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Is morality objective?

Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
I want atheists opinion on this. Which best describes your position

(0) morality is objective because empathy derives from natural instincts.

(1) morality is not seemingly objective in any imaginable scenarios.

(2) morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios, but remains subjective .

If (2) It remains subjective because...

(A) morals derive from our values and ideals which are inherently subjective. Therefore morality can only be subjective.

(B) objective morality would mean that certain actions of right and wrong equally apply to other species as well, not just human beings. Since other species behave in ways that differ from what's acceptable to humans, morality isn't objective.

(C) Objective morality means that moral truth propositions such as "child abuse is wrong" would be true even if there was no life anywhere in the universe. The truth proposition couldn't be true if it isn't applicable. Therefore morality isn't objective.

(D) examples of objective morality, such as "killing without necessary justification is always wrong", is still subjective because what constitutes "necessary justification" is still debatable.

(E) all of the above for (2)
Envisage
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6/18/2015 11:55:33 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this. Which best describes your position

(0) morality is objective because empathy derives from natural instincts.

(1) morality is not seemingly objective in any imaginable scenarios.

(2) morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios, but remains subjective .

If (2) It remains subjective because...

(A) morals derive from our values and ideals which are inherently subjective. Therefore morality can only be subjective.

(B) objective morality would mean that certain actions of right and wrong equally apply to other species as well, not just human beings. Since other species behave in ways that differ from what's acceptable to humans, morality isn't objective.

(C) Objective morality means that moral truth propositions such as "child abuse is wrong" would be true even if there was no life anywhere in the universe. The truth proposition couldn't be true if it isn't applicable. Therefore morality isn't objective.

(D) examples of objective morality, such as "killing without necessary justification is always wrong", is still subjective because what constitutes "necessary justification" is still debatable.

(E) all of the above for (2)

Define "morality".
dhardage
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6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?
RuvDraba
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6/18/2015 12:32:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this.

Ben, my position didn't match your options, so with your indulgence, here it is in summary.

Altruism and empathy have been shown to arise in nature, in humans and other species. Altruism is instinctive, but conditional on circumstance and learning; empathy is also instinctive but can be learned and developed further.

From altruism and empathy compassion can develop. Compassion benefits from the addition of inquiry, insight and wisdom. It is a high-order function, and learnable.

From compassion and mutual need, morality can develop. Where altruism, empathy and compassion are individual and potentially situational, morality is social and systematised. It is our collective understanding of what is good and bad for ourselves and those around us. Based as it is on compassion and need, a good moral conversation must be continuing, and in a benevolent and just society, must include everyone.

So morality is objective, but not absolute. It is emergent, and the quality of our morality depends on the quality of our compassion, our conversation, and the diversity, insight and common interests and commitment of those who participate in it. There is strong evidence that we are vastly more moral creatures than were any of the societies of the Bronze or Iron Age, and that just as most modern people have a bigger vocabulary than Shakespeare, there's evidence that on average, we are or can be much better moral thinkers than were many of the best moral thinkers in ancient times.

What has improved our morality, I believe, is our far superior understanding of humanity, our much greater capacity for altruism (due principally to wealth), and raising people in much better circumstances, with better education.

So not only do I believe morality is objective, I also believe that adhering to ancient moral code is both inequitable (because it squeezes many people out of the conversation who were never originally considered), and regressive (because it is based on ancient ignorance and circumstance, rather than our best knowledge and modern need.)

I hope that may help. I'm willing to unpack or explain more if needed.
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 1:07:37 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The standard definition will suffice.

"principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.
dhardage
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6/18/2015 1:20:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

Then allow me to reiterate the stance I have take on this subject with you on other occasions.

Morality, by its very nature, cannot be objective since it is a product of common beliefs and values held by a group of people. Much of what we call morality is based on the value of life. As seen in most developed countries, life is considered precious and taking one without cause is considered one of the worst acts that can be committed. In less developed countries where life is not valued and irrational belief systems reign, there is a much wider range of acceptable justifications for killing another, including not believing in the deity of choice of the ruling body(ies).

In general, our morality is based on well being of individuals and society. Acts that promote both are seen as good. Act that promote the well being a single or small group of individuals at the expense of others is seen as wrong since it damages society as a whole. Most of this is codified into laws that prohibit such acts.

Morality as a whole has changed greatly over the centuries as collective wealth, education, and knowledge have increased. What was moral to our ancestors two millennia ago is not the same as moral today. Slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppression of women and minorities, all were not only accepted but condoned and promoted by primitive societies. Our ideals are much different although these things continue to linger in our society.

