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Naturalism cannot address morals

james14
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10/26/2014 1:22:58 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
As Naturalism (the belief that the Natural world is all that really exists) by definition excludes everything that is not natural, or material, then morals are not 'real' and cannot be addressed.

1p: The Natural (material) world is all there is (Naturalism)

1c: Non-natural (or non-material) things do not exist. (Except perhaps as functions of material things; an example would be neurological processes being a function of the brain.)

2p: Morals are not material, even as a function of a natural process.

2c: Therefore, Morals do not exist, per se.

Note: Naturalism should be able to prescribe in cases involving what some may call morality. E.g., IF you want a certain result, you SHOULD do such and such. However, this is conditional and different from the objective SHOULD some of us would call morality, e.g. you SHOULD not destroy human life needlessly, or you SHOULD not troll DDO, or you SHOULD not call nice people certain four letter words, or you SHOULD do what will lead to the greatest good. The preceding examples are what non-Naturalists would call Moral Laws, or functions of the Moral Law. The Moral Law is the reason our founders held it self-evident that men were created equal and had a right to life.

"Do good to others," and "Do what you promise to do unless doing so will harm someone" are examples of prescriptions without circumstantial context. Naturalism holds no place for such universals. All Naturalism can provide us with are contextual, situational prescriptions that start with what one wishes to take place and proceeds to what one should do to bring that about. Examples: "If we want the human race preserved from extinction, we shouldn't kill unreasonably large numbers of humans." Or: "If I want X to like me, I shouldn't call X certain four-letter words."

If Naturalism is true, then unfortunately we are forced away from universals about what is "good" and reduced to deciding for ourselves what is good, based on the circumstances. For example, if we want the human race to avoid extinction, maybe we SHOULD kill those with genetic disabilities before they can reproduce.

Please comment, but be civil.

(Note: I asked you to be civil. For those who believe in a Moral Law, please be civil because it is the right thing to do. For those who are Materialists, please be civil because . . . well, it aids conversation and will result in conversation that is more civil--assuming that's a good thing--and will prevent any of your posts from being flagged.)
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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Karmanator
Posts: 142
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10/26/2014 2:34:19 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
A moral has to be agreed upon by two people. If somone tells me they will do something and I dont agree with their reasoning, then I will disagree with the thought that they ought to do such a thing. Morals can be derived from truth axioms as they ought to be.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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10/26/2014 5:28:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 1:22:58 PM, james14 wrote:
As Naturalism (the belief that the Natural world is all that really exists) by definition excludes everything that is not natural, or material, then morals are not 'real' and cannot be addressed.

1p: The Natural (material) world is all there is (Naturalism)

1c: Non-natural (or non-material) things do not exist. (Except perhaps as functions of material things; an example would be neurological processes being a function of the brain.)

2p: Morals are not material, even as a function of a natural process.

2c: Therefore, Morals do not exist, per se.

Morals exist no more or less than numbers, concepts, and ideas. It doesn't make them any more or less important, it just means they don't have a tangible independent existence. You can't interact or touch them etc...

Note: Naturalism should be able to prescribe in cases involving what some may call morality. E.g., IF you want a certain result, you SHOULD do such and such. However, this is conditional and different from the objective SHOULD some of us would call morality, e.g. you SHOULD not destroy human life needlessly, or you SHOULD not troll DDO, or you SHOULD not call nice people certain four letter words, or you SHOULD do what will lead to the greatest good. The preceding examples are what non-Naturalists would call Moral Laws, or functions of the Moral Law. The Moral Law is the reason our founders held it self-evident that men were created equal and had a right to life.

Yes, moral laws are conditional (which is why morality is necessarily subjective in this regard), since it is dependant on having values that are shared amongst the community.

E.g. If you value x, then you ought/should to do y. And hence there are lots of moral philosophies (including theological ones) that address different values (utility, suffering, happiness, god's nature, etc).

"Do good to others," and "Do what you promise to do unless doing so will harm someone" are examples of prescriptions without circumstantial context. Naturalism holds no place for such universals. All Naturalism can provide us with are contextual, situational prescriptions that start with what one wishes to take place and proceeds to what one should do to bring that about. Examples: "If we want the human race preserved from extinction, we shouldn't kill unreasonably large numbers of humans." Or: "If I want X to like me, I shouldn't call X certain four-letter words."

If Naturalism is true, then unfortunately we are forced away from universals about what is "good" and reduced to deciding for ourselves what is good, based on the circumstances. For example, if we want the human race to avoid extinction, maybe we SHOULD kill those with genetic disabilities before they can reproduce.

Sure, agreed. Our sense of morality is necessarily dependant on our values, and those are liable to change between different populations and over time. Questions of morality are hard, and the illusion so 'universal morals' simply gets in the way of constructing systems that suit the real values that society holds.

Please comment, but be civil.

(Note: I asked you to be civil. For those who believe in a Moral Law, please be civil because it is the right thing to do. For those who are Materialists, please be civil because . . . well, it aids conversation and will result in conversation that is more civil--assuming that's a good thing--and will prevent any of your posts from being flagged.)

Note I would regard myself as a natural moral-antirealist, but I don't particularly care for what my label is.
Envisage
Posts: 3,646
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10/26/2014 5:38:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
If we take your 'universal' morals which are incompatible with naturalism and look closer, it quickly becomes apparent that the issue isn't significant.

"Do good to others,"

The term 'good' is undefined, what is 'good', it may well be true for a sentient alien race that mass genocide is defined as 'good' for them, or slavery is seen as 'good'. And if you define 'good', then why should it ever be a universal moral? If it goes heavily against the values that society holds then it would be immoral by their accepted moral systems. What's 'moral' 'immoral' 'good' 'evil' is usually poorly defined and I would go further to say it's noncognitive and hence meaningless/useless,

IF we define good as 'being in concordance with society's values', then we have just made the statement a conditional, and hence it becomes a subjective statement again.

"Do what you promise to do unless doing so will harm someone"

This is indeed non-conditional, but is also an empty statement, as it can be quickly be answered with 'I don't care'. Why should the statement have anything to do with reality, and what we ought to do? Since 'good' is non cognitive, then unless we define it, such a statement will never become meaningful or useful. It's akin to having a random book with a bunch of do' and don'ts with no justification as to why they have anything to do with morality.

Moral realism is just empty and necessarily detached from societal relevance.
Double_R
Posts: 4,886
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10/26/2014 6:35:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 1:22:58 PM, james14 wrote:
1p: The Natural (material) world is all there is (Naturalism)

That is not naturalism. Naturalism is the belief that everything that exists comes from natural means. Concepts (which is all morality is) comes from our minds produced by our brains. That is as far as it can be demonstrated, nothing more that natural.
james14
Posts: 68
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10/26/2014 9:33:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 5:38:26 PM, Envisage wrote:
If we take your 'universal' morals which are incompatible with naturalism and look closer, it quickly becomes apparent that the issue isn't significant.

