Challenge to proponents of objective morality
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
08-08-2017, 12:09 AM
Challenge to proponents of objective morality
This is a challenge to anyone who thinks that morality is objective, whatever morality may mean to them.

1) Define what morality means. How do you determine how moral or immoral an action is?

2) Describe any situation you like, which contains some sort of conflict of interest between outcomes.

(So this could be a case of limited resources, interdependency between outcomes, the "lesser of two evils", and so on. In other words, it's not a very simply case like, "do this bad thing or don't do it".)

3) Explain how you can resolve this situation according to your definition of morality, to find the objectively most moral (or perhaps least immoral) action to take.

(This should, of course, not make use of any subjective value judgements or interpretations of concepts that aren't explicitly defined in part 1.)

Have fun!

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Robvalue's post
08-08-2017, 04:34 AM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2017 04:45 AM by Thoreauvian.)
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
(08-08-2017 12:09 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  This is a challenge to anyone who thinks that morality is objective, whatever morality may mean to them.

1) Morality is the name we give to considerations and actions that promote thriving and prevent suffering. Morality is relative and objective rather than subjective, since it depends on individual needs which are established by biology.

2) To illustrate this, think of two children. One has peanut allergies. Both are hungry. You only have peanut butter sandwiches to offer. What do you do?

3) It is moral to give one child a peanut butter sandwich and immoral to give one to the second who has peanut allergies. This shows how morality can be both relative and objective. It helps establish priorities.

Because of this relativity, the considerations of morality can be almost infinitely complex. The fact that moral considerations are complex and often obscure because of a lack of information does not mean they are merely subjective -- a matter of personal tastes or cultural indoctrination alone. We become more objective in our morality over time as we learn more.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 5 users Like Thoreauvian's post
08-08-2017, 07:26 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
I don't see any conflict here. Both cases can easily be resolved individually by "do a good thing or not", or "do a bad thing or not".

If the conflict is meant to be with the hunger, then I don't understand how you objectively decide that making a child continue to be hungry is worse than potentially causing them an allergic reaction. They are both unpleasant. Being hungry and not having any food is suffering. Who decides which is worse?

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-08-2017, 07:35 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
(08-08-2017 07:26 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  If the conflict is meant to be with the hunger, then I don't understand how you objectively decide that making a child continue to be hungry is worse than potentially causing them an allergic reaction. They are both unpleasant. Being hungry and not having any food is suffering. Who decides which is worse?

Perhaps I wasn't clear in my simple example. Making a child continue to be hungry is better than potentially killing them with an allergic reaction. After all, they may get fed elsewhere. That's why I said that such a definition helps you establish priorities as well -- more versus less suffering for instance.

Of course all of such moral considerations are necessarily vague and subject to disagreements because of various factors. One, we rarely if ever know all the relevant facts. Two, we rarely if ever are purely motivated by rational considerations, so subjectivity creeps into all our moral decisions. Three, we are talking about potential future results of actions, which are always more complex than we can estimate. For these reasons, even the most moral person at best only achieves a good batting average of moral behavior.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-08-2017, 07:48 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
I don't agree that you can objectively say it's better. Maybe better in regards to the kid surviving (or maybe not depending on whether it can actually get any other food). But how do you objectively compare suffering and lifespan?

For example, I'd rather die right now than face a single day of torture. If someone has to make that choice for me though, is it objectively more moral to put me through the suffering? I'd say not. If you didn't know which I preferred, you're essentially gambling on which you think I'd prefer. So what is the deciding factor? Is it what I want to happen to me? Or is it determined by the actual suffering versus lifespan comparison?

What happens if it's an adult in the previous example, who decides they want the sandwich? Should you withhold it?

At what age does what the person want become more important? Or does it not matter?

There's way too many factors, in my opinion, to ever put forward a "best" action. There's no objective criteria.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-08-2017, 08:01 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
(08-08-2017 07:48 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  There's way too many factors, in my opinion, to ever put forward a "best" action. There's no objective criteria.

While some situations are too complex to agree about, many if not most are not. And again, complexity is not itself an argument against objectivity per se, it is an argument of why we will never agree on what is objective. That we can't know in detail the objective world doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

It always surprises me that so many atheists think morality is merely subjective when they typically agree that there is an objective world and that people are material beings with material interests in that objective world.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Thoreauvian's post
08-08-2017, 08:05 AM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2017 08:11 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
Agreement is not the problem; it's coming up with some sort of criteria. Who draws the lines in the sand? At best it can be an average of opinions.

I agree complexity is not an argument against objectivity, but it is an obstacle because to be objective it must all be able to be resolved. That requires direct comparisons of many different factors, and someone would have to decide how much each is "worth".

But if you agree that even some situations are not objectively resolvable, then you agree morality isn't objective, even regarding your own definition. So then you agree with me Smile I'm not saying it's arbitrary though, either; although we only care about each other because we do. There's no objective way of making an argument why anyone should care about anything.

(I want to add, before anyone thinks I'm a nut case, that I would totally agree with you that not giving the sandwich is the action I would take. But my point is that it's a judgement, and even if almost everyone would agree, I don't see how you can objectively compare suffering to survival without coming up with an arbitrary criteria. If the suffering caused by the allergic reaction was worse anyway than the hunger [although how do you compare different types of suffering!?] then it's no longer a conflict at all and can be simple resolved.)

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-08-2017, 08:23 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
I want to give you props Thoreauvian for being the first person to ever answer this question, the many times I have asked it.

(One religious nut job did answer once before, but what he said was so stupid I'm not counting it.)

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Robvalue's post
08-08-2017, 08:47 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
(08-08-2017 12:09 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  This is a challenge to anyone who thinks that morality is objective, whatever morality may mean to them.

1) Define what morality means. How do you determine how moral or immoral an action is?

2) Describe any situation you like, which contains some sort of conflict of interest between outcomes.

(So this could be a case of limited resources, interdependency between outcomes, the "lesser of two evils", and so on. In other words, it's not a very simply case like, "do this bad thing or don't do it".)

3) Explain how you can resolve this situation according to your definition of morality, to find the objectively most moral (or perhaps least immoral) action to take.

(This should, of course, not make use of any subjective value judgements or interpretations of concepts that aren't explicitly defined in part 1.)

Have fun!

Morality is a code of values to guide one's choices and actions, the choices and actions that will determine the course his life takes.

The standard of morality is man's life as a rational, individual being. Whatever supports that life is the good. Whatever harms it is the evil. Note the term "rational" in my definition. Its important because reason is man's basic tool of survival. Therefore whatever reason needs to function is a necessity for man's life. This rules out the irrational as any kind of value.

I don't accept the premise of your criteria for an example. I don't believe there are any conflicts of interest among rational men, men who do not seek the unearned.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes true scotsman's post
08-08-2017, 11:31 AM
RE: Challenge to proponents of objective morality
(08-08-2017 08:05 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Agreement is not the problem; it's coming up with some sort of criteria. Who draws the lines in the sand? At best it can be an average of opinions.

But if you agree that even some situations are not objectively resolvable, then you agree morality isn't objective, even regarding your own definition.

You don't seem to realize that some choices are morally equivalent, which is to say there is no best answer because the results are similar. You don't have to come up with criteria differentiating such choices at all.

An average of informed opinions is not at all the same as an average of just any opinions at all. Some people are stuck on dogmas of one kind or another, and are therefore useless to real, complex (and difficult) moral considerations.

I do not agree that morality isn't objective, even if all the answers are beyond our current information. As I said, the world is objective and there are real answers out there, even if we don't know them yet. Objective morality is always a work in progress.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Thoreauvian's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: