Another attack on moral subjectivism
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02-07-2015, 07:11 PM
Another attack on moral subjectivism
Another way of thinking about what I'm saying/postulating/asking, could a human free of societal influence ever develop the complex behaviors and views we have today? Or are those complex views and behaviors facilitated by the existence of society?

(Or to put it another way, if we have seen further, perhaps it is because we stood on the shoulder's of giants. Maybe that applies to the rise of and complexity of morals/traditions/beliefs)

Being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets
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02-07-2015, 09:39 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(02-07-2015 07:08 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  On point 1) You don't think your number 1 requires other people,
I can have empathy for a cat, for a fish, even for an insect.
I can (creatively) have empathy for abstracts such as mother nature (a beautiful stream) and feel guilt for polluting it (even if I'm not considering the creatures that live in it or drink from it.
(02-07-2015 07:08 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  And why would that matter for morality at the individual level of survival is the goal?
If I have enough empathy, I personally could feel distraught from witnessing suffering. I might feel better if I can stop the suffering.
From an individual survival perspective I might benefit from supporting/developing a culture of helping others when they are in need because there will be times when I am in need.
But empathy isn't always logical, it doesn't always lead to my own survival.
(02-07-2015 07:08 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  2) where do traditions come from? (Do non-social or non-societal animals have traditions?)
I don't know if non-social animals have traditions or not.
It is easier to tread a known path than to intrepidly explore a potential new path.
(02-07-2015 07:08 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  4) why would a non-social animal ponder on any philosophical issues? How does that lead to morals? (My guess is you'd end up equating this to your point 1)
Philosophy has many applications. Theoretical physics is a form of philosophy. It helps us discover more about the universe. It's not a particularly society based thing.
If we take a look at our history. Perhaps consider a family being a group and consider there to be other families within the vicinity. There are limited resources so we might compete against each other for food and water etc. We might raid each others houses (or caves depending how far back we go). Ultimately we figure out that the biggest and strongest family wins and the weaker families lose.
But then some smart cave man decides to join forces with another family, they decide to then raid the big and strong family and take all their stuff and share it between them.
Other families copy this pattern and groups get bigger and bigger until we get kingdoms. Then kingdoms raid kingdoms stealing land, food, gold, women, slaves...
Then they build ships and travel to new lands and take from the primitive natives.
Sounds like human history right? Has nothing to do with morality right?
Ultimately we stop invading when our enemies are too strong, when we can't afford to lose our soldiers and we don't have enough people to occupy and control our conquered foes.
Especially when our foes have nukes.
So where does morality come into all of this? At what stage does a society become moral? It doesn't. Some people may believe in morality as being something important. Those weaker people, the slaves etc, they want others to think that enslaving them is immoral, because that is a way out for them. They can't fight their way out so they try philosophy and psychology.
Leaders consider that "morality" might help them control the people so they promote it. Religions consider that they can get much money and control by selling morality so they use it.
Ultimately it is a concept that some people have realised they can exploit.

But the concept itself isn't dependent upon society.
The concept is merely a distinction between choices believed to be right or wrong.
You can apply it to a single isolated person, to a person's actions towards a bird's nest, a person's actions towards another person (of the same or even a different society).


You could ask how did we develop numbers, or we developed shapes or how we developed the concept of art. You could then go down the path that only humans have developed these things, that humans live in societies and that we learned from each other, you could ask why would a non social animal develop the concept of numbers.
But I don't think this addresses the real question.
Numbers aren't derived from a society. A lone person can look at an apple tree and count the apples.
In the same way, morality isn't derived from a society. A lone person can feel guilt for breaking their own perceived moral obligation.


(02-07-2015 07:08 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  5) religious or societal teachings. (Religion being a societal construct)
Sure but not everyone is religious. A religious group does not represent society as a whole. The morals proposed by the religious group aren't indicative of society.
You cannot derive my own morals based on knowledge of the morals taught by the religious group. You cannot derive my own morals based on a majority view of the individuals within my society.
My morals cannot be derived from society. I don't have any.
I don't think at any particular point in time I could derive what the morality is of a particular society.
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03-07-2015, 03:03 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(02-07-2015 02:17 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  If you don't think that there is an unwritten agreement that you have entered into with society, go to any human society today and just start doing what you deem necessary to survive based on your personal opinions and see how long you're tolerated.