Any other questions?
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 1:42:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 12:32:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this.

Ben, my position didn't match your options, so with your indulgence, here it is in summary.

Altruism and empathy have been shown to arise in nature, in humans and other species. Altruism is instinctive, but conditional on circumstance and learning; empathy is also instinctive but can be learned and developed further.

From altruism and empathy compassion can develop. Compassion benefits from the addition of inquiry, insight and wisdom. It is a high-order function, and learnable.

From compassion and mutual need, morality can develop. Where altruism, empathy and compassion are individual and potentially situational, morality is social and systematised. It is our collective understanding of what is good and bad for ourselves and those around us. Based as it is on compassion and need, a good moral conversation must be continuing, and in a benevolent and just society, must include everyone.

So morality is objective, but not absolute. It is emergent, and the quality of our morality depends on the quality of our compassion, our conversation, and the diversity, insight and common interests and commitment of those who participate in it. There is strong evidence that we are vastly more moral creatures than were any of the societies of the Bronze or Iron Age, and that just as most modern people have a bigger vocabulary than Shakespeare, there's evidence that on average, we are or can be much better moral thinkers than were many of the best moral thinkers in ancient times.

What has improved our morality, I believe, is our far superior understanding of humanity, our much greater capacity for altruism (due principally to wealth), and raising people in much better circumstances, with better education.

So not only do I believe morality is objective, I also believe that adhering to ancient moral code is both inequitable (because it squeezes many people out of the conversation who were never originally considered), and regressive (because it is based on ancient ignorance and circumstance, rather than our best knowledge and modern need.)

I hope that may help. I'm willing to unpack or explain more if needed.

Interesting.

I too believe that we've morally progressed in comparison to ancient times.

So the foundation of morality, empathy and altruism, is instinctive. This would mean that we have a developing yet objective sense of morality.

My next question to you: do you only believe that our "moral awareness" of right and wrong is objective (due to empathy and altruism) but without obligation of acting morally? Or are we obligated to act morally?
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 1:49:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:20:27 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

Then allow me to reiterate the stance I have take on this subject with you on other occasions.

Morality, by its very nature, cannot be objective since it is a product of common beliefs and values held by a group of people. Much of what we call morality is based on the value of life. As seen in most developed countries, life is considered precious and taking one without cause is considered one of the worst acts that can be committed. In less developed countries where life is not valued and irrational belief systems reign, there is a much wider range of acceptable justifications for killing another, including not believing in the deity of choice of the ruling body(ies).

In general, our morality is based on well being of individuals and society. Acts that promote both are seen as good. Act that promote the well being a single or small group of individuals at the expense of others is seen as wrong since it damages society as a whole. Most of this is codified into laws that prohibit such acts.

Morality as a whole has changed greatly over the centuries as collective wealth, education, and knowledge have increased. What was moral to our ancestors two millennia ago is not the same as moral today. Slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppression of women and minorities, all were not only accepted but condoned and promoted by primitive societies. Our ideals are much different although these things continue to linger in our society.

Any other questions?

So basically, your answer is two-fold. First, morality can't be objective because it's a product of our beliefs and values (I think you'd say that's inherently subjective) so morality is therefore subjective. Secondly, we've observed third world countries that act immorally according to our standards but not to their own. This also shows that morality is not subjective.

My question to you: have we truly made moral progress by outlawing acts from ancient times of slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppressing women & minorities or is it completely subjective opinion on whether or not that is moral progress?

Secondly, do you believe that it's possible for human beings to have objective ideals or values?
Benshapiro
Posts: 3,928
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6/18/2015 1:58:42 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:49:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:20:27 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

Then allow me to reiterate the stance I have take on this subject with you on other occasions.

Morality, by its very nature, cannot be objective since it is a product of common beliefs and values held by a group of people. Much of what we call morality is based on the value of life. As seen in most developed countries, life is considered precious and taking one without cause is considered one of the worst acts that can be committed. In less developed countries where life is not valued and irrational belief systems reign, there is a much wider range of acceptable justifications for killing another, including not believing in the deity of choice of the ruling body(ies).

In general, our morality is based on well being of individuals and society. Acts that promote both are seen as good. Act that promote the well being a single or small group of individuals at the expense of others is seen as wrong since it damages society as a whole. Most of this is codified into laws that prohibit such acts.

