Author Topic: More on Morality  (Read 1170 times)

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Offline hobbes

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More on Morality
« on: January 23, 2012, 08:30:41 AM »
Were it true that morals resulted from infitesimal small steps through evolution; that it came about through humanity's need to preserve itself and that it is not based on some universal ideal, transcendant from the material world, than, what reason now do we have (knowing this) to follow these morals?
Furthermore, apart from the natural laws supposedly put in place through evolution, why should we pay heed to any rules or punishment put in place by other people merely based on their status?  Who are these people to be imposing laws on us?  On what basis is another man declaring right from wrong?  On what authority?  All laws are then subjective to the person imposing them.
If I firmly believe that stealing from someone else will result in me receiving a better, more fulfilling life and that I would not get caught doing it, than what is stopping me?  What standard am I comparing myself to?
If all morals are subjective to the person, than no universal standard can exist.  Right and wrong become blurred and will inevitably lead to chaos.

Let me know your thoughts on this please.

Offline One Above All

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 08:34:38 AM »
<snip>
humanity's need to preserve itself
<snip>

That's why. If you don't follow society's rules, you will not not get the chance to pass on your genes (which is a very basic biological impulse we have), so you follow them, except in the event where following said rules would lower your chances of survival. That said, there are outliers to that logic.
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Offline Petey

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 08:48:05 AM »
Were it true that morals resulted from infitesimal small steps through evolution; that it came about through humanity's need to preserve itself and that it is not based on some universal ideal, transcendant from the material world, than, what reason now do we have (knowing this) to follow these morals?

Reason itself.

Furthermore, apart from the natural laws supposedly put in place through evolution, why should we pay heed to any rules or punishment put in place by other people merely based on their status?  Who are these people to be imposing laws on us?  On what basis is another man declaring right from wrong?  On what authority?  All laws are then subjective to the person imposing them.

Correct.  All morality and all laws are subjective and must be dealt with on a case by case basis.  Objective morality is an invention of ancient clergy and politicians.

If I firmly believe that stealing from someone else will result in me receiving a better, more fulfilling life and that I would not get caught doing it, than what is stopping me?

Empathy.

What standard am I comparing myself to?
If all morals are subjective to the person, than no universal standard can exist.  Right and wrong become blurred and will inevitably lead to chaos.

You are correct that no universal standard can exist.  However, I fail to see why this will inevitably lead to chaos.  Please explain.
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Offline One Above All

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 08:58:13 AM »
You are correct that no universal standard can exist.  However, I fail to see why this will inevitably lead to chaos.  Please explain.

I think that hobbes and people who share his view of subjective morality seem to think that if there isn't a single, universal constant for something, that it becomes pure chaos. The problem, of course, is that they ignore the fact that while there might not be a constant law for something, there are general rules that most people agree on (democracy is based on the opinion of the majority, for better or for worse).
Think of it as the scenario in "The Matrix" - 99% of subjects accepted it. 1% did not. The 1%, if left unchecked, would result in chaos. That's why there were protocols in place to take care of those outliers. Same thing applies here. We have laws BECAUSE there isn't a universal morality. If there were, we wouldn't need to tell people how to behave.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 09:04:09 AM »
Back at you, hobbes:  If there is some sort of transcendent, immaterial morality, then what reason do people have to follow it?

The same dilemma applies.  You fall prey to it as much as anyone else.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline hobbes

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 09:04:52 AM »
Petey,

Empathy is a form of morality.  It is one person feeling pity for another person.  This is a result of the first person feeling that the second person was treated unjustly, which must be judged by a moral standard.

If no universal standard for morality can exist than everyone's moral principles can be different.  If their moral principles are different, than any objective idea of right or wrong cannot exist.  If there is no right or wrong, than a "just" society cannot exist because there is no basis for it.  Thus, murders, thieves, and rapists cannot be punished merely because their idea of right and wrong differs from ours.

Offline hobbes

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2012, 09:09:43 AM »
Azdgari,

If there was some objective, undebatable code of morality, than people could be judged against it.  People in power who set punishments for laws and enforce them would do so justly and with the authority of a universal morality.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2012, 09:13:43 AM »
The same could be done, with as much justification, with subjective standards of morality.

