligation, if it can be called an obligation.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
dogparktom
Posts: 112
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10/30/2009 9:28:13 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 8:53:59 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
At 10/30/2009 2:49:30 PM, dogparktom wrote:
"Obligates the reasoner to what?"

REPLY: The reasoner is obligated to seek to do good and to avoid doing evil.
That's basically redundant. Good has no meaning aside from goals which one sets for oneself, and evil has no meaning but blocking them. The choice of goal sets the obligation, if it can be called an obligation.

Hi R.

Happy Halloween.

What is the moral character of this goal: I find Keith Olbermann to be obnoxious so I decide (adopt a goal) to kill him?

Tom
dogparktom
Posts: 112
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10/30/2009 10:20:26 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
Curious, I decided to see if I could find some Buddhist thought on the issues. Here is what I found:

Buddhist Ethics

Essentially, according to Buddhist teachings, the ethical and moral principles are governed by examining whether a certain action, whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one's self or to others and thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful. In Buddhism, there is much talk of a skilled mind. A mind that is skilful avoids actions that are likely to cause suffering or remorse.

Moral conduct for Buddhists differs according to whether it applies to the laity or to the Sangha or clergy. A lay Buddhist should cultivate good conduct by training in what are known as the "Five Precepts". These are not like, say, the ten commandments, which, if broken, entail punishment by God. The five precepts are training rules, which, if one were to break any of them, one should be aware of the breech and examine how such a breech may be avoided in the future. The resultant of an action (often referred to as Karma) depends on the intention more than the action itself. It entails less feelings of guilt than its Judeo-Christian counterpart. Buddhism places a great emphasis on 'mind' and it is mental anguish such as remorse, anxiety, guilt etc. which is to be avoided in order to cultivate a calm and peaceful mind. The five precepts are.

3) To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct. This precept is often mistranslated or misinterpreted as relating only to sexual misconduct but it covers any overindulgence in any sensual pleasure such as gluttony as well as misconduct of a sexual nature.

The third precept on training in restraint of the senses includes sexuality. A Buddhist should be mindful of the possible effects on themselves and on others of improper sexual activity. This precept would include adultery because this also breeches the precept of not taking what does is not freely given. A relationship with someone who is committed to another is stealing. Similarly in cases of rape and child abuse, one is stealing the dignity and self respect of another. One is also the cause of mental pain, not to mention physical pain so one is causing harm to another living being. Therefore, such behaviour is breaking several precepts.
http://www.buddhanet.net...
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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10/31/2009 10:25:02 PM
Posted: 7 years ago
I put this question to you: Is their act of sexual intercourse a morally right or morally wrong or morally indifferent act?

The hypothetical you outlined is incomplete, so it is not possible to answer that. However, if you completely described every detail it's quite possible that there would still be no clear answer. There is no certainty that every moral problem can be solved, any more than there is certainty that every math problem can be solved. I believe that moral conflicts arise from man's nature. Man has inherent concerns with self, family, and society and that sets up conflicting moral values. It suffices for the survival of man as a social animal that moral conflicts are adequately resolved without being perfectly resolved.

There is a famous story in which the philosopher Sartre is asked by a young man whether the man should go to fight in a war to defend his country or stay home and take care of his aged mother. This is a clear conflict of duty to his society and duty to his family. Sartre's "You are free, therefore choose." seems to me to acknowledge that the morality is unresolvable. "That's quite a pickle. Good luck."

I recently finished a long-winded debate about the origins of morality, which I claim to be instinctual. We use reason to attempt to satisfy conflicting allegiances to self, family, and society. The whole debate is too painful to read, but the last round provides a decent summary. http://www.debate.org... My opponent claimed that atheists use a leap of faith to derive morality. I claimed not.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/1/2009 12:46:56 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
At 10/30/2009 9:28:13 PM, dogparktom wrote:
At 10/30/2009 8:53:59 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
At 10/30/2009 2:49:30 PM, dogparktom wrote:
"Obligates the reasoner to what?"

REPLY: The reasoner is obligated to seek to do good and to avoid doing evil.
That's basically redundant. Good has no meaning aside from goals which one sets for oneself, and evil has no meaning but blocking them. The choice of goal sets the obligation, if it can be called an obligation.

Hi R.

Happy Halloween.

What is the moral character of this goal: I find Keith Olbermann to be obnoxious so I decide (adopt a goal) to kill him?

Tom

As I pmed to you:

A goal is the source of morality, not a subject of it. The morality which responds to this goal is tying dynamite to yourself under a suit, getting lots of bullets, asking for his autograph, and walking up to fire while detonating. Of course, my goals make you my enemy in this situation.
Incidentally, though, goals are arbitrary, and if you are providing a reason "I find him to be obnoxious," you're lying about what your goal is. Your goal is to eliminate obnoxiousness possibly, or something that that works towards... but your goal is certainly not to kill him or you wouldn't be prefacing it.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Harlan
Posts: 1,880
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11/1/2009 12:58:07 AM
Posted: 7 years ago
I don't really like calling ethical dilemnas "moral reasoning," as that implies that it must be based on reason. I do not believe in morality at all, yet I see and act in the world as if I were under the jurisdiction of some moral presence, as is necessarily the nature of my mind.

So I may perceive moral reasoning, and even play upon the false premises of such to make moral decisions, but I don't believe in it.