Poll: Where do you stand ethically/morally?
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Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
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07-06-2012, 07:25 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
(07-06-2012 06:23 PM)Mr Woof Wrote:  Well a dossier of arguments do not seem to have established this.......................perhaps you are more moral than you think and trying to give 'morality' connatations beyond the more acceptable pale................. Wink
Do I need to prove that I lack a belief in morality or do I need to prove that morality doesn't exist?
Obviously proving that morality doesn't exist is very difficult much like proving that god doesn't exist.

Firstly, the issue is defining morality, it seems there are many, many definitions.
Second we need a falsifiable definition in order to disprove it don't we?

There are three major stances on morality
1. It is absolute, applies to all (you could constrain this to all conscious beings or all humans if you like)
2. It is subjective
3. It doesn't exist

Problems with 1 (absolute morality)
- We can see that it is extremely rare (if not impossible) to have two people whom believe in the exact same morality.
- People like Kant try to come up with some rules, thus if you follow those rules objectively you will get an objective answer. Problem is not everyone agrees with those rules, so if different people are picking different rules they get different answers thus not objective.
- With Kant in particular it is always immoral to tell a lie. Think about a situation, maybe during WWII, you have some Jewish people stowed under your floor boards, some Germans come into your house telling you they are hunting and killing Jews and asking if you know where any are. According to Kant, the right thing to do would be to tell them the truth.
- Kant's rules apply everything universally. Such that if everyone does it then how will society continue and how will the moral continue to perpetuate? Thus he suggests suicide is immoral because if everyone does it then there will be no-one left to continue with this act. Lets apply this logic to homosexuality, if everyone becomes homosexuals then the people won't procreate and thus there will be no-one around to carry out the act of homosexuality, thus homosexuality is immoral. Really? Do you really believe that it is immoral for people to be homosexual or to commit suicide?
So even though Kant's position has major issues, there are many other people philosophising about objective morality thus defeating Kant does not prove that objective morality does not exist. I could spend a lifetime defeating each person's theory, but then another person will come along and come up with another one.

Problems with 2 (Subjective morality)
What is the difference between personal opinion and morality?
If you see someone do something e.g. perform homosexual sex, and you make a public statement about it being immoral, then you are making an absolute statement, you are suggesting that your own definition of morality applies to other people.
If you make a public statement that it is against your own personal values, then you are merely expressing your own opinion, does this really fit the definition of morality?

Problems with 3 (amorality)
As a believer in amorality I struggle to see any problems with it. What TrulyX has previously stated doesn't apply to my stance.
I really think amorality is very much misunderstood by many people.
Really it means a lack of belief in absolute right and absolute wrong.
This does not mean that a person doesn't want to survive and can't foresee the consequences of their own actions.
It doesn't mean that the person lacks empathy.
It doesn't mean that the person can't discuss societies rules with others and vote for rules based on personal preference.
What it does mean however is that the person's personal preferences applies to the self. It is selfish in nature.
In this way, my reasoning for doing something is not because it is the "right" thing to do. My reasoning is, how does this benefit me?

Thus, I don't care if people are having homosexual sex as it has no impact on me. I only care about selfish things like my own safety, my own freedom etc.
I don't go murdering people because that puts my own safety at risk.
I then go and extend my selfishness to society, I want a safe and stable society, because I live within this society. A dangerous society puts my own safety at risk. People having homosexual sex does not make society dangerous. People oppressing homosexuals does. Eventually the homosexuals might fight for their freedom.

I would expect the difference between my position of amorality and that of subjective morality is that these people will do things because they believe it is the "right" thing to do. They won't work out how it benefits them personally.
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07-06-2012, 07:37 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
I think ethics clearly exist, which I would define (again since there was a bit of noise going on in the thread) as the correct behaviours for a given function in society. I think ethics exist in relation to job function, function within a family or local community, etc. I think that overall a kind of group ethics exists that describes behaviours that individuals across the society should or should not display given the overall survival strategy of the group.

