A Challenge for Moral Realists
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25-12-2015, 01:32 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(24-12-2015 03:58 PM)DLJ Wrote:  
(23-12-2015 03:34 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  ...
It's objectively wrong to torture babies just for fun.

And I can think of example where it would be the right thing to do.

Next?

Drinking Beverage


Agreed.

If having fun torturing a baby still somehow resulted in a net gain of alleviation of pain and suffering (I'll leaving it up to your imagination to create such a weird convoluted hypothetical)?

Moral absolutism exists inside a conceptual vacuum where actions only have a limited number of consequences, which given even our current limited understanding of determinism, belies an infantile understanding of reality. All actions derive from prior actions (insofar as we are concerned), and likewise will have repercussions that ripple on long past them. All we can hope to do is try our best to assess and gauge such actions and their consequences, and judge them according to our somewhat agreed upon moral and ethical systems. Our understanding, knowledge, and perception will always be limited; and thus so will our moral and ethical reasoning and understanding. Combine that with our evolved penchant for empathy (or it's lack thereof, known as psychopathy) and how it is expressed (diminishing returns over a greater number of individuals), and we'll probably always be wrestling with such questions.


Even if we were capable of the empathy and ethical understanding on a global scale (let alone a universal scale required for anything coming close to an 'objective' understanding of anything, including morality and ethics), we'd all probably stop procreating, fighting, redistribute our resources, and unite under the ideals of equality and progressiveness in the name of continued survival.

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25-12-2015, 04:06 AM (This post was last modified: 25-12-2015 09:05 AM by DLJ.)
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(24-12-2015 09:47 PM)Fatbaldhobbit Wrote:  
(24-12-2015 03:58 PM)DLJ Wrote:  And I can think of example where it would be the right thing to do.

I gotta ask...

Morals / ethics are tied to principles / values / goals.

In the Governance models that I teach, Goals are categorised as:
Intrinsic
Contextual
Security-related.

Words like 'subjective' and 'objective' are reserved as descriptors for metrics i.e. qualitative or quantitative.

Do I think there are any 'intrinsic' ethics? Nope. But let's play along anyway...

So is there a goal that would require a practice of killing babies for fun? Sure there is.

If you are
a) earmuffs and you are hell-bent on world domination or
b) Moses hell-bent on being the dominant tribe of the region or
c) Napoleon in Animal Farm,
you will groom your
a) minions or
b) Jewish storm-troopers or
c) pack of young dogs
to enjoy killing.

FFS, in Moses's case, he (assuming he was a real person, which I doubt) even said killing babies was god's command.

If you can train a group of psychopaths from a young age to actually enjoy it, so much the better.

Of course you are doing the right thing because
a) the world will be better when you are running it
b) the other tribes are evil (fuck those Alamakites; they deserved it!)
c) communism FTW.

Big Grin

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25-12-2015, 05:27 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
Dlj, you have failed miserably. You're clearly very confused about morality. Reminds me of when evolutionkills tried to tell me that sometimes lying is moral, and other times it isn't, as if he was revealing a fact. As if real morality is situation dependent, instead of nonexistent.
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25-12-2015, 05:35 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(25-12-2015 05:27 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Dlj, you have failed miserably. You're clearly very confused about morality. Reminds me of when evolutionkills tried to tell me that sometimes lying is moral, and other times it isn't, as if he was revealing a fact. As if real morality is situation dependent, instead of nonexistent.


You are an idiot. Facepalm

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25-12-2015, 06:01 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(24-12-2015 09:25 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  
(24-12-2015 08:15 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  The real argument, and I think moral reflective atheists philosophers are aware of this, is not whether morality is objective or subjective, but whether morality is truly objective, or just an illusion, like we might say of free-will.


Nice double-speak there... Facepalm

Short answer: Morals are human constructs. The universe doesn't give a shit about us, and if we didn't exist, neither would our various moral and ethical systems.

This is true, but I would add that our morals also have a biological, therefore evolutionary, basis.

It is on this foundation that we construct the various edifices of moralities.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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25-12-2015, 01:19 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(25-12-2015 06:01 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(24-12-2015 09:25 AM)EvolutionKills Wrote:  Nice double-speak there... Facepalm

Short answer: Morals are human constructs. The universe doesn't give a shit about us, and if we didn't exist, neither would our various moral and ethical systems.

This is true, but I would add that our morals also have a biological, therefore evolutionary, basis.

It is on this foundation that we construct the various edifices of moralities.

well it does have an evolutionary basis as culture, knowledge, ideology all go extinct if there is no one for them to get passed on to
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25-12-2015, 03:22 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(25-12-2015 05:27 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Dlj, you have failed miserably. You're clearly very confused about morality. Reminds me of when evolutionkills tried to tell me that sometimes lying is moral, and other times it isn't, as if he was revealing a fact. As if real morality is situation dependent, instead of nonexistent.

So if you lie to protect someone, that would be immoral?

The gun-toting, murder-bent domestic-abusing neighbor is beating on your door. Do you lie about the location of their abused spouse you are hiding? What is the moral decision?

Everything is situational. There is no magic book of answers that apply to every situation. Some codes of ethics are a good start, but sooner or later you are going to have to put on your grown-up underpants and think for yourself.

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Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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26-12-2015, 08:52 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(25-12-2015 03:22 PM)Fatbaldhobbit Wrote:  
(25-12-2015 05:27 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Dlj, you have failed miserably. You're clearly very confused about morality. Reminds me of when evolutionkills tried to tell me that sometimes lying is moral, and other times it isn't, as if he was revealing a fact. As if real morality is situation dependent, instead of nonexistent.

