An Essay on the Moral Argument
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17-07-2017, 10:41 AM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
I almost never get presented with any scenarios where there is some conflict of outcomes, from people advocating for objective morality. It's always "do some obviously retarded thing, or don't do it".

Only one time that I can recall did someone attempt to give an answer to an actual conflict. They said they would resolve it in whatever way gave them more glory before God (I forget the exact phrasing). In other words, whatever gave them the most credit regardless of how anyone else got affected.

If an objectivist (is that a word?) wants to display how to resolve a genuine conflict of outcomes in a way that doesn't involve some sort of subjective evaluation, I'd be very interested. Any example you like.

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17-07-2017, 10:59 AM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(17-07-2017 10:41 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I almost never get presented with any scenarios where there is some conflict of outcomes, from people advocating for objective morality. It's always "do some obviously retarded thing, or don't do it".

Only one time that I can recall did someone attempt to give an answer to an actual conflict. They said they would resolve it in whatever way gave them more glory before God (I forget the exact phrasing). In other words, whatever gave them the most credit regardless of how anyone else got affected.

If an objectivist (is that a word?) wants to display how to resolve a genuine conflict of outcomes in a way that doesn't involve some sort of subjective evaluation, I'd be very interested. Any example you like.
I doubt you'll ever get a real world example where it's hard to predict outcomes or it runs very counter to natural impulses. Simplistic understandings of morality require simplistic scenarios.

By the way, Tomasia's "torture innocent babies purely for personal pleasure" is a contrivance I've seen before. I believe apologist Matt Slick uses identical language, and may even be the origin of the thought experiment. It's deliberately contrived. More common is the weaker "you don't think murder is right, do you, now?" which is vulnerable to being nibbled at by edge cases (wartime killings, self-defense, accidents, etc). It is all of the same cloth though, which is to contrive something you can't disagree with without looking like a heartless sociopath, and the hope is you immediately concede the point so they can declare victory for the concept of objective morality as a thing-in-itself that is "out there". This is of course generally a place to squeeze god into the picture as the author and sustainer of morality.

My response to that is to be equally adamant that they respond to ambivalent examples. How about abortion to save a mother's life, for example? How about stem cell research? How do you decide which family member to save from peril when you know you can't save them all? Are social safety nets ethical or do they perpetuate unhealthy dependency? Is it a moral imperative to help the less fortunate or is intervening in their misfortune short-circuiting god's judging to lesson-teaching?
There are any number of moral decisions that involve harm to someone and good to someone else. Just because you can contrive examples where following the precept cannot conceivably have a harmful downside, doesn't mean that's either typical or determinative of some general principle.
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17-07-2017, 01:04 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
There are some clear cut examples of moral failure on a large scale to consider. The GOP's attempt to repeal Obamacare will result in deaths of ten thousand people a year by all accounts by sober experts. Failure to act now on global warming will cause massive problems for future generations. Trump and the GOP's attacks on regulation of industry puts us at risk for problems with clean water, air, food, and medicine.

These sorts of things are not as garish as "torturing infants for fun", but are no less moral issues. If only the Christian right was as concerned with these sorts of real world moral issues now rather than straw men like Sharia Law, PC on campuses and creationism in our schools.

The fact that despite warnings on repealing ACA, the vast majority of GOP senators will still vote for that policy. The immorality of the end result does not deter them.
Why?

Your fifteen minutes as the Buddha are up.

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17-07-2017, 01:38 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(15-07-2017 06:46 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(14-07-2017 01:39 PM)Dr H Wrote:  How do you define a moral belief as "objective"? What real evidence is there?
An objective belief here is one that is either true or false. Imagine if you will a man who believes the earth is flat, his belief may be false, but what it's not is subjective.
It's not a subjective belief that the earth is flat, either it's objectively true, or objectively false.
Whether one believes the Earth is flat or not is not, I think, a moral issue.
Do you assert otherwise?

Quote:The same applies to the bulk of humanity in that they subscribe to some form of objective view or morality.
As you point out, a belief is either "true" or "false". How we determine that it is either true or false, and which it is, rests on demonstrable physical evidence.
To validly assert that someone subscribes to an "objective" morality requires that there be some demonstrable physical evidence to support the assertion.

Quote:You can argue all you what that this belief is not grounded in sound evidence, is unfounded, based on ignorance etc... just like you can in regards to the belief that the earth is flat. But what you can't say is that these beliefs are subjective.
All beliefs are subjective. "Belief" is, in fact, practically the definition of subjective. To have a belief requires the presence of a believer -- a subject.

The question is not about the belief, but about whether what is believed-in exists objectively or subjectively.

In the case of the Earth, the object about which the belief is centered -- the Earth -- exists independently of the believer. The Earth is the shape that it is, regardless of what anyone believes its shape to be; it would be that shape even there were no human beings present to believe anything about it, whatsoever.

Quote:The sort of moral beliefs, positions, views that predominate our world are not subjective. If there is no objective morality, what this would mean is that our moral beliefs are false.
Subjective concepts can also be contextually true or false -- the whole concept of "art" is constructed on that premise. And even if there were such a thing as objective morality, our beliefs regarding it would still be subjective, simply because they are beliefs.

But, as you have yet to give evidence for the existence of an objective morality, the point is moot.

Quote:My point is not to convince you that objective morality is true.
If you don't convince me, then your argument has no basis.

