An Essay on the Moral Argument
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23-07-2017, 05:02 AM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
Relevant to what?

What I've cited are the core ethical principles espoused in the NT by Jesus. How is that a "take" on Christianity? If someone were to start arguing that one should beat a slave or behave in accordance with OT teachings, then surely the answer is to cite back what their own "god" in human form said.
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23-07-2017, 08:39 AM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
I should add, that in your essay you say this:

"Another possibility is that it's from the Old Testament and therefore no longer applicable according to the New one. If you choose to
go the latter route, well, I can just as easily cite a few very questionable verses from the Gospels too, so for the sake of simplicity, let's not bother trying to draw any hard lines between the Testaments."

I would certainly say that all Christians draw a hard line between the Testaments. That is what distinguishes Christianity from Judaism. The OT contains the Golden Rule so what you suggest is that Jesus is just another prophet reiterating that rule. That's not an accurate reflection of Christian thought. Christians all believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and that his word is the word of God, since he is God. So, when he spells out a moral philosophy which, previously, had only been set out by prophets, you have to take His own word as the definitiv answer. You can't get around that by saying "let's not bother". The rest of the NT is either the sayings of Jesus or the writing of others so you can discount what others, like Paul say. I would also say that there may be other passages in the NT which are problematic and may not be consistent with the morality which Jesus preaches. But then, Jesus wasn't actually a god at all, the NT is not god's word and the people who wrote the NT interpreted the Golden Rule in the context of their time.

I suppose I just don't know where you are going with your argument. On the one hand you address it to fundamentalists who you say treat the OT teachings of beating people with rods as equivalent to the "word of God" through Jesus. You say they are wrong in their promotion of such violent ideas as beating slaves etc.. But, you then try to define Christianity as having to treat the OT in the same way as the NT. I don't know of any Christians who would agree with you and I think the better route is to point out that if they do say there is no line between the OT and the NT, then they aren't actually understanding what Christianity is about.

You seem to set up a straw man, ie., a Christian who treats the NT and OT as on a par with each other. Then you knock him down and refuse to allow any argument that Christianity is radically different from what is preached in the OT. Maybe there are Christians who think that way about their religion, but if they don't understand the difference between Christianity of the NT and OT Judaism, then they just aren't very bright and I wouldn't waste any time on them.

For my own part, I prefer to be described as a "rational humanist", not a Christian. I believe that Christian moral philosophy comes from Greco-Roman thought, particularly Epicureanism, and that Christianity is not and never was a "sect" of what we now know as "Judaism". It's an entirely constructed religion.
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23-07-2017, 06:05 PM (This post was last modified: 23-07-2017 06:09 PM by Glossophile.)
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(23-07-2017 08:39 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  I would certainly say that all Christians draw a hard line between the Testaments. That is what distinguishes Christianity from Judaism. The OT contains the Golden Rule so what you suggest is that Jesus is just another prophet reiterating that rule. That's not an accurate reflection of Christian thought. Christians all believe that Jesus is God incarnate, and that his word is the word of God, since he is God. So, when he spells out a moral philosophy which, previously, had only been set out by prophets, you have to take His own word as the definitive answer. You can't get around that by saying "let's not bother".

I'm not trying to get around anything. What I've done at the start of my essay is juxtapose an OT verse that many Christians take at face value (Leviticus 18:22) against another verse from the OT for which those same Christians are likely to appeal to context and/or metaphor (Exodus 21:20-21). The question is: how do they know which can be taken rather literally and which one must be taken more contextually and/or figuratively?

The specific versus that I cited are just examples, and the fact that they happen to come from the OT is largely incidental. I could just as easily cite Matthew 5:17-28, juxtapose it against Matthew 10:34-37, and proceed by asking exactly the same question. So switching Testaments will not change the formula or structure of my argument. It will only change the specific details, which are inconsequential to the underlying point being made. That's why I say, "let's not bother."

(23-07-2017 08:39 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  I would also say that there may be other passages in the NT which are problematic and may not be consistent with the morality which Jesus preaches.

As I've just said, there are indeed such verses, and you seem to understand that, so why do you still think it really matters which Testament I draw the examples from?

(23-07-2017 08:39 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  On the one hand you address it to fundamentalists who you say treat the OT teachings of beating people with rods as equivalent to the "word of God" through Jesus. You say they are wrong in their promotion of such violent ideas as beating slaves etc..

No, I don't say they're wrong for promoting slavery, because virtually none of them do so. What I'm saying is that there's a double standard in how they interpret the Bible. What I'm asking is: if they promote homophobia, why do they change their tune so quickly when it comes to slavery? If they can trust Leviticus 18:22 enough to take it literally, why do they immediately start appealing to context and/or metaphor when faced with Exodus 21:20-21. Both come from the same holy book!