"Do good to others,"

The term 'good' is undefined, what is 'good', it may well be true for a sentient alien race that mass genocide is defined as 'good' for them, or slavery is seen as 'good'. And if you define 'good', then why should it ever be a universal moral? If it goes heavily against the values that society holds then it would be immoral by their accepted moral systems. What's 'moral' 'immoral' 'good' 'evil' is usually poorly defined and I would go further to say it's noncognitive and hence meaningless/useless,

IF we define good as 'being in concordance with society's values', then we have just made the statement a conditional, and hence it becomes a subjective statement again.

"Do what you promise to do unless doing so will harm someone"

This is indeed non-conditional, but is also an empty statement, as it can be quickly be answered with 'I don't care'. Why should the statement have anything to do with reality, and what we ought to do? Since 'good' is non cognitive, then unless we define it, such a statement will never become meaningful or useful. It's akin to having a random book with a bunch of do' and don'ts with no justification as to why they have anything to do with morality.

Moral realism is just empty and necessarily detached from societal relevance.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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Thanksfornotraping
Posts: 238
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10/26/2014 9:39:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 1:22:58 PM, james14 wrote:
As Naturalism (the belief that the Natural world is all that really exists) by definition excludes everything that is not natural, or material, then morals are not 'real' and cannot be addressed.

1p: The Natural (material) world is all there is (Naturalism)

1c: Non-natural (or non-material) things do not exist. (Except perhaps as functions of material things; an example would be neurological processes being a function of the brain.)

2p: Morals are not material, even as a function of a natural process.

2c: Therefore, Morals do not exist, per se.

Note: Naturalism should be able to prescribe in cases involving what some may call morality. E.g., IF you want a certain result, you SHOULD do such and such. However, this is conditional and different from the objective SHOULD some of us would call morality, e.g. you SHOULD not destroy human life needlessly, or you SHOULD not troll DDO, or you SHOULD not call nice people certain four letter words, or you SHOULD do what will lead to the greatest good. The preceding examples are what non-Naturalists would call Moral Laws, or functions of the Moral Law. The Moral Law is the reason our founders held it self-evident that men were created equal and had a right to life.

"Do good to others," and "Do what you promise to do unless doing so will harm someone" are examples of prescriptions without circumstantial context. Naturalism holds no place for such universals. All Naturalism can provide us with are contextual, situational prescriptions that start with what one wishes to take place and proceeds to what one should do to bring that about. Examples: "If we want the human race preserved from extinction, we shouldn't kill unreasonably large numbers of humans." Or: "If I want X to like me, I shouldn't call X certain four-letter words."

If Naturalism is true, then unfortunately we are forced away from universals about what is "good" and reduced to deciding for ourselves what is good, based on the circumstances. For example, if we want the human race to avoid extinction, maybe we SHOULD kill those with genetic disabilities before they can reproduce.

Please comment, but be civil.

(Note: I asked you to be civil. For those who believe in a Moral Law, please be civil because it is the right thing to do. For those who are Materialists, please be civil because . . . well, it aids conversation and will result in conversation that is more civil--assuming that's a good thing--and will prevent any of your posts from being flagged.)

Imagination is natural since we all have it- imagination causes "morals" or "right behavior"...

You're welcome...
james14
Posts: 68
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10/26/2014 9:42:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Your comment that I did not define "good" is interesting. We may not agree what "good" is, but that is besides the point. "Good" is difficult to define, but everyone agrees we should do it. (Or at least the vast sentient majority). And we all know what good is NOT: enslavement, murder, and plenty of other actions. For example, we know without the shadow of a doubt that what Hitler did was wrong. And it was GOOD for a lifeguard to jump into the surf and rescue that drowning lady. How do we know? I don't think naturalism has a good answer for this. My answer would be that inside ourselves there is a kind of compass or moral standard that we unconsciously compare everything we encounter to. By the way, we cannot call Hitler "bad," unless we have some standard of what is "good" and what is "bad." I could not call a map of Mexico "wrong" unless I knew what an accurate map of Mexico looked like. Similarly, moral dilemmas are impossible under naturalism, as they are attempts to reconcile competing moral values. Without moral values, one might do whatever one wished.

By the way, sorry I used the example of Hitler. It is so overused. But still quite appropriate, for Hitler is the perfect euphemism0 for evil in our culture, it seems.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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james14
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10/26/2014 9:45:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Imagination is natural since we all have it- imagination causes "morals" or "right behavior"...

Just because we all have it does not mean it is natural. I mean natural in the physical sense, as in something that can be measured and observed through a microscope. Imagination is not physical and reproducible.

And we do not "imagine" morals. Otherwise, we would all have different versions of morality. How come we all agree on what is "right" in certain situations?

Example: If a girl is strangling a baby, it is right to stop her.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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Thanksfornotraping
Posts: 238
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10/26/2014 9:50:44 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 9:45:36 PM, james14 wrote:
Imagination is natural since we all have it- imagination causes "morals" or "right behavior"...

Just because we all have it does not mean it is natural. I mean natural in the physical sense, as in something that can be measured and observed through a microscope. Imagination is not physical and reproducible.

And we do not "imagine" morals. Otherwise, we would all have different versions of morality. How come we all agree on what is "right" in certain situations?

Example: If a girl is strangling a baby, it is right to stop her.

Forgive me, but I did not read all of your original post, and I still haven't. Just for clarity in this discussion, are you suggesting imagination is NOT natural? If you are, then your whole premise is done as EVERY single person on earth has one...
james14
Posts: 68
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10/26/2014 10:01:17 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
My point is that morals seem to be intuitive, even if those intuitions cannot be fully expressed logically. Every day we read the newspaper and respond "Good" to some sets of actions and "Bad" to others. Naturalistic thinkers can come up with their own system of morals, but they cannot explain why we care about morals in the first place. We do not see other creatures, such as pigs, caring about what is right and wrong, or coming up with convoluted systems to decide.

And how do we judge these convoluted systems? We think up dozens of theoretical scenarios to see whether the new system lines up with our intuition. If it doesn't, the system can't be much good, for when one thinks about it he realizes that these systems at best can hope to explain the intuition and calculate what will be in line with it. For example, utilitarianism can explain a great number of scenarios, but it also cannot explain others. Example: There are two employees at a company. One has worked many years and has done the company many favors, for which you have promised him a promotion. The other is relatively new, but is quite powerful in politics and promises to pull you some very important strings with the local government if you promote him instead. Which one do you promote? Without even going into whether pulling strings is moral, we can see which is the intuitive response and which is the utilitarian response.

