Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
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27-12-2011, 01:17 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
There are no moral absolutes beyond I am, which is a code of ethics built from moral experience. There's the universal paradigms, that the individual considers his or her ethical standard the moral one, and that this consideration can only arise through experience.

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27-12-2011, 11:24 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Chas.

I appreciate the passion, but I don't see how anything you wrote speaks to anything I've said either in my last post or previously. You seem to be talking at me rather than with me.

I'm black. You sure you want to tell me again that I don't think slavery is immoral? You seem to be (pun intended) slave to the very hang up I described in my last post.

Your first and last paragraphs make little sense to me. I'm not trying to be a giant penis (I just have one: auuuuuu!) I just don't understand what it is you don't buy or why.

You highlighted choice but I really don't understand why.

You cited the importance of human consciousness, but again, I don't understand why.

Also, reason and introspection do not overcome biology. They can guide it or suppress it, but never overcome it. No amount of reason can stop you from needing to eat food. All of that being said, I don't understand what any of that has to do with anything.

Could you please try again? I am interested in what you have to say. I'm just confused by it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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28-12-2011, 12:47 AM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Matt,

“Casablanca” was on TV today, and whenever it’s on, I can’t not watch it. There’s a scene between Rick and Laszlo, where Rick questions the value of fighting for the Resistance. But Laszlo sees right through Rick’s show of cynicism. He says to him, “You know how you sound, Monsieur Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart.”

Now I could be wrong, but I see something of that in your defense of cultural relativism. You’re committed to a particular theoretical framework, and you’re nothing if not consistent. But I think that deep down in your heart of hearts you know that slavery—the owning of one human being by another—is inherently evil, independent of any particular cultural system, and that you agree with Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” And I bet that if you found yourself in your Fictional Culture A, where slavery is considered moral, and a slave pleaded with you to help her escape, you wouldn’t hesitate to do so if it were in your power, regardless of how it would affect the system.

You’re right, of course, that there’s no “should” in biology and ethnology: science is descriptive, not prescriptive. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for prescriptivism in human interaction.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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28-12-2011, 02:12 AM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 12:47 AM)cufflink Wrote:  You’re right, of course, that there’s no “should” in biology and ethnology: science is descriptive, not prescriptive. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for prescriptivism in human interaction.

Let's not neglect proscription brother and we got a deal.

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28-12-2011, 10:37 AM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 02:12 AM)GirlyMan Wrote:  Let's not neglect proscription brother and we got a deal.

Deal. Proscription can come in very handy. Wink

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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28-12-2011, 11:18 AM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(27-12-2011 11:24 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

I appreciate the passion, but I don't see how anything you wrote speaks to anything I've said either in my last post or previously. You seem to be talking at me rather than with me.

I'm black. You sure you want to tell me again that I don't think slavery is immoral? You seem to be (pun intended) slave to the very hang up I described in my last post.

Your first and last paragraphs make little sense to me. I'm not trying to be a giant penis (I just have one: auuuuuu!) I just don't understand what it is you don't buy or why.

You highlighted choice but I really don't understand why.

You cited the importance of human consciousness, but again, I don't understand why.

Also, reason and introspection do not overcome biology. They can guide it or suppress it, but never overcome it. No amount of reason can stop you from needing to eat food. All of that being said, I don't understand what any of that has to do with anything.

Could you please try again? I am interested in what you have to say. I'm just confused by it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Quote:Finally, if I look at another culture and they very proudly say, "We love our slavery and think it's the height of morality," then I have no option but to recognise that that culture considers slavery moral. Where people get hung up is that they assume that means I'm endorsing slavery. But that's ridiculous. I'm stating fact. That's it. I don't like slavery. But they do. Fact. The other place that people get hung up is that they assume that there must be a single moral position on every issue. So if I'm not condemning them for being immoral, then I'm tacitly endorsing slavery. Again, silly. My position as a cultural relativist is that there is no absolute moral position for slavery. I don't like it. The Canadian government calls it a crime. But all that means is that we consider it immoral. If the other culture considers that it is not, then they do not. There is no wish or argument that can make it otherwise.
Quote:So to restate: "I personally dislike slavery, but since it works for you (in that it results in a viable social structure), it's not immoral relative to in your culture." "I personally dislike slavery, but it's moral in your culture."

