Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
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08-12-2014, 03:28 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:26 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:05 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Weirdly, I find the egoist camp is far more tolerant and accepting than most moralists, Well... not even tolerance, simply indifference and a certain care free attitude to the world.
Yeah, I don't think it is that we don't care per se (apathy) it's just that we tend to respect that others have their own opinions, their own lives and their own choices. It's not our place or (to be more precise) it's not our obligation to interfere. The words "Ego" and "selfish" generally have a poor reputation in public, just as the term "atheist" is seen in poor light in USA. But when you get down to it "egoism" doesn't mean that "I know best". It means that I respect that each person knows best for themselves.

(08-12-2014 03:05 PM)tear151 Wrote:  The freedom from guilt... well not guilt... rather feeling I should be guilty... or responsible for things outside my control... is very liberating.
This is an interesting one too.
I have been on a religious forum where they take this to mean that I don't believe in god or don't believe in morality so that I can behave immorally guilt free.

But of course this isn't the case. I don't believe in god because there is no evidence for it. I don't believe in morality because there is no evidence for it.
A side effect (consequence) of lacking belief in moral obligation is that there are less reasons to feel guilty for my own actions. In contrast the Catholic Church try to make their followers feel guilty for pretty much everything, guilty for having sex, guilty for having "impure" thoughts, guilty for being human. Things that most atheists wouldn't feel any guilt about as these are a natural part of life.

I wouldn't even say a respect for others autonomy, more an indifference, valuing people for the conversation you can have with them and them bringing you joy, I mean think about it, why else are we only nice to friends, we value them for their friendship, not because of their inherent personhood.

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08-12-2014, 03:38 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:26 PM)Stevil Wrote:  But of course this isn't the case. I don't believe in god because there is no evidence for it. I don't believe in morality because there is no evidence for it.
A side effect (consequence) of lacking belief in moral obligation is that there are less reasons to feel guilty for my own actions. In contrast the Catholic Church try to make their followers feel guilty for pretty much everything, guilty for having sex, guilty for having "impure" thoughts, guilty for being human. Things that most atheists wouldn't feel any guilt about as these are a natural part of life.

You think this lesser sense of guilt would also apply to other things beyond sexual behavior if you chose to, like if you chose to keep the money in a wallet you found?
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08-12-2014, 03:38 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:27 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Rather than say what is harmful is bad, I find it would be more logically consistent of you to say "I see other people being harmed, it makes me feel uncomfortable, my will, the shadow puppeteer, the subconscious mind that is not rational, has given me this... discomfort the idea of suffering, thus I rationalise that to feel good I must act in a way that reduces suffering".

Again, no difference in action, just a way of explaining it that doesn't assume anything other than self interest, you don't have to justify what morals are, what good means, what bad means, because what makes you want to avoid displeasure and chase pleasure isn't just something you can turn off. That's just the subconscious mind.

My evidence for that mostly comes from the stuff B F Skinner pioneered and logical arguments for a deterministic universe (A probability tree diagram universe from my study of quantum).

For example

1. The brain is part of the physical world
2. There is no soul
3. The physical world runs on scientific principles that are predictable, like physics

Thus there is no free will as the brain is indistinguishable from any other physical thing.

The reason a person doesn't like seeing others killed is not simply "oh, I have this empathy thing and it causes me discomfort." It's an instinctive cry of your genes shouting "don't let your fellow humans die or you will die too".

It's a matter of survival and sustaining life. It's not just a whim of personal discomfort.

Also, I would like a reply to the issues I addressed before, or at least tell me you aren't going to address them, because I hate feeling ignored. These were:

Quote:Give me one Greek philosopher who claimed that we should focus on others more than we should focus on ourselves.

Quote:And you didn't address my point about the similarity of our ethics and theirs, as well as their irrelevance to religion.

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08-12-2014, 03:42 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:28 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I wouldn't even say a respect for others autonomy, more an indifference, valuing people for the conversation you can have with them and them bringing you joy, I mean think about it, why else are we only nice to friends, we value them for their friendship, not because of their inherent personhood.
Yeah, well, I don't like the term "personhood" I find it rather meaningless. I do use the word "person" but generally because it sounds a bit dicky to say "human" e.g. "I respect that each human knows best for themselves" although more correct sounds a bit odd.


I want to make my own choices, I don't consider that anyone else should make my choices for me. I have lived my life and only I am qualified to make my own choices. I can't see how I could be in a better position to make someone else's choices for them.