I stated before that I wonder if the word morality is simply a phantom in the same way that spirituality is a phantom. It's just not something people describe and define consistently or falsifiabily. If it does exist, could it be described as the internal motivation for externally displayed ethical behaviours perhaps? Is there any moral behaviour which cannot be described in purely ethical (functional) terms? Is it ever meaningful to describe a behaviour as moral, over and above being ethical? It seems like morality should be thought of more narrowly as a particular belief system or other internal system that drives outward ethical behaviour.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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07-06-2012, 08:26 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
I agree with you to a point Hafnof.

I am not sure about the definition of ethics though.
Looking at Wikipedia
"Ethics, also known as moral philosophy"

Looking at dictionary.reference.com
"a system of moral principles"Their definition No 2 seems OK, but the rest invoke Morality or Good and Bad.
"
2. the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics"

Personally, I just call the law the law, rules as rules. I wouldn't consider a person obeying rules or law as necessarily ethical.

But this is semantics.
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08-06-2012, 08:12 AM (This post was last modified: 08-06-2012 08:47 AM by TrulyX.)
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
Quote: different people are picking different rules they get different answers thus not objective

Quote:It doesn't exist (morality)

Those are 2 problems right there.

1) First of all, people are not coming to different answers. Edit: What I mean by that is not drastically different answers. I have yet to meet one person who thought that murdering, lying, assaulting each other, and mutilating our children's genitalia was a proper end for all of civilization/society. It's funny even imagining another human being coming up to me and saying, "you know what dude, I think we were wrong this entire time; we actually should be murdering each other."

Second, even if they were, that doesn't mean there isn't an answer.

I've already gave the example of a difficult, advanced math problem. Two different answers only indicate that someone has the wrong answer.

2) You can't say morality doesn't exist. What you really mean is there isn't an objective truth, or there isn't truth at all to moral statements.

Murder is wrong shows that morality exists.

People go through the philosophical process (i.e. moral/ethical philosophy) to deciding that murder is wrong; that is morality.

What you have to show is that there isn't a truth to the statement.

Emotivism doesn't it by saying "Murder is wrong" only means "Murder, booo". Basically, murder is wrong only describes a persons emotions or preferences toward murder.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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08-06-2012, 09:28 AM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
(07-06-2012 07:37 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  I think ethics clearly exist, which I would define (again since there was a bit of noise going on in the thread) as the correct behaviours for a given function in society. I think ethics exist in relation to job function, function within a family or local community, etc. I think that overall a kind of group ethics exists that describes behaviours that individuals across the society should or should not display given the overall survival strategy of the group.

I stated before that I wonder if the word morality is simply a phantom in the same way that spirituality is a phantom. It's just not something people describe and define consistently or falsifiabily. If it does exist, could it be described as the internal motivation for externally displayed ethical behaviours perhaps? Is there any moral behaviour which cannot be described in purely ethical (functional) terms? Is it ever meaningful to describe a behaviour as moral, over and above being ethical? It seems like morality should be thought of more narrowly as a particular belief system or other internal system that drives outward ethical behaviour.

It's Hypothetical imperatives vs. a Categorical imperative. It really comes down to how important you think it is to define an end toward what everyone (generalizing) really means when they say moral. Basically what would be that construct to define what is morally right and wrong, and what it means to be moral. Defining a specific end, to solve the moral problem (i.e. whether or not the means is the proper action morally), instead of regarding every action only as a means to the end of different goals.

Basically we, when using the word 'moral', are talking about how people ought to be treated as ends-within themselves. Basically if we were to define people as having inherent/intrinsic worth and value, how should we treat them?

That's not saying that people actually have some type of value, in that respect, because we don't, outside of the construct of morality, but in morality that's how it's viewed.

Quote:Hypothetical imperatives apply to someone dependent on them having certain ends:
  • if I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something;
  • if I wish to acquire knowledge, I must learn.