If you guessed it, that's your moral intuition working.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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james14
Posts: 68
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10/26/2014 10:08:36 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Forgive me, but I did not read all of your original post, and I still haven't. Just for clarity in this discussion, are you suggesting imagination is NOT natural? If you are, then your whole premise is done as EVERY single person on earth has one...

Natural: "existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind." One could argue that the imagination is a function of the brain evolved over millennia, so sadly I am not arguing that imagination is NOT natural. At least not in one sense.

I mean, imagining arts, on one hand . . . I mean, imagining predators is one thing. But imagining a piece of music and then writing it? I fail to see how that resulted evolutionary. Surely the poets and musicians starved while the hunter-gatherers were busy? I'm sure there's an evolutionist somewhere who would like to explain.

By the way, just about every person on earth has a moral intuition. So what does that say for naturalism? "Natural" does not mean "ordinary," in this discussion. See above definition.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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Thanksfornotraping
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10/26/2014 10:08:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 10:01:17 PM, james14 wrote:
My point is that morals seem to be intuitive, even if those intuitions cannot be fully expressed logically. Every day we read the newspaper and respond "Good" to some sets of actions and "Bad" to others. Naturalistic thinkers can come up with their own system of morals, but they cannot explain why we care about morals in the first place. We do not see other creatures, such as pigs, caring about what is right and wrong, or coming up with convoluted systems to decide.

And how do we judge these convoluted systems? We think up dozens of theoretical scenarios to see whether the new system lines up with our intuition. If it doesn't, the system can't be much good, for when one thinks about it he realizes that these systems at best can hope to explain the intuition and calculate what will be in line with it. For example, utilitarianism can explain a great number of scenarios, but it also cannot explain others. Example: There are two employees at a company. One has worked many years and has done the company many favors, for which you have promised him a promotion. The other is relatively new, but is quite powerful in politics and promises to pull you some very important strings with the local government if you promote him instead. Which one do you promote? Without even going into whether pulling strings is moral, we can see which is the intuitive response and which is the utilitarian response.

If you guessed it, that's your moral intuition working.

All other animals we humans (which are also animals) can observe adhere to some sort of "morality", or codification of behavior. We are no different- where does it come from then? Biology only, or maybe a mystical presence that infuses itself in our biology?
Burzmali
Posts: 1,310
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10/26/2014 10:13:00 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 10:01:17 PM, james14 wrote:
My point is that morals seem to be intuitive, even if those intuitions cannot be fully expressed logically. Every day we read the newspaper and respond "Good" to some sets of actions and "Bad" to others. Naturalistic thinkers can come up with their own system of morals, but they cannot explain why we care about morals in the first place. We do not see other creatures, such as pigs, caring about what is right and wrong, or coming up with convoluted systems to decide.

And how do we judge these convoluted systems? We think up dozens of theoretical scenarios to see whether the new system lines up with our intuition. If it doesn't, the system can't be much good, for when one thinks about it he realizes that these systems at best can hope to explain the intuition and calculate what will be in line with it. For example, utilitarianism can explain a great number of scenarios, but it also cannot explain others. Example: There are two employees at a company. One has worked many years and has done the company many favors, for which you have promised him a promotion. The other is relatively new, but is quite powerful in politics and promises to pull you some very important strings with the local government if you promote him instead. Which one do you promote? Without even going into whether pulling strings is moral, we can see which is the intuitive response and which is the utilitarian response.

If you guessed it, that's your moral intuition working.

We do see some other animals having moral systems. Chimpanzees demonstrate a basic morality that is similar to our own. Chimps that steal or hurt others in the group are ostracized. The origins of our general morality are actually pretty easy to understand. All of the things we generally agree about in terms of right and wrong are things that make it easier to get along in a group. That's something that is advantageous for social animals and would be selected for through evolution.
james14
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10/26/2014 10:14:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Can you clarify, explain, and give some evidence? Thanks!

I thought "survival of the fittest" worked fine up until we came along. A lion doesn't have a problem eating a zebra, or a black widow its mate.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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james14
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10/26/2014 10:17:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
E.g. If you value x, then you ought/should to do y. And hence there are lots of moral philosophies (including theological ones) that address different values (utility, suffering, happiness, god's nature, etc).

But how come we know what x's are good and what x's are bad? If my x is strangling babies then how do you like that? Who is to say my x is worse than yours? Who is to say some values are good and some are bad?
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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james14
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10/26/2014 10:23:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
We do see some other animals having moral systems. Chimpanzees demonstrate a basic morality that is similar to our own. Chimps that steal or hurt others in the group are ostracized. The origins of our general morality are actually pretty easy to understand. All of the things we generally agree about in terms of right and wrong are things that make it easier to get along in a group. That's something that is advantageous for social animals and would be selected for through evolution.

Not necessarily. See the 'Prisoner's Dilemma.' If one animal decided to start being nice, then the animals that did not want to be nice would take advantage of its niceness to kill it. The very quality that would have enabled the society to get along better would have crippled the individual practicing it unless the whole group adopted it at the same time.

And that would have been VERY unlikely.

Returning to the ape, we can see here an example of the IF THEN prescription of naturalism. This ape hurts one of the other apes. Well, the other apes now see him as a threat, so they avoid contact. IF they want to keep their food THEN they will stay away from Problem Ape.
Maybe I'm a genius; maybe not.

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Burzmali
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10/26/2014 10:39:55 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 10:23:25 PM, james14 wrote:
We do see some other animals having moral systems. Chimpanzees demonstrate a basic morality that is similar to our own. Chimps that steal or hurt others in the group are ostracized. The origins of our general morality are actually pretty easy to understand. All of the things we generally agree about in terms of right and wrong are things that make it easier to get along in a group. That's something that is advantageous for social animals and would be selected for through evolution.

Not necessarily. See the 'Prisoner's Dilemma.' If one animal decided to start being nice, then the animals that did not want to be nice would take advantage of its niceness to kill it. The very quality that would have enabled the society to get along better would have crippled the individual practicing it unless the whole group adopted it at the same time.

And that would have been VERY unlikely.

It actually starts as family group behavior. When all of the animals in question are related, there is a strong evolutionary benefit to being "nice" to each other. As the group expands beyond a single family, that's when the morality expands to other group members.

Furthermore, animals so willing to tear each other apart at the first sign of weakness, as you've described, are much less likely to survive as a group. For primates, especially us humans, our ability to band together against larger threats is exactly what allows us to survive. We simply wouldn't have been able to make it to this point without that social ability.

And while we're on the subject of "niceness," nice behavior is observed in other creatures like vampire bats. When a group of bats goes out to feed, if one bat doesn't manage to find a meal, another bat will regurgitate some blood for it. If what you're suggesting was supposedly the norm, then the rest of the group would not only attack the unfortunate bat but also the bat that helped it. Instead, we see this kind of thing in all sorts of group animals.