"Yep, this house looks good, I'll just take this. I personally feel I should reproduce, that woman looks good, I'll just mate with her. Hey! Why are you people so mad?!!! I am just acting morally based on my personal opinions!!!!!!"
If I want to survive I need to not paint a target on myself. If I act in a way that threatens the survival of others then I am a danger to each individual, they will seek to remove me as a danger because they also want to survive.

It has nothing to do with moral beliefs. They won't remove me because I am immoral, they would remove me because I endanger their survival.

It's not a mere matter of opinion. If I kill, rape or assault people then I am a threat to their survival.

This is quite different for example from the belief that gay marriage is immoral. Gay marriage isn't a threat to individuals survival. If people try to stop gay marriage then it is for the sake of something other than survival or safety.

I think you will find that generally, non religious people's moral beliefs often boil down to the survival aspect. We want to outlaw things that are a danger to us, but if it is something that is perceived as strange or weird or unnatural we tend not to interfere unless we see a danger to ourselves.
This is why I think that survival is often conflated with the idea of morality. Even you, fell for this conflation (somewhat) in this comment about "well if morality doesn't exist, if there is no unwritten social contract then why don't you just rape someone?"
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03-07-2015, 01:29 PM (This post was last modified: 03-07-2015 01:32 PM by Chas.)
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(01-07-2015 01:44 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  
(01-07-2015 01:27 PM)Stevil Wrote:  " tacit agreement, social contract, "
These are imaginary right? Things that have never been agreed upon, never discussed, never signed off.

"empathy" is a personal emotion and has nothing to do with agreement or defining right and wrong for society or between two people.

"cost/benefit" not sure where you are going with that one.

"Negotiated agreement", sure if you draw up a legal contract you are bound by law to adhere to the contract, to be compliant to the contract, but I don't know what that has to do with morality.

Did people agree or sign a contract to start thinking Flannel clothing was cool? When ripped jeans were being worn by lots of people was there a universal conscientious among everyone that it was something popular? Are skicaps called Toques or Beanies? Depends on where you are from and when you are from.

Yes - it is dependent on the particular society, culture, sub-culture.

Quote:These themselves of course aren't moral quandaries but these are social ideas that spread the same way. The differences are moral questions are going to be more along, is this thing harmful, is it fair, is it respectful, does it break tradition... and more along that lines of dealing with moral values.

Morality is evolved behaviour; our (generally) common moral sense is innate - that is, it evolved.

Quote:This is how society functions and feeds off itself. Yes, it starts with individuals having their own ideas and those influence others, who influence many more and comes back to that person and ideas alter and shift over time. I don't know what it is anymore that makes you seem resistant to thinking these types of processes exist.

Where did I say they don't exist? Consider

Quote:Yes this is morality in a "descriptive" as they call it sense. If you want to say Morality is only Morality in this world of Oughts and absolute topics then you're limiting actual philosophically and socially defined ideas of what morality is for only 1 angle upon what it is.

Yes, I am. There is not, and cannot be, any absolute morality. There is no source for it, no place for it to reside.

What feels to people like absolute morality is the strong common moral sense that evolved.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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03-07-2015, 02:47 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(03-07-2015 01:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  Yes - it is dependent on the particular society, culture, sub-culture.


Morality is evolved behaviour; our (generally) common moral sense is innate - that is, it evolved.
The idea that morality is dependent on society and culture is in direct conflict with the idea that morality is an evolved innate sense.

I mean if you are a person that follows trends and trying to adapt to popular views then perhaps you do follow/accept a moral standard that you percieve as being representative of a majority of individuals within your society. This means that as the trends change, you adapt and change your moral beliefs with it. This means that you are observing, learning and adapting. It is a learned behaviour (nurture)

If something is an innate and evolved then it is built into your DNA. You are born with it. An individual does not evolve, evolution changes from generation to generation. This is a nature rather than nurture explanation.