Let's apply the same reasoning to the two passages I mentioned from Matthew. Many of the same Christians who accept a straightforward reading of Matthew 5:27-28 will suddenly insist on a more figurative reading when confronted with Matthew 10:34-37. So basically, lustful thoughts are indeed as sinful as lustful actions, but somehow, Jesus does not actually advocate for disowning one's own family in the name of loyalty to him/God. These two passages not only come from the same holy book; they come from the same gospel within that volume!

The point, again, is that restricting discussion to the NT doesn't make any substantive difference in my argument.

(23-07-2017 08:39 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  But, you then try to define Christianity as having to treat the OT in the same way as the NT.

I don't say they have to treat the OT in the same way as the NT. What I do say is that none of the ways in which the OT is different from the NT are really consequential to my point.

(23-07-2017 08:39 AM)Deltabravo Wrote:  Maybe there are Christians who think that way about their religion, but if they don't understand the difference between Christianity of the NT and OT Judaism, then they just aren't very bright and I wouldn't waste any time on them.

Indeed, and the Christians for whom the OT is more than just a historical backdrop are more numerous and influential than you seem to think. That is why I take the time to address their claims.

The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. – Carl Sagan
Sōla vēritās sancta in philosophiā nātūrālī est absentia vēritātum sanctārum.
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστίν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις.
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23-07-2017, 06:16 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
Matthew 15
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free.

Luke 14
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

---

So which command of Jesus do we want to argue is authoritative?

Yog Sothoth! Yog Sothoth! Come back old ones! Yog Sothoth!

Cheerful Charlie
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24-07-2017, 07:34 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(21-07-2017 04:51 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(21-07-2017 12:35 PM)Dr H Wrote:  Your claim presents a context.
I want you to provide evidence of an underlying objective moral basis for that claim, independent of context.

It’s all context dependent, but this doesn’t make it subjective it makes it relative. It negates moral absolutism, it doesn’t negate moral objectivism.
Still waiting for that evidence that supports there being an objective moral basis, for anything.

Quote:It’s not a moral matter, but it is a subjective matter.
Good; we agree on that point, then.

Quote: Since it’s a question of what it means for something to be subjective, then it’s not a red herring.
It is, because the question of whether something is objective is determined by real evidence. We don't need tangential examples of the subjective; we need to see some evidence for the objective.

Quote: In fact your entire notion of subjectivity here appears contradictory and incoherent. Apparently morality is subjective, but a special kind of subjective, unusable in any other context.
Not a "special kind" of anything. Morality is a human concept; it does not exist in the world independently of human minds; therefore it is subjective.

Quote:Harm is an objective scale in variety of scenarios. Such as when it comes to health, the harmfulness of smoking, of eatings food high in sugar, etc….. The fact that many situations regarding one’s health, the harmfulness might not be entirely discernible doesn’t make it subjective.
What is "harm"?

What defines it as "necessarily bad"?

Quote:Again, try and stick with the example where the ambiguity is removed. DO you disagree that torturing innocent babies purely for the fun of it, is objectively harmful?
You have yet to define the key operative terms.

A specific example does not establish the broad claim that "morality is objective". You need to show, by real evidence, what the alleged moral basis is, else you're just arguing in subjective circles.

Quote:And what is your objective measure for "degree of harm”?
Quote:The level of pain, destructiveness, social erosion, suffering, negative effects, on society and people that produces, etc… in comparison to what ever social benefit it has, and contributes to human flourish. In this example any such benefit is annexed by the context of “purely for the fun of it.
OK. That's the closest you've come to a straight answer so far.

And how does one measure "level of pain, destructiveness, social erosion", etc., and in what units is the measurement conveyed. If it's objective this should be an easy question to answer.

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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24-07-2017, 08:13 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(24-07-2017 07:34 PM)Dr H Wrote:  [quote]And how does one measure "level of pain, destructiveness, social erosion", etc., and in what units is the measurement conveyed. If it's objective this should be an easy question to answer.

Well, we probably could attempt to create some scale of that measures the negative effects on society, etc… None of us need such measures to acknowledge the harmfulness of the action though.

Setting aside the moral question, you seem to indicate that harm itself is subjective. If you think the statement that torturing babies just for fun, is subjective, would you say that statements like Global Warming will have a detrimental effect on society is subjective? How about smoking is harmful to your lungs, is that subjective?

Now I would think, that if someone stated that torturing innocent babies just for fun, is not harmful, that they’d be factually incorrect. Are you suggesting that you disagree? That you don’t believe their factually incorrect?

It doesn't seem to me a matter of opinion, a matter of one's personal taste, or feelings, i.e subjective. But what's your view? Is it not objectively true. DO you believe that whether or not it's harmful, is matter of one's personal feelings, opinions, or taste, and not about what's actually true or not?

"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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24-07-2017, 08:53 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
Is harm some 1 to 1 scale... as in its something harmful or beneficial.. just one or the other?