Returning to the ape, we can see here an example of the IF THEN prescription of naturalism. This ape hurts one of the other apes. Well, the other apes now see him as a threat, so they avoid contact. IF they want to keep their food THEN they will stay away from Problem Ape.

I'm not sure why you think what you've described with that last paragraph is somehow different from what we do. If we want to be safe, we lock up people who hurt others. We're able to apply labels to good and bad actions, but otherwise there isn't any difference between our basic morality and that of chimps. And it goes beyond bad behavior. Chimps demonstrate altruistic tendencies, as well. They appear to understand making a sacrifice for the benefit of the group.
bulproof
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10/26/2014 10:47:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 9:45:36 PM, james14 wrote:
Just because we all have it does not mean it is natural. I mean natural in the physical sense, as in something that can be measured and observed through a microscope. Imagination is not physical and reproducible.

You mean like your god?
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin
Envisage
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10/27/2014 5:08:37 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 10:17:11 PM, james14 wrote:
E.g. If you value x, then you ought/should to do y. And hence there are lots of moral philosophies (including theological ones) that address different values (utility, suffering, happiness, god's nature, etc).


But how come we know what x's are good and what x's are bad? If my x is strangling babies then how do you like that? Who is to say my x is worse than yours? Who is to say some values are good and some are bad?

I told you, the questions are hard, and there isn't a 'worse' or 'good' and 'bad' values, as they are non cognitive terms.

You have self-defeating or self-destructive values, for example an invividual that does not value his own life will eventually remove himself from the equation (which leads to a level of 'natural election'). Also our values are largely questions of biology and psychology, and hence are subject to it.

If a society valued strangling babies, then strangling babies would be moral for them. It gets complicated when you consider the babies' values, and the fact that it is a self-destructive/defeating value, as it would eventually lead to the extinction of such a society.

Clearly humans tend to share some values over others (especially ones that tend towards self-preservation), so society is possible.

With all that being said, positing moral realism, or objective values does not solve this problem, it's necessarily divorced from a society's held values.
Beastt
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10/27/2014 6:38:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/26/2014 9:42:26 PM, james14 wrote:
Your comment that I did not define "good" is interesting. We may not agree what "good" is, but that is besides the point.
Actually, that's exactly the point. How one defines "good" determines what they find to be moral, or immoral. And different cultures, species and people have defined "good" and classified "good" in different ways, resulting in different moral standards. And this demonstrates that morals arise not from some objective universal source; but from the need for social groups to adhere to some kind of agreed upon social code. Without that, any society quickly turns to anarchy, and destroys itself.

"Good" is difficult to define, but everyone agrees we should do it. (Or at least the vast sentient majority). And we all know what good is NOT: enslavement, murder, and plenty of other actions. For example, we know without the shadow of a doubt that what Hitler did was wrong. And it was GOOD for a lifeguard to jump into the surf and rescue that drowning lady. How do we know? I don't think naturalism has a good answer for this.
And that's where you would be wrong. We determine what is "good" or "evil" on the basis of our perspective. What Hitler did was wrong because he harmed millions of people and is suggested to be responsible for about 42 million lives. We deem this "evil" for a number of reasons, all of which stem from the biased perspective that it is wrong to harm people. Perhaps if we were members of one of the many species driven to the brink of extinction through the careless and casual actions of humans, we would see this as "good". If we were the planet itself, we might see this as good - action which is limiting the number of the most destructive species on the planet, and the greatest single threat to all other species on the planet. So morality, is all a matter of perspective, once again showing that it's not an objective, universal concept, but a very subjective one.

My answer would be that inside ourselves there is a kind of compass or moral standard that we unconsciously compare everything we encounter to.
Well, you're not far off. Within the human brain is a very limited number of special cells called "mirror neurons" and these are dedicated to the function of empathy - they allow us to imagine ourselves in the circumstances of another. This leads to compassion, altruism, etc. But there isn't anything mystical or spiritual about them. They're just neurons.

By the way, we cannot call Hitler "bad," unless we have some standard of what is "good" and what is "bad."
That's correct. And that "standard" is the human perspective. Because we're human, we're likely to see anything distinctly harmful and/or detrimental to other humans as "bad". Conversely, what we see as beneficial to humans, we tend to see as "good".
If one reverses that perspective, we can see essentially the same actions as either "good" or "bad" simply by how the action affects humans. For example; Hitler asserted that members of the Jewish race were harmful to the human gene pool. So by eradicating the Jews, he claimed that he was aiding all of mankind. And he was convincing enough with this claim to convince the majority of the Christian German population. It was harmful to a small minority of humans, but beneficial (or so he claimed), to the great majority. So overall, it was "good" for humans.

We do the same thing on a continual basis. We produce antibiotics which kill bacteria by the billions, as well as anti-viral medications which destroy viruses at an incredible rate. We have all but wiped out the small pox virus, and - last I heard - there were some intense debates regarding the suggestion of destroying the last known vial of small pox virus. And yet, anti-biotics and anti-viral medications are designed to do just what Hitler claimed to be doing; eradicating that which threatened to bring great harm to mankind.

It's all just a matter of perspective, and because we are human, we tend to hold a human-centric perpective.


By the way, sorry I used the example of Hitler. It is so overused. But still quite appropriate, for Hitler is the perfect euphemism0 for evil in our culture, it seems.
It's actually quite a good example, as it demonstrates how perspective can quickly reverse moral ideas.
"If we believe absurdities we shall commit atrocities." -- Voltaire
james14
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10/27/2014 8:10:41 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
You mean like your god?

If God exists, then yes; He would exist in a spiritual realm where we could not examine Him through a telescope or microscope. Naturalism obviously rejects God for this reason.
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james14
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10/27/2014 8:26:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago

I told you, the questions are hard, and there isn't a 'worse' or 'good' and 'bad' values, as they are non cognitive terms.

You have self-defeating or self-destructive values, for example an invividual that does not value his own life will eventually remove himself from the equation (which leads to a level of 'natural election'). Also our values are largely questions of biology and psychology, and hence are subject to it.

If a society valued strangling babies, then strangling babies would be moral for them. It gets complicated when you consider the babies' values, and the fact that it is a self-destructive/defeating value, as it would eventually lead to the extinction of such a society.


Are you telling me that hate is no better or worse than love? Really? There are no "good" or "bad" values? So if someone hates you and spends his life trying to hurt you (hate is his x, his highest value), then he is no more or less "right" than someone who spends his life making Valentine cards? You say, he is less 'right' from your standpoint and more 'right' from his. How can you live that way? If a society did value strangling babies, you would just call that their "values" and refuse to condemn them, apart from noting that sooner or later their society would die out? From your point of view, what Nazi Germany did was both moral (for them) and immoral (for the rest of us who like all human life). Do you realize what your viewpoint does? Everything becomes relative (as you may already have stated) and anything can be justified. Do I want to rob a bank? Well, my 'value' becomes gaining wealth, so my actions are therefore moral. Do I want to abort my baby? Well, now my 'value' is making life easier. There is no way to argue with someone who thinks this aside from pointing out the ramifications of their actions and asking if they really want that result. However, if they do, you are stuck. There is no ground to say they are wrong. They are simply following their 'morals,' which usually consist of 'whatever I want to do is best.' 'Whatever makes me happy.'

