A Challenge for Moral Realists
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06-01-2016, 02:41 PM (This post was last modified: 06-01-2016 02:45 PM by Stevil.)
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(06-01-2016 02:20 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  I've felt guilty over taking an orange instead of one of the two bananas sitting there
Perhaps because you feel it to be selfish and wrong for you to take the last one.

(06-01-2016 02:20 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  I've felt guilty about being in a building while 7 people were murdered in the building next door.
This is an interesting one though. You felt guilty for having been privileged to live on where, for no reason, others have died.
Perhaps you feel you don't deserve to have been privileged. You don't feel that your own life is more worthy than those that have died. Perhaps you feel it is wrong for you personally to be privileged over others. Perhaps this is where your guilt came from?
I also don't happen to think that "life should be fair". In this way I don't feel guilt for being privileged and I don't feel jealous for being under privileged. Sometimes shit just happens, even to those that don't "deserve" it. Sometimes people take actions which increase there chances of things happening to them, sometimes they just get lucky (or unlucky). There doesn't have to be justice or fairness in the universe. We just have to play with the cards that we are dealt, sometimes we can make something of a shit hand, sometimes we can't.



(06-01-2016 02:20 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  I'm not along that lines in viewing it but it's a concept with more depth than I think you keep wanting to discuss it as.
I do consider that I go into great depth with thinking about these things, but I also put great effort into removing the noise. I think we can often get confused by the noise. Rather than working out how to cancel out the noise.

A workmate once told me something
"Sorry for writing such a long email, I didn't have the time to write a short one"
What I take from that, is that it takes effort to simplify things, to reduce the noise.

(06-01-2016 02:20 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  That same goes for morals as well which is the point of this going to that step. It can be something more than the generic perceived religious notion of moral good & evil.
Yes, the religious notion of morals is pretty fucked up, but it takes effort to workout an understanding of people's morality that includes both theistic and non theistic concepts of this landscape.
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07-01-2016, 07:10 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(06-01-2016 01:50 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I imagine this is what it may be like to be an adult theist. They have been nurtured by religious organisations to feel guilt for almost everything.

Is that true for your theists friends, that they feel guilty for almost everything? Or just true for your imaginary theist?

Quote:I want my kids to learn that it is OK to make mistakes, that there is nothing to feel guilty about, that mistakes are a natural part of live. We trying things, we assess the outcome, we adjust or change accordingly. "mistakes" aren't things to be avoided, they are instead learning opportunities.

To recognize a mistake, you'd have to acknowledge you've done something wrong, regardless of we mean wrong in a moral sense of not. If your child participated in bullying a kid so baldy that the kid committed suicide, she could be entirely indifferent about it. Not remorseful, not even believing she was mistaken, or wrong in what she did. She might justify her actions, claiming the child should had thinker skin, that her behavior is whats kids do for fun, or that she deserved it, that she's happy she killed herself.

Perhaps you'd pat her on the back and commend her being able to brush it off, perhaps you'd let her own justification go by without reproach from you. But at this point we'd likely be speaking of a child who's probably a sociopath, and a father whose not far from that himself. This likely to not be you of course, but the point stands.

Concepts like guilt are not dependent on whether your hold some philosophical position that morality doesn't exist, you can't believe that all you want of course, but that's just a casual thing you do, which likely has less influence in dictating feelings of guilt, or remorse than for any other human beings. Being a sociopath is not a matter of beliefs. The beliefs didn't produce the sociopath. For the man who lacks empathy, remorse for taking innocent life, it's underlying aspects that make him a sociopath that led him to those beliefs he holds in the first place, not the other way around.

If on a late night binge, while driving home drunk, you run over a mother and a daughter walking home, killing them both. Even though you don't believe you did anything morally wrong, would you be likely to feel guilt, and remorse for your actions? Surely. We have terms for those we don't, like sociopath.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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07-01-2016, 03:47 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(06-01-2016 01:50 PM)Stevil Wrote:  I imagine this is what it may be like to be an adult theist. They have been nurtured by religious organisations to feel guilt for almost everything.

Is that true for your theists friends, that they feel guilty for almost everything? Or just true for your imaginary theist?
If you don't think that guilt is an aspect of religious life then good for you. Or perhaps this is one of your rabbit holes where you accept that guilt is a tool used by your church but you just want to try to put me on the spot for making a claim. I don't know but I don't care.
I'm giving you a perspective, my own perspective. You may want to do a google search for Catholic and guilt and see what you get. I don't consider this to be an issue with Catholicism only. But a tool used by many Christian organisations.