Could not most things have both positive and negative effects on a level of harming to some degree.

Maybe final warming could lead to changes that at some way kill/starve and change lives reliant on some ways but generates new community growth with all better efforts to create healthier lives.

Was sacrificing innocent babies or virgins for not fun... what consists of fun? Does fun not generate benefitial qualities to society in making people more eased and better socially?

Depends on if there has to be a one of nothing divide.

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"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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25-07-2017, 09:04 AM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(24-07-2017 08:53 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  Is harm some 1 to 1 scale... as in its something harmful or beneficial.. just one or the other?

Could not most things have both positive and negative effects on a level of harming to some degree.
Of course. No one's suggesting that something is necessarily (or even very often) either harmful or beneficial. Indeed ... only a few very primal things like the hypothetical torture of innocents have no conceivable upside for society and even those have a conceivable upside for a few individuals (e.g., sadistic psychopaths).

Morality is just an imperfect societal consensus that the preponderance of evidence shows that the risk of harm is greater than the probability of benefit, in terms of society's collective interest (the sustainable advancement and maintenance of the society).

Implicit in this is that some subgroups and individuals will give up some of what they want / prefer for the sake of the collective good. Or as Spock was wont to say, "the good of the many outweighs the good of the few". Or they will accept some restrictions at least.
(24-07-2017 08:53 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  Maybe final warming could lead to changes that at some way kill/starve and change lives reliant on some ways but generates new community growth with all better efforts to create healthier lives.
Not sure what you mean by "final warning" but it sounds like you agree with the substance of what I wrote above.
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25-07-2017, 03:42 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(24-07-2017 08:13 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(24-07-2017 07:34 PM)Dr H Wrote:  And how does one measure "level of pain, destructiveness, social erosion", etc., and in what units is the measurement conveyed. If it's objective this should be an easy question to answer.

Well, we probably could attempt to create some scale of that measures the negative effects on society, etc… None of us need such measures to acknowledge the harmfulness of the action though.
We probably could. But if the situation were objectively wrong, than an objective measure would already exist. Whether we "need" the measures or not is beside the point: if the concept is objective, then it will be objectively demonstrable, whether or not we need it to be.

Is your claim now, "morality might be objective, but we just haven't discovered for sure"?

Quote:Setting aside the moral question, you seem to indicate that harm itself is subjective.
Definition of 'harm' is certainly context-dependent, and therefore subjective.
Some people believe that spanking children is harmful; others believe that it's a necessary part of their social education, and therefore beneficial.
Some people believe that waterboarding is "torture"; others believe that it's merely an "enhanced interrogation technique".
There is no objective scale for harm.

Quote:If you think the statement that torturing babies just for fun, is subjective, would you say that statements like Global Warming will have a detrimental effect on society is subjective? How about smoking is harmful to your lungs, is that subjective?
That some things have objective physical consequences says nothing about the moral value of those situations.

And just because something is somehow "detrimental" in a particular context doesn't support the idea that it is objectively harmful. A strong police presence in my neighborhood may be detrimental to my ability to pull off successful burglaries. Is that necessarily harmful? It's a matter of perspective. If I make my living as a burglar, than I certainly might view it as harmful -- to me. OTOH, my neighbors may view it as beneficial. If the "good" or the "bad" of a situation is a matter of perspective, that is a subjective matter.

Quote:Now I would think, that if someone stated that torturing innocent babies just for fun, is not harmful, that they’d be factually incorrect. Are you suggesting that you disagree? That you don’t believe their factually incorrect?
The question to ask is, in the absence of any particular babies being tortured, is there a general, unchanging basis for judging particular acts as "right" or "wrong"?

Quote:It doesn't seem to me a matter of opinion, a matter of one's personal taste, or feelings, i.e subjective. But what's your view? Is it not objectively true. DO you believe that whether or not it's harmful, is matter of one's personal feelings, opinions, or taste, and not about what's actually true or not?
I've already answered in detail.
Attempts to stack the deck not withstanding, you've still not shown evidence of any objective basis for morality. If such a basis exists, you should be able to demonstrate it free from particular individual examples. The closest you've come to stating a general principle is with the notion of "harm", but that concept, too, lacks a solid, objective basis -- at least as you've used it thus far.

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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25-07-2017, 03:49 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(25-07-2017 09:04 AM)mordant Wrote:  Morality is just an imperfect societal consensus that the preponderance of evidence shows that the risk of harm is greater than the probability of benefit, in terms of society's collective interest (the sustainable advancement and maintenance of the society).
Ah! That explains the Southern Baptist prohibition on dancing, then.
Clearly a preponderance of evidence shows that the risk of harm to society from Baptists dancing is far greater than the probability of any benefit. Rolleyes

But seriously, I think you've described a situation that might be nice, but which actually exists far less often than we might like to assume. Yes

--
Dr H

"So, I became an anarchist, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
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