School shootings are not objectively wrong, and therefore for someone with certain relativistic morals, there is no reason why some kid should not shoot up a school, if his value is killing others. And without an outside standard, there is no reason his value is wrong.
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10/27/2014 8:47:55 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 8:26:27 AM, james14 wrote:

I told you, the questions are hard, and there isn't a 'worse' or 'good' and 'bad' values, as they are non cognitive terms.

You have self-defeating or self-destructive values, for example an invividual that does not value his own life will eventually remove himself from the equation (which leads to a level of 'natural election'). Also our values are largely questions of biology and psychology, and hence are subject to it.

If a society valued strangling babies, then strangling babies would be moral for them. It gets complicated when you consider the babies' values, and the fact that it is a self-destructive/defeating value, as it would eventually lead to the extinction of such a society.


Are you telling me that hate is no better or worse than love? Really?

Yup. Got an argument to demonstrate otherwise?

There are no "good" or "bad" values?

To an extent, I argued there were self-defeating and self-destructive values, which essentially 'remove themselves from the equation', a type of 'natural selection' on such values. Hence there will be a bias towards certain values.

So if someone hates you and spends his life trying to hurt you (hate is his x, his highest value), then he is no more or less "right" than someone who spends his life making Valentine cards?

Have you actually got an argument?

You say, he is less 'right' from your standpoint and more 'right' from his. How can you live that way?

Because we would both value living within a society, and such a society restricts such negative behaviour. I also value family etc, and to remain within a family all em members of the family need to hold a minimum of values lest they be ejected from it. So the way others behave depend on the social constructs you live within and value living within. There's a reason why we have jails etc. If the value for living within society overrides one's putative value for hate and sadistic behavior, then we have society that we pretty much know today

If a society did value strangling babies, you would just call that their "values" and refuse to condemn them, apart from noting that sooner or later their society would die out?

Sure. I did make the argument it would probably go against the babies' values. If they didn't then it would be pretty clear-cut that it would be a moral, or even exceptionally good thing for them to do. If everyone values strangling babies within the society, including the babies, then I hardly see how you can object to it.

From your point of view, what Nazi Germany did was both moral (for them) and immoral (for the rest of us who like all human life).

I don't think so, since it went so far against the values held by the Jews and indeed most Nazi's that took part (albeit they weren't expressed). For hitler such an action would have been 'Good' for him, for Germany and society as a whole it's hardly arguable it would be regarded as 'good'. It is also a self-destructive value for another, for obvious reasons.

As for me, I would state that nazi Germany was wrong because of my own held values, since that's the only basis there is. Why should what the nazi's did be 'wrong'? Have you actually got an argument as to why the holo cause is *objectively* wrong? I daresay it cannot be done without resorting to relative terms.

Do you realize what your viewpoint does? Everything becomes relative (as you may already have stated) and anything can be justified.

Values being relative =/= everything can be justified! and I explained why in depth.

Do I want to rob a bank? Well, my 'value' becomes gaining wealth, so my actions are therefore moral.

Do you value remaining within society, do you value your freedom? Because those would severely impinged if you acted on your value to rob a bank. If you didn't care then it would obviously be a moral thing for you to rob the bank.

Do I want to abort my baby? Well, now my 'value' is making life easier. There is no way to argue with someone who thinks this aside from pointing out the ramifications of their actions and asking if they really want that result.

You are giving lots of examples but no argument. Hence you are just throwing poo at a wall.

However, if they do, you are stuck.

False, I already explained why.

There is no ground to say they are wrong.

False. If right and wrong are conditional (and hence subjective) on the values of society, then it's very easy to make such judgements. You might value X but society values Y, but your value for being part of society (and hence conforming) is greater than your value for X. Again, that's why we have the legal system, courts, jail, etc

They are simply following their 'morals,' which usually consist of 'whatever I want to do is best.' 'Whatever makes me happy.'

Sure. That's a correct life philosophy IMO.

School shootings are not objectively wrong, and therefore for someone with certain relativistic morals, there is no reason why some kid should not shoot up a school

Lack of objective morals =/= everything can be justified. I already explained why. There is plenty of reason why they shouldn't.

, if his value is killing others. And without an outside standard, there is no reason his value is wrong.

'Value is wrong' is an oxymoron if what is wrong is 'in accordance with one's values'. Remember we don't have a cognitive notion of 'good' 'evil' 'right' 'wrong' etc.

You have yet to actually present an argument, you have only thrown up a tonne of examples which might conflict with MY own held values, and it goes no way to affirming moral realism, and only highlights the difficulties in relativism (which I will be the the first to admit, are not trivial).

I am not sure if I would even regard myself as a relativist, I am more of a non cognitivist, and by extension, a moral nihilist. Since morality is so poorly defined.
james14
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10/27/2014 10:37:13 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Okay. I am actually going to propose an argument. I believe that there is a moral law that exists outside of our own perception of it. This moral law is just as real as the law of Gravity. Whether this moral law could have come about by evolution is irrelevant, as even if that was the case evolution could not be said to invent it, but rather discover it.

In other words, I believe in objective moral values: objective moral values are moral values that are true independent of the belief of human beings.

The Founders' claim that "We hold these truths to be self-evident," is dependent on the presupposition that a Moral Law exists. To start with I would agree with them in stating that humans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This right is not subjective, but objective. When humans misuse that right to encroach on others' rights, then for the sake of the others their rights must be limited. But the objective truth remains, and should be the basis from which we deny the morality of the holocaust.

Quote, not my own brilliant rhetoric:
Cultures across the world and down through human history affirm that objective moral values exist. Indeed, cultures throughout history and across the world have affirmed many of the same moral values that we profess today (murder is wrong, theft is wrong, lying is wrong, etc...). It is not surprising that nearly all cultures affirm these kinds of basic ethical practices since any culture that encouraged murder, theft, and lying would quickly disintegrate. However, what is far more perplexing is the existence and persistence of altruism throughout human cultures. By altruism here, I mean what evolutionary biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne calls true altruism, behavior that will not even indirectly confer reproductive benefit to oneself or ones' relatives. For instance, it is possible to envision a scenario in which generosity would indirectly benefit the giver and increase his reproductive fitness. But it is incredibly hard to envision a scenario in which it is genetically advantageous to throw one's body on a live grenade to save one's platoon or to adopt and raise children of another race. Reflecting on the existence of true altruism, Coyne says "we don't know whether true altruism ... has any genetic basis in human society. True altruism like that isn't known in any other species, and I suspect that, to the extent it occurs in ours, it's an epiphenomenon: a byproduct of our general social cooperativeness....In short, we know nothing about the evolution of true human altruism except that it probably didn't evolve." [from Why evolution is true blog, 5/18/11] Richard Dawkins agrees, seeing altruism as a happy accident of evolution, but not one that leads directly or indirectly to any reproductive benefit. What is important here is that both Coyne and Dawkins recognize that altruism is an evolutionary accident. What puzzles me most is why --on this view-- true altruism persists in the human race. Shouldn't altruistic acts like self-sacrifice or adoption have been weeded out of the human population by natural selection eons ago? How could the pressures of natural selection have tuned the eye to detect single photons yet have failed to prevent people from rushing into burning buildings or diving into icy water to save others?

