What is morality?

Posted by: KristoMF

I think the confounding of the following options unnecessarily complicates the debate.

Vote
33 Total Votes
1

A label for "right/good" or "wrong/bad" actions.

13 votes
2 comments
2

Other.

What else could it be?
11 votes
8 comments
3

A defined code of conduct.

9 votes
4 comments
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KristoMF says2018-06-08T16:44:12.4157458Z
@ladiesman - Yeah, dictionary definitions are somewhat unsatisfactory. "The distinction between right and wrong behavior" really means nothing. That is part of the reason behind my question.
kyleniel says2018-06-08T17:16:02.8697458Z
@KristoMF How do you change the profile to say your gender?
ladiesman says2018-06-08T18:39:16.9289458Z
@kyleniel That's the philosophy of Thrasymachus the Sophist and Nietzsche.
ladiesman says2018-06-08T19:15:42.5825458Z
It's hard to pinpoint what morality is about. Is it about following a set of rules/laws or achieving good ends? Part of defining morality is defining "good/right" and "bad/wrong". That's meta-ethics. Here are some normative definitions of morality: the earliest is virtue ethics with proponents such as Aristotle with some aspects supported by Thomas Aquinas. Virtue ethics emphasizes inherent character. And we have the consequentialists, the most famous theory being utilitarianism(Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill) which advocates producing the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. And then there is deontological ethics, which argues ethical decisions should be made considering the factors of one's duties and rights. Deontologists say morality is about duty and law and obedience. There are several subdivisions of deontological ethics; Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative, which defines morality(rather narrowly) as justice, equality and rational duty, which is abstract. Other deontological ethical theories include natural rights theories(John Locke) and the divine command theory, which puts God's will as the source of moral goodness. A good moral recipe incorporates all recipes.
CarlosRN says2018-06-09T00:31:15.3429599Z
By definition, morality is "right" or "good" values that are true and surpass human opinion. Because they need to surpass human opinion, only a theistic god can explain morality. You ask why. To explain this, lets talk about Baseball. Who makes the rules of Baseball? They require a M.A.P. M - Moral (or fair) standard that transcends player opinion. If someone thinks to win you need to score more foul balls, that player is just not correct. A - Authoritative person who transcends the players to communicate and enforce the rules. P - Purpose or objective of the game that transcends player opinion. If someone thinks to win you need to hit more foul balls, that player is just not correct. So, it has to be a WHO, who makes the rules. Now we take the same question for life? Who makes the rules of life? Well, I think it also requires a M.A.P. Why? IF there is no standard by which we can't judge and compare all morality, it is just opinion. It is just your opinion against, say, Hitler's opinion.
ladiesman says2018-06-09T03:09:28.8221923Z
@CarlosRN So you're saying if God does not exist, there is no objective morality?
CarlosRN says2018-06-09T03:17:52.4525923Z
@ladiesman Yes, because morality must be objective, and must be the standard. If not, its all opinions.
KristoMF says2018-06-09T07:36:56.9789923Z
@CarlosRN - Are you saying morality HAS to be objective because if not it is just up to everyone's opinion? Sure, ethics would be much easier, but that doesn't make it true. I'm sorry to say it seems like wishful thinking. Why did you vote for "other"? It looks like you're defending the "defined code of conduct" position, handed down by some God. Which poses two problems: a) it isn't objective, but rather subjective to God, and b) this God's existence would have to be proven first before stating anything can come from it.
KristoMF says2018-06-09T07:45:14.1821923Z
@kylenial - Dashboard --> Settings --> Gender
reece says2018-06-10T13:39:37.4618704Z
@CarlosRN You don't think opinions can be objectively sound? So two people sharing the same opinion of morality aren't objectively moral when they practice it with one another?
kyleniel says2018-06-10T14:58:08.9360813Z
@KristoMF thanks, dude.
CarlosRN says2018-06-13T22:34:26.2175950Z
@KristoMF I chose "other" because I think morality is better explained as the standard that surpasses human opinion. It is objective because it's beyond human kind. Laws only come from lawgivers. Does that make sense? Maybe i'm not understanding your argument. But to prove God, we would probably need a different debate for that, with morality as well.
CarlosRN says2018-06-13T22:38:04.1183950Z
@reece No, I am saying it has to be objective. Morality has to be objective to surpass human opinion. Or what do you mean by just opinions?
KristoMF says2018-06-14T15:00:22.1281345Z
@CarlosRN - Then perhaps the problem is what we both understand as "objective", because I believe the word means something independent from any conscious being. You seem to be defending that law comes from a lawgiver, so again, law would be a code of conduct, defined by this lawgiver. That is answer 2. I understand the existence of God would be another debate, but to defend your position on morality, the first step would be to prove that an objective standard for morality even exists—specially beyond humans. What is this standard in your opinion? And where else do you get it if not from human beings? If your answer is going to be God, then that is why God must be proven first.
KristoMF says2018-06-14T15:01:03.3121345Z