For example, perhaps I don't like the idea of late term abortion, but I respect that the impact is on the mother not on me. I feel no moral obligation to save her unborn, so I have no compulsion (other than potentially my emotions) to interfere. I can't justify forcing my own emotions (without, for consistency, opening up myself to be oppressed based on other people's emotional reactions to my own choices) onto this woman, so I am left respecting that it is her who knows best in this situation.
For me "respect" for other people's choices is a direct consequence of my amorality, its not that I am indifferent.

So maybe we have a point of difference here with regards to our respective positions?
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08-12-2014, 03:44 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:38 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:27 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Rather than say what is harmful is bad, I find it would be more logically consistent of you to say "I see other people being harmed, it makes me feel uncomfortable, my will, the shadow puppeteer, the subconscious mind that is not rational, has given me this... discomfort the idea of suffering, thus I rationalise that to feel good I must act in a way that reduces suffering".

Again, no difference in action, just a way of explaining it that doesn't assume anything other than self interest, you don't have to justify what morals are, what good means, what bad means, because what makes you want to avoid displeasure and chase pleasure isn't just something you can turn off. That's just the subconscious mind.

My evidence for that mostly comes from the stuff B F Skinner pioneered and logical arguments for a deterministic universe (A probability tree diagram universe from my study of quantum).

For example

1. The brain is part of the physical world
2. There is no soul
3. The physical world runs on scientific principles that are predictable, like physics

Thus there is no free will as the brain is indistinguishable from any other physical thing.

The reason a person doesn't like seeing others killed is not simply "oh, I have this empathy thing and it causes me discomfort." It's an instinctive cry of your genes shouting "don't let your fellow humans die or you will die too".

It's a matter of survival and sustaining life. It's not just a whim of personal discomfort.

Also, I would like a reply to the issues I addressed before, or at least tell me you aren't going to address them, because I hate feeling ignored. These were:

Quote:Give me one Greek philosopher who claimed that we should focus on others more than we should focus on ourselves.

Quote:And you didn't address my point about the similarity of our ethics and theirs, as well as their irrelevance to religion.

I fail to see the difference to be honest, not wanting to die is a thing of personal discomfort as well surely.

Oh sorry... erm... I'm wrong enlighten me, but no I can't think of a greek philosopher who said that, as far as I know that's a christian idea mainly (In the west at least)

Well yes, they valued similar things as virtuous, but the nitty gritty of their logical arguments is what's been rejected, rather than... the conclusions... Like I don't know, I hate to answer a question with a question again but what similarity is there?

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08-12-2014, 03:46 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:38 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:26 PM)Stevil Wrote:  But of course this isn't the case. I don't believe in god because there is no evidence for it. I don't believe in morality because there is no evidence for it.
A side effect (consequence) of lacking belief in moral obligation is that there are less reasons to feel guilty for my own actions. In contrast the Catholic Church try to make their followers feel guilty for pretty much everything, guilty for having sex, guilty for having "impure" thoughts, guilty for being human. Things that most atheists wouldn't feel any guilt about as these are a natural part of life.

You think this lesser sense of guilt would also apply to other things beyond sexual behavior if you chose to, like if you chose to keep the money in a wallet you found?
Sure. Also if I decide to keep money if I realise I have been undercharged for something.
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08-12-2014, 03:49 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:42 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:28 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I wouldn't even say a respect for others autonomy, more an indifference, valuing people for the conversation you can have with them and them bringing you joy, I mean think about it, why else are we only nice to friends, we value them for their friendship, not because of their inherent personhood.
Yeah, well, I don't like the term "personhood" I find it rather meaningless. I do use the word "person" but generally because it sounds a bit dicky to say "human" e.g. "I respect that each human knows best for themselves" although more correct sounds a bit odd.


I want to make my own choices, I don't consider that anyone else should make my choices for me. I have lived my life and only I am qualified to make my own choices. I can't see how I could be in a better position to make someone else's choices for them.

For example, perhaps I don't like the idea of late term abortion, but I respect that the impact is on the mother not on me. I feel no moral obligation to save her unborn, so I have no compulsion (other than potentially my emotions) to interfere. I can't justify forcing my own emotions (without, for consistency, opening up myself to be oppressed based on other people's emotional reactions to my own choices) onto this woman, so I am left respecting that it is her who knows best in this situation.
For me "respect" for other people's choices is a direct consequence of my amorality, its not that I am indifferent.

So maybe we have a point of difference here with regards to our respective positions?

Hmmm... yes... perhaps... though in some sense I am perhaps being a hypocrite, I value efficiency in the world around me, but is that something I can justify, and truth as well... hmmm... if I admit my attempt at enforcement is because I am trying to coerce people to follow my system for my own benefit... I guess that wouldn't be hypocritical.