As I mentioned in the first section, the vast majority of self-professed moral relativists live moral lives. Indeed, many moral relativists will emphasize that they live lives which are indistinguishable or even morally superior to those of moral realists. Yet this leads to a curious observation. The behavior of moral relativists can indeed be partially explained by self-interest. If I value comfort, pleasure, and freedom, I cannot simply walk around punching people in the face, lest I be arrested and imprisoned. But every one of us finds ourselves in situations in which a moral infraction would lead to clear, immediate benefit with little or no chance of detection. Why not shoplift? Why not cheat on your taxes? Why not drive away from the fender-bender if no one noticed? No doubt some of the responses of moral relativists can be explained by fear of detection. And other relativists may indeed act "immorally" in these situations. But if my reader is a moral relativist, I wonder if he can truly explain all of his behavior in these terms? Was it all self-interested? Or was it motivated by an odd compulsion or preference to do what was "right" even when no one was watching?

By the way: definition of morality: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
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james14
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10/27/2014 10:52:19 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Objective morality is an argument claiming that humans beings all have in inner sense of what is wrong on some issues. I will argue that this is true.

To say that objective morality exists it must follow that not all morality is subjective. My opponent must argue from the position that all morality is subjective in order to rebut my claim that objective morality exists."

Quote from debate by benshapiro that objective morals exist. He won, by the way.
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10/27/2014 11:09:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 10:37:13 AM, james14 wrote:
Okay. I am actually going to propose an argument. I believe that there is a moral law that exists outside of our own perception of it. This moral law is just as real as the law of Gravity. Whether this moral law could have come about by evolution is irrelevant, as even if that was the case evolution could not be said to invent it, but rather discover it.

No argument as of yet..

In other words, I believe in objective moral values: objective moral values are moral values that are true independent of the belief of human beings.

Still no argument, and I know what they are.

The Founders' claim that "We hold these truths to be self-evident," is dependent on the presupposition that a Moral Law exists.

Self-Evident? If they are supposed to be self-evident then a strong case can be made that they do not exist, since they are most definitely not self-evident to me.

To start with I would agree with them in stating that humans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This right is not subjective, but objective.

This is just a bald assertion, you are just stating we have these rights with no justification. And if you are going to confuse the rights granted by the state with some objective right, then your argument has already failed. Society granting rights in no way supports your thesis.

When humans misuse that right to encroach on others' rights, then for the sake of the others their rights must be limited. But the objective truth remains, and should be the basis from which we deny the morality of the holocaust.

You still have yet to provide an argument outside of a bald assertion. Also you should define what a 'right' is if you are using it as a key point in your argument, assuming you are going to give one (I haven't read all your post yet, I am responding as I am reading).

Quote, not my own brilliant rhetoric:

Cultures across the world and down through human history affirm that objective moral values exist.

What kind of argument is this? Argument ad populum? How on earth does the fact that "societies affirm x" at all lend to the fact that x is true? If life was this simple then truth would be determined by a popularity contest. 2+2=5? Let's see what society affirms. Pi = 3? Let's see what society affirms...

This is a terrible argument as I hope you can see.

Indeed, cultures throughout history and across the world have affirmed many of the same moral values that we profess today (murder is wrong, theft is wrong, lying is wrong, etc...).

Cultures affirming moral values consistently doesn't in many way affirm objective moral values, it only affirms that values are relatively consistent.... If you are going to argue this in some sense supports your thesis then I can cite thousands of societies which do not hold those values (Nazi Germany?), which would falsify it according to the same logic.

It is not surprising that nearly all cultures affirm these kinds of basic ethical practices since any culture that encouraged murder, theft, and lying would quickly disintegrate.

...still not affirming objective moral values, and in fact seems to affirm what I have been saying all along, that some values are self-destructive and hence 'remove themselves from the equation'.

However, what is far more perplexing is the existence and persistence of altruism throughout human cultures. By altruism here, I mean what evolutionary biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne calls true altruism, behavior that will not even indirectly confer reproductive benefit to oneself or ones' relatives. For instance, it is possible to envision a scenario in which generosity would indirectly benefit the giver and increase his reproductive fitness. But it is incredibly hard to envision a scenario in which it is genetically advantageous to throw one's body on a live grenade to save one's platoon or to adopt and raise children of another race. Reflecting on the existence of true altruism, Coyne says "we don't know whether true altruism ... has any genetic basis in human society. True altruism like that isn't known in any other species, and I suspect that, to the extent it occurs in ours, it's an epiphenomenon: a byproduct of our general social cooperativeness....In short, we know nothing about the evolution of true human altruism except that it probably didn't evolve." [from Why evolution is true blog, 5/18/11] Richard Dawkins agrees, seeing altruism as a happy accident of evolution, but not one that leads directly or indirectly to any reproductive benefit. What is important here is that both Coyne and Dawkins recognize that altruism is an evolutionary accident. What puzzles me most is why --on this view-- true altruism persists in the human race. Shouldn't altruistic acts like self-sacrifice or adoption have been weeded out of the human population by natural selection eons ago? How could the pressures of natural selection have tuned the eye to detect single photons yet have failed to prevent people from rushing into burning buildings or diving into icy water to save others?

Still not at all affirming that objective moral values exist, and is at best an argument ad ignorantum. I would be happy if someone acted altruistically towards me, hence I would value it. That's my subjective opinion, yet it have already affirmed altruistic behaviour within a non-objective context.

It might not be a comprehensive or even true explanation, but the fact I can so easily come up with such explanations demonstrates your argument to be from ignorance (since you are ignoring all other possible explanations, including ones that have yet to be conjured).

As I mentioned in the first section, the vast majority of self-professed moral relativists live moral lives. Indeed, many moral relativists will emphasize that they live lives which are indistinguishable or even morally superior to those of moral realists. Yet this leads to a curious observation. The behavior of moral relativists can indeed be partially explained by self-interest. If I value comfort, pleasure, and freedom, I cannot simply walk around punching people in the face, lest I be arrested and imprisoned. But every one of us finds ourselves in situations in which a moral infraction would lead to clear, immediate benefit with little or no chance of detection. Why not shoplift? Why not cheat on your taxes? Why not drive away from the fender-bender if no one noticed? No doubt some of the responses of moral relativists can be explained by fear of detection. And other relativists may indeed act "immorally" in these situations.