You may want to refer to scripture Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 28:26
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

"Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered."

But of course, who knows how you interpret those passages, perhaps you take them to mean the complete opposite of what I read them as.

(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  To recognize a mistake, you'd have to acknowledge you've done something wrong, regardless of we mean wrong in a moral sense of not.
Non optimal, or something that has lead to some issues that I don't desire, hence perhaps with full knowledge I would have preferred to trying something different to what I actually did. Was that not obvious?

(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  If your child participated in bullying a kid so baldy that the kid committed suicide, she could be entirely indifferent about it. Not remorseful, not even believing she was mistaken, or wrong in what she did. She might justify her actions, claiming the child should had thinker skin, that her behavior is whats kids do for fun, or that she deserved it, that she's happy she killed herself.
Yeah, many kids can be pretty mean, have low EQ, tease others for being different.
If my kid did do this, I wouldn't take her to the village elders and get her stoned to death. I wouldn't label her an evil child, I wouldn't get her exorcised from demon possession.

I might perhaps discuss with her how she might make friends if she is being mean to others. But actually, I think I've possibly done a great job as a parent.

My kid won the "values" award for year 2 at her school despite my lack of beliefs in morality and despite my lack of teaching her wrong from right. Fancy that. A kid with amoral upbring, appearing to be a "good" kid. Wouldn't ave you thought she would have been the school bully, a disobedient and unruly child? It seems that we don't need moral beliefs to behave amicably within society. Either that or she does have moral believes despite my lack of teaching them (Who knows?). One thing is for sure. She doesn't believe in gods.

(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Perhaps you'd pat her on the back
Perhaps your an idiot.


(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  But at this point we'd likely be speaking of a child who's probably a sociopath, and a father whose not far from that himself. This likely to not be you of course, but the point stands.
Your point completely goes over my head. What point is it that you are trying to make?

(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Being a sociopath is not a matter of beliefs. The beliefs didn't produce the sociopath. For the man who lacks empathy, remorse for taking innocent life, it's underlying aspects that make him a sociopath that led him to those beliefs he holds in the first place, not the other way around.
i'm not sure what you are on about. Why are you talking about sociopaths and lacking empathy? The discussion is about guilt and morality.


(07-01-2016 07:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  If on a late night binge, while driving home drunk, you run over a mother and a daughter walking home, killing them both. Even though you don't believe you did anything morally wrong, would you be likely to feel guilt, and remorse for your actions? Surely. We have terms for those we don't, like sociopath.
I don't drink much these days. And I don't drink and drive, I need my license in order to maintain my job, I don't want to crash and kill myself or go to jail for killing others.

It is hard to put myself in this situation, but I'd probably be terrified of going to jail.
Would I feel guilt for having killed the other people? Maybe, I'm not sure (it certainly would be a test of my lack of moral beliefs). Or would I think it was unlucky that I had the crash? Or would I think the alchohol impared my decision making and that I had an over inflated opinion of my driving ability at the time. Perhaps I would take it as a learning lesson not to drive drunk in the future.

But as I have said, I already know not to drive drunk. I can foresee these consequences and I can act according to these foreseen consequences.
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08-01-2016, 05:56 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
I think feeling guilt, regret, and remorse is simply a part of the human experience.

I think we've all done things we wish we hadn't (except perhaps the occasional psycho/sociopath), and guilt/regret/remorse are simply the words we use to describe the emotions we experience when that happens.

I feel those emotions all the time, yet I don't believe that anybody has ever done anything "wrong", just things they with they hadn't.

My 2 cents.
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09-01-2016, 12:43 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(08-01-2016 05:56 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I think feeling guilt, regret, and remorse is simply a part of the human experience.

I think we've all done things we wish we hadn't (except perhaps the occasional psycho/sociopath), and guilt/regret/remorse are simply the words we use to describe the emotions we experience when that happens.

I feel those emotions all the time, yet I don't believe that anybody has ever done anything "wrong", just things they with they hadn't.

My 2 cents.
I'm not a psycho/sociopath and I don't make wishes about changing past events. Whatever is done is the past, you can't change that. It is only ever a lesson for the future. Mistakes happen, shit happens.

I don't beat myself up because I am not a bad person (I'm not good either though).
There is no point dwelling on the past, no point beating yourself up. No point having regrets, no point having guilt.

