Morality
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26-07-2015, 05:14 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 04:19 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Neither.
1. Define "morality".
2. Act can be either moral or immoral depending on the circumstance. Is taking a human life "moral" ? Depends. In war, and in self-defense : Yes.

Hambone, don't be a bonehead.

I am arguing for objective morality, not moral absolutes. Big difference.
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26-07-2015, 05:16 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 04:40 AM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  Based on how you seem to be using the terms, I'd say morality is objective. Personally, I try to avoid using the objective/subjective distinction when talking about morality since it can be both, either, or neither depending on exactly what you mean by those terms and what part of morality we're talking about. But since you're being pretty clear in how you're using it, I'll risk an answer and hope that you aren't going to attach any weird baggage to it.

As far as how this can accounted for in an atheistic worldview, well, there are different ways I can approach this, and I'm not sure which is best. I currently lean towards ethical naturalism, but I haven't landed on a particular flavor yet and am still doing some reading to figure out which is best, but I also need to look into non-naturalism and give it some thought. So I'm not really well-versed enough in the stuff to give you the answers your looking for, but I'm willing to give it a go if there are any specific point you want to delve into. And if you'd like to see a professional delve into this without needing to buy any books, check out philosopher Dan Fincke's blog, Camels with Hammers, in particular his defenses of moral realism and his explanation of his meta-ethical theory, empowerment ethics. He's also pretty approachable if you have any questions.

Can you give reasons why you lean towards ethical naturalism? Thanks.
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26-07-2015, 05:17 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 05:00 AM)TheInquisition Wrote:  
(26-07-2015 03:51 AM)Hambone Wrote:  Is morality objective (factual) or subjective (preference/opinion)?

If something is objective, then it is factual, that is, it is true/false independent of human taste preference or opinion. It is DISCOVERED. For example, the earth is not flat is an objective truth. It is factual. It is true regardless of human opinion. This was discovered. Even if their were no conscious beings in the universe, the earth would still not be flat, rather, the shape of sphere/ball.

If something is subjective, then its based on personal taste, preference or opinion. These are not factual. They are mind dependent. These include, food, drinks, movies, music, clothes, holiday destinations etc etc etc. There is NO RIGHT or WRONG.

Where is morality? Is it objective or is it subjective?

Lets first put it in the subjective basket. You will notice that when we look at subjective items, they all result in the same conclusion. No right or wrong. For example, if I say I prefer thick crust pizza to thin crust pizza, am I wrong for preferring that or thinking one is better than the other? No. We all know taste in food is subjective, therefore, there is no right or wrong. Its just opinion.
If I say I prefer hip hop R&B to heavy metal music, am I right or wrong to suggest one is better than the other? Neither, because they are just preferences.
These are just 2 examples. But if you put any item in the subjective basket, you will notice the conclusions are the same, that is, their is no right or wrong.

Now, lets put morality in this subjective basket. If I say I prefer to rape and cause harm to others, is this right or wrong? Well, if you are consistent, then its neither right or wrong, just like in the case of food and music.

Lets look at objective items. I gave the example of the flat earth above. Another example is the sun. The claim the sun exists is an objective truth, it is factual. If their are no conscious beings in the universe, it is still true that the sun exists.
If I say the sun doesn't exist OR the earth is flat, then I am WRONG. I am only WRONG because rights and wrongs ONLY exist in relation to objective items/facts.

Now lets put morality in the objective basket. If morality is objective, then rights and wrongs exist morally.
So, if someone says that raping a person for fun is right, then they are wrong. They are only wrong because we can compare their claim to an objective fact, ie, rape is wrong.

So, what is it? Based on experience, it appears to me, that morality is actually objective.

Lets look at an example....ASSUMING i like rape and you don't. IF I say for the past 6 months, I have had a person in my garage whom I have been raping, torturing and treating woefully, then if morality is SUBJECTIVE, then you can only reply in the same way as if you don't like a food that I like. Their is no right or wrong. Just opinion. Is this really how it is based on experience? Would we treat this case the same way as in taste of food? Experience says we don't.

Now, based on the example, if morality is objective, then and ONLY then can you say my actions are wrong, because you are comparing my actions against an objective truth.

So which one is it?

Now, notice I am speaking ontology, not epistemology. This is not about HOW we know. I can discuss that later.

Secondly, how can objective morality exist in a godless world? Remember I said, if something is objective, it is true or false REGARDLESS of human taste preference or opinion. In fact, they are discovered. Therefore, in a godless world that came about by a mindless and unguided blind process, what are moral facts doing in such a world? Don't moral laws or truths come from a law maker or law giver?