@CarlosRN - Then perhaps the problem is what we both understand as "objective", because I believe the word means something independent from any conscious being. You seem to be defending that law comes from a lawgiver, so again, law would be a code of conduct, defined by this lawgiver. That is answer 2. I understand the existence of God would be another debate, but to defend your position on morality, the first step would be to prove that an objective standard for morality even exists—specially beyond humans. What is this standard in your opinion? And where else do you get it if not from human beings? If your answer is going to be God, then that is why God must be proven first.
CarlosRN says2018-06-19T22:44:12.0520910Z
@KristoMF I agree with you then, when we both say that there's something above society and humankind. I do agree with you when you say that in order to make the argument "God gives laws because He is the lawgiver", I would first have to give evidence and arguments to support this idea. Indeed, it is a different topic, and if you're interested, we can debate it. To give the quick answer, is that God is the standard of morality because He is good, justice, mercy, etc... We know these laws because they are written in our hearts, like the Bible says. You don't need the Bible or to be a Christian to be moral, because we all know good and bad.
KristoMF says2018-06-20T08:38:44.1218172Z
@CarlosRN - I can agree up to a point that we have some kind of moral compass written "in our hearts" (after all, our natural empathy helps us feel for others), but obviously we disagree on where that came from ;) It's not only about proving the existence of God, but on top of that, I just don't know how you conclude He also "is" concepts such as "good", "justice", "mercy"... So, could the standards of morality not be these things that are written in us?
CarlosRN says2018-06-20T21:33:18.9911074Z
@KristoMF , you ask a good question. Can these standards of morality be within us instead of outside of us? There's one problem with that. If we are our own standards of morality, then who's standard is better? Hitler's or Mother Theresa's? There has to be one that is objectively wrong, because if not, then they're all right. However, we know that Hitler's are wrong. God, in the other hand, has to be perfect, with justice, with good, love, etc... Because He is self-sufficient. If He lacked these traits, He wouldn't be God, and He wouldn't be perfect. So He wouldn't be above all things, and He too would be subject to the world we live in. But when we compare Hitler's and Mother Theresa's morality, we reference a "best". Which one is the best? Well, if there's a best, there is an ideal. An objective. That standard is known as God because it is above all human power and opinion.
KristoMF says2018-06-21T07:55:08.0863041Z
@CarlosRN - You say there is a problem if the standards of morality are within us. I agree. Do not think I do not see that problem; THAT is what makes morality so difficult. However, you then state that "if there isn't an objectively wrong standard, then they are all right". Is that really the case? Could they not be both wrong? Oh, but one must be better than the other. Sure, I agree. But better for what? When you say “WE KNOW that Hitler’s are wrong”, I think we really do not know, we just don’t like them. What are you basing that assumption on, if not on our own standards? Hitler had (and has) his great deal of supporters; they would surely disagree with us. And THAT is obviously a problem. Who is right then? Establishing the standards is an extremely complicated task, but I see no reason the standard would be elsewhere, and much less in a God I have no evidence for. I see the standard within, you see it outside, but could it not be that you are using God (an “ideal” for morality) as a trump card against the injustice of the world?
CarlosRN says2018-06-21T17:07:45.9496770Z
You make an excellent point by going back to my point if “they’re all right”. It is true when you say. “Are those really right?” They wouldn’t be good or bad. We just couldn’t say they’re either of those things because there’s no best. We might not like it, but it’s not objectively wrong because it’s just opinion. That was a mistake on my part. You ask another good question. “Why God?” Only someone with authority can give rules. Laws require a lawgiver. And only a person can give laws because science won’t. For example: Let’s say you and I were talking in a room. If a random person says “Get out.”, we’d probably question him and not move. Who is he to tell us to move? But if a police officer says “Get out!” Then we would listen. Because the police officer has authority to say things. Why does God have authority? He is the unchangable being that is perfect. IF He created everything that exists, He, naturally, has authority over all things. Everything is His. Just like when we own something. Why is “Good” better for us? If God is good, he knows what is better for humanity. He being an all-knowing being, also knows good. He is self-sustainable. So when He gives laws, they’re for our own good and well-being. “Don’t murder.” Why not? Because that causes death (obvously), grief, and it violates God’s rule for humanity. A rule that surpasses human opinion because God is outside of everything that exists. I hope that made sense
KristoMF says2018-06-22T17:00:07.8779693Z
I guess it makes sense. At least relative sense. I mean, at this point it seems we can agree on morality being a set of rules of conduct, or a law, that would deem actions "good" or "bad" regarding that standard. We then diverge on where we think that standard comes from. On one hand, I think it comes from within us, which reflects how unjust the world sometimes is and how difficult coexistence is in society (and between societies); on the other, you think it is handed down from God, and trust that He knows better. So our disagreement would boil down to the existence of such God. To be honest, I don't see why we should believe in it, but moreover, I don't see why we should believe morality comes from Him if He did exist. The important question is: 'How do we know our morals are not our own?' The fact that if that were the case there would be no objective standard is not evidence for its existence.