Virtually all of this I gave arguments for in my previous post in the context of moral subjectivism/non cognitivism. We hold many values, and they can and do conflict. Moreover none of this argues for objective moral values.... It's still arguing from ignorance.

But if my reader is a moral relativist, I wonder if he can truly explain all of his behavior in these terms? Was it all self-interested? Or was it motivated by an odd compulsion or preference to do what was "right" even when no one was watching?

Note that values =/= self-interest. I can value someone's life over my own, or someone else's' well-being over my own. So none of this is at all refutation to moral subjectivism.

By the way: definition of morality: principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

Great, now define 'good' and 'bad' behavior.

Look, you have yet to actually provide an argument in favor of the existence of objective moral values. Appealing to 'what society thinks' is just affirming the subjective values of society. Moreover your second argument attacks where values comes from, yet you already made the statement you didn't want to address where morals come from, which is an obvious double standard.

Maybe you should send me a debate challenge on 'Objective Mo
james14
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10/27/2014 11:28:09 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
And different cultures, species and people have defined "good" and classified "good" in different ways, resulting in different moral standards. And this demonstrates that morals arise not from some objective universal source; but from the need for social groups to adhere to some kind of agreed upon social code. Without that, any society quickly turns to anarchy, and destroys itself.

"Is-Ought Fallacy." We cannot argue objective morals don't exist because people don't always act morally.

They're just neurons.


Good point. If morality has a natural source, as many here have claimed, then morality is not objective or absolute. There is nothing beyond us to instill us with objective morality or dignity. An outworking of this is that humans are no more valuable (intrinsically) than animals. Which is why Singer claims pigs are more valuable than newborn babies. Rape is also a natural consequence of evolution, and Darwinists have claimed such. There is no good reason to obey our special neurons if there are no objective morals. In which case, if you are a kid with a gun, shooting humans is only different from shooting pigs in that you are a human and not a pig.

But our conscience (if you wish to call it that) is more than instinct. I may see someone in danger and have two instincts: run away, and help. The run away instinct may have evolved. So may the help instinct. But my moral compass thingy tells me which of the instincts to listen to; the help instinct. Therefore, it cannot be itself an instinct such it differentiates and judges between instincts.
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james14
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10/27/2014 11:36:06 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
As I said in the first section, the basic premise of moral relativism is that there is no objective standard of moral behavior. All moral behavior is relative to individual persons or cultures; what is "good" or "bad" depends on the person, on the place and time, on the community, and on the culture. No action and no behavior can rightly be termed "bad" or "good" without qualification. Actions are only "good to you" or "bad to you", "good to this culture" or "bad to this culture." In the previous section, I tried to show that --based on the evidence-- belief in moral relativism is unwarranted. It is theoretically possible to find ways around the evidence presented above, but each of these pieces of evidence seems to clearly point to the existence of objective moral values. In this section, I will not attempt to show that belief in moral relativism is unwarranted; rather, I will try to show that no one actually believes in moral relativism. To do so, I will ask four questions. Each of them centers around a "thought experiment," a highly hypothetical situation which probes our reactions to admittedly unlikely circumstances. I urge the reader to take these questions very seriously.
First, imagine some extremely evil action that would provide you with something you greatly value. For instance, since presumably all of us value money to some degree, let us imagine that we could acquire millions of dollars simply by subjecting some innocent child to a painful death. To make things clear, let us also say that our culture condoned such an action, as might have been the case during the Rwandan genocide. What would you do? I think all of us would say that we would absolutely not kill the child. However, the reasons given by a moral realist or a moral relativist would presumably be very different. A moral realist would say that murdering an innocent child is objectively wrong and that no personal pleasure could induce them to commit such an unspeakably evil act. In contrast, a moral relativist might also abhor the murder. But they would have to base their decision on the fact that the negative emotions they would experience from killing the child would far outweigh the positive emotions associated with the money. Since there is no objective standard of good and evil, they would have to appeal to their own preferences to explain their actions.

Second, let's press this thought experiment further. Now let's imagine that we faced the same choice, but could also choose to have the memory of our action erased (I think about Cipher's bargain with the machines in the Matrix). The child would still die painfully, their family would grieve and mourn and lament your action, but you would be utterly oblivious to your deed. You would have the money and would be able to enjoy it free from any memory of the decision. Now what would we choose? Hopefully, we would again choose to let the child live. But this time, the moral relativist has to be a bit troubled. If asked for the reasons behind his decision, he must again point to his personal preference for love, compassion, empathy, happiness, etc... But we could then remind him that he would derive no negative moral emotions at all from the killing as a consequence of his amnesia. In contrast, he would have the very real and concrete positive emotions that would come from his enjoyment of the millions of dollars. Again, a moral relativist would have to appeal to some sense that he prefers an objective reality in which there is no suffering even if he himself is oblivious to it and can derive no pleasure from it.

But this is where the trouble really starts. We next need to ask whether the moral relativist takes daily steps to deaden and kill his negative moral emotions. For instance, there is no question that we all enjoy certain items like money, sex, food, sleep, and leisure. On the other hand, there is also no question that certain moral emotions like guilt and empathy are extremely unpleasant. Anyone who has wept and wept comforting a friend who has lost a loved one or who has stared in horror at images of poverty or starvation, knows that we do not seek out or enjoy these experiences. But if moral relativism is true, then there is nothing inherently good or right about feeling empathy. And since guilt has no objective basis in a moral reality, it is nothing but an extremely unpleasant illusion. Then why does the moral relativist not spend more time trying to divest himself of all feelings of guilt, empathy, and remorse? If these emotions often prevent us from enjoying pleasurable items like money and sex, then why not work to deaden or kill these negative moral emotions? Why does he not work to develop an indifferent attitude towards those in need so that he is free to devote his entire life on his own pleasures? Here again, the moral relativist has a problem. Surely, the cost-benefit analysis is perfectly clear. If there is some way to destroy all negative moral emotions while retaining my ability to enjoy all the easily accessible positive emotions, shouldn't I be working to find it? Why is it that I, as a moral relativist, don't devote more time to either shielding myself from human misery or working to harden my heart against it?