So if you lie to protect someone, that would be immoral?

The gun-toting, murder-bent domestic-abusing neighbor is beating on your door. Do you lie about the location of their abused spouse you are hiding? What is the moral decision?

Everything is situational. There is no magic book of answers that apply to every situation. Some codes of ethics are a good start, but sooner or later you are going to have to put on your grown-up underpants and think for yourself.

As far as I cans tell, there is no moral obligation to do anything at all. There are never any actions that are either moral or immoral. All morality is subjective, so it doesn't really make sense to call it morality, but rather "preference".

There is no moral obligation to behave ethically or fairly. Sometimes humans are nice, sometimes they are mean, that's it. It doesn't mean they are supposed to be nice, and it doesn't mean they should be mean. We are merely describing what "is" not what "should be". The "should be" part can never be anything other than subjective preference. Now, you put on your grown-up underpants and quit believing in magic-morality.
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26-12-2015, 06:10 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(26-12-2015 08:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  As far as I cans tell, there is no moral obligation to do anything at all. There are never any actions that are either moral or immoral. All morality is subjective, so it doesn't really make sense to call it morality, but rather "preference".

There is no moral obligation to behave ethically or fairly. Sometimes humans are nice, sometimes they are mean, that's it. It doesn't mean they are supposed to be nice, and it doesn't mean they should be mean. We are merely describing what "is" not what "should be". The "should be" part can never be anything other than subjective preference. Now, you put on your grown-up underpants and quit believing in magic-morality.
The "should be" is promulgated by the society the individual is living in. The "should" is most often driven by what sustainably promotes the sort of civil society that most members of most societies prefer to live in.

Most civil societies sanction murder and theft, and protect their young. These policies are so universally regarded as necessary in so many societies that they are virtually universal and enshrined in civil law.

The moral absolutist fears their society could promote things they are conditioned to find repugnant, such as cannibalism I suppose or (to some people) gay sexuality or whatever. But the reality is that societies that promote ethics and standards that make too many people unhappy loose their cohesion. Societies don't change rapidly and don't change randomly. Western society is not likely to suddenly decide to legalize cannibalism because literally no one desires it. It has decided after quite a bit of deliberation to legalize gay relationships because most people, including heterosexuals, now deem it necessary to societal cohesion and general fairness, etc.; the only holdouts are people with arbitrary dogmas to defend which now are at odds with society -- or at least the society of 2015 as opposed to 1965.

Morality is simply the informal and formal consensus of society about what is in its best interests to promote or discourage. Nothing more. But of course in practice it ends up looking and feeling like relatively objective and clear cut morality, and then along comes theism and hijacks it and claims to be its inventor and protector.
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27-12-2015, 05:11 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(26-12-2015 06:10 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(26-12-2015 08:52 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  As far as I cans tell, there is no moral obligation to do anything at all. There are never any actions that are either moral or immoral. All morality is subjective, so it doesn't really make sense to call it morality, but rather "preference".

There is no moral obligation to behave ethically or fairly. Sometimes humans are nice, sometimes they are mean, that's it. It doesn't mean they are supposed to be nice, and it doesn't mean they should be mean. We are merely describing what "is" not what "should be". The "should be" part can never be anything other than subjective preference. Now, you put on your grown-up underpants and quit believing in magic-morality.
The "should be" is promulgated by the society the individual is living in. The "should" is most often driven by what sustainably promotes the sort of civil society that most members of most societies prefer to live in.

Most civil societies sanction murder and theft, and protect their young. These policies are so universally regarded as necessary in so many societies that they are virtually universal and enshrined in civil law.

The moral absolutist fears their society could promote things they are conditioned to find repugnant, such as cannibalism I suppose or (to some people) gay sexuality or whatever. But the reality is that societies that promote ethics and standards that make too many people unhappy loose their cohesion. Societies don't change rapidly and don't change randomly. Western society is not likely to suddenly decide to legalize cannibalism because literally no one desires it. It has decided after quite a bit of deliberation to legalize gay relationships because most people, including heterosexuals, now deem it necessary to societal cohesion and general fairness, etc.; the only holdouts are people with arbitrary dogmas to defend which now are at odds with society -- or at least the society of 2015 as opposed to 1965.

Morality is simply the informal and formal consensus of society about what is in its best interests to promote or discourage. Nothing more. But of course in practice it ends up looking and feeling like relatively objective and clear cut morality, and then along comes theism and hijacks it and claims to be its inventor and protector.

IMO morality should die when religion dies. It seems to me that what you're talking about could be better described as what is "legal" and/or "socially acceptable". With morality being the notion that there are certain things that a person should and shouldn't do simply because of their nature. I just don't believe in any kind of concept of right and wrong. I don't believe that any action can possess the quality of rightness or wrongness, and I don't believe that there is any obligation for humans or other animals to be nice to other humans/animals. It's only my preference to love and care for my dog, while killing other animals and eating their flesh. There's no right or wrong part of the equation. Selecting which animals are allowed to live is really no different than selecting which humans (which are also animals) get to live.

Atheists who believe in morality are inconsistent and confused. You hear lots of atheists claiming things like "an atheist is a better person because he does good for goodness sake, instead of fear of eternal punishment," without realizing that "good" is purely subjective. They will also talk about "evil" things done in the name of religion, as if they have the knowledge that some things are "good" or "evil" and that they know which actions are good/evil.

I would even go further than tomasia's "baby torturing." How about total destruction of earth. Suppose a person had the ability to totally destroy every living thing on this planet. Why would that be wrong?
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