Quote:But if you what to introduce another concept of morality, a subjective version, that version gets a big fuck you. The one you want ground on your own personal whims, the whims of your society, is one only a fool would anchor himself too. The very idea of a subjective morality, is powerless entity, too lackluster and uncomplying to move the things it desires to move. You will not be able to move me one iota with it.
I don't care if I move you one way or the other. You have made some assertions, and I'm interested to see if you can support them with evidence.
If you think you can, I'll consider the evidence.
If you can't, well -- then all you have is your subjective assertions. I guess you'll have to learn to live with that.

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Dr H

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17-07-2017, 01:41 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(15-07-2017 06:53 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(14-07-2017 01:39 PM)Dr H Wrote:  Believing the Earth is flat is objectively wrong because there is real, objective (ie. physical) evidence to the contrary.

How do you define a moral belief as "objective"? What real evidence is there?

One thing I would do is question those who believe that their morality is subjective.

Do you believe morality is a matter of taste, as we might say about one's preferences in music, food, clothing, movies, etc...?
I asked my questions first. When you answer them, I'll answer yours.
For your convenience, I repeat:

>How do you define a moral belief as "objective"? What real evidence is there?<

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17-07-2017, 01:54 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(17-07-2017 05:22 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  It’s objectively true that torturing babies just for fun is harmful.

Whether or not one tortures babies, while a point worthy of consideration, is a pretty narrow point on which to build an entire morality. A moral system needs to be able to proceed from the general to the specific. In order to do so, the system needs to be flexible. If the system is flexible, subjectivity is necessary.

Take a simpler example:

1) Is it objectively immoral to steal?

2) How about a man stealing a loaf of bread from a baker?

3) How about a destitute and starving man stealing the loaf of bread?

4) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to feed a hungry child?

5) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to save the life of a starving child?

6) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to save the life of a starving child that's going to grow up and discover the cure for cancer?

If the answer isn't the same at all levels, your system is not objective.

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17-07-2017, 04:11 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(17-07-2017 01:54 PM)Dr H Wrote:  Take a simpler example:

1) Is it objectively immoral to steal?

2) How about a man stealing a loaf of bread from a baker?

3) How about a destitute and starving man stealing the loaf of bread?

4) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to feed a hungry child?

5) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to save the life of a starving child?

6) How about a destitute man stealing the bread to save the life of a starving child that's going to grow up and discover the cure for cancer?

If the answer isn't the same at all levels, your system is not objective.

Nope, it means it's not absolute. Absolute implies that it can't be relative to a context. Relativism is not the same as subjectivism. X being true given particular conditions, but not true given other conditions, doesn't make it subjective.

The example I used, of torturing innocent children gave the context, "purely for the fun of it". In this scenario is objectively harmful, thereby immoral. If you thinks it subjective please tell me why. Don't bother offering non-contextual, or ambiguous examples of your own, there all beside the point.

"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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17-07-2017, 04:12 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(17-07-2017 01:41 PM)Dr H Wrote:  >How do you define a moral belief as "objective"? What real evidence is there?<

As someone stated previously, harmfulness.

Torturing innocent children purely for the fun of it, is objectively harmful, thereby immoral. Real evidence verifies the harmfulness of this.

"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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17-07-2017, 04:24 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
(17-07-2017 10:59 AM)mordant Wrote:  My response to that is to be equally adamant that they respond to ambivalent examples. How about abortion to save a mother's life, for example? How about stem cell research? How do you decide which family member to save from peril when you know you can't save them all? Are social safety nets ethical or do they perpetuate unhealthy dependency? Is it a moral imperative to help the less fortunate or is intervening in their misfortune short-circuiting god's judging to lesson-teaching?
There are any number of moral decisions that involve harm to someone and good to someone else. Just because you can contrive examples where following the precept cannot conceivably have a harmful downside, doesn't mean that's either typical or determinative of some general principle.

I don't know is the answer to your questions, because your scenarios allow for ambiguity, and multiple perspectives. Two people can reasonably disagree. But again just because many moral questions are ambiguous, (many are not as well) difficult to discern, or reach any real agreement on what's true, doesn't make it subjective. Just like scientific inquiries that allow for multiple interpretations, or are ambiguous, doesn't make the answers subjective.

You think my example, is for the sake of appealing to extremes here. I used my example for no purpose other than to rid the ambiguity. To give a scenario in which no moral good is derived, only harm all the way.

If you believe that the harmfulness, or the wrongness of torturing innocent babies just for fun, is subjective. I wouldn't consider you a psychopath. But the fact that you refuse to answer the questions, leads me to question your belief in subjective morality.

As I pointed the harmfulness of my scenario is objectively true, and therefore immoral. And I have yet to be presented with a valid argument otherwise.

My actual opinion is that folks such as yourself don't actually believe that morality is subjective. That you subscribe to some form of vague objectivism.

"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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17-07-2017, 11:50 PM
RE: An Essay on the Moral Argument
Harming for fun is certainly wrong for humans following the basic idea that the least amount of harm is the higher priority.
If humans are the only creatures in existence then torturing babies for fun could be described as morally objective.

But - to venture into hypothetical territory - the priorities of aliens, gods or devils could differ to a degree where our morality won't apply.
If harm or fun is the desired outcome a standard based on that ideology is required.
I'm not sure how it would work. Still, I can't confidently say there is no way for it to work.

"Throughout history, every mystery, ever solved, has turned out to be; Not magic."
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