My problem is, atheists often claim morality is subjective, but then go and criticise morality in the OT. If morality is subjective, then your claims that the morality in the OT is wrong is not factual, rather, just an opinion...no different to if I said vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate.....

The very fact atheists make moral claims, is testimony that they are claiming moral facts. But in a godless world, where do these facts come from?

Are atheists actually affirming a moral law giver everytime they make a moral claim?

All morality is derived from an evolved sense of empathy.

And fuck off for not doing a search on this lame-ass "objective morality" bullshit before posting yet another stupid thread about this.

We can choose to display empathy, but we can also choose not to display empathy.
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26-07-2015, 05:20 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 06:27 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(26-07-2015 03:51 AM)Hambone Wrote:  The very fact atheists make moral claims, is testimony that they are claiming moral facts. But in a godless world, where do these facts come from?

I'm an atheist and I don't make moral claims. However, I can punish a rapist even though he didn't do anything objectively wrong.

Moral nihilism is the only way to make sense of morality.

The video below does a fairly good job of explaining it.





Basically, nihilism requires you to "get over yourself." You have to realize that it is not even a fact that humans should exist, let alone behave in any certain way.

Sure you can punish someone even though he didn't do anything wrong, but that doesn't answer the question. You are then punishing someone who did something wrong in your personal view....But that doesn't make what that person did (rape) as factually wrong.
This is as absurd as me punishing someone for having brown coloured eyes. Having brown coloured is not objectively wrong, but in my subjective view it is wrong.
You see how things are absurd when you try and assign rights and wrongs to subjective items?
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26-07-2015, 05:22 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 09:01 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  Morality is both subjective (dependant upon the agent) and relative (dependant upon circumstances).

So when you say its relative, can you expand on that please...Thanks
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26-07-2015, 05:23 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 10:22 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It's really quite simple. I want to choke every moron Christard who comes in here asking us how atheists can possibly be moral without a GODCOMMAND to tell us what to think.

But I don't, because I am a civilized human being who thinks that society is a basically good idea, and I know that if we all just gave into our animal impulses, civilization would be gone in roughly 72 hours. (What I call "the Hurricane Katrina figure" for the veneer of civilization.) Yet this is something we must actively choose; as we can see in certain parts of the world, the moment people choose not to uphold the veneer of civilization, it vanishes. See e.g. most of equatorial Africa.

The idea that morality is some kind of transcendent, objective power of its own is ridiculous. Morality is subjective and exists only as applied by rational beings seeking to get along with one another in a society. (Not just humans; most social animals have such rules.) When necessary, we apply pressure to bring others into conformity with the generally-agreed rules of civilization, be it legal punishments, illegal retaliations, or simple social ostracization. Again, you can observe this in animals... I highly recommend watching shows like Orangutan Island or Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet, if you want to get some idea of this fact. One can demonstrate that morality is relative simply by reading the books of Jane Goodall, as she documents the vast difference between the enforced "moral rules" of varying chimpanzee tribes.

The only reason humans like to think of morality as objective (not counting the religious version of this argument, which thinks it's objective because God Handed The Rules Down From On High™, an argument easily dismissed by simply reading the barbarity of those Rules) is because our prohibitions against harming our fellow human beings are so ubiquitous within societies that we think of them as transcendent. Yet they are clearly not so, as any basic Anthropology course will show you in about three class-sessions.

I highly recommend Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's book Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, which details the various social rules we humans think are unique to us, but which are actually found in our various cousin-species to such a wide degree that it is obvious we have evolved this sense of social-morality. It is eye-opening.

I didn't ask how atheists can be moral. Rather how they ground morality.
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26-07-2015, 05:28 PM
RE: Morality
I find it somewhat ironic that this topic makes me feel a bit homicidal. Drinking Beverage
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26-07-2015, 05:29 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 05:12 PM)Hambone Wrote:  
(26-07-2015 04:02 AM)DLJ Wrote:  There are many many threads on this subject and one that's still current. You can join in with that, if you like.

Meanwhile ... Welcome to TTA.

The answer to your question is ... neither.

Oh! and I edited a little to keep you within forum rules. Yes

Thanks for the welcome.

Neither? Can you explain that further? Thanks

I'll be happy to. And will do so later today.

Right now, it's Monday morning (I'm still sleepy) and will soon be starting a training course on Governance (doing the right thing; doing things right) which will cover, ironically, topics like culture, ethics and behaviour.

There have been some long responses above (from some smart cookies whose opinions I hold in high esteem) that I have not yet perused so I will read those first.

Short answer though... My objection to the objective vs. subjective dichotomy is a semantic one.

