Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
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07-12-2014, 02:27 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
    Highly recommend this book. Lots of great evidence on the pillars of our evolved morality and how it shapes our ideas about politics and religion.
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07-12-2014, 02:46 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
Hello! Big Grin

Welcome to the forums. Finally got a moment between shifts.


(06-12-2014 08:59 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?

Yes, yes we do. Though not necessarily as 'atheists' but simply as people.



Much cheers to all.
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07-12-2014, 03:35 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
WTF... did Mom shine a light in the basement? All you crack smokers scurrying out of there like cockroaches.

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07-12-2014, 03:40 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
Ok, let's start over.

Quote:Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?

Yes. Empathy, which is inherent in most people. That's where our morals come from. Like poop comes from food. It's 100% natural and uncontrolled.

Quote:This then leads to the subjective morals, but these too have a certain hypocrisy to them, if morality depends on the person, what legitimacy do you have to attempt to enforce it on the world, what reason do you have for that morality?

We simply agree not to harm each other, because we don't want to get harmed and we don't enjoy seeing others suffer. How much simpler can that be?

The people who don't care about the pain of others are a small minority and they are sociopaths, which means they are not healthy for society.

Quote:Why not simply subjectively reject morals and live a sociopathic life where you gain conscious control over you empathy.

Because our morals are based on empathy, and we can't simply control our empathy, it's instinctive.

Now what were you exactly trying to argue for in this thread?

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07-12-2014, 04:03 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(07-12-2014 03:40 AM)undergroundp Wrote:  Because our morals are based on empathy, and we can't simply control our empathy, it's instinctive.

Now what were you exactly trying to argue for in this thread?

As a side note, empathy can be molded. People can increase their empathy, usually through greater education and understanding. Likewise your empathy can be destroyed or curtailed, such as with in-group-out-group thinking. This can be rather easily abused by those in positions of authority (religious figures, political figures, family, etc.) to mold other people's behavior to their advantage.

When a military trains you up for war, they need to you to not empathize with the enemy. One has to wonder if this is one of the problems with trying to fight insurgent groups that blend in with a society, as it's not so easy to flip that empathy switch on and off in a way that would be conducive to the operation. You want people who are able to pull the trigger without a second thought in a firefight, but that mentality doesn't make for the best cross culture bridge-builders, police, and liaisons.

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07-12-2014, 05:18 AM
Re: RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(06-12-2014 08:30 PM)tear151 Wrote:  
(06-12-2014 08:28 PM)CleverUsername Wrote:  ...How is that a hand wave? "I don't want this done to me, therefore I will not to it to others" seems perfectly logical and valid to me.

No because I can simply say I dont care about other people, its circular and assumes you are moral anyway.

Its a guiding principle for the already "well intentions", its not really an argument.

Its irrelevant If you care about others. The system if those rules point is you care about yourself but understand how social behavior works. That "golden/silver" rule idea is that you act "moral" because it benefits you, not because you actually care for anyone.

As a philosophy student, this mainly is still what was sussed out in the 18th century area with the likes of Locke and Hobbes.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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07-12-2014, 05:42 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(07-12-2014 05:18 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  That "golden/silver" rule idea is that you act "moral" because it benefits you, not because you actually care for anyone.

Uhm I'm not a philosophy student, but I am not so sure about that. I mean, it does apply some pressure on your own empathy though and stimulates it. Someone with an egoistic personality wouldn't still care regardless, I suppose.

However since you understand the consequences of your actions, because you apply them to yourself, it increases your understanding of others' situations. I find that to be the strength of the golden rule.

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07-12-2014, 05:57 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(07-12-2014 05:42 AM)The Polyglot Atheist Wrote:  
(07-12-2014 05:18 AM)ClydeLee Wrote:  That "golden/silver" rule idea is that you act "moral" because it benefits you, not because you actually care for anyone.

Uhm I'm not a philosophy student, but I am not so sure about that. I mean, it does apply some pressure on your own empathy though and stimulates it. Someone with an egoistic personality wouldn't still care regardless, I suppose.

However since you understand the consequences of your actions, because you apply them to yourself, it increases your understanding of others' situations. I find that to be the strength of the golden rule.

Moral responsibility only extends as far as your knowledge allows. This is why we don't hold animals and children to the same standards we expect of adults. A young enough child can be forgiven for not understanding how their actions affect others in the same way a reasonably educated adult should. Likewise those suffering from a stunted understanding (whether intentional or not) should not be held to the same standard, as they lacked the capacity to understand. This is why there are often exceptions made for those suffering from learning or mental disabilities, because it would not be just to apply a standard to them they are unable to comprehend.

Likewise, if you can get a selfish unsympathetic asshole to understand just how their actions affect others, and if you can show them how not being a dick results in net positive gains for themselves, you can still get moral and quasi-empathetic behavior out of an ostensibly selfish prick.

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07-12-2014, 07:42 AM (This post was last modified: 07-12-2014 07:54 AM by Hafnof.)
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
There are always multiple levels to moral questions. Here is my rough rundown.
Level 1. Consequentialism.
- I want to live in a society that treats me well
- Not knowing what role I will play in society into the future that essentially means that I want to live in a society where everyone is treated well. If I am unemployed in the future or old or infirm I still want to be treated well. In designing or envisaging a future form of my society I fundamentally want everyone to be treated well.
- Therefore, I should act in a way that at best causes and at worst does not prevent my society from being that society
Level 2. Social contract.
- We are all social loafers at certain times and to certain degrees. We all do less than we could to bring about the society we want to live in.
- However, if too much loafing goes on then the society we want to see will never emerge or will cease to be
- Therefore we have a mutual obligation to each other not to loaf excessively, but to dedicate a portion of our energies to building and maintaining the society we want to live in.
Level 3. Golden Rule etc
- A core property of being treated well is to be treated with empathy and fairness. If for the most part we comply with our social obligation to "do unto others" then the fundamental consequence of a society we want to live in can in principle be achieved.
- Given the negative effects of excessive social loafing we are also justified in bringing direct consequences to bear on those that do loaf excessively, thereby increasing the keenness by which they understand and are aware their social contract obligation in order to achieve the consequence of a livable society.

This moral hierarchy ends up falling out pretty naturally. It is something we have evolved to understand for the most part, although our wiring for in group and out group behaviours tends to work against our best interests as a society as much as empathy works for our best interests.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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07-12-2014, 07:54 AM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(06-12-2014 08:59 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Generally I dont see wats warranted any hostility other thsn my ideas being surface level Abhorent. There is similarity in the anger shown toward me in this thread that coming out as an atheist caused in theistic ones, people dont.like their sacred cows questioned.

No. Your ideas are not "surface level abhorrent". They're just stupid. No one here has any "sacred cows". Nice try at rationalization. Fail.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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