Of course others may want to see that you feel guilt and remorse, they want to be assured that you won't fuck them over again.
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09-01-2016, 06:24 AM (This post was last modified: 09-01-2016 06:44 AM by Matt Finney.)
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(09-01-2016 12:43 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-01-2016 05:56 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I think feeling guilt, regret, and remorse is simply a part of the human experience.

I think we've all done things we wish we hadn't (except perhaps the occasional psycho/sociopath), and guilt/regret/remorse are simply the words we use to describe the emotions we experience when that happens.

I feel those emotions all the time, yet I don't believe that anybody has ever done anything "wrong", just things they with they hadn't.

My 2 cents.
I'm not a psycho/sociopath and I don't make wishes about changing past events. Whatever is done is the past, you can't change that. It is only ever a lesson for the future. Mistakes happen, shit happens.

I don't beat myself up because I am not a bad person (I'm not good either though).
There is no point dwelling on the past, no point beating yourself up. No point having regrets, no point having guilt.

Of course others may want to see that you feel guilt and remorse, they want to be assured that you won't fuck them over again.

I don't think you would ever identify any action as a "mistake" without first feeling some kind of regret/remorse/guilt.

I agree, it doesn't do any good to dwell on the past. Most of us achieve this through some kind of grieving process. But just because it doesn't do any good, doesn't mean we can just switch it off entirely. Perhaps some people can control their emotions like that, but I would guess that most can't. An analogy would be that a desire for sex doesn't do any good when one isn't trying to make a baby, but how many people can just "switch" that desire on or off? Maybe some, but I would venture to guess not many.

I think it's just a basic human emotion and part of the human experience (of course there are always exceptions).
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09-01-2016, 06:29 AM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
I don't see how you conclude it becomes a "lesson" if there was no mistake/regret/guilt/remorse element to it.

It's not something you're evaluating as a lesson or remembering/learning point to "improve" or not do again. It's not that you have to remain in some state of regret for ages upon it, but something caused you to say that was less than optimal. There is something of that

But it also goes to your evaluation of what the desired or preferred is. What you think is more optimal or just what you think suits you.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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09-01-2016, 01:18 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I don't think you would ever identify any action as a "mistake" without first feeling some kind of regret/remorse/guilt.
When I get a math problem wrong, I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt. I just recognise that I made a mistake.
When I overcook my steak I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt but I recognise that I have made a mistake.
When I yell at my kid I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt but I recognise that I have made a mistake.
I'm not sure why you assume that regret/remorse or guilt must be a consequence of all mistakes.

Perhaps you beat yourself up on all mistakes that you make. I don't expect myself to be perfect. I expect to make mistakes although I try not to.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I agree, it doesn't do any good to dwell on the past. Most of us achieve this through some kind of grieving process.
I don't go into grief simply because I have made mistakes, that actually seems silly.


(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  But just because it doesn't do any good, doesn't mean we can just switch it off entirely.
I'm not switched off.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Perhaps some people can control their emotions like that, but I would guess that most can't.
I struggle with controlling my "frustration" emotion.
I struggle with controlling my "sympathy" emotion. I almost always cry at funerals. I can't watch operations on tv.

But I don't appear to experience guilt anymore, because I don't believe I have moral obligations, I don't believe in immorality, AND I don't expect that I can change the past AND I don't feel there is any value in WISHING that I could change the past AND I accept that I am not perfect AND I recognise that it isn't my place to please others or live up to the expectations of others. I just instantly accept my own mistakes (even if I recognise them as mistakes), I don't need to grieve, I don't need to beat myself up or get over the self disappointment of making mistakes. I instantly accept that I make mistakes, I expect it of myself, I have no reason to be disappointed in myself, I instantly move forward. I don't dwell.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  An analogy would be that a desire for sex doesn't do any good when one isn't trying to make a baby,
I don't understand this as an analogy. I don't see sex as having an inherit purpose. I don't have sex purely to make babies. The vast amount of times I have sex I have been trying not to have babies.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  but how many people can just "switch" that desire on or off? Maybe some, but I would venture to guess not many.
But I can switch off my desire for sex. I have never desired to have sex with my friend's girlfriends or ex-s. I just consider it too complicated. I have never desired to have sex with others since I got married. I still consider many woman to be sexy and I still make women as friends, I just have no desire to get physical with them. I consider it off bounds, because I don't need that complication in my life. I don't give it a second thought, I don't wish I could or fantasize about it, what would be the point?
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09-01-2016, 01:22 PM
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(09-01-2016 06:29 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  I don't see how you conclude it becomes a "lesson" if there was no mistake/regret/guilt/remorse element to it.
I don't equate mistake with the feelings of regret, guilt or remorse.


(09-01-2016 06:29 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  It's not that you have to remain in some state of regret for ages upon it
You don't have to feel regret at all, not even for a brief moment.

(09-01-2016 06:29 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  , but something caused you to say that was less than optimal. There is something of that
Sure, if my goal is to bring my children up to be confident, and independent and to enjoy life and my action has caused them to be over cautious then I adjust, I change my approach with them. I don't feel remorse or guilt, I don't have regrets, I just accept that my past approach wasn't optimal and I try a different approach in future.


(09-01-2016 06:29 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  But it also goes to your evaluation of what the desired or preferred is. What you think is more optimal or just what you think suits you.
There is no difference.
What I think is optimal IS what suits me.
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09-01-2016, 02:18 PM (This post was last modified: 09-01-2016 02:26 PM by Matt Finney.)
RE: A Challenge for Moral Realists
(09-01-2016 01:18 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I don't think you would ever identify any action as a "mistake" without first feeling some kind of regret/remorse/guilt.
When I get a math problem wrong, I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt. I just recognise that I made a mistake.
When I overcook my steak I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt but I recognise that I have made a mistake.
When I yell at my kid I don't experience regret/remorse or guilt but I recognise that I have made a mistake.
I'm not sure why you assume that regret/remorse or guilt must be a consequence of all mistakes.

Perhaps you beat yourself up on all mistakes that you make. I don't expect myself to be perfect. I expect to make mistakes although I try not to.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I agree, it doesn't do any good to dwell on the past. Most of us achieve this through some kind of grieving process.
I don't go into grief simply because I have made mistakes, that actually seems silly.


(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  But just because it doesn't do any good, doesn't mean we can just switch it off entirely.
I'm not switched off.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Perhaps some people can control their emotions like that, but I would guess that most can't.
I struggle with controlling my "frustration" emotion.
I struggle with controlling my "sympathy" emotion. I almost always cry at funerals. I can't watch operations on tv.

But I don't appear to experience guilt anymore, because I don't believe I have moral obligations, I don't believe in immorality, AND I don't expect that I can change the past AND I don't feel there is any value in WISHING that I could change the past AND I accept that I am not perfect AND I recognise that it isn't my place to please others or live up to the expectations of others. I just instantly accept my own mistakes (even if I recognise them as mistakes), I don't need to grieve, I don't need to beat myself up or get over the self disappointment of making mistakes. I instantly accept that I make mistakes, I expect it of myself, I have no reason to be disappointed in myself, I instantly move forward. I don't dwell.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  An analogy would be that a desire for sex doesn't do any good when one isn't trying to make a baby,
I don't understand this as an analogy. I don't see sex as having an inherit purpose. I don't have sex purely to make babies. The vast amount of times I have sex I have been trying not to have babies.

(09-01-2016 06:24 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  but how many people can just "switch" that desire on or off? Maybe some, but I would venture to guess not many.
But I can switch off my desire for sex. I have never desired to have sex with my friend's girlfriends or ex-s. I just consider it too complicated. I have never desired to have sex with others since I got married. I still consider many woman to be sexy and I still make women as friends, I just have no desire to get physical with them. I consider it off bounds, because I don't need that complication in my life. I don't give it a second thought, I don't wish I could or fantasize about it, what would be the point?

Interesting.....you can turn off regret/guilt and sexual desire, but not sadness and frustration. Perhaps you just need more practice?

We're probably just playing a game of semantics here, but I would label your identification of an action that you later found to be less than optimal as regret/remorse/guilt.

I guess what I really wanted to point out is that someone can be a moral nihilist like yourself, and still experience the broad range of human emotions that are experienced by most.

One doesn't have to have a belief in real morality to feel guilt, shame, joy, love, sadness, etc.....I think in large part, experiencing a broad range of emotion just comes with being human.

Also, " I don't see sex as having an inherit purpose".

Reproduction. Reproduction is the inherent purpose of sex. Sex is where babies come from. Most of us experience sexual desire even when it contradicts our desire to not get pregnant (most of us can't just switch it off). Similarly, most of us experience guilt even though we'd rather not experience it.

Who knows? Maybe you just have an abnormal brain? Some people seemingly can't experience empathy (psychopaths), and maybe there is an abnormality in your brain that inhibits feelings of regret/guilt?
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