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26-07-2015, 05:31 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 10:32 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  
(26-07-2015 03:51 AM)Hambone Wrote:  Is morality objective (factual) or subjective (preference/opinion)?

If something is objective, then it is factual, that is, it is true/false independent of human taste preference or opinion. It is DISCOVERED. For example, the earth is not flat is an objective truth. It is factual. It is true regardless of human opinion. This was discovered. Even if their were no conscious beings in the universe, the earth would still not be flat, rather, the shape of sphere/ball.

If something is subjective, then its based on personal taste, preference or opinion. These are not factual. They are mind dependent. These include, food, drinks, movies, music, clothes, holiday destinations etc etc etc. There is NO RIGHT or WRONG.

Where is morality? Is it objective or is it subjective?

Lets first put it in the subjective basket. You will notice that when we look at subjective items, they all result in the same conclusion. No right or wrong. For example, if I say I prefer thick crust pizza to thin crust pizza, am I wrong for preferring that or thinking one is better than the other? No. We all know taste in food is subjective, therefore, there is no right or wrong. Its just opinion.
If I say I prefer hip hop R&B to heavy metal music, am I right or wrong to suggest one is better than the other? Neither, because they are just preferences.
These are just 2 examples. But if you put any item in the subjective basket, you will notice the conclusions are the same, that is, their is no right or wrong.

Now, lets put morality in this subjective basket. If I say I prefer to rape and cause harm to others, is this right or wrong? Well, if you are consistent, then its neither right or wrong, just like in the case of food and music.

Lets look at objective items. I gave the example of the flat earth above. Another example is the sun. The claim the sun exists is an objective truth, it is factual. If their are no conscious beings in the universe, it is still true that the sun exists.
If I say the sun doesn't exist OR the earth is flat, then I am WRONG. I am only WRONG because rights and wrongs ONLY exist in relation to objective items/facts.

Now lets put morality in the objective basket. If morality is objective, then rights and wrongs exist morally.
So, if someone says that raping a person for fun is right, then they are wrong. They are only wrong because we can compare their claim to an objective fact, ie, rape is wrong.

So, what is it? Based on experience, it appears to me, that morality is actually objective.

Lets look at an example....ASSUMING i like rape and you don't. IF I say for the past 6 months, I have had a person in my garage whom I have been raping, torturing and treating woefully, then if morality is SUBJECTIVE, then you can only reply in the same way as if you don't like a food that I like. Their is no right or wrong. Just opinion. Is this really how it is based on experience? Would we treat this case the same way as in taste of food? Experience says we don't.

Now, based on the example, if morality is objective, then and ONLY then can you say my actions are wrong, because you are comparing my actions against an objective truth.

So which one is it?

Now, notice I am speaking ontology, not epistemology. This is not about HOW we know. I can discuss that later.

Secondly, how can objective morality exist in a godless world? Remember I said, if something is objective, it is true or false REGARDLESS of human taste preference or opinion. In fact, they are discovered. Therefore, in a godless world that came about by a mindless and unguided blind process, what are moral facts doing in such a world? Don't moral laws or truths come from a law maker or law giver?

My problem is, atheists often claim morality is subjective, but then go and criticise morality in the OT. If morality is subjective, then your claims that the morality in the OT is wrong is not factual, rather, just an opinion...no different to if I said vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate.....

The very fact atheists make moral claims, is testimony that they are claiming moral facts. But in a godless world, where do these facts come from?

Are atheists actually affirming a moral law giver everytime they make a moral claim?

We know from Anthropology 101 where human customs come from, and in general why they arise. One of the fallacies religionists claim is that without their deity, morality would not exist. The fact is that EVERY SINGLE commandment, injunction and law in the Bible existed already in ancient Near Eastern culture, and was imported into the Bible. Religion TOOK their laws from existing culture....religion didn't create morals, and neither did transcendental super genies.

Without an independent anchor, there is no right or wrong, because what objective baseline would the moral act be comparing it against? What would a crooked line look like if a straight line didn't exist? You only know what a crooked line looks like because you know what a straight line.
Also, do you have evidence that the laws were imported from existing nearby cultures.


I am busy taking mid terms and writing papers today, but here is a paper I wrote on this subject several years ago.

Moral Theology is the study of how persons live in response to what God has done for them (Mueller 221).

Morality is concerned with human conduct but goes to a deeper level of personhood, such that our conduct is a reflection of who we are, a reflection of our character (Mueller 221).

Ethics can be defined as a discussion of the formation of human conduct… How responsible human beings capable of critical judgment should live using reflection on fundamental issues in description of concrete cases (Mueller 221).