When I was young and stupid, I used to think the world was black and white and revolved around me. As many kids do, I picked on kids that were "different". The thought of two boys kissing was totally gross to me. Not something I'd consider doing, not even if you paid me heaps of money. (Does this mean my innate sense of morality was telling me that gay was immoral?)
As I grew up, I became less black and white, less judgmental, and lost the idea that my own emotional reaction to something determined whether it was moral or not. I learned through introspection that gay was none of my business, was no threat to me, and hence whether it was moral or immoral was not my place to determine. I later gave up on the whole ridiculous idea of judging things as moral or immoral.

Anyway, I evidently lost my "innate moral sense" and am now much more tolerant and embracing of diversity.



(03-07-2015 01:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  What feels to people like absolute morality is the strong common moral sense that evolved.
But this ignores the fact that many people differ with regards to moral beliefs therefore it isn't common.
And it ignores the fact that people can change their beliefs and can be taught moral beliefs.
How on earth it can be considered as "innate", "common" or "evolved" defies all the evidence we have regarding the diversity and changeability of people's moral opinions.
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03-07-2015, 04:01 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(03-07-2015 02:47 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(03-07-2015 01:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  Yes - it is dependent on the particular society, culture, sub-culture.


Morality is evolved behaviour; our (generally) common moral sense is innate - that is, it evolved.
The idea that morality is dependent on society and culture is in direct conflict with the idea that morality is an evolved innate sense.

I didn't say it was. Re-read what I actually wrote.

Quote:I mean if you are a person that follows trends and trying to adapt to popular views then perhaps you do follow/accept a moral standard that you percieve as being representative of a majority of individuals within your society. This means that as the trends change, you adapt and change your moral beliefs with it. This means that you are observing, learning and adapting. It is a learned behaviour (nurture)

Which has what to do with anything?

Quote:If something is an innate and evolved then it is built into your DNA. You are born with it. An individual does not evolve, evolution changes from generation to generation. This is a nature rather than nurture explanation.

Evolution has given Homo sapiens an innate moral sense - not morals, not morality.

Quote:When I was young and stupid, I used to think the world was black and white and revolved around me. As many kids do, I picked on kids that were "different". The thought of two boys kissing was totally gross to me. Not something I'd consider doing, not even if you paid me heaps of money. (Does this mean my innate sense of morality was telling me that gay was immoral?)

This is just silly.

Quote:As I grew up, I became less black and white, less judgmental, and lost the idea that my own emotional reaction to something determined whether it was moral or not. I learned through introspection that gay was none of my business, was no threat to me, and hence whether it was moral or immoral was not my place to determine. I later gave up on the whole ridiculous idea of judging things as moral or immoral.

Anyway, I evidently lost my "innate moral sense" and am now much more tolerant and embracing of diversity.

I rather doubt it. I suspect you still feel that wanton killing is wrong.

Quote:
(03-07-2015 01:29 PM)Chas Wrote:  What feels to people like absolute morality is the strong common moral sense that evolved.
But this ignores the fact that many people differ with regards to moral beliefs therefore it isn't common.

Moral sense, not moral beliefs.

Quote:And it ignores the fact that people can change their beliefs and can be taught moral beliefs.

Moral sense, not moral beliefs.

Quote:How on earth it can be considered as "innate", "common" or "evolved" defies all the evidence we have regarding the diversity and changeability of people's moral opinions.

Moral sense, not moral beliefs.

Studies have shown that people generally have similar moral/ethical judgments regardless of culture or religion. The studies use simple moral problems such as variations on The Trolley Problem.

People's beliefs are built from a variety of inputs from society on top of their basic moral sense of empathy, fairness, etc.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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04-07-2015, 03:58 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(03-07-2015 04:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  People's beliefs are built from a variety of inputs from society on top of their basic moral sense of empathy, fairness, etc.
It seems your idea of "moral sense" is somewhat similar to Tomasia's. He also thinks that human's have a moral sense. Perhaps he is aligned with many other Christians whom believe that we have morality imprinted on our (metaphorical) hearts. They of course would consider this moral sense as a way to discover their god's moral laws.
You are suggesting that we somehow have moral rights and wrongs evolved into our DNA, manifesting as a "moral sense" in the form of empathy, etc.

I can't quite work out, regarding evolution, how one "moral sense" could advantage an individual and give that individual reproductive advantage over the other individuals within it's own species.