Morality as a whole has changed greatly over the centuries as collective wealth, education, and knowledge have increased. What was moral to our ancestors two millennia ago is not the same as moral today. Slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppression of women and minorities, all were not only accepted but condoned and promoted by primitive societies. Our ideals are much different although these things continue to linger in our society.

Any other questions?

So basically, your answer is two-fold. First, morality can't be objective because it's a product of our beliefs and values (I think you'd say that's inherently subjective) so morality is therefore subjective. Secondly, we've observed third world countries that act immorally according to our standards but not to their own. This also shows that morality is not subjective.

My question to you: have we truly made moral progress by outlawing acts from ancient times of slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppressing women & minorities or is it completely subjective opinion on whether or not that is moral progress?

Secondly, do you believe that it's possible for human beings to have objective ideals or values?

Correction: is subjective*
Envisage
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6/18/2015 2:05:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:07:37 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
The standard definition will suffice.

"principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

And you already know what my next question is going to be Ben, don't you?
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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6/18/2015 2:33:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:42:30 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 12:32:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this.
Not only do I believe morality is objective, I also believe that adhering to ancient moral code is both inequitable (because it squeezes many people out of the conversation who were never originally considered), and regressive (because it is based on ancient ignorance and circumstance, rather than our best knowledge and modern need.)
I too believe that we've morally progressed in comparison to ancient times.
So the foundation of morality, empathy and altruism, is instinctive. This would mean that we have a developing yet objective sense of morality.

Yes, exactly. The more we know and the more our technology empowers us, the more capacity we have to be moral creatures.

Do you only believe that our "moral awareness" of right and wrong is objective (due to empathy and altruism) but without obligation of acting morally? Or are we obligated to act morally?

That switches the conversation from morality ("What's good for us") to ethics ("What do we owe one another.") The two conversations are linked of course -- each informs the other.

Our ethical obligations are or should be, based on principles built from our moral understanding and applied our social framework. While ethical principles themselves aren't situational, their application depends on social order. The way ethical dilemmas are progressed, resolved and ethical solutions evaluated really depends on governance: the way we organise ourselves, share responsibilities and accountabilities. By way of example, few Renaissance cities had a permanent police-force, but virtually all modern cities do. While the principles for dealing with crime and violence remain the same (given the same moral understanding), the way we apply them when we have a police-force will necessarily differ from the way we'd apply them without one. Likewise, the way we apply ethical principles in some anarchic co-operative will differ from the way we apply them in a hierarchically-managed workplace.

I mention this because our responsibilities and accountabilities are taught, exemplified, monitored and enforced by our social fabric. This is as true in sectarian communities as it is in secular communities. Ideally, in reasonable ethical frameworks, our obligation begins with individual responsibility, but I've never seen a viable code of ethics that denies accountability to others. So individuals need to be taught and shown ethical responsibility and given the tools to self-manage ethics; but ethical accountability is finally always to the group. In a good ethical system, individualism and collectivism support one another. In weak, inequitable, or ill-conceived ethical systems, one dominates at cost to the other.

Since your question arose in the Religion thread rather than in Philosophy or Politics, I understand that in the end, you're asking whether there's a role for religion in morality or ethics, and whether such a role is unique and irreplaceable.

Rather than make this post overlong, I'll sketch an answer and you can decide whether you want to explore it.

I believe the essential value of religion is the mobilisation of collective imagination -- ideally to both collective and individual benefit. In this respect, religion has its roots in the arts rather than the sciences. But secular arts can also do a similar job to religion, and there's no question that morality, ethics and governance need input from the sciences -- and by definition (since science is culturally independent) that input must be independent from religion, and in cases where tradition conflicts with science, it'd be boneheaded to put tradition first.

So can religion have a role in moral and ethical conversations? Absolutely.
A valued role? Definitely, because religion does effectively mobilise collective imagination.
A privileged or authoritative role? Definitely not.
An irreplaceable role? Probably not, because religion is not the only cultural expression that can do this.

Consequently, I believe that to remain relevant, religion has to step up: demonstrate and redemonstrate its ability to work in an enlightened, pluralistic, secular democracy; to play well with others.

On a good day, Ben, I'm hopeful about that. It was the religious who gave us secular democracy in the first place, because they realised how badly faith plays with politics. But the lesson was not learned well, and not every sect of every faith embraced that wisdom, and there's an awful lot of theocratic nationalism twined like a serpent around the roots of a great deal of religious dogma.

Atheism and secularism can't help religions get over their nationalistic roots. The faithful themselves must do this. However, it's clear that atheism and secularism must hold religions to account while ever they fail to overcome their own moral and intellectual weaknesses.

