Atheism and morality
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23-05-2015, 05:12 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 04:05 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I've noticed that many atheists believe in an absolute morality. That is, that some things are "really right" and others are "really wrong" regardless of any particular human's opinion.
That is not an endorsement of absolute morality, it is a statement of such a person's personal convictions.

I don't know any fellow atheists who believe in absolute morality.

I think that my position is fairly typical. Morality is an emergent property of societal interaction. The level and universiality of consensus on some matters within a society and even between societies is very high because the harms are clear and easy to agree on. So at one extreme, murder and pedophilia are pretty universally panned but at the other extreme, dress codes and table manners vary a great deal.

Regardless of all that, none of this prevents you, I or anyone else from having strong opinions about rightness and wrongness, potentially grounded in nothing more than personal taste or preference, because even atheists aren't entirely rational.
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23-05-2015, 06:33 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_scie...anguage=en

Here Sam Harris asserts that values can be reduced to facts. I'm a big fan of Sam Harris, but I have to disagree with him here. What do you guys think?
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23-05-2015, 06:36 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 06:33 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_scie...anguage=en

Here Sam Harris asserts that values can be reduced to facts. I'm a big fan of Sam Harris, but I have to disagree with him here. What do you guys think?

I agree with him.
Which part do you disagree with and why ?

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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23-05-2015, 06:49 PM (This post was last modified: 23-05-2015 07:03 PM by Matt Finney.)
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 06:36 PM)Rahn127 Wrote:  I agree with him.
Which part do you disagree with and why ?

I don't agree that values can be reduced to facts.

For example, at the end of his presentation, he asserts that the amount of skin that should be concealed by a woman is a knowable fact. He compares the extreme of American culture to the opposite extreme of Afghanistan women who cover themselves from head to toe. If I'm interpreting him correctly, he suggests that the correct amount of woman-skin-coverage is somewhere inside that spectrum and that it can be known, and that science will show it to us in the future.

I take the viewpoint of the "typical scientist" that he talks about in the beginning when he compares Ted Bundy to the Dalai Lama. I believe that it simply doesn't make any sense to talk about these kinds of things in terms of "right" and "wrong".
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23-05-2015, 06:57 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 06:33 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_scie...anguage=en

Here Sam Harris asserts that values can be reduced to facts. I'm a big fan of Sam Harris, but I have to disagree with him here. What do you guys think?

So... Sam Harris is the 'many' atheists of which you speak?

It's probably best not to confuse 'is' with 'ought'.

Whether one uses pleasure / pain, or well-being or whatever as one's measuring stick, one can only ever get comparatives.

Matt Dillahunty and Michael Shermer have also agreed with Harris and called this 'objective' morality but none would say 'absolute' morality ... and there's a big difference.

So, these metrics are 'objective' comparatives, yes but it is still subjective to argue that, as you point out, the universe gives a shit about humans.

(btw, I've made this point to Matt and he agreed)

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23-05-2015, 07:02 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
It depends on the atheist.
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23-05-2015, 07:15 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 06:57 PM)DLJ Wrote:  So... Sam Harris is the 'many' atheists of which you speak?

There are more lol...

You hear people say things like, "you don't have to know god to know right from wrong," as if to suggest that right and wrong are things that can be known.

You also hear, "when nonbelievers do good, it's only because it's good, there's know expectation of reward in an afterlife," as if to suggest that actions can be good or evil.

You hear lots of atheists say these kinds of things in debates. I can try to find some if you all haven't heard these kinds of things.

Maybe it's just a pet peeve I have with the way people talk.
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23-05-2015, 07:24 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 07:15 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  You hear people say things like, "you don't have to know god to know right from wrong," as if to suggest that right and wrong are things that can be known.
You're overthinking it or being overly literal about it, or both. This is just shorthand for saying that god is not a necessary entity to have moral convictions. It says nothing about whether those convictions are objectively "correct".
(23-05-2015 07:15 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  You also hear, "when nonbelievers do good, it's only because it's good, there's know expectation of reward in an afterlife," as if to suggest that actions can be good or evil.
This just speaks to motivation. Do you do good because an invisible celestial peeping tom is watching, judging and smiting, or because you have an actual moral conviction that it's right?
(23-05-2015 07:15 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Maybe it's just a pet peeve I have with the way people talk.
Maybe it is.
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23-05-2015, 07:33 PM (This post was last modified: 23-05-2015 08:12 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 07:15 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  ...
You hear people say things like,
...

Yup. No need to find citation ... I get what you mean now.

Fair enough but, as Mordant points out, this is short-hand for comparatives ... and does not infer belief in 'absolutes' (to which you referred in the OP).

Tongue

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23-05-2015, 07:39 PM
RE: Atheism and morality
(23-05-2015 06:33 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_scie...anguage=en

Here Sam Harris asserts that values can be reduced to facts. I'm a big fan of Sam Harris, but I have to disagree with him here. What do you guys think?

I think I don't get give a shit what Sam Harris thinks outside of his field of expertise. What is he, a neuroscientist? I'm interested in what he might have to say about balancing my neurotransmitters but he ain't got no special knowledge of nor specific training in metaphysics. I'm far more interested in what the housofcantor has to say.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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