Do you have any children at all btw? I don't want to sound overly personal, but how does your amorality apply to your child/ children if you have one/them and a spouse equally? I generally haven't bothered with relationships, I've had a few but I up to now I've found myself incapable getting beyond friends...

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08-12-2014, 03:59 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:44 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I fail to see the difference to be honest, not wanting to die is a thing of personal discomfort as well surely.

Talking about dying as being a "personal discomfort" while being yourself a human is rather... unreal. I can't possibly consider death a "personal discomfort". Rather inappropriate a question, but, has anyone you cared about died? Would you call the feeling simply a "personal discomfort"?

(08-12-2014 03:44 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Oh sorry... erm... I'm wrong enlighten me, but no I can't think of a greek philosopher who said that, as far as I know that's a christian idea mainly (In the west at least)

Well yes, they valued similar things as virtuous, but the nitty gritty of their logical arguments is what's been rejected, rather than... the conclusions... Like I don't know, I hate to answer a question with a question again but what similarity is there?

Well, most well-known Greek philosophers who talked about such issues mentioned the importance of personal happiness and fulfilment. Plato did, Aristotle did, Socrates did. Even Epicurus, the well-known "ancient atheist". I can't think about any philosopher who placed the happiness of others above one's own happiness.

The similarities between our ethics and theirs are many. Valuing justice (even more than love), the importance of friendship and solidarity, striving to be healthy in body and mind, being modest, gathering knowledge and trying to become wiser, appreciating art and science and their importance.

You may have read a lot about glory and bravery as being important, but let's face it, they invested a lot in war and soldiers had to be prepared for death, so it was normal for glory to be hyped up so much.

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08-12-2014, 04:03 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:49 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Do you have any children at all btw? I don't want to sound overly personal, but how does your amorality apply to your child/ children if you have one/them and a spouse equally? I generally haven't bothered with relationships, I've had a few but I up to now I've found myself incapable getting beyond friends...
I have two wonderful daughters, 4 and 6.
I get them to think about consequences rather than tell them that something is good vs bad.

My 6 year old had a boy punch her in the face at school and told me about it at home. I asked her if she wants me to go to school and kill the boy.
She said "no"
I asked "Why not?"
She said "because I don't want you to go to prison."

I'd say that my girl is a thinker and she is very confident regarding making her own decisions.

I also lie to her quite a bit, generally about trivial or ridiculous things, this way she learns not to trust everything people say. She makes assessments as to whether it is likely true or lie. Pretty great for a 6 year old I think. But then again I am her doting dad, I would think that about her.

I think my parenting style will be tested more when she gets older. I've got to say, it is really difficult to know as a parent what approach to take with kids. Probably won't see the results until years later and by then it would be too late to change my style. I'm sure many parents hold self guilt about not knowing the best approach with guiding the kids.
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08-12-2014, 04:03 PM
RE: Do we as atheists REALLY have any basis for morals?
(08-12-2014 03:59 PM)undergroundp Wrote:  
(08-12-2014 03:44 PM)tear151 Wrote:  I fail to see the difference to be honest, not wanting to die is a thing of personal discomfort as well surely.

Talking about dying as being a "personal discomfort" while being yourself a human is rather... unreal. I can't possibly consider death a "personal discomfort". Rather inappropriate a question, but, has anyone you cared about died? Would you call the feeling simply a "personal discomfort"?

(08-12-2014 03:44 PM)tear151 Wrote:  Oh sorry... erm... I'm wrong enlighten me, but no I can't think of a greek philosopher who said that, as far as I know that's a christian idea mainly (In the west at least)

Well yes, they valued similar things as virtuous, but the nitty gritty of their logical arguments is what's been rejected, rather than... the conclusions... Like I don't know, I hate to answer a question with a question again but what similarity is there?

Well, most well-known Greek philosophers who talked about such issues mentioned the importance of personal happiness and fulfilment. Plato did, Aristotle did, Socrates did. Even Epicurus, the well-known "ancient atheist". I can't think about any philosopher who placed the happiness of others above one's own happiness.

The similarities between our ethics and theirs are many. Valuing justice (even more than love), the importance of friendship and solidarity, striving to be healthy in body and mind, being modest, gathering knowledge and trying to become wiser, appreciating art and science and their importance.

You may have read a lot about glory and bravery as being important, but let's face it, they invested a lot in war and soldiers had to be prepared for death, so it was normal for glory to be hyped up so much.

I wish there was some profoundess to my grief, but I find no proof to suggest it.

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