I describe myself as antitheistic largely because I think theology turns faith into nationalism. The closer faith comes to Deism (i.e. abandons any pretense to sacred, eternal theology), the less concerned I get. But I think you can see I'm not the sort of antitheist one finds in a Dawkins or a Hitchens. :)

I hope that may be useful, or at least, interesting.
dhardage
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6/18/2015 2:37:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:49:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:20:27 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

Then allow me to reiterate the stance I have take on this subject with you on other occasions.

Morality, by its very nature, cannot be objective since it is a product of common beliefs and values held by a group of people. Much of what we call morality is based on the value of life. As seen in most developed countries, life is considered precious and taking one without cause is considered one of the worst acts that can be committed. In less developed countries where life is not valued and irrational belief systems reign, there is a much wider range of acceptable justifications for killing another, including not believing in the deity of choice of the ruling body(ies).

In general, our morality is based on well being of individuals and society. Acts that promote both are seen as good. Act that promote the well being a single or small group of individuals at the expense of others is seen as wrong since it damages society as a whole. Most of this is codified into laws that prohibit such acts.

Morality as a whole has changed greatly over the centuries as collective wealth, education, and knowledge have increased. What was moral to our ancestors two millennia ago is not the same as moral today. Slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppression of women and minorities, all were not only accepted but condoned and promoted by primitive societies. Our ideals are much different although these things continue to linger in our society.

Any other questions?

So basically, your answer is two-fold. First, morality can't be objective because it's a product of our beliefs and values (I think you'd say that's inherently subjective) so morality is therefore subjective. Secondly, we've observed third world countries that act immorally according to our standards but not to their own. This also shows that morality is not subjective.

My question to you: have we truly made moral progress by outlawing acts from ancient times of slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppressing women & minorities or is it completely subjective opinion on whether or not that is moral progress?

It is my subjective opinion and that of a vast majority of the human race. Most countries outlaw slavery, though there are still some that practice it. Less can be said for the oppression of women and minorities but again, there is progress and that opinion is shared by most advanced nations. If we accept the statement that each life is valuable and each person deserves to be free to seek their own destiny, we have made progress.

Secondly, do you believe that it's possible for human beings to have objective ideals or values?

Hard to say since every human on the planet is influenced to some extent by their own emotions and desires.
Saint_of_Me
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6/18/2015 2:45:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this. Which best describes your position

(0) morality is objective because empathy derives from natural instincts.

(1) morality is not seemingly objective in any imaginable scenarios.

(2) morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios, but remains subjective .

If (2) It remains subjective because...

(A) morals derive from our values and ideals which are inherently subjective. Therefore morality can only be subjective.

(B) objective morality would mean that certain actions of right and wrong equally apply to other species as well, not just human beings. Since other species behave in ways that differ from what's acceptable to humans, morality isn't objective.

(C) Objective morality means that moral truth propositions such as "child abuse is wrong" would be true even if there was no life anywhere in the universe. The truth proposition couldn't be true if it isn't applicable. Therefore morality isn't objective.

(D) examples of objective morality, such as "killing without necessary justification is always wrong", is still subjective because what constitutes "necessary justification" is still debatable.

(E) all of the above for (2)

Hey Ben...good to see ya, man.

I pick your choice #2: Morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios, but remains objective.


I addressed why in another previous post. Here it is. I would love to get your take on it! thanks.

http://www.debate.org...
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
Saint_of_Me
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6/18/2015 2:46:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Damn....

I meant morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios but remains SUBJECTIVE!

sorry. (we sure do need an "edit" button on DDO!)
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
Saint_of_Me
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6/18/2015 2:47:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
PS Ben...

It's the "Creator Evil by Default?" post where I voiced my opinion on subjective morality.
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
Chaosism
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6/18/2015 2:48:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:49:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
My question to you: have we truly made moral progress by outlawing acts from ancient times of slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppressing women & minorities or is it completely subjective opinion on whether or not that is moral progress?

Pardon me for interjecting. I bet that a KKK member would say "no" to this question, at least in respect to the oppression of minorities - he would probably say that expulsion or even extermination is ideal. I think this should reflect the opinionative nature of this issue.
Saint_of_Me
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6/18/2015 2:49:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I do believe that we humans should try and be moralistic. It is the glue that holds together a good and civilized society. We Need it. in order to live happy and productive lives.

But that is sociologically speaking. When we begin waxing philosophical, I believe that there really are no "absolutes" in morality. All we know is what we have been taught. Here. On a tiny speck of rock in a ho-mum solar system on the backwater of one out of hundreds of billions of Galaxies.