Appealing to the "objective" one is a personal preference.  It's all on you, and your morality.  The buck always stops at you.  You can't get out of it.  A god doesn't help, because you still have to agree with it.  A transcendent standard doesn't help, because you still have to want to appeal to it.

Embrace your responsibility, Hobbes.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline hobbes

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 09:23:06 AM »
Azdgari,

I think perhaps you misunderstand me.  I'm not saying that people will suddenly be forced to obey this objective morality merely because it exists (though I believe if it were the case and it was undisputable, than it would be quite appealing to most people).  I'm attempting to say that the reason behind laws and punishments could then be justified.  And, if they could be justified, than right and wrong would become less blurred.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2012, 09:26:49 AM »
No, I got your meaning the first time.  And I'm saying that there's nothing inherently different in this "transcendent morality" from any other subjective moral standard.

As for being justified in following it, everyone feels justified in following their morals.  How would this one be any more justified?
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline hobbes

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2012, 09:36:31 AM »
This would be more justified because it is a standard that everyone can be judged equally against.  They would not be judged against someone else's idea of what moral living is.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 09:39:05 AM »
Every standard is one that everyone can be judged equally against.

As for the 2nd part, you are saying this one's better because nobody originally agrees with it?
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Offline hobbes

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2012, 09:48:27 AM »
How is it fair for me to be judged by what someone else considers to be good.  What if this other person decides that listening to music is entirely unacceptable and should be punishable with death. 

I'm saying that this one's better because it provides a universal standard that is objective and not based on someone's biased assumptions about life.

Offline One Above All

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2012, 09:50:37 AM »
I'm saying that this one's better because it provides a universal standard that is objective and not based on someone's biased assumptions about life.

Azdgari already explained why there's no such thing as a "universal moral standard".
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2012, 09:52:02 AM »
How is it fair for me to be judged by what someone else considers to be good.

How is it fair for you to be judged by what nobody else considers to be good?

What if this other person decides that listening to music is entirely unacceptable and should be punishable with death.

Then (s)he is going to judge you that way regardless of whether there's some transcendent morality.  If there is one, and his/her judgment goes against it, then (s)he obviously disagrees with that standard.  Where does that leave you?

I'm saying that this one's better because it provides a universal standard that is objective and not based on someone's biased assumptions about life.

Universal?  It's only universal if everyone agrees with it.  How would they go about doing that?
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Petey

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2012, 10:00:51 AM »
Empathy is a form of morality.  It is one person feeling pity for another person.  This is a result of the first person feeling that the second person was treated unjustly, which must be judged by a moral standard.

No, that's sympathy.  Empathy is putting yourself in the other person's shoes and basing your own actions on how you would feel if you were them.

If no universal standard for morality can exist than everyone's moral principles can be different.  If their moral principles are different, than any objective idea of right or wrong cannot exist.  If there is no right or wrong, than a "just" society cannot exist because there is no basis for it.  Thus, murders, thieves, and rapists cannot be punished merely because their idea of right and wrong differs from ours.

Everyone's moral principles are different, and I've already agreed that no objective idea of right and wrong can exist.  For any "objective moral law" that you come up with, there will be exceptions.  Theft, murder and rape are punishable because the majority has decided that these actions are counter-productive to a happy and healthy society.  Of course, these are general rules, which is why we try them one case at a time to determine if maybe the murderer was acting in self defense, or if the rapist was wrongly accused, or if the thief was simply a lawyer or corporate executive performing his regular duties.   ;)
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Offline jetson

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2012, 10:07:59 AM »
hobbes - did you miss the point that following independent moralities without consequence is bad for survival?  It seems to me that we have come to this subjective state, and we make laws to create boundaries, so that we can survive as a species.  Even if individuals stop caring about the survival of the species, the rest of the herd is simply not going to allow it.  As we move around the globe, we see that different cultures have different boundaries - but most of those cultures line up on key survival boundaries, such as not killing each other.