KristoMF says2018-06-22T17:01:51.3669693Z
I guess it makes sense. At least relative sense. I mean, at this point it seems we can agree on morality being a set of rules of conduct, or a law, that would deem actions "good" or "bad" regarding that standard. We then diverge on where we think that standard comes from. On one hand, I think it comes from within us, which reflects how unjust the world sometimes is and how difficult coexistence is in society (and between societies); on the other, you think it is handed down from God, and trust that He knows better. So our disagreement would boil down to the existence of such God. To be honest, I don't see why we should believe in it, but moreover, I don't see why we should believe morality comes from Him if He did exist. The important question is: 'How do we know our morals are not our own?' The fact that if that were the case there would be no objective standard is not evidence for its existence.
CarlosRN says2018-06-22T18:02:18.7299693Z
@KristoMF We don’t have to agree. These are just things to think about. True, we agree on some aspects. However, you make two interesting points. You say that morality could come from within us, and it reflects how unjust the world is. Here’s my question. When you say something is unjust, what do you mean by that? If there’s injustice, there must be justice. What are you comparing the world to? If there’s no standard outside of humanity, “who’s” justice is better? You also mention “how difficult coexistence is”. I’m not sure if you believe in evolution, but I do use it often to try to explain my point. Well, if that’s the case, why cooperate, when often not cooperating is more beneficial to us. Why be just, when often injustice gives us what we want. In an evolutionary world view, why not rape to survive? It eases our existence. In a survival perspective at least. You might disagree on that one. So, in order to know where our morals come from, we must know where they came from in the first place. It’s very origin. Evolution? Chemicals in our brains? Or does it come from a higher power?
KristoMF says2018-06-23T07:44:42.3959693Z
@CarlosRN Nice move XD I gotta love these conversation... So you answer my question wanting to know where our morals would come from even if they came from us. That's OK, but the problem is you can also insert God as an answer even in my own answers. Evolution does not necessarily equip every species with a need to kill or take advantage of everybody to survive. Social animals associate in groups to cooperate. Not exclusively, but we also have empathy to be able to "put us in the others place", which helps with sociality, and above all, us humans can think and reason. So the majority of us don't feel the need and see the harm in stealing, raping and murdering because we can feel for others. In that sense, we can see cruelty in the world and the "injustice" I was talking about, which we compare with our own innate sense of justice. But obviously, Hitler and his followers had another view on this... As you can see, my answer gets me no further, because you can easily say "but all those feelings are thanks to God", or "God made us that way". But again, why should I add this God I cannot prove when I already have an answer with what we see in the world?
CarlosRN says2018-06-23T20:15:12.4929693Z
Right, again, we don’t need to agree. Admittedly, it is hard to understand. The issue of morality. I enjoy the conversation either way too. I agree when you say that evolution doesn’t necessarily give us the need to kill or take advantage of others. Evolution just creates. It says what survives, not what OUGHT to survive. It doesn’t think. If that’s the case, where did the social skills come from if they’re not material? Reason is an immaterial thing that evolution cannot create, since it just focuses on materials. If evolution is true, then all of our thoughts are just created by random natural forces. We’re not reasoning, we’re reacting to those chemicals and natural forces. In fact, many evolutionists say that evolution came up with the brain, and the BRAIN made the mind, not necessarily evolution. Just like a router creates WiFi. It is a material thing creating an immaterial realm. Here’s the problem: there would be no router unless someONE creates the router. We know that routers don’t come from random forces. So, naturally, the question is: “Was the brain completely created by evolution and we’re just lucky to have one?” As you can tell, I’m getting a bit off topic, but if you want to take about evolution we can do that.
KristoMF says2018-06-24T09:24:25.6109693Z
@CarlosRN The short answer is "yes". Just like "it created" echolocation and some animals are lucky to have it, or wings, or any feature of nature. Sure, you're focused on the immaterial aspect of thoughts but I just don't see the relevance. You already point out that social skills are not material, but the nature is full of animals with social skills; I would argue any animal has an immaterial skill of some kind. Our brain happens to be more complex, and so its processes are too. On a lower level it is chemicals doing their thing, yes, like it is in the CPU of a PC or a phone, which on a higher level also result in immaterial processing of information. I have seen apologists get hung up on the "only chemicals", when on a fundamental level the table in front of me is only quarks and electrons, etc. but it still is true what I have in front is a table. Chemicals make brains which process information. Ours brains are the ones of social animals as many other in nature. Even if we don't have a complete picture of how our consciousness works, should we insert God again as an answer? Sorry, I still don't see the need, and God still would remain to be proven first.