I am of the belief that the Universe is teeming with Intelligent life. OF all kinds. All these various civilizations with their own moral codes and laws and philosophies as to what constitutes a moral life. Therefore, who are we to say?

Some of our societal mores here on the Third Rock may be oultanddish and evil to another ET civilization. They might for example think that spanking your kid is a crime punishable by death/ Or that killing animals for meat--or worse, for sport--is a grievous and evil act.

Whereas. maybe rape is OK to them. A guy can see a hot woman walking down their street and take her, Right there, because that is what the women are for. Sex toys.
Or maybe in some society in, say the Andromeda Galaxy murder in cold blood is acceptable if the killer can prove in court that he had a good reason.

Maybe children are raised not by one family but get passed around to several--of differing socio-eco conditons, so as to further their education and exposure to different conditions?

Maybe female babies are forced from birth to become servants. Or sex slaves?

Or conversely..they are the High Priestesses that control everything. Females are revered above all and men are enslaved as worker bees. LOL

Why would any of those things I just named be wrong? Or right? Who says?

This is my point.
Science Flies Us to the Moon. Religion Flies us Into Skyscrapers.
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 4:43:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 2:05:53 PM, Envisage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:07:37 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
The standard definition will suffice.

"principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior."

And you already know what my next question is going to be Ben, don't you?

Nope, do tell.
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 4:55:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 2:33:26 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:42:30 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 12:32:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this.
Not only do I believe morality is objective, I also believe that adhering to ancient moral code is both inequitable (because it squeezes many people out of the conversation who were never originally considered), and regressive (because it is based on ancient ignorance and circumstance, rather than our best knowledge and modern need.)
I too believe that we've morally progressed in comparison to ancient times.
So the foundation of morality, empathy and altruism, is instinctive. This would mean that we have a developing yet objective sense of morality.

Yes, exactly. The more we know and the more our technology empowers us, the more capacity we have to be moral creatures.

Do you only believe that our "moral awareness" of right and wrong is objective (due to empathy and altruism) but without obligation of acting morally? Or are we obligated to act morally?

That switches the conversation from morality ("What's good for us") to ethics ("What do we owe one another.") The two conversations are linked of course -- each informs the other.

Our ethical obligations are or should be, based on principles built from our moral understanding and applied our social framework. While ethical principles themselves aren't situational, their application depends on social order. The way ethical dilemmas are progressed, resolved and ethical solutions evaluated really depends on governance: the way we organise ourselves, share responsibilities and accountabilities. By way of example, few Renaissance cities had a permanent police-force, but virtually all modern cities do. While the principles for dealing with crime and violence remain the same (given the same moral understanding), the way we apply them when we have a police-force will necessarily differ from the way we'd apply them without one. Likewise, the way we apply ethical principles in some anarchic co-operative will differ from the way we apply them in a hierarchically-managed workplace.

I mention this because our responsibilities and accountabilities are taught, exemplified, monitored and enforced by our social fabric. This is as true in sectarian communities as it is in secular communities. Ideally, in reasonable ethical frameworks, our obligation begins with individual responsibility, but I've never seen a viable code of ethics that denies accountability to others. So individuals need to be taught and shown ethical responsibility and given the tools to self-manage ethics; but ethical accountability is finally always to the group. In a good ethical system, individualism and collectivism support one another. In weak, inequitable, or ill-conceived ethical systems, one dominates at cost to the other.

Since your question arose in the Religion thread rather than in Philosophy or Politics, I understand that in the end, you're asking whether there's a role for religion in morality or ethics, and whether such a role is unique and irreplaceable.

Rather than make this post overlong, I'll sketch an answer and you can decide whether you want to explore it.

I believe the essential value of religion is the mobilisation of collective imagination -- ideally to both collective and individual benefit. In this respect, religion has its roots in the arts rather than the sciences. But secular arts can also do a similar job to religion, and there's no question that morality, ethics and governance need input from the sciences -- and by definition (since science is culturally independent) that input must be independent from religion, and in cases where tradition conflicts with science, it'd be boneheaded to put tradition first.

So can religion have a role in moral and ethical conversations? Absolutely.
A valued role? Definitely, because religion does effectively mobilise collective imagination.
A privileged or authoritative role? Definitely not.
An irreplaceable role? Probably not, because religion is not the only cultural expression that can do this.

Consequently, I believe that to remain relevant, religion has to step up: demonstrate and redemonstrate its ability to work in an enlightened, pluralistic, secular democracy; to play well with others.