Quote:Kant argued, hypothetical moral systems cannot persuade moral action or be regarded as bases for moral judgments against others, because the imperatives on which they are based rely too heavily on subjective considerations.

The capacity that underlies deciding what is moral is called pure practical reason, which is contrasted with pure reason (the capacity to know) and mere practical reason (which allows us to interact with the world in experience). Hypothetical imperatives tell us which means best achieve our ends. They do not, however, tell us which ends we should choose.

Reason, separate from all empirical experience, can determine the principle according to which all ends can be determined as moral. It is this fundamental principle of moral reason that is known as the categorical imperative. Pure practical reason in the process of determining it dictates what ought to be done without reference to empirical contingent factors.

A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction"

"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end."

I think the main thing is that people don't want to separate morality from the rest of what is going on, and they view the term immoral as being a lot more harsh than it actually has to be.

To say that something is wrong, in the moral sense, isn't to say that it is wrong in other regards.

Think Mitt Romney and the Bain Capital debate.

Mitt Romney's action with Bain could be viewed as wrong (in a moral sense) i.e. he/Bain used other businesses as a "means only" to the end of making him/Bain a lot of money.

Look at that, though, toward the end of a business (i.e. making money); if he made money, then what he did for Bain was right in that regard.

Also think of the point the Obama campaign tried to make in the Bain Capital debate, this will only make sense to Americans or those who are really into politics.

They tried to argue that the ends of a business owner (making money) is different from the ends of a USA president (ensuring prosperity for all in the country).

To me there are two distinct and individual questions in ethics that don't have to be answered the same way:

How a person ought to act/behave, to be moral?


and

How a person ought to act/behave, in other aspects/How they ought to live their lives?

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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08-06-2012, 01:56 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
(08-06-2012 08:12 AM)TrulyX Wrote:  Those are 2 problems right there.

1) First of all, people are not coming to different answers. Edit: What I mean by that is not drastically different answers. I have yet to meet one person who thought that murdering, lying, assaulting each other, and mutilating our children's genitalia was a proper end for all of civilization/society.


Murder is wrong shows that morality exists.
People disagree on murder all the time, especially when you consider abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, death penalty.
Also, wars could be considered murder and even self defense or defense of property.

Even blatant murder, I wouldn't consider it as objectively wrong. There are no consequences other than what people decide to do about it. People do what people do, it is a fact of life, it is in our nature.
If we see someone commit murder and we deem that person dangerous to ourselves, thus our motivation is selfish with regards to locking them up, rehabilitating them or putting them down I don't think that inherently points to existence of a universal truth about absolute rights and wrongs. We have made up a rule for ourselves, our society, we understand that we made it up (we didn't discover it), we don't care if it is absolute or universal, we just want the rule for the goal of self preservation.
Quote:People go through the philosophical process (i.e. moral/ethical philosophy) to deciding that murder is wrong; that is morality.
If you use Kant's rules or maxims (whatever they are called) and it tells you that something is deemed immoral (wrong). Like lying for example, then so what? What would be a person's motivation to support or act in a way appropriate to dealing with immorals (wrongs)?
Should we be driven to create laws to outlaw all incidents of lying? Even white lies, like if a person is trying to arrange a surprise birthday party for someone? Punishable by a criminal record, impacting financially or loss of liberty, restricting ability for international travel.

Basically I am asking what would be the motivator towards upholding or supporting a moral belief?
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08-06-2012, 03:02 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
Quote:People disagree on murder all the time, especially when you consider abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, death penalty, wars.

Abortion is not murder.
Euthanasia is not murder.
Assisted suicide is not murder.
Death penalty is a completely different conversation. It would fall under justice, and not only justice but law.
People do murder each other in wars, so at least you almost got one.

These are just topics that people don't fully understand and they are kind of obscure. People, as it pertains to these, are not necessarily disagreeing on right and wrong, but most of the time, they are disagree on the mere quality of the acts.