But regardless, empathy isn't a moral sense. I can easily have empathy for a mother crying over her still born child. Nothing remotely immoral occurred and yet I have feelings of empathy.

You pooh-pooh my childhood thoughts that perhaps because I found gay sex to be yuckky that perhaps it is my moral sense telling me it is immoral. This really does sound like a no true scotsman argument. Of course you feel that you are the one who gets to decide if it really was a moral sense or not that I had experienced.
Unless you can offer an objective method in order to discover
1. how we can distinguish moral senses from things that are not moral senses.
2. How we can objectively and accurately interpret moral senses.
Then what you say about moral sense is pure speculation.


Regarding a sense of fairness, I don't know why some people assume the universe ought to be fair. Fairness isn't a characteristic of the universe nor should it be. Some kids get cancer and die young, some people get to live to an old age. Some people have lots of money, some people have none, some people get lucky and win a lottery, some people get unlucky and lose a lifetime's effort of hard sweat and toil due to circumstances beyond their control.
I can understand why many Christians like to believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell as a manifest of their desire for fairness. Especially when they sacrifice so many things in order to be "good".

But life isn't fair, and if you go around thinking it ought to be then perhaps you are likely to let jealousy get the better of you, perhaps you may think life owes you and that things will just fall into your lap, because why should others have it and not you.
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04-07-2015, 07:22 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(04-07-2015 03:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  
(03-07-2015 04:01 PM)Chas Wrote:  People's beliefs are built from a variety of inputs from society on top of their basic moral sense of empathy, fairness, etc.
It seems your idea of "moral sense" is somewhat similar to Tomasia's. He also thinks that human's have a moral sense. Perhaps he is aligned with many other Christians whom believe that we have morality imprinted on our (metaphorical) hearts. They of course would consider this moral sense as a way to discover their god's moral laws.
You are suggesting that we somehow have moral rights and wrongs evolved into our DNA, manifesting as a "moral sense" in the form of empathy, etc.

I can't quite work out, regarding evolution, how one "moral sense" could advantage an individual and give that individual reproductive advantage over the other individuals within it's own species.

But regardless, empathy isn't a moral sense. I can easily have empathy for a mother crying over her still born child. Nothing remotely immoral occurred and yet I have feelings of empathy.

You pooh-pooh my childhood thoughts that perhaps because I found gay sex to be yuckky that perhaps it is my moral sense telling me it is immoral. This really does sound like a no true scotsman argument. Of course you feel that you are the one who gets to decide if it really was a moral sense or not that I had experienced.
Unless you can offer an objective method in order to discover
1. how we can distinguish moral senses from things that are not moral senses.
2. How we can objectively and accurately interpret moral senses.
Then what you say about moral sense is pure speculation.


Regarding a sense of fairness, I don't know why some people assume the universe ought to be fair. Fairness isn't a characteristic of the universe nor should it be. Some kids get cancer and die young, some people get to live to an old age. Some people have lots of money, some people have none, some people get lucky and win a lottery, some people get unlucky and lose a lifetime's effort of hard sweat and toil due to circumstances beyond their control.
I can understand why many Christians like to believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell as a manifest of their desire for fairness. Especially when they sacrifice so many things in order to be "good".

But life isn't fair, and if you go around thinking it ought to be then perhaps you are likely to let jealousy get the better of you, perhaps you may think life owes you and that things will just fall into your lap, because why should others have it and not you.

Morality is a human creation based on our predilections and emotions. There is no other source than that. The whole objective/subjective argument is a red herring.

I suggest you learn more about evolution.




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04-07-2015, 08:40 AM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
(04-07-2015 03:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  But life isn't fair, and if you go around thinking it ought to be then perhaps you are likely to let jealousy get the better of you...
Or, maybe
(04-07-2015 03:58 AM)Stevil Wrote:  But life isn't fair, and if you go around thinking it ought to be then perhaps
...you'll try to improve the quality and circumstance of life for other people around you.

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04-07-2015, 12:19 PM
RE: Another attack on moral subjectivism
Is stoning women to death for adultery in Saudi Arabia correct if that's what their moral sense tells them?

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