On a good day, Ben, I'm hopeful about that. It was the religious who gave us secular democracy in the first place, because they realised how badly faith plays with politics. But the lesson was not learned well, and not every sect of every faith embraced that wisdom, and there's an awful lot of theocratic nationalism twined like a serpent around the roots of a great deal of religious dogma.

Atheism and secularism can't help religions get over their nationalistic roots. The faithful themselves must do this. However, it's clear that atheism and secularism must hold religions to account while ever they fail to overcome their own moral and intellectual weaknesses.

I describe myself as antitheistic largely because I think theology turns faith into nationalism. The closer faith comes to Deism (i.e. abandons any pretense to sacred, eternal theology), the less concerned I get. But I think you can see I'm not the sort of antitheist one finds in a Dawkins or a Hitchens. :)

I hope that may be useful, or at least, interesting.

So, in short, we ought to adopt a moral or ethical framework that maximizes social cohesion. Correct?
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 4:59:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 2:37:55 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:49:27 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:20:27 PM, dhardage wrote:
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

Then allow me to reiterate the stance I have take on this subject with you on other occasions.

Morality, by its very nature, cannot be objective since it is a product of common beliefs and values held by a group of people. Much of what we call morality is based on the value of life. As seen in most developed countries, life is considered precious and taking one without cause is considered one of the worst acts that can be committed. In less developed countries where life is not valued and irrational belief systems reign, there is a much wider range of acceptable justifications for killing another, including not believing in the deity of choice of the ruling body(ies).

In general, our morality is based on well being of individuals and society. Acts that promote both are seen as good. Act that promote the well being a single or small group of individuals at the expense of others is seen as wrong since it damages society as a whole. Most of this is codified into laws that prohibit such acts.

Morality as a whole has changed greatly over the centuries as collective wealth, education, and knowledge have increased. What was moral to our ancestors two millennia ago is not the same as moral today. Slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppression of women and minorities, all were not only accepted but condoned and promoted by primitive societies. Our ideals are much different although these things continue to linger in our society.

Any other questions?

So basically, your answer is two-fold. First, morality can't be objective because it's a product of our beliefs and values (I think you'd say that's inherently subjective) so morality is therefore subjective. Secondly, we've observed third world countries that act immorally according to our standards but not to their own. This also shows that morality is not subjective.

My question to you: have we truly made moral progress by outlawing acts from ancient times of slavery, killing prisoners of war, oppressing women & minorities or is it completely subjective opinion on whether or not that is moral progress?

It is my subjective opinion and that of a vast majority of the human race. Most countries outlaw slavery, though there are still some that practice it. Less can be said for the oppression of women and minorities but again, there is progress and that opinion is shared by most advanced nations. If we accept the statement that each life is valuable and each person deserves to be free to seek their own destiny, we have made progress.

Does a group opinion on something that is inherently subjective give it more credibility or merit?

Secondly, do you believe that it's possible for human beings to have objective ideals or values?

Hard to say since every human on the planet is influenced to some extent by their own emotions and desires.

Do you believe that human beings treat their own lives as having objective or subjective value?
RuvDraba
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6/18/2015 5:07:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 4:55:43 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 2:33:26 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

Our ethical obligations are or should be, based on principles built from our moral understanding and applied our social framework. While ethical principles themselves aren't situational, their application depends on social order. In a good ethical system, individualism and collectivism support one another. In weak, inequitable, or ill-conceived ethical systems, one dominates at cost to the other.
So, in short, we ought to adopt a moral or ethical framework that maximizes social cohesion. Correct?
No. Definitely, emphatically not!

The strongest social cohesion is created by nationalism, and nationalism is at the root of the most egregious human atrocities ever perpetrated.

Nationalism is what happens when the question gets oversimplified -- when individualism and pluralism are swept aside in favour of a standard, common social identity. It's no great surprise that humanity's most tyrannical dictators mobilise nationalism to support their regimes, and our worst theocracies do it too. DAISH -- Islamic State -- is an example of a religious nationalistic force, as is the Ku Klux Klan.

It seems to me that any serious moral conversation must acknowledge the importance of individualism, and any serious ethical conversation must be aimed at striking an effective, synergistic and compassionate balance between pluralism and collectivism.
ironslippers
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6/18/2015 5:13:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 12:32:33 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this.

Ben, my position didn't match your options, so with your indulgence, here it is in summary.