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2012, 10:33:41 AM »
Were it true that morals resulted from infitesimal small steps through evolution; that it came about through humanity's need to preserve itself and that it is not based on some universal ideal, transcendant from the material world, than, what reason now do we have (knowing this) to follow these morals?
Furthermore, apart from the natural laws supposedly put in place through evolution, why should we pay heed to any rules or punishment put in place by other people merely based on their status?  Who are these people to be imposing laws on us?  On what basis is another man declaring right from wrong?  On what authority?  All laws are then subjective to the person imposing them.
If I firmly believe that stealing from someone else will result in me receiving a better, more fulfilling life and that I would not get caught doing it, than what is stopping me?  What standard am I comparing myself to?
If all morals are subjective to the person, than no universal standard can exist.  Right and wrong become blurred and will inevitably lead to chaos.

Let me know your thoughts on this please.

This is a weak argument in which your claim of the net result is bullocks. There is no data which indicates that chaos is the inevitable result of subjective morality, but there is ample reason to state the opposite in fact. Looking at the countries in the world that would have the largest populations that do not believe in a absolute or divine moral authority are in fact the countries with the least chaos, violence, and corruption.

This is more a question of moral responsibility. Do you wish to be murdered ? Do you wished to be stolen from ? Do you wished to be lied to ? No, you do not ! Moral reciprocity is an evolutionary trait that develops in most rational individuals as a result of the moral responsibility that they have to their own well being.

Does moral conduct go awry ? Of course it does. However, even with the belief that there is an absolute or divine moral code, we are currently seeing faulty morality within those individuals and/or groups. Why ? Because there will always be a subjective interpretation of that divine code. The practice of witch burning by the religious dogmas of the centuries past is the perfect example of an immoral practice that was based on a subjective interpretation of a supposedly divine moral fiat.

Morality is a mind dependent principle. Without mind there is no such thing as morality. This fact makes it an absolute truth that morality is, and can only be, and should only be, principles practiced that come out of subjective roots.

It is not mentally, morally, or intellectually healthy to believe that there is a universal or divine source of morality that exists outside of the mind and that this source demands adherence to and practice of its decrees, and most certainly one is foolish to believe that this source is waiting with eternal punishment for those who fail to comply.

One has made a grave mental error to submit to faulty thinking and allow their minds to be given over to the belief that a dictatorial, totalitarian, autocratic source is where principles of right and wrong come from and that they must be obeyed.
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2012, 10:45:25 AM »
Hobbes, I'm curious:  What would you do if you learned that the universe's transcendent morality demanded things that you felt to be utterly evil?
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline velkyn

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2012, 10:50:10 AM »
How is it fair for me to be judged by what someone else considers to be good.  What if this other person decides that listening to music is entirely unacceptable and should be punishable with death. 

I'm saying that this one's better because it provides a universal standard that is objective and not based on someone's biased assumptions about life.

so we've jsut seen the Christian god's morals to be shown as simply subjective.  Cue the special pleading.  Hobbes, your prayers to your god have failed again.  You keep returning as if responses to your nonsense will be any different. 
"There is no use in arguing with a man who can multiply anything by the square root of minus 1" - Pirates of Venus, ERB

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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2012, 05:05:11 PM »
bm
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline dloubet

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2012, 02:47:46 AM »
I was asked by a Christian why I wasn't out raping and killing.

I responded by asking him if that is what he would rather be doing if not for the strictures of his god.

He said "Yes."

This is the kind of person you're trying to reason with here.
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Offline RNS

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2012, 03:12:32 AM »
Love this quote. Brought it out many a time on this and the old forum. As far as I'm concerned, if understood correctly it should bring the discussion to a close. But somehow I don't see that happening  :laugh:

wikipedia- "The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?""

EDIT: cut out some weird wikipedia stuff that came up.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 03:22:11 AM by RNS »
love and truth and love of truth

Offline RNS

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2012, 03:31:44 AM »
I empathize with you man, I really do. (Note, I actually mean empathize, not pity). I too felt uneasy about the lack of objective morality, although I think for different reasons. I was simply scared, and still am to a certain extent, about the fact that others, many of whom are stupid, can potentially impact the way I live. But I guess you just have to trust the system and when you disagree with something or the system f*cks you even when you're right, you just have to make your voice heard and trust that others with sense will hear you and help you.

If I firmly believe that stealing from someone else will result in me receiving a better, more fulfilling life and that I would not get caught doing it, than what is stopping me?

