Morality
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14-09-2011, 09:01 AM
RE: Morality
I've been having this discussion with a creationist for a while now, and I am actually having a bit of a problem in how to formulate my answers sometimes.

I see that some of you have encountered his view on morality, he thinks the morality of all human beings is an innate knowledge and that it was instilled in us by a god. i have been trying to argue that morality is different in different cultures and in different time-periods, giving examples like some time ago it was acceptable to kill people (which it still is in way too many countries to this day) and he argues that it isn't the morality of killing that has changed but our perception of who is a "real" human being...
He's trying to argue that if we consider the person as less human than we are, then we use this to justify breaking the "law of morality".

He's also arguing that there is such a thing as a law of morality (which I had never heard anyone express it as such before our debate) and he's trying to convince me that as a law it is comparable to other laws that we know the origin of (i.e. man-made laws) and therefore it would be logic to assume that the law of morality would have a creator.
This part of his argument I am not really worried about since I don't buy the premise that it is either a law or that you can use something that is only partly similar and from there draw conclusions of where morality stems from.

In a big part of our conversation he's extremely good at rational and logic arguments which makes it all the more interesting, but as I said I am having a bit of trouble on how to give good examples on how morality has changed throughout times that can't easily be crushed by stating that it's the view of other humans that have changed. I'm guessing that if you use his kind of argument it might be almost impossible since that can be used as an excuse for almost anything, it's only the perception of X that has changed, not the underlying morality...

Anyway, if you have any good examples please tell me Smile

And also, no, I'm not trying to actually win any argument with him, I'm merely having fun with a discussion and trying to get better at debating and maybe, just maybe, be able to sway some third person who is somewhere in between science and believing in a fairy tale Tongue
I have noticed that there's at least four more people following our conversation that's been ongoing since February Smile
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14-09-2011, 09:09 AM
RE: Morality
I should also note that you could say the entire human race is "living in solitude" without any "outside" morals to compare against. Look how our morals change over time. We consider ourselves "more" moral than people in the past.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-09-2011, 09:26 AM
RE: Morality
MAD,

I think the most obvious shifts in morality deals with slavery and the right to own another human being. Under Old Testament law it is completely within the law. Almost no one excepts it today. Another obvious shift in morality can be seen in how we look at racism. Once again, the Old Testament is built on racism (specifically the superiority of the Jews over other races).

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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14-09-2011, 09:38 AM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 09:42 AM by myst32.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 09:01 AM)MAD Wrote:  he thinks the morality of all human beings is an innate knowledge and that it was instilled in us by a god.

His conclusion does not follow from his premise. Even if you grant him that it is an "innate knowledge" depositing God as the cause is just wishful thinking and would require an insane amount of something called "proof". A lot of the basic morals like not killing can very easily be explained by evolution, no God necessary. Even if he does not "believe" in evolution almost any other scenario you can think up is more likely... say for example aliens deposited the knowledge when they seeded the planet with life as an experiment to see how we would use the innate knowledge they gave us. Highly unlikely... but more likely than God.

God is always the least likely conclusion.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-09-2011, 09:51 AM
RE: Morality
While i agree with Ghost and Myst32, i have a little trouble imagining this solitary person.
At what age was s/he abandoned? If s/he was big enough to survive alone, s/he would certainly have been taught something about right and wrong by other humans. If s/he was an infant, by what animal was s/he raised?
Then at puberty - latest; i actually think much earlier - it becomes important to know whether this waif is a he or a she, because gender influences social attitudes. Especially in a society where gender roles are clearly defined. We are all social animals, and have a proclivity to forming relationships. How we behave in those relationships - whether with our own or another species - is governed by feelings, thoughts and social conventions.

Once Mowgli is expelled from the pack (because he's a smart-alec and can't run worth rabbit-berries), he will shed many of the wolf rules and make up his own. Once Tarzana leaves the gorilla clan (because the boys are becoming more attentive than attractive to her) she will give up their rules. Once Grizzly Adams moves out to the woods, he drops a great many of human society's mores. They simply cease to apply to the new situations; become irrelevant.
But each of these people has some internal basis for self-respect - a genetic need for affection/ belonging/ approval and clues from the early care-givers as to what behaviour earns approval will probably influence their actions, even if nobody's watching.
Solitude isn't a vacuum.

But to think of a system of morality as anything but locally constructed is absurd in the face of what people all over the world are doing - just at this very moment, never mind over the course of recorded history; just to one another, never mind other species.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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14-09-2011, 01:00 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 01:06 PM by myst32.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 08:59 AM)bemore Wrote:  "You were taught your morals though"

I can make up morals all day that nobody taught me. Your morals are "yours"... the illusion that most people have the same "morals" is due to them being taught by society and by geographical location. But that does not mean you can't create your own or that your list is the same as the next persons. We all use, think and are taught a base 10 number system... but that does not mean you can't make a base 14 number system if you want to.


(14-09-2011 08:59 AM)bemore Wrote:  If you live alone.........having no experience of "good" and "bad" then how can you possibly think in Moral terms???


"Good" and "bad" are just words... They are used to categories actions based on judgement of those actions. In a world of only one person, that person can still make judgments of actions and past actions.... that person may not have a category called "good" and "bad" to stick the action in. It can be "pain" or "no pain" for example. If you live alone, without any human involvement, you will still "learn" from your environment. From this learning you can set simple, primitive "morals" from your interaction to that environment. Those morals can still change in the future.... from new information or necessity.