Altruism and empathy have been shown to arise in nature, in humans and other species. Altruism is instinctive, but conditional on circumstance and learning; empathy is also instinctive but can be learned and developed further.

From altruism and empathy compassion can develop. Compassion benefits from the addition of inquiry, insight and wisdom. It is a high-order function, and learnable.

From compassion and mutual need, morality can develop. Where altruism, empathy and compassion are individual and potentially situational, morality is social and systematised. It is our collective understanding of what is good and bad for ourselves and those around us. Based as it is on compassion and need, a good moral conversation must be continuing, and in a benevolent and just society, must include everyone.

So morality is objective, but not absolute. It is emergent, and the quality of our morality depends on the quality of our compassion, our conversation, and the diversity, insight and common interests and commitment of those who participate in it. There is strong evidence that we are vastly more moral creatures than were any of the societies of the Bronze or Iron Age, and that just as most modern people have a bigger vocabulary than Shakespeare, there's evidence that on average, we are or can be much better moral thinkers than were many of the best moral thinkers in ancient times.

What has improved our morality, I believe, is our far superior understanding of humanity, our much greater capacity for altruism (due principally to wealth), and raising people in much better circumstances, with better education.

So not only do I believe morality is objective, I also believe that adhering to ancient moral code is both inequitable (because it squeezes many people out of the conversation who were never originally considered), and regressive (because it is based on ancient ignorance and circumstance, rather than our best knowledge and modern need.)

I hope that may help. I'm willing to unpack or explain more if needed.

Very, very well put

But me I'm more flipant
Morality is like H2O sometime I like to bath in it, sometimes it cools my scotch, and sometimes it presses my shirt. I don't think I could live without it.

to the OP it's had to have a open/fair discussion when you apply parameters to it
Everyone stands on their own dung hill and speaks out about someone else's - Nathan Krusemark
Its easier to criticize and hate than it is to support and create - I Ron Slippers
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 5:17:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 5:07:18 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 4:55:43 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 2:33:26 PM, RuvDraba wrote:

Our ethical obligations are or should be, based on principles built from our moral understanding and applied our social framework. While ethical principles themselves aren't situational, their application depends on social order. In a good ethical system, individualism and collectivism support one another. In weak, inequitable, or ill-conceived ethical systems, one dominates at cost to the other.
So, in short, we ought to adopt a moral or ethical framework that maximizes social cohesion. Correct?
No. Definitely, emphatically not!

The strongest social cohesion is created by nationalism, and nationalism is at the root of the most egregious human atrocities ever perpetrated.

Nationalism is what happens when the question gets oversimplified -- when individualism and pluralism are swept aside in favour of a standard, common social identity. It's no great surprise that humanity's most tyrannical dictators mobilise nationalism to support their regimes, and our worst theocracies do it too. DAISH -- Islamic State -- is an example of a religious nationalistic force, as is the Ku Klux Klan.

It seems to me that any serious moral conversation must acknowledge the importance of individualism, and any serious ethical conversation must be aimed at striking an effective, synergistic and compassionate balance between pluralism and collectivism.

So it sounds like you advocate utilitarianism. Correct?
RuvDraba
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6/18/2015 5:31:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 5:17:28 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:07:18 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
So it sounds like you advocate utilitarianism. Correct?

No, because utilitarianism is myopic, and demands a common and rigid notion of value. Economic rationalism is an example of moral utilitarianism, and by itself it's failing morally in more ways than I could easily list.

A vibrant moral sense admits competing visions and differences of priority. Of necessity, it admits ambiguity and uncertainty, and responds with a measure of give and take, with compromises, sacrifices and unexpected synergies that enable it to access benefits no individual participant could have conceived (and recent human history has many examples of this.) In my view, neither nationalism nor utilitarianism admit those things.
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 5:48:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 5:31:35 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:17:28 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:07:18 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
So it sounds like you advocate utilitarianism. Correct?

No, because utilitarianism is myopic, and demands a common and rigid notion of value. Economic rationalism is an example of moral utilitarianism, and by itself it's failing morally in more ways than I could easily list.

A vibrant moral sense admits competing visions and differences of priority. Of necessity, it admits ambiguity and uncertainty, and responds with a measure of give and take, with compromises, sacrifices and unexpected synergies that enable it to access benefits no individual participant could have conceived (and recent human history has many examples of this.) In my view, neither nationalism nor utilitarianism admit those things.

As succinctly as possible, in your view, what is the moral code that society ought to adopt?
RuvDraba
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6/18/2015 6:03:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 5:48:30 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:31:35 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
As succinctly as possible, in your view, what is the moral code that society ought to adopt?