Take abortion as an example; I think that's one of the harder moral questions. It would not be a hard moral question to answer, and people wouldn't disagree with the morality of it, if they knew what to consider a fetus. Those that consider the fetus human, think it is murder, and that it is wrong. Those who view the fetus differently, see it as okay. So the disagreement is coming off more of a definition and understanding, than it is morality.

Wars, I don't think people disagree with. If a group wanted to go to war for fun, I doubt that many would view it as okay. Otherwise wars, like the death plenty to an extent, fall under justice, not morality.

Quote:Even blatant murder, I wouldn't consider it as objectively wrong.

I've think you made that clear already.

Quote:Basically I am asking what would be the motivator towards upholding or supporting a moral belief?

I don't know if I completely understand what you are asking.

If you asking what is the point of the philosophy of it, I think that is clear. Civilized modern society, specifically as it pertains to law and rights, has benefited tremendously and pretty much owes everything to the field.

If you are asking what would motivate people to behave morally: empathy, compassion, love, survival, well-being, civilization, a prosperous society, etc.

Besides those things nothing. You don't have to behave morally if you don't want to, and you also, can behave morally only as far as it benefits you i.e. be an egoist. If you read Plato and Ring of Gyges, there are actually pretty good arguments for why people ought to act selfishly immoral, and why it is only the weak that behave morally.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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08-06-2012, 03:10 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
Quote: Should we be driven to create laws to outlaw all incidents of lying, even white lies?

It's funny you mentioned that.

For one Law =/= Morality.

Laws are based off of what is right and wrong (morality/ethics), but you're asking a different question i.e. what should and shouldn't be allowed in a society?

If anyone who lied could be arrested, that would be impractical applied to a large society.

But if you are talking perjury, fraud, or something similar those are on the books.

Also, you have to take up the philosophy of language for "white lies". You have to ask what is a lie? What is a white lie? Is a white lie really a lie? etc.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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08-06-2012, 04:09 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
(08-06-2012 03:10 PM)TrulyX Wrote:  
Quote: Should we be driven to create laws to outlaw all incidents of lying, even white lies?
It's funny you mentioned that.

For one Law =/= Morality.
I would agree with this, law is not morality and morality is not law.
Quote:
Laws
are based off of what is right and wrong (morality/ethics), but you're
asking a different question i.e. what should and shouldn't be allowed in
a society?

If anyone who lied could be arrested, that would be impractical applied to a large society.
So I guess you are implying that in a perfect government/justice system we ought to charge people whom act immorally (for lying, for having homosexual sex...). But because of practicalities it is too difficult to do this, too expensive so unfortunately we just have to let them get away with their immoralities.

My question before with regards to motivation, lets say homosexuality is immoral. Lets say my neighbors are homosexuals and have homosexual sex on occasions, in the privacy of their bedroom.
What ought to be my motivation to stop them or to support a law to make this activity illegal? Why should I care what my neighbors do?
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08-06-2012, 04:36 PM
RE: Moral Philosophy: Where do you stand?
(08-06-2012 03:02 PM)TrulyX Wrote:  Abortion is not murder.
Euthanasia is not murder.
Assisted suicide is not murder.
Death penalty is a completely different conversation. It would fall under justice, and not only justice but law.
You make assertions, but lets see what others think as one person's moral belief is no more right nor wrong than another's.
Poll: In your opinion, is abortion murder?
POLL : Is abortion murder or not ?
POLL: is abortion murder?
Public Opinion About Abortion -- An In-Depth Review
Is euthanasia a form of murder?

It seems there is much debate, some think it is murder some don't, if only there were an absolute answer, we could thus end this debate once and for all.
Quote:so at least you almost got one.
For the sake of trying to have a civil conversation I will ignore this comment.
Quote:
Quote:Even blatant murder, I wouldn't consider it as objectively wrong.
I've think you made that clear already.
So we are at a stalemate. You think people not liking or wanting murder proves morality exists, I think people collectively have just an opinion in common (however with lots of caveats)
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