For example...
Let's say this lone fictional person got burned and a "moral" formed in his\her head to stay away from fire at all cost because fire is an evil spirit and should not be messed with. At some point years later, and a lot of cold nights, this person realizes that fire = warmth. Efforts are made to control it, against the moral of staying away from it. If those efforts are rewarded the moral can change from fire being a "bad" evil spirit to fire being a controllable evil spirit. A new set of morals will also form... don't put your hand in it because this pisses the spirit off and it will smite you. And then later after months of deep contemplation and reflection this person can decide that the first moral, not to mess with evil spirits, is the higher moral and return to it. He/She can then be at peace that he/she is more "moral" while he/she freezes their ass off. The determination is all in his/her head based on self made morals.

We pretend that there is something called good and something called bad and something called morals. When in reality we are just making it all up and categorizing it as we go. We make up illusions to help us maneuver the world we live in. The problem is when we start believing the illusions. The most common illusion we all believe in is "language".... the idea that if we can make a word for it it must be "real". The map is not the territory, the words that describe the map are not the territory... they are further from territory. There is no "good", there is no "bad".... and the tool to determine which of the two groups anything belongs in is made up.

“We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.” Orson Welles
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14-09-2011, 01:23 PM
RE: Morality
(13-09-2011 08:15 PM)Ghost Wrote:  A person living in solitude cannot be moral. Morality requires the presence of at least one other person. Morality is a cultural matter. . . .

I don't agree. Even if you're the last human being on earth, you still have the obligation to treat the animals on the planet well. If Last Man gets his kicks by capturing birds and pulling their wings off just for the hell of it, he's causing unnecessary pain to other sentient beings. That's immoral.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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14-09-2011, 01:36 PM
 
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 01:23 PM)cufflink Wrote:  
(13-09-2011 08:15 PM)Ghost Wrote:  A person living in solitude cannot be moral. Morality requires the presence of at least one other person. Morality is a cultural matter. . . .

I don't agree. Even if you're the last human being on earth, you still have the obligation to treat the animals on the planet well. If Last Man gets his kicks by capturing birds and pulling their wings off just for the hell of it, he's causing unnecessary pain to other sentient beings. That's immoral.

Quoting from the thread: "Resolving conflicting loyalties" Post #25

"Our ultimate loyalty should be to life. Life on this Planet is the ultimate containing group. We are all part of it. It nourishes us all. If we betray it, if we destroy it, we will have destroyed ourselves.

Morality is about survival of the whole we are part of. Just like at Nuremberg, claims of loyalty to country did not excuse crimes against humanity. There should be 'crime against life' trials for those busily destroying it. Like cancer cells in a body, we destroy the host giving us life. Guess what happens to cancer cells after the body dies.

I felt ashamed during the first Gulf war when they showed us the oily cormorants on TV. I felt that 'we' betrayed our common heritage. I felt the need to apologize to the cormorants. To other animals at large. To life.

Many unspoiled native cultures think of Earth as their Mother. One can betray one's mother. Even rape her. If I ever had to face the terrible choice of saving my own species at the price of destroying all other life on Earth, I don't think I could do that. And I think my choice would be a moral one.

Morality has always been in human consciousness. Not always verbalized: defined, analyzed, explained, but lived by a sufficient number of the tribe to assure survival. Tribes that failed the test of morality died and disappeared.

Morality is the prerequisite of survival. Nature created us. We are an inextricable part of it, and have no choice but to behave by its rules. Morality is our interdependence embodied.

Morality is life affirming. Immorality embraces death. Maybe not immediately, not personally, but the human species can die by many, many little incremental steps. Destroying our habitat bit by bit will do it. We see it around us every day: the poison in our air, our water, our food – it is all a material manifestation of immorality: of some human beings, somewhere, in some capacity, failing the test of ethical, honourable behaviour.

We have to sort out our loyalties in a way that doesn’t destroy us. Each containing group takes precedent. My loyalty to my country has to take second place behind my loyalty to humanity. And my loyalty to my species has to come behind my loyalty to universal, interconnected, miraculous and fragile life we are all part of. It could take one dumb asteroid to destroy it. Or it could take one dumb humanity that developed too much power before developing enough sense. Morality could save us from that fate.
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14-09-2011, 01:39 PM (This post was last modified: 14-09-2011 02:35 PM by Peterkin.)
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 01:23 PM)cufflink Wrote:  
(13-09-2011 08:15 PM)Ghost Wrote:  A person living in solitude cannot be moral. Morality requires the presence of at least one other person. Morality is a cultural matter. . . .

I don't agree. Even if you're the last human being on earth, you still have the obligation to treat the animals on the planet well. If Last Man gets his kicks by capturing birds and pulling their wings off just for the hell of it, he's causing unnecessary pain to other sentient beings. That's immoral.

Bear-baiting. Oil spills. Cock-fighting. Hydro projects. Dog-fighting. Beaver hats. Bull-fighting. Whale oil. Circuses. Cavalry charges. Seal harvest. Dancing bears. Tar sands. Dancing ducks. Marsh draining. Fur-trapping. Feline player piano. Deforestation. Satanic ritual sacrifice. Augury. Toxic waste dumping. Kosher chicken. Rodeo. Ivory. Marineland. Beef.

Morality is local, mutable, and subjective. My disapprobation has no effect on what populations, past and present, consider acceptable viz one another, the environment and other species, and their collective acceptance of general practice has no effect on my disapproval.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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14-09-2011, 02:37 PM
 
RE: Morality
(14-09-2011 01:39 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Morality is local, mutable, and subjective. My disapprobation has no effect on what populations, past and present, consider acceptable viz one another, the environment and other species, and their collective acceptance of general practice has no effect on my disapproval.

I guess it all boils down to how we define the word 'morality' ?

Huh
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