I'm not perfect, I used to steal from time to time. But just food, when I was a student, and only from big companies like Tesco's etc. because I told myself this is coming out of the man's pocket, not the little workers who still get their salary either way.
My point is, wouldn't you feel bad for stealing from someone? I know when you just look at it on paper, "stealing from someone else" seems like you will get a "better life" in terms of you will have more sh*t. But in reality could you still steal from someone, knowing they worked hard to get whatever it is you stole?
Personally I don't need any other reasons not to steal or kill etc. other than basic empathy for others.

My rule of thumb for morality is actually something I think I learnt in church. That is, to treat others like you would like to be treated. Didn't Jesus say that or something?
i.e. don't want to have stuff stolen from me? = don't steal from others.
      don't want to be killed? = don't kill others
etc. you get the idea right?

EDIT: spelling + grammar
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 03:33:45 AM by RNS »
love and truth and love of truth

Offline screwtape

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #24 on: January 24, 2012, 12:41:30 PM »
bm
Links:
Rules
Guides & Tutorials

What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline shnozzola

Re: More on Morality
« Reply #25 on: January 24, 2012, 07:29:45 PM »
If I firmly believe that stealing from someone else will result in me receiving a better, more fulfilling life and that I would not get caught doing it, than what is stopping me? 
Here’s the thing, Hobbes.  Nothing is stopping you.  There are no rules an individual must follow. Whether god exists or not, nothing is stopping you from living exactly the way you want.  Plenty of people try living outside of any of society’s rules – they go to prison if they get caught – so what?   Ignore the morals society has laid down – then the consequences.
What if this other person decides that listening to music is entirely unacceptable and should be punishable with death. 
Lets look at your music – The morals of the God-believing Taliban is to outlaw music – listen to music – death, or prison, or whatever their rule was.

Lets look at slavery – the morals of God fearing southern plantation owners – slavery is OK?
Lets look at Baptist, or Lutheran, or Catholic Newt Gingrich – how many wives, but it’s OK?  (A world’s great bullshit artist running for president of the U.S.)
Let's look at African christians burning people that are thought to be witches - OK?

There are good rules and bad rules, and the rules keep changing – think things through, and fight to keep the rules you think are good, and be prepared to change your mind.
It’s a mixed up world Hobbes – good luck.  Live the way you want.  I think you are correct - No universal rules do exist and right and wrong are blurred all the time.   

Fortunately enough people are interested in trying to make and enforce good rules.  If you believe in god, and you are correct - god is not helping you with the rules. (See slavery, Newt, etc. above)
 
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Offline jtp56

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #26 on: January 24, 2012, 07:44:05 PM »
<snip>
humanity's need to preserve itself
<snip>

That's why. If you don't follow society's rules, you will not not get the chance to pass on your genes (which is a very basic biological impulse we have), so you follow them, except in the event where following said rules would lower your chances of survival. That said, there are outliers to that logic.

Why does humanity need to preserve itself?  Many species have become extinct for whatever reason.  So why do we need to survive?  Where did this "impulse" of survival come from?  Did those species that are now extinct have this same instinct?  Hmmmm, there are outliers? 
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

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Offline jtp56

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #27 on: January 24, 2012, 07:45:48 PM »
You are correct that no universal standard can exist.  However, I fail to see why this will inevitably lead to chaos.  Please explain.

I think that hobbes and people who share his view of subjective morality seem to think that if there isn't a single, universal constant for something, that it becomes pure chaos. The problem, of course, is that they ignore the fact that while there might not be a constant law for something, there are general rules that most people agree on (democracy is based on the opinion of the majority, for better or for worse).
Think of it as the scenario in "The Matrix" - 99% of subjects accepted it. 1% did not. The 1%, if left unchecked, would result in chaos. That's why there were protocols in place to take care of those outliers. Same thing applies here. We have laws BECAUSE there isn't a universal morality. If there were, we wouldn't need to tell people how to behave.

So you are saying we need to tell people how to behave?
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Offline jtp56

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Re: More on Morality
« Reply #28 on: January 24, 2012, 07:49:26 PM »
I'm saying that this one's better because it provides a universal standard that is objective and not based on someone's biased assumptions about life.

Azdgari already explained why there's no such thing as a "universal moral standard".

But you said: "Same thing applies here. We have laws BECAUSE there isn't a universal morality. If there were, we wouldn't need to tell people how to behave."  So is "we" a universal moral standard?
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.