I disagree with this absolute application of cultural relativism. Calling something valid because it exists within a 'working' system allows any behavior at all to be judged moral. Anything at all.
Very few people will accept that, and studies of morality across cultures denies it. It turns out that basic morality and ethics are nearly the same for all human cultures.

Quote:I’m not bound by should. Should has no place in biology. Sloths should be faster, male lions shouldn’t be so lazy, beavers should be careful about what areas they flood, are all meaningless notions in biology. Things are what they ARE in biology, not what they should be. Should has no place in ethnology. Muslim women shouldn’t wear hijabs, homosexuals should be able to marry, women shouldn’t run the show in Iroquois tribes, are all meaningless notions in ethnology. Things are what they ARE in ethnology, not what they should be. Darwin outlined in detail how these things came to be and how they either stay the same or change. Preference has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

The second (highlighted) assertion does not logically follow from the first. They are on different levels - the former is innate, the latter is choice.

Muslim women are welcome to wear hijabs; it is immoral to force them to do so. The closest thing we have to absolute morality is essentially the golden rule - it comes up in nearly every culture. Another phrasing is that it is immoral to force one's will on another.

I find your cultural relativism immoral.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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28-12-2011, 12:58 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Chas.

Fortunately I don't care if you consider my cultural relativism immoral. Moreover, I don't have any patience for you bringing that sort of thing into the conversation.

Any behaviour CAN be considered moral. But like I've said, many, many, many times, saying that anything can be considered moral by a given culture is not an endorsement of every practice, it’s merely a statement of fact. Fact can be inconvenient, or unpalatable, but it remains, regardless, fact. I recognise that many Americans consider state-funded medical care immoral. As a Canadian, I think that's perverse. But I can recognise THAT American's think what they think and WHY they think what they think without ENDORSING their beliefs or pretending that everyone’s beliefs have to line up with some mystical ideal morality.

I also said, many, many, many times before, that just because something has a large representation in the ethnosphere doesn't mean it's universal. If 99% of the world drinks Coke, that doesn’t mean everyone does and it certainly doesn't mean that there is something innate in the human organism that impels us to drink Coke. So yes, there is often a great deal of overlap across cultures, but that's all it is; overlap. It’s a high degree of representation of that trait in the ethnospehere. That’s all.

The second does follow from the first. Read up on Universal Darwinism and systems theory. Your assertion is too simplistic to be of any value.

Hey, Cufflink.

I like you. You’re a good egg. But you're absolutely incorrect. I believe what I am saying consistently with every fibre of my being because it's factual. This whole idea of some absolute morality existing, just waiting for us to find it, is so fanciful that I really don't understand how rational people believe it exists. Morality, like all cultural practices, is based in agreement, not magic.

Quote:But I think that deep down in your heart of hearts you know that slavery—the owning of one human being by another—is inherently evil, independent of any particular cultural system, and that you agree with Article 4 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

I've said I don't like slavery countless times. So I know you get that. But I don't believe in good and evil, let alone that certain things are inherently evil. Do I have my preferences? Of course I do. But I recognise that my preferences flow from a social construct, not some fibre optic connection to the great moral arbiter in the sky. I do agree with the UN. But it's arrogance of the Nth degree to assume that the world must agree with everything I think simply because I think it. Culture simply doesn't function that way. I didn't invent culture. I'm just trying to understand it, as it is, not as I want it to be.

Quote:You’re right, of course, that there’s no “should” in biology and ethnology: science is descriptive, not prescriptive. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for prescriptivism in human interaction.