Conscience is the voice of God written in our hearts, in accordance with the second Vatican Council. Natural law is considered one of the major sources of moral theology and answers the question: how do I know what is good or evil? Christians believe that natural law has been a factor in our decisions of what is morally right and wrong, good and evil (Mueller 222 – 227).

“This people who may personally and individually be moral and good people and have no intention of conflict and harm on others often share a Christian theory called the collective guilt “social sin.” (Mueller 257). The depths that theists go to fabricate the conception of sin knows no bounds, here you can be a good person yet you still have “social sin”. John Paul II said that social sins are “collective behavior of certain social groups, big or small, or even of whole nations or blocks of nations” (Mueller 258). Social sin becomes personal sin of individuals through complicity, indifference, or reluctance of those in a position to exert influence for change who do not do so (Mueller 258).

Catholic social teaching looks to gospel teaching to form the moral foundation the Catholic approach to questions of social justice. And assist the disciple in the ongoing task of reflecting on the challenge of Jesus in the sermon on the Mount and in discerning what it means in a consumer, technological, and globalized society to be poor in spirit and to embrace a sorrowing and the lowly (Mueller 260).

Secular morality is the aspect of philosophy that deals with morality outside of religious traditions. Modern examples include humanism, freethinking, and most versions of consequentialism. Additional philosophies with ancient roots include those such as skepticism and virtue ethics. Greg M. Epstein states that, "much of ancient Far Eastern thought is deeply concerned with human goodness without placing much if any stock in the importance of gods or spirits. Other philosophers have proposed various ideas about how to determine right and wrong actions. An example is Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative: "The idea that actions can only be considered moral if they could be imitated by anyone else and produce good results."

A variety of positions are apparent regarding the relationship between religion and morality. Some believe that religion is necessary as a guide to a moral life. This idea has been with us for nearly 2,000 years. There are various thoughts regarding how this idea has arisen. For example, Greg Epstein suggests that this idea is connected to a concerted effort by theists to question nonreligious ideas: "conservative authorities have, since ancient days, had a clever counter strategy against religious skepticism—convincing people that atheism is evil, and then accusing their enemies of being atheists.

Others eschew the idea that religion is required to provide a guide to right and wrong behavior. Interestingly the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics states that religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other". Some believe that religions provide poor guides to moral behavior.

Popular atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins, writing in The God Delusion, has stated that religious people have committed a wide variety of acts and held certain beliefs through history that are considered today to be morally repugnant. He has stated that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis held broadly Christian religious beliefs that inspired the Holocaust on account of antisemitic Christian doctrine, that Christians have traditionally imposed unfair restrictions on the legal and civil rights of women, and that Christians have condoned slavery of some form or description throughout most of Christianity's history. Dawkins insists that, since Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Bible have changed over the span of history so that what was formerly seen as permissible is now seen as impermissible, it is intellectually dishonest for them to believe theism provides an absolute moral foundation apart from secular intuition. In addition, he argued that since Christians and other religious groups do not acknowledge the binding authority of all parts of their holy texts (e.g., The books of Exodus and Leviticus state that those who work on the Sabbath and those caught performing acts of homosexuality, respectively, were to be put to death.), they are already capable of distinguishing "right" from "wrong." (Boghossian 248).

The well-known passage from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, "If God is dead, all is permitted," suggests that non-believers would not hold moral lives without the possibility of punishment by a God. This is absurd as all one has to do is look at Denamrk or Sweden to see that these largely atheist areas enjoy being at the top tier of civilization. This is broken down in great detail in a book by Phil Zuckerman, "Society without god".

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, in his article, "Is Faith Good For Us" states the following: "A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries-those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics-are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance-are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute."

A study by Gregory S. Paul, entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look," was done and the study's conclusion was that there was an inverse relationship between religion and poor societal health rates. What that means is that the higher the level of religious belief in a country, the lower the level of societal health (more violent crimes, suicides, teen pregnancies, etc.).

So it seems that a plethora of evidence exists to show that not only do we not need religion in our lives to be good humans, but that having it in our lives can be counter-productive and unhealthy.

What is good? Who is defining good? According to what standard? If their isn't an objective standard, then its simply personal opinion. Therefore your claim of what is good is just as valid as ISIS' view of good. Who is the arbitrator of good if there is no independent adjudicator?

Works cited

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Boghossian, Peter. A Manual for Creating Atheists. Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013. Print.

Zuckerman, Phil. Society without god: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University Press, 2008. Print.
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26-07-2015, 05:32 PM
RE: Morality
(26-07-2015 01:55 PM)Ace Wrote:  morality by AnntiCitizenX




What are you comparing good/bad against? If an objective baseline doesn't exist, then its just personal opinion....
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