CarlosRN says2018-06-24T19:21:19.0299693Z
If that’s the case, that our brains game from chemical reactions and the process of evolution which is random, then why are our thoughts necessarily true? If our minds just come from previous natural forces, and chemical reactions, then we don’t really reason. We merely react. We have no control over these forces. But the problem goes even deeper than that. For example, we know that an amoeba doesn’t say “created by God” or “created by evolution”. We need to look at the data to understand how it works. Today, we know all living things have DNA. Well, how could the complex message of DNA come from natural forces. Not only it is a message, which means can only come from a creaTOR, since only minds can make messages, but to say that this billion coded message came from random forces, is like saying that the Librabry of Congress is the result of a printing shop. We could have a separate debate about this, since we’re going more in depth. In the debate I could also put my arguments as to why I think God exists, evidence.
KristoMF says2018-06-25T10:10:39.9849693Z
@CarlosRN I had a feeling we were heading here; I've heard Frank Turek state this too many times. Is your argument that "if the brain works due to chemical reactions, we cannot reason"? That is what I was trying to answer to in my previous comment: Are the results of a calculator not true? Is the processing of a PC less trustworthy? Do you do a search on Google and think "nah, I cannot trust these chemicals"? Do programmers think their work is useless because they depend on the same fundamental forces? Isn't a brick the same thing as a feather, if both are made of the same fundamental particles? Of course not. I think all this "chemical argument" stems from an unfair simplification of mental processes, due to incredulity. What else does the brain need to function and how do we know it needs it? Could you explain how does a brain actually work, then? What always surprises me is the trust in science to discover how things work, but the need to always insert God anyway. This takes us to the DNA part, where I'm afraid I cannot provide the same level of information as you could find in biology sites, if you are interested. As far as I know, DNA is complex, but not a message; and stating it came from "random forces" is a misconception. I have no problem with it coming from natural processes, but I could be wrong, so how would the actual process be?
CarlosRN says2018-06-26T05:46:11.0460456Z
Well, I'm not really asking for information from you, but this is how I see things. Again, calculators are infallible, and materials can create an immaterial realm. But someONE has to create the calculator in the first place because it doesn't come from random forces, same goes for the brain. So I say God, because only a WHO has the authority to say how things should be. DNA is not exactly a message, but it is in a sense that it is completely made in a specific order that can't be random. Because each "letter" matches another one, it ends up creating this "message" that guides each living thing into becoming something they need to be. God holds the world in a way that it is all guided and specific. Without error. It is so specific because things work together to create a system. That's the way I understand it at least. But perhaps, we simply don't agree, and I completely understand. Even I need to understand more things, obviously.
KristoMF says2018-06-26T08:48:29.0403324Z
Yes, you’re right, calculators are artificial creations. We know we created them, we know how we create them. On the other hand, we know how humans came about from nature, albeit we are missing some knowledge, granted. But this is indifferent, because we can always say we see God’s hand in everything, even if it is not justified. If I say the fundamental forces are not random, God might be behind that; if I say systems happen to appear in nature due to those forces (e.G. Stellar systems, ecosystems, molecular systems), God might be behind that; if I say evolution did not guarantee us and we appeared by luck (if that is what you mean when you say “random”), God might also be behind that. We could even say God is behind the knowledge for creating calculators! Back to the start, I see morality as a byproduct of our nature, you see God. So yeah, we simple don’t agree in the justification for giving credit to this mysterious being called God. :)
CarlosRN says2018-06-27T00:50:04.0023228Z
I think I understand where your doubt is coming from. You just don't see the NEED or WHY there needs to be an entity that has a who and authority like God. But this is why I go back to reason, and mind. Only a WHO can think and make decisions. Only a who decides how life is. Only a who has authority. Not a force. Not gravity. Not chemicals. And this is where I would say, not evolution. But, perhaps I would need to understand my topic more as well, since this argument might not be good enough as an explanation as to why God exists, because as you said, you just don't see why it would point to God. But either way, it was an interesting conversation, thank you.
KristoMF says2018-06-27T07:58:29.0542162Z
Yep, that's it. I don't think we are justified in believing there is a who behind life. Thank you too :)
KristoMF says2018-07-09T14:24:34.0113335Z
@BertrandsTeapot - my question would be "just how does one defend the existence of a universal (i.E. Objective) moral code"? Science at best could strive towards knowing what actions lead us to a goal, so science could help in defining the code of conduct I would define morality as... But first you need to define and place the goal of that code, which is inevitably subject to us.

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