There is a final question. Imagine that I offered you an "amorality pill". This hypothetical pill would permanently destroy all of your capacity to experience negative moral emotions like guilt, empathy, and remorse. But it would leave intact all of your capacity for positive emotions like love, joy, excitement and happiness. To put it starkly, you would still be able to love your wife and children, to experience the vicarious joy of giving them gifts, to feel a rush of tenderness when you kiss them goodnight. However, if you decided one morning that killing them all with an axe would give you great happiness, you would be able to do so without a single twinge of regret or remorse. You could pile the corpses of your children into the fireplace and spend the rest of the day exquisitely enjoying your coffee and the crispness of the autumn leaves. You would be a completely amoral individual like Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. The amorality pill would set you free from the illusory shackles of morality to pursue your own happiness, utterly indifferent to the pain and misery of others. Would you take the pill?

If you are a moral relativist, you need to seriously grapple with these questions, especially the last one. If moral relativism is true, then there is no obvious reason to not take the pill. The completely amoral monster who could kill his own children has done nothing objectively good or evil, because there is no objective good or evil. The man (or woman) I just described might be rapturously happy. Yet you recoil in horror from the thought that this is the man you could become. Why? I would like to make a bold assertion: you are not really a moral relativist. You may claim that you deny the existence of objective moral truths, but your behavior and your answers to questions like the ones given above show otherwise.
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bulproof
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10/27/2014 7:09:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/27/2014 11:36:06 AM, james14 wrote:
As I said in the first section, the basic premise of moral relativism is that there is no objective standard of moral behavior. All moral behavior is relative to individual persons or cultures; what is "good" or "bad" depends on the person, on the place and time, on the community, and on the culture. No action and no behavior can rightly be termed "bad" or "good" without qualification. Actions are only "good to you" or "bad to you", "good to this culture" or "bad to this culture." In the previous section, I tried to show that --based on the evidence-- belief in moral relativism is unwarranted. It is theoretically possible to find ways around the evidence presented above, but each of these pieces of evidence seems to clearly point to the existence of objective moral values. In this section, I will not attempt to show that belief in moral relativism is unwarranted; rather, I will try to show that no one actually believes in moral relativism. To do so, I will ask four questions. Each of them centers around a "thought experiment," a highly hypothetical situation which probes our reactions to admittedly unlikely circumstances. I urge the reader to take these questions very seriously.
First, imagine some extremely evil action that would provide you with something you greatly value. For instance, since presumably all of us value money to some degree, let us imagine that we could acquire millions of dollars simply by subjecting some innocent child to a painful death. To make things clear, let us also say that our culture condoned such an action, as might have been the case during the Rwandan genocide. What would you do? I think all of us would say that we would absolutely not kill the child. However, the reasons given by a moral realist or a moral relativist would presumably be very different. A moral realist would say that murdering an innocent child is objectively wrong and that no personal pleasure could induce them to commit such an unspeakably evil act. In contrast, a moral relativist might also abhor the murder. But they would have to base their decision on the fact that the negative emotions they would experience from killing the child would far outweigh the positive emotions associated with the money. Since there is no objective standard of good and evil, they would have to appeal to their own preferences to explain their actions.
Why would the realist believe it was morally wrong and why would that prevent a realist from harming the child anyway. Do you claim that it's impossible for greed to overcome moral goodness? Take a look at the world.
Second, let's press this thought experiment further. Now let's imagine that we faced the same choice, but could also choose to have the memory of our action erased (I think about Cipher's bargain with the machines in the Matrix). The child would still die painfully, their family would grieve and mourn and lament your action, but you would be utterly oblivious to your deed. You would have the money and would be able to enjoy it free from any memory of the decision. Now what would we choose? Hopefully, we would again choose to let the child live. But this time, the moral relativist has to be a bit troubled. If asked for the reasons behind his decision, he must again point to his personal preference for love, compassion, empathy, happiness, etc... But we could then remind him that he would derive no negative moral emotions at all from the killing as a consequence of his amnesia. In contrast, he would have the very real and concrete positive emotions that would come from his enjoyment of the millions of dollars. Again, a moral relativist would have to appeal to some sense that he prefers an objective reality in which there is no suffering even if he himself is oblivious to it and can derive no pleasure from it.
What was the realists reaction?
But this is where the trouble really starts. We next need to ask whether the moral relativist takes daily steps to deaden and kill his negative moral emotions. For instance, there is no question that we all enjoy certain items like money, sex, food, sleep, and leisure.
Provide evidence in support of this generalization.
On the other hand, there is also no question that certain moral emotions like guilt and empathy are extremely unpleasant. Anyone who has wept and wept comforting a friend who has lost a loved one or who has stared in horror at images of poverty or starvation, knows that we do not seek out or enjoy these experiences. But if moral relativism is true, then there is nothing inherently good or right about feeling empathy.
Bing Bong.........................the false premise on which your entire childish fantasy is based.
And since guilt has no objective basis in a moral reality, it is nothing but an extremely unpleasant illusion. Then why does the moral relativist not spend more time trying to divest himself of all feelings of guilt, empathy, and remorse? If these emotions often prevent us from enjoying pleasurable items like money and sex, then why not work to deaden or kill these negative moral emotions? Why does he not work to develop an indifferent attitude towards those in need so that he is free to devote his entire life on his own pleasures? Here again, the moral relativist has a problem. Surely, the cost-benefit analysis is perfectly clear. If there is some way to destroy all negative moral emotions while retaining my ability to enjoy all the easily accessible positive emotions, shouldn't I be working to find it? Why is it that I, as a moral relativist, don't devote more time to either shielding myself from human misery or working to harden my heart against it?

There is a final question. Imagine that I offered you an "amorality pill". This hypothetical pill would permanently destroy all of your capacity to experience negative moral emotions like guilt, empathy, and remorse. But it would leave intact all of your capacity for positive emotions like love, joy, excitement and happiness. To put it starkly, you would still be able to love your wife and children, to experience the vicarious joy of giving them gifts, to feel a rush of tenderness when you kiss them goodnight. However, if you decided one morning that killing them all with an axe would give you great happiness, you would be able to do so without a single twinge of regret or remorse. You could pile the corpses of your children into the fireplace and spend the rest of the day exquisitely enjoying your coffee and the crispness of the autumn leaves. You would be a completely amoral individual like Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. The amorality pill would set you free from the illusory shackles of morality to pursue your own happiness, utterly indifferent to the pain and misery of others. Would you take the pill?

If you are a moral relativist, you need to seriously grapple with these questions, especially the last one. If moral relativism is true, then there is no obvious reason to not take the pill. The completely amoral monster who could kill his own children has done nothing objectively good or evil, because there is no objective good or evil. The man (or woman) I just described might be rapturously happy. Yet you recoil in horror from the thought that this is the man you could become. Why? I would like to make a bold assertion: you are not really a moral relativist. You may claim that you deny the existence of objective moral truths, but your behavior and your answers to questions like the ones given above show otherwise.

Childish thoughts need to be examined further.
When you are older you may find shades, as a believer it's unlikely unless you are prepared to use the brain which is so far the greatest machine to ever exist.
Religion is just mind control. George Carlin