Ben, since you believe that morality is objective and emergent, why do you believe it must work (or can work at all) under a single, rigid code?

If morality is emergent then it needs to be explored, and that exploration should involve experiments with successes and failures and improvements, and that means we need a common ethical framework that will allow diversity, individuality and pluralistic expression while at the same identifying and deterring common kinds of harm, and upholding public accountability for any harm we do others -- and a framework that will foster continuing conversations so we can socialise what we're learning. And such a framework needs to be built on compassion and a common, objective understanding of the human condition so that there's no doubt that what's being pursued is human welfare and not the tyranny of one custom over another.

I think we have that framework already -- although it's not always well-understood, and not everyone supports it. I think we've had the bones of it for several centuries.

Do you think we lack that framework? If so, in which respect is it lacking?
wsmunit7
Posts: 1,318
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6/18/2015 6:31:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 1:09:14 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 11:58:41 AM, dhardage wrote:
Why? What is your interest the opinion of an individual who happens to not believe in your god or any other on this subject?

Do you feel threatened by my curiosity? I simply want to understand differing points of view and perhaps debate those views.

OK. I'm don't feel threatened by your curiousity. But I AM curious why you didn't state YOUR position first.
Benshapiro
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6/18/2015 6:54:29 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 6:03:41 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:48:30 PM, Benshapiro wrote:
At 6/18/2015 5:31:35 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
As succinctly as possible, in your view, what is the moral code that society ought to adopt?

Ben, since you believe that morality is objective and emergent, why do you believe it must work (or can work at all) under a single, rigid code?

I believe that our understanding of morality is emergent, much like our understanding of gravity, but I believe that our moral code has always been the same. Here's my idea of a moral code: do whatever maximizes virtuous, selfless love.

If morality is emergent then it needs to be explored, and that exploration should involve experiments with successes and failures and improvements, and that means we need a common ethical framework that will allow diversity, individuality and pluralistic expression while at the same identifying and deterring common kinds of harm, and upholding public accountability for any harm we do others -- and a framework that will foster continuing conversations so we can socialise what we're learning. And such a framework needs to be built on compassion and a common, objective understanding of the human condition so that there's no doubt that what's being pursued is human welfare and not the tyranny of one custom over another.

I think we have that framework already -- although it's not always well-understood, and not everyone supports it. I think we've had the bones of it for several centuries.

Do you think we lack that framework? If so, in which respect is it lacking?

I think we have the proper framework in more developed countries that advocate for human rights and such but there's still a lot of work to do. Religious hatred and intolerance is fostered in many Muslim countries, in China children are subjected to inhumane and cruel working conditions, in North Korea the people are starving in order to support the lavish life style of the "dear leader" and much, much more.

If we everyone loved virtuously and selflessly none of that would happen.
mrsatan
Posts: 417
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6/18/2015 7:24:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 6/18/2015 11:44:26 AM, Benshapiro wrote:
I want atheists opinion on this. Which best describes your position

(0) morality is objective because empathy derives from natural instincts.

(1) morality is not seemingly objective in any imaginable scenarios.

(2) morality is seemingly objective in some scenarios, but remains subjective .

If (2) It remains subjective because...

(A) morals derive from our values and ideals which are inherently subjective. Therefore morality can only be subjective.

(B) objective morality would mean that certain actions of right and wrong equally apply to other species as well, not just human beings. Since other species behave in ways that differ from what's acceptable to humans, morality isn't objective.

(C) Objective morality means that moral truth propositions such as "child abuse is wrong" would be true even if there was no life anywhere in the universe. The truth proposition couldn't be true if it isn't applicable. Therefore morality isn't objective.

(D) examples of objective morality, such as "killing without necessary justification is always wrong", is still subjective because what constitutes "necessary justification" is still debatable.

(E) all of the above for (2)

(3) Morality is subjective. Any objectiveness to it is bound within that subjectivity.

Define the set of principles being expressed by the word 'morality' and it becomes objective. You then have a basis for what ought to be done. Because the 'ought' is a product of that set, you have no initial reason why we 'ought to follow that set'.

In other words, to say "morality is objective" is the same as saying "we should follow these rules because these rules say we should follow these rules". It's entirely circular.

Ultimately, any reason for following any set of principles is going to be based in subjective opinions and desires. As such, morality is ultimately subjective.
To say one has free will, to have chosen other than they did, is to say they have will over their will... Will over the will they have over their will... Will over the will they have over the will they have over their will, etc... It's utter nonsense.