Should has no place in biology. But it has every place in engineering. We engineer organisms; GMOs. We say, "this plant SHOULD produce rice even if it droops into the paddy water," or, "this Atlantic salmon SHOULD mature in 1 year instead of 4," or, "this plant SHOULD carry a terminator seed so that every year, farmers have to buy brand new seed from us." Genetic engineering is a selection pressure. We directly influence what traits get selected for no reason other than we WANT them to be selected. But those decisions we make have a profound and unpredictable effect on the larger system.

Should has no place in ethnology. But it has every place in engineering. We can engineer cultures. We say, "these savages SHOULD worship Christ," or, "these kids SHOULD be taught science instead of creation," or, "these people SHOULD drink Coke instead of water." Memetic engineering is a selection pressure. We directly influence what traits get elected for no reason other than we WANT them to be selected. But those decisions we make have a profound and unpredictable effect on the larger system.

Replicator engineering is playing God. We do it all the time. The question needs to be asked, are we any good at it? By and large, we're terrible at it and more to the point, we're dangerous. What happens when those engineered salmon escape into the wild or the Monsanto seeds blow into adjacent fields? What happens to those African cultures we force political borders and parliamentary democracy onto and whose death rate we diminish without addressing the high birth rate they adopted generations ago to counteract the effect of the high death rate? What happens to those natives who are robbed of the means to live by their traditional ways or who we throw into Residential Schools and beat them unmercifully for speaking their language?

There is a place for prescription in culture just as there is a place for it in organisms; however, we must be clear, absolutely crystal clear, that what we prescribe comes from preference, not absolute truth. Ignoring that differentiation leads to ruin.

The ethnosphere is not only similar to the biosphere, but the two exist in parallel. Darwin outlined in great detail a system that quite wonderfully keeps the system functioning in a symphony of balance. When we go in and change one thing, we're like a bull in a china shop.

Cultures are evolved and evolving systems. They need to be allowed to evolve. This is what Roddenberry taught us in his great wisdom.

Morality is what it is, not because we found the owner's manual to existence and living correctly, but because of the process of evolution. There is no such thing as the ideal in evolution. There is only that which is adaptive in that space in that time in that context and the moment that space, time or context shift, then the adaptivity of that trait is threatened.

My understanding of morality comes from Darwin, not fantasy.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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28-12-2011, 01:06 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
(28-12-2011 12:58 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Chas.

Fortunately I don't care if you consider my cultural relativism immoral. Moreover, I don't have any patience for you bringing that sort of thing into the conversation.
...
The second does follow from the first. Read up on Universal Darwinism and systems theory. Your assertion is too simplistic to be of any value.

You are interpreting universal Darwinism to apply to morality, but that does not make the latter statement derivable from the former.

Your denial is also simplistic. I will leave you to your cultural relativism.

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28-12-2011, 02:00 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Hey, Chas.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of comedy. If all you can do is take personal shots in a conversation, then I leave you to your ad hominems. As I said, I have no patience for that sort of thing.

Morality is cultural. Or do you contend that it's created by God? Perhaps genetic? If so, can you point to the corresponding genes?

Universal Darwinism applies to all replicators. Memes included. If morality is cultural then it's memetic. Ergo, Universal Darwinism absolutely applies to morality. Also, memes do not flow from genes. They exist in parallel. The statement "should has no place in..." apples to both equally and for the same reason; that being that both are equally subject to the rules of Darwinism.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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28-12-2011, 02:14 PM
RE: Good Minus God: Does morality depend on religion?
Not trying to derail the subject, but I think you guys (or y'all) need to open the humor box a little. I have a hard time with my humor since very little makes me laugh these days.

I could be off on this but I think it's just a little of miscommunication in the humor department. You know how Americans can't figure out British humor and so on? Also consider before you do head down that path that text can be very cold without the body language and the audible words. Just didn't like how this conversation was heading. Smile

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